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The following is a reflection that a friend shared with me. A Friend who is still working things out; a friend who is wise and funny and talented and who, it turns out, happens to be non-binary. I’m sharing their story because it’s important to share personal stories; I’m sharing their story to say to others, “it’s going to be okay, you’re not alone”; I’m sharing their story so that other Queer voices can be heard. I though it was a beautiful and honest reflection and reveals a part of God’s heart for everyone and anyone – but especially for those of us who don’t fit into boxes or categories or norms.

Proverbs 31  ‘Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain…’

Wait, what does that mean? Grace is deceitful? Maybe it means that graceful, ladylike behaviour and deportment are not everything. That the real you only needs to be graceful some of the time.

When I was a child, I was constantly being pulled up for not being ladylike. Don’t sit like that, wear this, do these things… but I wanted to sit comfortably and wear trousers and that blue Mothercare tracksuit with the two white lines down the legs and space commander pyjamas, and do ‘boy’ stuff… who divided stuff into boys and girls anyway?

I was a girl, but the stuff I liked was inevitably boy stuff. Yes, I had one well loved doll, but no-one ever gave me toy cars, so my brother retained authority over those and I played with them at his mercy. Likewise the Meccano and Lego.

The summer I finished university I had a long conversation with God, where I admitted I did not like being a woman. My hormones and body did not seem to behave like all the other young women I knew, and I couldn’t control how I felt. I just knew I didn’t feel like other women. No-one quite seemed to ‘get’ me. And when I was most comfortable and most myself, people would laugh in an endearing but condescending way, like I was a child who just wasn’t very good at this yet. I was not good at being the woman I appeared to be, and I didn’t like being trapped in a body that would not behave as it should have.

Who divided stuff into boys and girls anyway?

As a young adult I was diagnosed with a condition manifested by high testosterone levels and reduced fertility, among other things. I came to feel like even my body wasn’t any good at being a woman; like me, it tried its best but really never quite made the grade. My loves of more male-oriented pastimes like axe throwing and off roading and climbing trees were viewed as ‘quirky’ and ‘weird’. I hated shopping, (ed-me too!) especially for clothes, couldn’t walk in heels and preferred beer and movie nights with the boys over putting on make up and going out “on the razz”.

As a mature adult I began to think deeply about gender identity. For most of my life I had no way to explain that I didn’t feel completely female. That a bit of my head – and body – felt male. Not a large bit. But enough. I discovered the concept of non-binary and it made a lot of sense. Some days I am happy to identify as ‘female’ for the sake of ease, and maybe habit. Other days if I am being honest with myself I will opt for ‘non-binary’, because, well, I just don’t feel 100% female. I can’t explain it any more than that. And perhaps I owe it to many more non-binary people who are hurt and abused for their identity, to stand up and say ‘there are more of us like this than you know, and we’re normal and ordinary’. Some days I feel braver than others.

But, I digress. Proverbs says ‘grace is deceitful’ . And today I had a flash of clarity that said that when I – or anyone else, for that matter – is behaving in a graceful ‘ladylike’ way, that is not the whole story. And if the graceful, 100% female ones are completely honest, they have tree-climbing, competitive belching, axe throwing, ungraceful moments too. Grace IS deceitful… because it’s not the whole story. And maybe hearing and accepting that can be as liberating for you as it was for me.

Who divided stuff into boys and girls anyway?