It’s been about a year that I’ve been slowly expressing myself as more femme. It started around this time last year, when K moved out to prepare for her international adventure and I started painting my nails regularly. It’s been fits and starts since then, wavering from buying dresses to wear at home and some heels and the like, to filling out my wardrobe with femme things I would actually wear in public. It’s been this kind of winding, Candyland-esque road of getting me to be more me.

The question I tend to get now—the same one I get asked about being a vegetarian, by the way—is how long I’ve been doing this. How long have I been like this. I think what they mean is expressing femme, but feeling this way is how I want to answer that question. Because I can draw that thread throughout my life of being rather repulsed of the idea of being manly and the baggage that comes along with that. Some of my earliest memories are of not conforming to rather silly societal expectations regarding, well, everything.

I think there’s really only one time where that gender-based double standard really pissed me off, though. It’s the difference in treatment between my sister’s Cabbage Patch Kid and my blankie. April, the doll, was rather adored by my sister. She went to both high school and college with her, and is still very much in her house somewhere. Nothing was thought of this. Normal, I suppose.

But then there’s my blankie. Which I capitalize into a proper noun, Blankie. It became mine right around the time I have my first memories, around a year and a half. I’ve always had a difficult time sleeping, but this was something that managed to hold my attention and calm me down. It helped me sleep, hours more than I would otherwise.

It was taken away from me right before the 6th grade, and all sorts of sleeping and emotional problems followed. The big thing for me, though, was being told that boys didn’t need and don’t have things like that. It was time to put it away. What the fuck is that? How the hell does gender come into the idea of being able to sleep and finding comfort?

Two things along with that, though: I was always insistent that Blankie be gender-free, to the point where it would annoy me when someone would gender it. And I got it back, and it’s happily on my bed at this very moment. It’s on pace to last at least as long as I do, so joy all around there.

I come back to that idea of gendering and pronouns on my favourite inanimate object. I think that, in many ways, should have been my first sign to my non-binary nature. That I didn’t fit. And that handling that situation in a gendered way very much didn’t fit as well.

It’s been about a year that I’ve been expressing this way, and I plan to continue doing so. I’m still debating how much of this my family needs to know, how much I need to come out to them. I haven’t decided. But reflecting back, during that time it still takes me to fall asleep at night even with my crocheted companion, I really do think I’ve always been this way.

So it’s about a year and about ever, depending on how someone wants the question answered.