An insight into Paeton’s journey and what it means to be non-binary.
From an early age I knew something about me ‘didn’t fit’. Before puberty, I could hide from the maleness of my body, and any feminine expression was written off as ‘a bit of childish queerness’.
The ‘queer’ label followed me into adolescence, nailed firmly in place by increasingly malicious trans/homo-phobic abuse. I had no idea how that moniker (which I grew to hate) would become the soundtrack to being kicked, slapped, punched, spat and urinated on through the years.
This enhanced the destructiveness of systemic abuse woven into a strict religious upbringing. By graduation from university, the wholeness of me was fully undone and a segway into corporate life ensured my ‘queerness’ stayed locked away.
I wasted 30 years of adult life trying to be the cis-gendered heteronormative person I believed God, society and family demanded. The gender binary left no room for my self-expression or identity, and I pretend-jokingly referred to myself as ‘lesbian with a male body’.
At the age of 53, I finally found the courage to unlock the heavily guarded chest buried in the deepest recess of me. As I began to scrape myself off the floor, I took a deep breath, centred myself and told family, friends and the world: I am as much woman as I am man and yet I am neither.
I’m non-binary and, despite everything thrown at me, I live; from today, it will be wholly and fully as all of me.”