LGBT Lives: Gender Fluid Q&A with Abi Banner

Q: So first off do you consider yourself to be genderfluid?
A: Yeah, I think that’s the best term to describe me.

Q: And what does that mean to you?
A: For me, it’s a whole complex thing but putting it into simple terms, I float between three gender identities; male, female and agender.

Q: How did you know you were genderfluid?
A: From about high school age, there were some days that the thought of wearing a skirt one day would be the best thing on the earth and the next it would be terrifying and made me feel physically sick. Some days, I’d be pretty happy to wear my shirt (which was quite figure flattering) and other days I HAD to cover it up because it felt unnatural for me to have a lot of femininity. But, I officially came out to myself and the world in college, when I finally found a term that fit me.

Q: How do you express your gender?
A: Generally, through pronouns, clothes and the way I hold myself. So, taking it in that order, I go by “they, them” pronouns because I’m not quite she, but not quite he, but I don’t get overly bothered by it. In regards to clothes, some days I feel like a “woman” where I want to wear flowers in my hair and tight fitting clothes/dresses that show the world YES I AM FEMALE. Some other days, I feel like a “man” and stick to more stereotypical masculine clothes, so like skinny jeans with a shirt and tie/bow-tie and try to give the impression that I AM MALE. Other days, I feel like neither so I dress to accent my curves but hide the fact that I have a feminine figure, baggy hoodies, skinny jeans and converse are awesome for this. If I’m having a girl day (as I like to call them) I’ll wear my hair down so that my fringe is in my face, and I’ll make myself look smaller and more dainty. On my guy days, I’ll push my fringe into an almost-quiff and try to make myself look a little bigger than normal. On agender days, I sit in between so I’m not dainty, but I’m not too masculine, and I’ll usually pin my fringe back in a little twirl.

Q: How would you explain genderfluidity to someone who doesn’t understand it?
A: I would start off by telling them that it’s okay not to get it. Sometimes I don’t even get it. Like it’s hard to understand that some days, I feel like I’m in the wrong skin and that the idea, the thought of putting on a dress makes me uncomfortable and sick. But if I was to explain what it meant to be genderfluid, I would say that it’s like having three genders in one person. It’s carrying spare clothes because it doesn’t change overnight. It can change wherever. I could be having a huge, dainty girl day when stepping on a fifteen minute bus journey, and I could be stepping off of that bus having a guy day. It’s making sure to have makeup and makeup remover, hair clips to save a whole crowd, enough clothes to clothe a full army and a big enough bag to put it in. Backpacks are a lifesaver for genderfluids, not even kidding!

Q: What in your opinion is the difference between being genderfluid and being non-binary?
A: I think non-binary is an umbrella term that covers anyone who is not cisgender. So, if you interior and exterior don’t match when it comes to gender, you’re non-binary. That’s how I see it. So, putting it into simpler terms, non-binary the overall term, genderfluid is the category, the specific. Like, I identify as non-binary, 100%. But I’m genderfluid because that’s the specific of what I am.

Q: What is your opinion on gender identity?
A: I think as long as that person is happy and understands who they are and how they identify, that’s totally cool. I think there are so many different types of gender, and not one experience is the same. So, my experience of genderfluidity is going to be completely different than someone else who identifies as genderfluid.

Q: What defines someone’s gender?
A: That person defines their gender. Their clothes, their genitals, none of them matter. If a cis man decides he wants to wear a flowery dress and he tells you that he is a cis male then that’s how he identifies and what he wears doesn’t make him any less of a cis male. It’s all about how they identify and how they feel, not what they wear, or what’s underneath their clothes, or the length or colour of their hair. It’s what they feel.

Q: Do you have a gender you lean towards?
A: I tend to have more girl days in the summer and more guy days in the winter, but I wouldn’t say I lean towards a certain gender. However, my agender days are my favourite of all of them. SO MANY AWESOME GENDER NEUTRAL OUTFITS!

Q: Do you use different pronouns and if so what pronouns do you use?
A: For a period of time I used all of the pronouns, depending on how I was feeling at that particular time, but it all got too confusing, even for me. So I use they/them now, but it’s not an entirely huge deal for me so I don’t call people out for using the wrong pronouns.

Q: How has being genderfluid changed your life?
A: It’s given me an explanation to how I’ve felt for the last six or seven years of my life. It’s given me a better understanding of myself and the people around me. It’s also shown me who’s willing to understand and who’s not worth my time, as well.

Q: What’s your opinion of stereotypical gender roles and how does that change your experience as someone who is genderfluid?
A: I hate stereotypical gender roles, but in the same sense, they give me a sense of expression. As mentioned above, I wear certain clothes for certain days. I will never shoot down a man for wearing a dress or a woman for wearing a suit. In fact, I applaud them. For a man to wear a dress in the society we live in, that’s a dangerous move. And it shouldn’t be. But in the same sense, having those gender stereotypes makes it easier for me to express the gender I am feeling at that particular time.

Q: Has being genderfluid changed your sexuality or how you express it?
A: I mean, being pansexual, my sexuality is as fluid as my gender, and my current partner and I were together when I initially came out, and he has been amazing with trying to understand what it means to be genderfluid, but I’ve heard for genderfluids who are single, trying to find someone who will love them regardless of their gender can be pretty difficult.

Q: Because being genderfluid might also mean you switch between clothing meant for men and women, how do you feel about and do you identify with people who cross-dress?
A: I think it’s down to that person. If a cis man feels more comfortable in a wig and dress, then honey you go ahead and put on those heels and makeup because you rock it. I don’t exactly identify with cross-dressing, but most of my clothes come from unisex departments anyway. I support most people who cross-dress (the only time I frown upon it is when they’re doing it out of mockery and homophobia) but I, myself, would explain my dress sense as my self-expression and a coping mechanism.

Q: How do you feel about the LGBT+ community?
A: The LGBT+ community can both be beautiful and terrible. Just like with every community, when push comes to shove, we stand arm-in-arm and hold each other strong. Pulse, for instance, the WHOLE community hurt. Whether we were in pulse on that night, like some of my internet friends, whether we were in places that it’s not safe to be gay, or whether we, like me, were hauled up in bed in a place where being gay is almost normalised, we all hurt. We all cried. However, like every community, there is in-fighting. Some LGBT+ people think that gender issues should not be involved. Some others think it should only be for those who don’t like the opposite sex, because those who do have an out. I think that we’re all in this together. If you are oppressed, or bullied, or belittled because of your gender or sexuality, then you are part of the community. This is even for something like being told your gender and sexuality don’t exist. I hear those words every day. And not just from homophobes. I hear them from people who are homosexual. I hear them from people who don’t swing between genders. I’ve been called a faker, a liar, an attention seeker. That’s oppression. Because I don’t see gender when it comes to love. I belong. We all belong.

Q: Have people in your life been accepting?
A: For the most part. I’ve had a few people walk away because of above listed comments, but they don’t matter. The people who stayed are the ones that matter. The ones that matter accepted me for who I am and they stayed. I still get negativity, but the people who matter make those comments bearable. Because I know it’s gonna be okay, and that I can’t change who I am.

Q: How can other people best support those that are genderfluid?
A: If you don’t understand, ask. Pronoun check, that’s EXTREMELY important. Ask what they float between, not everyone goes between male, female and agender. Ask them what they need from you. If my friends were to ask me, I would say help carrying my backpack that has a thousand different clothes in it, and a little bit of understanding. But the best support you can give is to respect them, and understand that they didn’t chose to float between three, four, five genders and that however confusing you may find it, it’s a lot more confusing and frustrating for them.

 

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org

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