My gender identity: seven years on

April 10, 2024

Image by Dhemer Gonçalves from Pexels

Jamie Aldridge explores how transitioning has benefitted their wellbeing

I first wrote about my gender identity and what being non-binary means to me, when I was a teenager. At the time, I had come out as non-binary to some people in my life and had started transitioning socially, but I hadn’t taken any steps to transition legally or medically. You could say I was still in the ‘exploration’ phase of my journey.

I still identify as non-binary, and for me the term still means that I feel a strong disconnect from the label ‘female’ and feel my gender identity is something outside the concept of ‘male’ and ‘female’. I don’t want to be gendered as female in any context and use they/them pronouns.

Seven years on, a lot has changed for me, and I feel it’s important to write an update to show how much can change in a relatively short period of time. You can read my previous article on my gender identity here.

I found the Queer and Transgender Resilience Workbook by Anneliese Singh an invaluable resource on my journey, not just in understanding my identity but also in learning how to advocate for myself and exploring my intersectionality.

Intersectionality is the concept that one person can have multiple identities that intersect (cross over), and people with multiple marginalised identities can experience multiple forms of discrimination.

I’ve learnt that my experiences in life have been shaped by my intersecting identities as a trans, non-binary, disabled and autistic person.

The decision to have surgery wasn’t one I took lightly, but I haven’t regretted it for a single moment

I found out that there’s a gender-neutral title, Mx. (pronounced ‘mix’), that is becoming a more well-known alternative to gendered titles like Ms. and Mr., and I now use the title Mx. wherever I can (for example, my GP records).

In my teen years I’d already begun using the name ‘Jamie’ socially, but since then, I’ve changed my name legally via deed poll and have now got a new passport that uses the correct name. I was so excited the first time I got ID’d in a shop, as I could show them a passport with my real name on it!

By far the biggest step I’ve taken is my decision to transition medically. I’ve always experienced gender dysphoria relating to my chest, so in June 2021 I had top surgery. I no longer need to wear binders to manage my dysphoria, and the experience has easily been the most liberating part of my transition.

Some people I knew were worried about me having such a big procedure, but my surgeon was fantastic and the recovery period was easier than anyone predicted. I was sitting up and talking to the nurses within half an hour of coming round from the anaesthesia, and I walked out of the hospital just two hours later!

The decision to have surgery wasn’t one I took lightly, but I haven’t regretted it for a single moment. Soon it’ll be my three-year top surgery anniversary, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I still face some difficulties being accepted or recognised as trans, especially as there’s less recognition for gender identities that fall outside the binary of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. I can’t use my title Mx. with some organisations, such as my local council, as their systems don’t allow for a gender-neutral title to be used.

In the past seven years, I’ve undergone legal, medical, and social transitions, significantly reducing my dysphoria

I also can’t use my preferred gender marker (X) on any official documents or systems, as non-binary gender identities aren’t legally recognised by the UK Government. This is in contrast with other countries like Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Iceland and the USA, which have introduced laws allowing passports or ID cards to be issued with a gender-neutral X category.

My family have not been supportive of my transition at all and continue to misgender and deadname me (call me by my previous name rather than my actual name) on a daily basis. This was initially a source of a lot of distress for me, but I’ve come to realise that my family will never respect my identity as a trans person.

Accepting this has allowed me to distance myself from the distress this initially caused me and lean into the support of the more validating people in my life. My friends have been incredibly supportive, as have the staff at Exposure, and I feel very lucky to consider them my ‘chosen family’.

Things still aren’t perfect for trans and non-binary people in the UK, and I hope in the next few years we become more valued and supported by society. I would like to see more legal recognition for non-binary people by the UK Government, so my identity can be acknowledged in the same way binary trans people (trans men and trans women) are.

I would also like to see our society become more tolerant and accepting of non-binary people, and trans people generally, as there are still barriers we face like discrimination, hate crime and rejection by family.

Overall, things have improved a lot for me over the last seven years. I’ve legally, medically, and socially transitioned, and these choices have meant my dysphoria has reduced which was taking a huge toll on my mental health. I’ve found my ‘chosen family’ and feel valued and accepted by them and now feel more resilient and at peace.