Talking back

By Bex Fraser

But you’re not a man, are you? she says to me. Look at you, you have breasts, you’ve given birth to a child. How can you not be a woman? And other things she has said to me: I will not indulge dysphoria. I support the right of trans people to exist, but trans women are not women. Trans men are not real men. And what are you anyway? Not even trans. She says: I am fighting for gender to not make a difference to how women are treated and you are entrenched in gender. You are soaked in it. You are soaked in misogyny. She sends me memes: Gender is the problem not the solution. You hate yourself: I get it, she says, the patriarchy makes us hate ourselves. You are still a woman, you can learn to love yourself. And yet also: you are a traitor, she says. You are undoing all our work.

And it is pretty hard to argue back, when someone has said you aren’t a thing.

But I ask you to listen to me, to listen to how I know I am not a woman, with the same inner voice that tells you that you *are* one. This is me at four confused about why there are two categories, it is me at seven hearing my nana say my father would be so happy to have a son, and I thought I was one? Although not with a penis? Is it not a penis? What is the difference? It is me at twenty, assuming I am ‘one-of-the-guys’ and reminded by rape that I am not. It is me at thirty, startled when my little child tells me I can still grow up to be a prince because that is who I always pretend to be in all the fairy stories. It is me at thirty-five and I have told none of my friends about being non-binary so they just assume I am a woman. It is me at forty, crying when my lover holds me softly in her hands and looks in my eyes to tell me I am handsome. It is me wanting gender equality to mean you will accept that being neither a man nor a woman is a gender as valid as yours, as real as yours. It is me needing you to not hold a window to my genitals so that you can say ‘woman’, it is me needing you to listen to my head and to my heart.