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Living Outside the Binary: What does using she/they pronouns mean to me?

When I was growing up, I had a very clear idea of what was expected of me. From a young age, definitions of femininity told me what to wear, how to act, and what future I should desire. Children, marriage, and domesticity were the things that were to define me. I started to realize that I had not fit into this heteronormative idea of how I should exist in the world. Although some people daydream about their future children, that thought used to terrify me (sometimes it still does). I thought these binary terms were something I would grow into, but I just always felt uncomfortable.

I am in no way saying that wanting these things is a bad thing. For whoever looks into their future and sees this life, I want that for you. It is an amazing feeling to have dreams and wishes and desires. No one is taking that away from you. But I do want to acknowledge that society normalizes these as the standard and anything that deviates from that is considered inferior. 

Existing just always felt hard. It was a struggle to feel comfortable in clothes and to learn to define things on my own terms. I don’t think any one person has all the answers on how to feel safe and comfortable in a world that expects so much from us.

As children, we are told how we identify before we can even see what feels right to us. Take a second to think about how ridiculous that is. We place so much emphasis on being “normal” and “fitting in” that we don’t let kids just exist.

For a long time, I was conditioned to believe that body image and femininity were equated with being petite, slim, and small. These were all characteristics that made me feel on the outside. Growing up I had always been tall and curvy. I felt as though my body was betraying me because of my preconceived notions of womanhood and identity.

It took a whole lot of unlearning to realize that body norms and standards don’t define an individual. How we as humans find joy and comfort is what counts. For me, I knew that I found peace with deconstructing these binary norms.

Recently I have started using she/they pronouns. To break it down, this means that I use she/her and they/them pronouns interchangeably. You can use one more than the other or switch it up. For some that know me, this is completely new and surprising. But it isn’t for me. I think a lot of people believe that using pronouns that differ from the ones given to us is a fad. In reality, what many don’t realize is that existence is a lot more complicated than a binary code. 

Living outside the binary truthfully means whatever the hell I want it to mean. It might be uncomfortable for some of you to not have all the answers, but that is the point. I find comfort in the ambiguity. 

The fact of the matter is that I don’t speak for every person who uses she/they pronouns. I would like to be clear that I am not a spokesperson on the matter, nor am I the standard. This can mean that some people may actually prefer one set of pronouns over the other. Just because I identify one way doesn’t mean that all other people using these sets of pronouns will resonate with me. 

To be honest, I am still learning and discovering what feels right for me. Do I identify as a woman still? Absolutely. Am I non-binary? I have no clue just yet and that is okay. I don’t need to have all the answers. I can take my time discovering more about myself and what it means to exist in this body. 

I too am growing and changing and I think it needs to be acknowledged that there is immense beauty in the unknown. Now I feel as though I am free to live in this body and continue to learn more about myself without the weight of who I ought to be. This journey is a new one at that, but I find that existence is remarkably complex and I look forward to exploring all that comes with it.

Related: An Open Letter, Part 2: Expansive Gender Identities Across History and Culture
Hi!! I'm Christina Fazio and I'm a psychology major and double minor in Women and Gender Studies & Journalism at LMU and am originally from the Hollywood area. I typically love to talk about social justice issues, mental health issues and I enjoy the simple things in life including journalism, binge-watching shows on Netflix, and looking out at the Bluff at LMU. Constantly learning new ways to be informed and educated and sharing that through my writing.