I listened to a beautiful podcast this week between Laverne Cox (she/her) and ALOK (they/them). The two discussed the origins of nonbinary identities, history, biology, and life. I was fascinated to learn that the roots of nonbinary existence were around so much longer than the heterosexual norms we pretend are “normal” today. Genuinely, I can not recommend this episode enough if you’re interested in truly diving into the gender spectrum. It was a great reminder that this beautiful being in the middle is not a fad. Our identity has been in history longer than heterosexuality.
Beyond the history, they rocked my heart. At the end of the episode, ALOK said something I can’t forget. They said, “my existence is a love letter to trans people who just want to believe they can exist.”
Even more so, I heard, “my existence is love.”
Unfortunately, that love is unreciprocated in so many communities that are trying to force binaries. Hate is the most common love language of those who wish they could understand.
So today, I wrote a love letter. A love letter to my younger self, really, and a letter to anyone who wants to know that who they are will not stall their existence or ruin their lives. I know the feeling all too well.
Remember how everyone loved Oprah? While there are plenty of eye-opening topics across every episode, there’s one theme: know yourself. It turns out that knowledge is the first step to being – being happy, being strong, being the person you want to be. Knowing who you are, your strengths, your passions? That’s the magic.
Still, knowing you are trans and non-binary is scary. For you, wondering what people will think—for them, wading in their own emotions and understanding. Even if it’s scary for them, knowing who you are is still magic. It isn’t a failure, and anyone who makes you feel that way is speaking on behalf of the fear inside them. The fear that they are not enough or that they don’t know who they are yet.
Not you. You know who you are. That is a superpower.
Here’s the catch. Superpowers are disruptive.
Superman may be on his way to save the day, but that doesn’t mean he will not shatter glass as he flies at warp speed. It’s a symbol to remind you that knowing who you are and using this superpower? That will leave a mark and be disruptive to people’s assumptions. You can expect to break some glass and cause some chaos along the way.
Enjoy it. Your path is for you, disruptions and all. On the other side, there’s something even more special waiting: Joy more enormous than you’d ever expect. Euphoric abundance.
You’ll take small steps and giant leaps in this understanding and acceptance when it’s time, not just because you want to. I know that’s frustrating, but remember this. You already have a 100% survival rate on hard things. Trust yourself. When the world feels hard, retreat inward. Slow down. Rely on your resilience.
Just promise me this no matter what.
Know you. Trust yourself. This life is not a dry run, and you don’t get second chances. Prioritizing everyone else’s happiness or comfort over your own won’t make your life better or even easier.
See, this part of your story is only a beginning. Your differences are propellers, and your future is full of people who love you because of who you are, not despite it.
I don’t want to ruin anything for you but know this. You’re going to surprise yourself over and over again. For every day you feel like this world will kill you, you’ll have ten more days where you feel so loved and alive. For every certainty, expect a moment that will make you change your mind.
If you ignore everything else, never forget this. A binary perspective on life will only get you two things: all of what you don’t want and nothing of what you do.
So just be you. That’s all this world needs right now.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.