Our Members - Their Stories

MDANZ members share their personal stories of living with a Muscular Dystrophy condition. 

My identity journey

31 March 2022

My identity journey

A slow journey of small changes

My name is Noah and I am 22 years old. I was diagnosed with Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) from a young age so dealing with that is a big part of my life.  I like to draw and play video games in my spare time and have recently started to post my artwork on Instagram (@valentinegirlz). I have a younger sister who I am very close to. I also have two lovely parents and my dad has CMT too.  When my dad was younger, his condition was referred to as ‘the feet’ so we are both lucky to have clarity on what our condition is now.

I am currently finishing my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Anthropology and Gender Studies. I am not sure what I’ll do after that though! My study on Gender Studies has been helpful with my own journey.  Although a little challenging at times, it’s been great to think critically about my own gender and place in the world.  It’s also helped me to understand identity as historically fluid and constructed. It can be freeing to know that because the rules for identities are socially constructed, they can be broken or shifted. I started using Noah as well as my legal name two years ago and just Noah for around a year and a half. Although I am still having to tell people I’m Noah.  You do have to come out to people over and over which is tiring. It has taken me awhile to feel confident in my identity.

I started thinking that I might be non-binary around six years ago and it’s been a slow journey of small changes. I think a lot of people expect transgender people to have always known they were transgender, and I definitely didn’t. This idea fits into a convenient narrative for cisgender people [a person whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth] as if transgender people have always been transgender, it means they can stay confident in their identity as ‘normal’ people.  However, gender can change. My feelings about gender aren’t any less real because I’ve only started feeling confident in my identity for around two to three years.  Even if they weren’t ‘real’ (by this I mean having some sort of scientific or biological basis) I don’t think that would matter!

A lot of gender is socially constructed. Gender is culturally and historically specific. And there is no ‘essential’ core to being non-binary! No one has a claim on what it means to be non-binary, and it certainly does not have to have a biological basis to make sense. I identify as non-binary and use they/them pronouns. I like to play around with the way I present, but I am still a long way away from where I’d like to be with that. 

Most people who don’t know me perceive me as female, and I’d like my presentation to be more confusing than that! If I could give advice to someone struggling to identify themselves, I would say to focus on what makes you feel good and happy.

A lot of people say to look at what doesn’t feel right. Knowing that can be very useful but it is also very difficult to determine. Feelings of gender euphoria can be simpler to understand, although they might be accompanied by feelings of guilt or disgust. I would also say that it is okay to get it wrong! It’s more than okay to question your gender and realise that you’re cisgender. 

I think everyone should question their gender at some point. It can be very useful to think critically about what assumptions about gender you may have picked up along the way.

For example, are you doing something because you feel like you should, or because you like it? It will probably be a bit of both, which is fine as long as you’re aware of that.  I think no matter where you end up on your gender journey, the small realisations you’ll have on the way are super important. 

I also think small changes can be great! You don’t have to do everything at once and it might be terrifying to. But something small like a haircut could be helpful. You might also find that you don’t want to change anything at all, which is also great.