This Is What Being Genderqueer Really Looks Like

This article was originally published on July 14, 2017.
Identity is rarely static — through all aspects of our being, from sexuality to political views to the color of our hair, we are always growing and changing. For those whose gender lies outside binary terms, this can be even more true. Sometimes finding a label that fits isn't so much a destination, but a starting point for a longer process.
With conversations about gender taking off more candidly than ever before, it's important that certain people lead that conversation. In an exclusive video for, LGBTQ activist and writer Jacob Tobia spoke up about figuring out sexuality and gender in a never-ending journey of self discovery.
In the interview, Tobia, who uses they/them pronouns, discusses their experience growing up with a gender that was assigned to them, and the trauma that often came with that box. "My life was perfect for about three seconds, until the nurse looked down and said that it’s a boy,"
the 25 year old author told Cosmo. But their identity questions weren't simply solved by coming out as non-binary.
"I didn’t start using the word 'queer' and then my whole life made sense," they said. "It didn’t even fix everything when I started calling myself trans. It was a gradual process, it was bit by bit, moment by moment."

??I'm your summer girl ??

A post shared by Jacob Tobia (@jacobtobia) on

Tobia recently published Sissy, their memoir, which delves further into gender identity and non-conformity from a deeply personal place. They also work on Amazon's Transparent.

??? I'm your nonbinary goddess dreamboat and I'm here to make you tingle ??? ? @vice @stephaniemeiling

A post shared by Jacob Tobia (@jacobtobia) on

As Tobia alludes to in the video, inclusive umbrella terms such as trans and queer can be helpful ways to feel a sense of community belonging without limiting or flattening one's identity. "Flexible labels, labels that leave some room for ambiguity and a broad range of people [...] allow people greater room to explore," they told Refinery29. Now, Tobia seems more than comfortable in their own skin, enough to give their younger self some invaluable advice: "to be patient with yourself, and to be patient with people around you."
As for the future of gender? "I think a lot of people assume that I want a "genderless" future," Tobia tells Refinery. "That's basically the opposite of what I want. I don't want a genderless world, I want a genderful world [...] where everyone has the freedom to explore and play without facing violence or harassment or discrimination. In my gender future, cisgender men and butch lesbians and girly girls and gender nonconforming unicorns like myself can coexist in a loving, open, happy way. I'm not trying to make everyone genderqueer, I'm just trying to create a world where we embrace a plurality, not a binary, of genders."
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