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Gender identity and me: A long road

Written by Dan Winlow from LGBT+ @Sky.

I didn’t always consider myself Non-Binary. Coming to that conclusion has been a relatively recent thing, in the grand scale of things. But it was a title I’d been seeking, without knowing, for a long time, and upon finding the language to describe myself, a great sense of relief fell over me. Finally, something that described myself.

My name is Dan, 28, and I’ve worked in Save Sky Newcastle for 3 ½ years now. Previously I’d worked in various entry level jobs, from the Post Office to Wetherspoons, but I finally found my place here, in 2016. More recently I’ve entered the Stepping into Management program, which is a moment of great pride for me, and a chance to give back to a company that has done a lot for me and helped support my exploration into becoming who I am today.

My journey to finding my gender identity has been a long one. In my early teens I wasn’t sure who I was. I was considered a “guy”, that much was obvious, but I never felt like a fit with men. I didn’t have a huge group of friends growing up, so like many others in my generation I turned to the internet. Forums and web chats were a great way to meet people from all over the world. I made a lot of friends then, some who I am still friends with today.

Around about 17 years old, a friend of mine named Marion came out as a trans woman. A rush of emotions came over me, hearing her experiences and how she was facing the world. I questioned myself then too. Was this what it had been? But it still didn’t seem right. But what are you, if you’re neither male nor female?
I struggled with this for the longest time. It was a contributing factor to a deep depression through my teen years into young adulthood. I did not fit in, and there was nothing to describe what I felt. I had tried to explain it to people, but nobody seemed to have an answer. I had come to the conclusion I was simply different, and I would have to live with that, and that’s just how it worked.

However, shortly after my 26th birthday, I joined an online group for, amongst other things, LGBT+ activism and equality, and similarly joined a chat, where I met some amazing people. It was through these people that I learned so much more about the LGBT+ network as a whole, types of people I had never experienced before in my life. Most importantly, it’s where I learned about Non-Binary gender identities, and a huge weight was lifted. I finally had a place to call my own. Not only that, but there were people like me! I even managed to create my own mini-support network of my Non-Binary peers (affectionately named the “Australia Chat”) who I speak to every day, and who I know I can turn to if I ever need to.

Suddenly, I was not alone. I had found people who experience the dysphoria I did, lived similar experiences to what I have, and could empathize. I finally felt a part of something.

I’ve been a part of the LGBT+ network at Sky informally pretty much since I started working for Sky, attending pride as a representative as much as I could. I’ve discussed the idea of a Non-Binary rep with the on-site reps a few times and realized the knowledge gap that existed around Non-Binary gender identities. So, I put myself forward. If I can help one person feel like I did, then I’ve done more than I could have hoped!

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