When I began living as Stephanie, I started peeling away the layers of constructed and destructive maleness I had applied over the years. I affectionately refer to it as my Steven suit. Underneath, I began to discover the woman soul, exactly where she had been all along. Now, as I approach seven years of 24/7 authentic me, I begin to recognize and understand the parts of me that also do not fit into the "F" box. I begin to understand how it all fits together for me, all the parts and pieces, and how the often-less-than-helpful instructions are still limiting the growth of my soul. The one size fits all philosophy has been replaced with a different idea -- binaries not included.
Living in a binary world is like looking at a rainbow. But wait, before I can look at a rainbow, I need to put on these special glasses that prevent me from seeing color and only allow me to see black and white. Then, and only then, can I look at the rainbow. When I finally do see the rainbow with color, it's only pink and blue. Maybe different shades of pink and blue. But that's not who I am. Some parts of me are pink. Some parts of me are blue. Some parts of me are neither pink nor blue. I am red and orange. Green and yellow. Blue and violet. And pink. I am every shade of every color in the rainbow.
That's why the rainbow is so beautiful. It's not only a representation of all of us. It is also a representation of each of us. We are, each of us, a rainbow, filled with such amazing beauty that we could see for ourselves, if we would only take off the black and white glasses.
I would be hard pressed to discover any part of our human existence that truly fits into a binary. What would that be? There is so much diversity in every aspect of our humanness, it is entirely ludicrous to think that same diversity would not exist in our sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gender is not the issue. Everyone has gender. It is the binary that is the problem. The binary places a glass ceiling on the souls of people whose gender doesn't fit in a box. I am amazed by how much my life has changed in the seven years of living as myself. I am astonished by who I have become, how my woman self has grown. Then I see incredible, unfettered authenticity in so many of today's gender non-conforming young people, and I wonder how much more I might have grown if I hadn't been so willing to conform my growth to an imaginary box. I wonder who I might have become.
Eliminating the binary does not mean that someone can not identify as purely male or purely female. It means that no one has to. Gender does not paint the picture of who I am. Who I am paints the picture of my gender. Why not use all of the colors on the palette?
The binary not only serves to limit who we can be. It also limits our ability to unite as a group and work together for the purpose of our own human dignity. This is the real kicker when it comes to binaries not included. No binary, no labels. If there are no labels, there is no perceived us vs. them. There is only all of us, together. And all of us together is the first and most significant thing that each of us can do to move our human dignity forward. We don't need to decide who is feminine enough or who is trans enough because we don't even need to measure that stuff. What we need to measure is the value of working together as one united front on the path to a place where who we are doesn't matter; only that we get to be who we are.
I would reference the following quote by e.e. cummings: "To be nobody but myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else-means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting."
Isn't it the hardest fight, the fight that never ends, because we are fighting each other? Isn't it the hardest fight and the fight that never ends because of the senseless idea that there are only two ways to be human. I think it is time to open up the boxes and free the inhabitants to be their true, authentic selves. And when we finally peel away the pink and blue paper on the female/male boxes, we will see these words printed on the sides of the boxes - binaries not included.