How Lockdown Made Me Non-Binary
© Illustration by INJECTION - Mia Hatch
"Share Your Story" submitted by Georgia Buck, 21 years old, UK
Being stuck at home for months on end turned out to be rather beneficial to exploring my identity.
Staying in lockdown as a result of the pandemic has led to a lot of unexpected side effects for many people. Some people flocked to Etsy and started selling handmade jewellery, some spent their time exercising, some used lockdown as an opportunity to learn new skills or a new language. I, however, spent the time stuck in my childhood bedroom learning more about myself and my identity - and I know I’m not the only one.
I’ve felt confused about my gender identity before the pandemic - being a lesbian means that my relationship with gender is, in a way, inherently shaky at best - but being in lockdown provided an opportunity to really question the way I feel. Being at home meant that I could stop performing a gender that didn’t feel right to me - nobody was perceiving me as a girl, as a woman, because nobody was really seeing me at all. As lockdown rules eased, I realised how uncomfortable I was when people started to see me as a cis woman again.
Over lockdown, I spent the majority of my time attending online lectures with the camera off and wearing sweatpants and oversized hoodies. When I started having to venture back out into public, I found myself staring at my wardrobe at a loss to what to wear - I longed for the androgyny I was able to achieve in my baggy athleisure wear, I longed to present myself as more androgynous in public as it made me feel so much more at home in my own body. I’ve always felt a certain level of discomfort in myself and how I’m perceived, but being in lockdown gave me time to reflect on why exactly that was - it was to do with my gender.
Wearing a mask and more androgynous clothes also helped. With my facial features hidden, some people in public have struggled to tell what gender I exactly am. I’ve found that I really enjoy this liminal position I occupy in people’s eyes - not quite male, not quite female, but something in-between. Something that’s a little bit of both, or maybe a little bit of neither.
Of course, lockdown wasn’t ideal. I missed out on a lot - university, going out with friends, seeing my family. Like many, I was stuck living back with my parents and feeling like each day blended in the next. I spent hours scrolling through social media, but this had an unexpected side effect of me reading more about non-binary experiences and learning that some of the feelings I had been feeling for years had names. Or, perhaps more accurately, that there was nothing stopping me from applying these terms to myself and my own experiences. I already knew what gender dysphoria was, it just never clicked that my own feelings of discomfort with my body could be classified as dysphoria until I saw people online talk about their experiences that mirrored my own.
Having time to myself was an opportunity to do things that I wanted without the fear of judgement from anyone else. I could wear what I wanted, cut my hair shorter, bind my chest. I read more, I read more about transgender and lesbian experiences and learned about how my non-binary and lesbian identities can exist simultaneously. Now that COVID restrictions are slowly being lifted, I’m glad in a way that I had lockdown as a way to become comfortable in my gender identity before going into the ‘real world’ as the new, non-binary me.