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How I Learned To Queer My World

Jul 11, 2016

It’s no secret that the term “queer” is being reclaimed, either to the delight or chagrin of the greater LGBT community. I’m part of a growing contingent of queer folks who use the word as a verb, meaning to question, transcend, and then restructure. While I, like many, took quite a while to fully form my trans identity, once I did, I began to pick up speed and to queer everything else along the way.

I first discovered bisexuality when I was 14 and an online friend used the phrase "not straight but not gay". I had to ask what that meant. Before then, anything outside a binary sexuality and gender didn’t exist to me at all; as far as I knew, you could only either be gay or straight. My helpless celebrity crushes had already made my attraction to men very obvious to me and lacking any obvious attraction to women, my path seemed set for me from the start. 

The next six years were spent trying not to think about my sexuality. I participated in religious youth groups for girls which, while lacking hellfire and brimstone, served to keep me sheltered. I threw myself into femininity and gladly wore whatever dresses and other girl’s clothing was bought for me. I crushed on people, mostly men, but didn’t date. I had no self-awareness; I moved through my adolescence like a robot, disconnected from my sense of self. While the idea of queering sexuality had been introduced, I was not at all ready to explore it. 

When I went to college, I dated and had sex with straight men, but the experiences seemed more like I was going through the motions than really enjoying myself. While I was using the word 'bi' to describe myself at that point, I had no experience with women and the only support I received in that was men telling me it was “hot.” My eyes finally began to open when I found the campus LGBT support group: a community around whom I felt safe to experiment with my gender.

As I explored my gender, I realized that the gender I’d been born into (girl) did not fit me. I learned about transgender people and how a disconnect between brain and body is not quite as uncommon as one might think; my concept of gender was suddenly queered. Over time, I realized that while I did not fit the classic “born in the wrong body” narrative, neither of the two boxes really fit for me. Even my newly-queered notion of gender had been queered again! I began to identify as genderqueer, and then as a nonbinary trans man.

The idea of transgressing expectations and queering parts of my life began to make more sense. No wonder bisexuality felt so alien to me as a child; my mind had not even been oriented properly to understand the nuance involved. I explored polyamory as part of a three-person relationship with D and L, even as I dove headlong into my medical gender transition, lucky enough to be able to find pro bono services and financial help. 

Over time, L left while D remained, and I began to wonder just how queer I wanted my relationship to be. When over the course of three years I welcomed B into my life and moved on from D, B and I realized that despite years of experience with polyamory between the two of us (and B's experience queering gender as a trans feminine person), we had never sat down to closely examine how we wanted non-monogamy to serve us. Finally, our years of queering were put to the test as we dissected each part of our relationship.

Ever since then, I have continued to look at all the ways intimacy and sex and love and emotional release and even independence all played a part in my relationships, and the ways they hadn’t before. Since society never handed me the tools I needed to get all those needs met, I instead had to study those needs and decide how I would get them met ethically. For me, finding my true identity also meant questioning everything I’d been taught growing up. Queering one aspect of my identity meant completely shifting my thinking, recognizing and acknowledging all the ways the different aspects of my identity intersect. It’s been a long, hard road, and having so many identities that differ from typical is often uncomfortable - but I have learned so much about myself, my mental health, my relationships, and the world around me. I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything.

Nic Cameron is a queer trans guy who usually leans homoflexible and lives in Denver, Colorado with his nesting partner and their fur-baby, Harvenald Buttersworth. He’s new to writing but not to queer theory or intersectional feminism. You can follow him on Twitter at @epidemnic or on Facebook.


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