Patient Definitions: A Story of Gender Identity


When I was young I would crush the edge of my boater against the school bus window and daydream about a table. Seated around it was a more elegant version of my older self, a man and two children. I lack details beyond the vague suggestion of shape and our relationship to one another, but we enjoyed ourselves. When viewing back this immemorial moment, I have the notion I revisited the scene enough for it to singularise because it was the future
I most desired at the time.

As time cannonballed me forward, my imaginary family faded as other developments rose to prominence. I hurtled through a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at age 11, and began wishing fervently for whatever constituted a “normal” mind, as I barely understood my own. Coming out as bisexual at 16, the idea that I may exist as a series of identity related tropes in the opinions of others permeated my tangled sense of self.

An eccentric fence sitter, I became acutely wary of who I told about the way I functioned and identified. As an adult reflecting back, I can see I had the words to speak about these things. However, it felt easier to be quiet because I didn’t have the ability to self-advocate if I was misinterpreted. Instead, I grew an unsteady kind of patience with the misunderstandings of others when they mistook me for someone I wasn’t.

Back a few years, those in the table dream were distant spectres of someone else’s life, and I made peace with lacking a desire to have children. At some juncture I saw a medical program where a girl my age proceeded through an urgently needed mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Running parallel was the story of a man with cardiac problems and a brightly coloured scarf.

From this viewing an incendiary frame of mind sprung up. I could find aspects of myself in both people, but couldn’t imagine having my chest restored if there was cause to minimise it. Taciturn about my nascent sense of incongruence and always one for rigorous introspection, I began to conduct an extended inquiry into my gender identity. The sense of patience with discovery I had extrapolated from past considerations made the contemplative process seem familiar, but nonetheless disconcerting.

I came out of this amorphous period as a transgender androgyne. Although assigned female at birth, I identify gender wise as aspects of female, male, and other bits. Coincidentally, I simultaneously redefined the separate area of my sexuality and settled on pansexual. The phrase “non-binary” is the umbrella term that fits my gender most, especially when I need to quickly denote my place on that conceptual straight line from female to male. I personally use the prefix “non” to indicate being not on just one side of the binary, but in and around the midst of it.

While that line once fit as a representation, it was replaced with a spectrum concept as I pinned “other bits” to my definition. Presently I go with a scrunched rectangle of paper as an explanatory analogy for gender. There are straight lines from one place to another and an array of creases, dips and twists for those who inhabit other places. This still gives me a place to occupy my ambiguous middle ground, to stand proudly atop the fence that is a metaphor for much of my life, names included.

I employ a masculine name, Remus, to complement my birth name, Laura. These are interchangeable, in that they denote the same person. I prefer their use to alternate, and the same works for my preferred pronouns of she, he and they. If someone declares their preference to call me one name only, I may find myself able to give this explanation. Other times I look back to the different kinds of patience I have accrued and bite my tongue, hoping to take up the mantle of self-advocacy another day. As with my gender identity and sexuality, I prefer my names equally, with no leaning toward one option.

After going through the needed psychological assessment to gain the necessary approval letter some time ago, I finally had a bilateral mastectomy last November. My medical records say I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), ending in a not quite sure question mark. I am no longer able to handle the physical issues and increased gender dysphoria, although I adore the masculinising effects of technically elevated levels of testosterone. Recently I have started moving to procure a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, or the excision of some of my reproductive organs.

I feel an immense privilege to have the opportunity to transition as a non-binary individual, having initially thought I would have to lie about myself to get to where I am now. Patience is a many faceted state for me, and I am prone to frustration when encouraged to hold this precious quality but feel incapable of doing so. Despite my impatience, despite all the frustrated tears and horrible moods I have inflicted upon others and myself, I have an array of reassuring beings around me. I have supportive family, animals, friends, co-workers and medical professionals who lend me their ears and assistance.

I am fortunate to work at a place where I feel safe enough and not required to explain myself all the time. The same sentiment applies to my family, and in everyday life I don’t feel obligated to always come out about my gender identity. When I want to have that conversation, I try but don’t always succeed to find a personally and generally suitable time. Defining myself has improved my ability to self-advocate, whether or not I choose to do so. Recently 25, in my bow tie collection, in my words, eccentricities, successes and failures, I feel like the elegant version of myself I once dreamt about. When unquestionable mental tiredness overwhelms me, I have the patience to express this and come out of it intact. It is a wonderful
place to be.


The Freedom Centre

To celebrate National Youth Week OUTinPerth has collaborated with The Freedom Centre to give the youngest voices in our community an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.  In our May edition you’ll find several pieces created by The Freedom Centre. 


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