My New Boots

A few years ago I came out as nonbinary. For the ease of others, most notably family and friends who have known me as one gender for all my life, I stated that my pronouns were they/she.

Those are the pronouns I put in my email signature, they are still the pronouns I allow, but the truth is that while I accept she/her, I greatly prefer they/them. And here is why:

I inherited she/her from society. Those female-aligned pronouns are like a pair of cowboy boots. I was born with those cowboy boots and they never really fit right; my toes were cramped and the leather was too tight, even as a child. As the years passed and I continued to force my feet into these boots I had been given based on what I looked like, I learned to make room. The shoes never became more comfortable, and I didn’t always enjoy the presentation of them, but I learned to live with them because I thought, “Well, these are the only boots I have. These are what was given to me, and I have to learn to like them.”

Decades passed. A few years before I turned 30, I began seeing these new boots around town. They were gorgeous. They had crystals on the heels in every shade of the rainbow and were made of soft black suede. At first, I was nervous of these boots even though they called to me. What if I looked silly wearing them? What if people glanced at me, saw how I presented, and told me I didn’t have any right to wear boots like that?

But the rainbow boots kept drawing me in, and when I finally slipped them on my feet I was stunned. They fit. Perfectly. In a way my cowboy boots had NEVER fit. I immediately realized how cramped and limiting my old boots had been, and how I had tried to wear them the best I could despite the fact that they weren’t right for me. The rainbow boots were made for who I really am, not who society thinks I look like.

I didn’t have a choice, taking the cowboy boots. But the rainbow boots, the ones I was connected to, the ones that made me feel beautiful and authentic, they were selected for me, by me.

I still get a thrill of excitement when anyone refers to me using they/them pronouns. Eventually, as I break in my new boots, I’m sure that endorphin spike will wear off. But after squishing my feet into shoes that were awkward and cramped for so much of my life, I think it’s okay to enjoy a sense of relief at finally being acknowledged as the sparkly rainbow boots I am inside.

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