I’ve got 99 Problems and the Gender Binary Contributes to Almost all of Them

Recently a client had a realization that brought them to tears. When I suggested that one’s body can be defined by one’s self without the confines of gender, something seemed to finally click. I began to think about the importance of delineating between how the rest of the world identifies us and how we identify ourselves, and how we can regain agency over that process after having it systematically stripped from us our entire lives.

“Lauren” had been trying to understand their gender for years and even after several sessions with me, felt uncertain and confused about their identity.

I went where they took me and landed on suggesting that they reflect on what they do like about their body (for example, maybe you’re a runner and you love how strong and agile your legs are. Maybe you’re a dancer and you admire the way you move your body to music, etc.”) Along with the re-framing of identity as something that we can choose to define and create without the oppressive confines of gender.

They cried as they told me that they were realizing how cruel they’d been to themselves and to their body. That they’d never accepted their body because of how it’s never fit into boxes they’ve been told they need to fit into.

What are other ways of relating to, defining, and conceptualizing our bodies outside of gender? I encouraged them to think before our next session about what things they do that make them feel good in their body and what their body does for them that they appreciate. This exercise seems especially important for clients who are non-binary. I love the flow of mutual giving and learning that often comes out of sessions.

I recently came across this amazing comic about gender euphoria which made me think of this client immediately. I’m hopeful that we can work towards finding a place of understanding, acceptance, and even euphoria with their body and identity.

Oh Joy Sex Toy! Educational Comic: “Gender Euphoria”  (warning: website not safe for work)

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