Image by: Miguel A. García
Being different is a reality that I’ve lived for as long as I can remember. I’ve always waded through my vivid imagination, my mind full of stories of rockstars, fairy tales, travel and poetic adventures. Because I had such an engrossing inner life, I never really thought to much about my outer appearance. Of course, I dressed and bathed, and interacted in school, but ideas of my gender in regards to the way I dressed and behaved was not a prominent concern. By the time, I was 19 years old, my friends began to call me “queer”, not because of my sexual preference, but because I was unique and couldn’t be put into a box. My LGTBQ friends and I were like peas in a pod, and for the first time in my life, because queer seemed to fit so well with my free flowing – and what I later learned was genderfluid experience, I accepted who I was by being aligned with those terms.
All in all, no term can define one’s experience in full, and of course, a gender assignment cannot define my story of survival, but being queer, gender fluid, and more importantly, “Jordannah” has helped me understand that my work in life is to live without limitations and rigid definition.
Nonetheless, what should be understand as I write as survivor or sexual abuse is that even though my body survived, my identity struggles with how deeply I want to be entangled with my survivorhood. My brain is permanently damaged due to trauma and nearly a decade after the abuse, I still work to train it how to proportionately react to emotional stressors, conflict and intimate relationships. How does a fluid gender identity cohabit with the brain of a survivor?
My navigation has been purely unique, a free spirit grappling with fear and anger. I non binary consciousness figuring out how to deal with cis men and white cis women. A clear consciousness and touching imagination working to understand its own trauma and maintain the sweetness of spirit I once had before I was hurt. It is a conundrum, but not one that I have allowed to destroy my outlook of freedom.
The queer survivor must maintain a personal nontraditional way of being that takes time to cultivate and integrate in modern society, and I have found, the strict and sexist gender specific boundaries our culture and government has put on sexual assault victims, reproductive rights and the lack of freedom given to LGTBQ citizens has forced me to live to understand my experience, and also to take on the role of a Black feminist in order to communicate, educate and make a change.
No, I have not written with grievance exactly what happened to me, because at this point in my life, I truly want to examine and rectify the safety that I lost through my experience and all that I have gained through surviving. In surviving, I learned more about my genderfluid experience by understanding that even if I am a feminist, even if I am cis passing, even if I am seen as oppressed as a Black woman, I know how I am, and my gender identity is for no one but me. In surviving as a queer person, I learned that every story and perspective does not have to sit under the guise of regulatory gender roles when it comes to healing and support in the form of therapy and rehabilitation, as I have worked with therapists and as a speaker to promote healing in realms that recognized my queerness and others didn’t.
It is of no consequence as fluidity means freedom. Freedom is not always prevalent in conversation, and interaction, but it is a personal knowing. A personal adaptation of never assigning myself to a role, but creating and identity that is truly lived and designed by me.