A gender journey: Navigating non-binary identities around the holidays


Eloise Ayotte

I wear my pronouns boldly on my work nametag as a badge of pride.

Each day, when I clock into work at my local pet store, I wear a nametag with pronouns that read “THEY/SHE.” If you visit my public Instagram profile, you will see that right next to my name are the same pronouns. I am proud of my non-binary identity and happy to live a life of honest expression.

However, it did take time to get to this space of comfort. It took effort, research, explaining, and teaching to finally say that I am a publicly proud non-binary person. 

Yet, I am still unfinished. 

I am fortunate to have a supportive immediate family and friends made up of fellow queer* people and genuine allies with whom I had no issue sharing my non-binary identity. But my extended family is a different story. 

My extended family’s more conservative and religious-leaning ideologies make it difficult for me to find the confidence to be my authentic self around them. While I recognize and am grateful that I do not fear for my physical safety – a fear many queer people, unfortunately, face every day – I do feel acute anxiety that if I make my extended family aware of my preferred identity, I will be ostracized and judged. 

Sure, I guess I could avoid my fears and anxieties by simply avoiding my extended family. But I am a teenager, and it’s the holiday season, so I’m not left with much choice. Instead, I will see them all the time. For extended periods of time. This keeps leading me back to my nervousness over how I will handle the weeks ahead.