My experiences as a trans non-binary person - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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My experiences as a trans non-binary person

12 May 2021

I’m trans non-binary. I’m queer.

I took me a long time to say that – to find the words to describe who I am. Finding those words was a difficult journey that started a long time ago before I even realised I was on it.

Growing up in Caboolture, a regional area with little to no queer representation, I didn’t have the language to properly express myself – to explain my identity to people. I had no internet. There was virtually no trans representation on TV. It almost felt like I hadn’t met myself yet – not properly.

Maddy Best

Nursing/Social Work

They/them/theirs

I always knew I wasn’t a woman – I’d known that since I was a kid. But I never felt like a man either. For most of my childhood, I was passed off as a bit of a tomboy. In high school, when my friends would talk about sexuality and being attracted to one gender or another, I realised I didn't feel that way. I was attracted to people regardless of gender.

It was only a few years after finishing high school, when I started seeing more representations of trans people in media, that I started to understand my own identity better. It was incredible to see characters that that I could relate to on TV shows like Skins, Glee, Orange is the New Black – even though they're definitely not all great representations of how the world has moved forward around LGBTQIA+ identities. Games and books also had a pivotal role in exploring these ideas for me.

It was about media representation. I related to trans characters in a way that I hadn’t related to anyone else. I started reading about it more on the internet. Educating myself.

By 2017, I finally found the right words. Trans non-binary. They’re important words to me. They are part of my identity.

Transgender – I’m not the gender I was assigned at birth. Non-binary. I’m not within the binary of male or female, which is how much of society often sees gender. I’m they. Them. Theirs. The way I dress and present myself isn’t masculine or feminine, because to describe it as that puts me right back in that binary. I’m just me. It’s who I am.

I’m very lucky, in a sense, because USC is so supportive of gender and sexually diverse groups. But other places are not so supportive.

Queer and trans people, in particular, are often placed in unsafe situations because there remains a lack of widespread education about issues faced by this vulnerable community – whether it’s using the correct language, dismissing your identity as if it doesn’t exist, or facing physical or mental violence.

This is why queer-safe spaces are so important – spaces where the LGBTQIA+ community can support each other, share information, recommend safe services. It’s a place where no one needs to feel boxed in by gender or sexuality norms. It’s a place where everyone is free to be themselves, explore and try things out.

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ student or questioning your gender, sexuality or identity, please get in touch with studentwellbeing@usc.edu.au or visit here for more information.