A reader sent in some excellent questions about gender-squishiness and bisexualism, and I’m using one of them as a prompt for today’s blog post. So here we go!

Reader Question #1: If I sometimes, sort of hope I was genderqueer, does that make me genderqueer? Is “hoping to be” the same as “being” when it comes to gender?

At the end of the summer before my last year in college, a few months before I came out to myself and others as a man, I advertised myself as a lady who likes ladies on the online dating site OkCupid. I had changed my sexuality status from “bisexual” to “lesbian” after my most agonizing year of trying to figure out who I was, combined with maybe a few too many episodes of the L Word.

A young, lesbian-identified woman sent me a message on the dating site, and we made plans to hang out. As we sipped beverages on the patio of the town’s favorite local, downtown coffee joint, she told me about a friend of hers.

“He used to be a girl, but he still liked guys, so he became a gay trans guy.”

“Hah, that sounds like a lot of effort,” is what I said aloud, but I was silently thinking: that’s who I want to be!

Earlier in October I dropped my therapist.

A few weeks before then, we were digging through my history, attempting to piece together a gendered chronology. I didn’t make any statements like “I’ve always known I was a boy,” or “being a girl just felt wrong.” Instead, I told a story of when I was in fifth grade, and I was looking in the mirror of my friend’s bedroom.

I asked her, “do you think I could ever look like a boy?”

“Uh, no,” she said flatly.

I decided not to ask that question again.

“Do you understand the difference between saying you want to be a boy and saying you are a boy?” my therapist demanded.

“No, and I don’t understand why that difference would be relevant. I transitioned and it worked; I was right about being a man.”

She wasn’t taking me seriously and she wanted to be the one with the answers.

From my experience, being outside of the gender binary starts with wanting to be outside of the gender binary, since we’re all born surrounded by a cis man/woman culture. I wanted to be a lesbian once, because that would have been easier than being a trans guy, but it didn’t fit at all. Exploring identity, and taking some wrong turns, takes just as much courage as being truthful about who you are.