tweets as @mossnz

My name is Moss.
I am nonbinary.
When you refer to me, use they/them pronouns.

This essay was originally published in February 2021, on the day the Auckland Pride March celebrated my 35th birthday. Kinda seemed like an auspicious day to come out.

In this essay I will be coming out as nonbinary, and inviting you as a reader in on my experience.

When I went to university, my favourite and best paper was a second year paper on the Philosophy of Logic. The story of this university paper is relevant for reasons that will become evident.

So, classical logic is a set of logical systems that have a bunch of properties you can read about on Wikipedia, but the most important one for our purposes here talking about my gender is that they are bivalent.

Which is that when in a classic logical system you have a statement, that statement can only be true or false.

And when you have that system of logic, a whole bunch of fun useful formal tools become possible, like the underpinning of ahh, computers, but you're cut off from resolving some statements, like my favourite paradox.

Sorites Paradox is named after the greek word for "heap" and goes kinda like this.

And this really throws classical logic systems for a loop, because depending on what rules your logical system has going on you can end up being like "a single grain of sand is a heap of sand" or even "no sand is a heap of sand" because you gradually got there and agreed each gradual change was imperceptible and then you've got "~~exception~~ does not compute".

A lot of the "paradox" here comes from the constraints of logical systems; but as noted, these kinds of logical systems underpin modern computing.

There exist logical systems that can reason about this better using (some of) the same logical tools, under the umbrella of nonclassical logics, some of which are explicitly not bivalent. ie, there are logical systems in which a statement can be false and true at the same time.

Which is really handy for trying to resolve paradoxes caused by formal logic tools, with formal logic tools. I wrote an essay on trying to resolve my favourite paradox for the university paper on Philosophy of Logic, rather than sit an exam.

My essay asserted that there existed at least one nonclassical logical system that could resolve the paradox, and I'll attach it to this essay for anyone who wants to read undergraduate philosophy of logic. There's a figure of an hourglass, five inscrutable pages peppered with logical symbols in jargony paragraphs.

That essay got me a B+ over a decade ago by the by, which was one of my best grades past first year of uni, so really quite proud of that.

It's interesting to me now, that in my 20s I was keenly interested in using formal logic to deeply consider "what's the boundary between being imperceptible and being perceived?"

It is a trip sometimes to look back at my own past with gender as a lens and reconcile what I was carrying at the time.

My gender is nonbinary as it is nonclassical logic.

In that my way of thinking and reasoning about my own gender, is not characterised as a binary system.

By considering that my gender does not have to be picked from a set that only contains two options, that gender is not bivalent,

I am able to reason about and consider my sense of self.

And considering my self of sense was a struggle when I was trying to perform classical gender.

I've been thinking through a gender lens for a while now, and one of the pivotal 'oooohh!' moments of that was to consider what my personal gender statement was.

I see a gender statement as, how would you describe your gender in a sentence, and bonus challenge without using a gendered term.

This is a term I either made up or heard somewhere, so at this point let's clarify that if you're reading this coming out essay you're being invited into one perspective from one nonbinary person; and the whole deal is kind of that look, we'd like to order off the provided menu please so I'll be linking to some more queer perspectives, like some anthologies that really helped me in the references section.

Once more for emphasis, this is my coming out as nonbinary essay, so by definition there are people who have much more lived experience of being nonbinary than I do right now, including (and this is a fun realisation) my future self. This essay is as much for them as it is for you, the invited reader.

My gender statement started like "I decide how performative my masculinity is" and it bothered me that I was using gendered terms to describe my gender.

That it bothered me that I couldn't describe my gender without gendered terms, like my favourite paradox, that has significance.

As the reader of this essay, as you think about your own personal gender statement, you may or may not experience the same being bothered by gendered terms describing your gender.

With my gender statement being "I am nonbinary" I no longer experience that sense of being bothered.

As I first wrote this essay, I had a section here that continued the story of looking at my gender statement, and that feeling of being bothered (to be honest, bothered isn't quite the right intensity of word), narrating through some processed and unprocessed trauma about gender dysphoria.

While writing this section about not writing this section of this coming out essay on gender dysphoria, I found the words I needed to hear right now, "Some past is best left."

Some past is best left.

Unprocessed trauma is a lot. I will take care and the time I need to process.

I want to explicitly say, while talking about euphoria and dysphoria around gender, that dysphoria anywhere is not a requirement. Gender is not a pathology.

Whenever you have two concepts that are considered to be mutually exclusive opposites of each other, with an implication that the presence or absence of one implies a directly contrasting presence or absence of the other … like the garbage idea that you must have dysphoric experiences to experience gender euphoria or change your gender, that is precisely the kind of binary thinking that nonbinaryness is about.

It's been two years since the first time I asked for being referred to with they/them pronouns. Quietly, as a mouse, as an option alongside my previous pronouns.

I felt, I felt noticed, acknowledged and warm when I heard myself referred to as they.

That feeling was a breath of fresh air and after taking that breath, I wanted.

Once I came out to myself as nonbinary, I experience the euphoria of being able to change.

The euphoria of being nonbinary for me is going
"Is this part of how I want to be?"
"Does this expression feel comfortable?"
"What can I do about this discomfort?"

I love how my gender euphoria comes in the form of a set of actionable statements of feelings and how to resolve them.

I want to say that coming out as nonbinary flipped a switch and was this massive perceptible change; and yes, there is a model of thinking where pointing to "right here, on this day, that was my nonbinary day" is useful; introducing such a binary shift into coming out nonbinary has an interesting frission to look at; what about my nonbinaryness enables me in ways that are new? I bubble with the fact that; like writing this down and sharing it is a possibility that opened up for me when I came out to myself as nonbinary.

I feel like there are at least three useful models to look at

In all of these models, there are actionable ways to reason and consider gender and myself; and there are ways to consider, be kind to, re-conceptualise and experience my own past, present and future.

It's frustrating to me when being nonbinary gets confused for / reduced to selecting "none of the above" from a metaphorical menu of predefined genders.

Nonbinary as a word, a label, an umbrella kind of says "look, if you view gender as being selected from a menu of only predefined options, here's how to conceptualise seeing gender outside that framework in that framework".

In a way, the word nonbinary is for you to relate to me.

For me, well, I feel the way that being nonbinary resonates for me is infused in this coming out nonbinary essay.

I feel. That's it! That's the whole sentence, I feel.

Yes, yes! "I feel".

Those, those are the words that I stumbled on, that I felt lost on, that I wanted to find and be found in. And I found them.

Before those words, before "I feel", I stumbled, I considered, I tried, I struggled, I cried, I was kind to myself, I crafted these words in myself,

This is where I am,
I like who I am,
I can be who I want to be.
I am nonbinary.

I thank you for reading my coming out nonbinary essay, I am so ecstatic for having been able to write this down and invite you into my experience.


The BBC Podcast "NB: My nonbinary life". This podcast really helped me in seeing the possibility of being nonbinary. I stopped listening part way through, and working through my feelings of why I stopped listening to the nonbinary podcast (I did pick it up again) was very important to me.

They/Them/Their by Eris Young is a book I windmill slam purchased on the first day I came out to myself as nonbinary; the amazing introduction to this book spoke to me, and was an invaluable reference for me during the writing of this essay.

This isn't therapy isn't specifically nonbinary. It's a podcast about therapy, and being in therapy is what provided me the safety to be who I am. I highly recommend this podcast whether you are in therapy, are hesitant about therapy or want to learn more about what therapy can be.

And finally, a spotify playlist of songs that feel like nonbinary gender euphoria to me.

postscript 2022:

if this essay resonates with you, it will bring you joy, like it did me, to brew a cup of tea, be in a cozy spot where you feel most you, and read / listen / absorb / devour the book A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers.

the first (of many) lines that got me, that _nourished_ my soul when i read psalm for the wild built, is

“I’m changing my vocation,” Sibling Dex said.
“I’m going to the villages to do tea service.”
Sister Mara, who had been in the middle of slathering a golden piece of toast with as much jam as it could structurally support, held her spoon still and blinked.
“That’s rather sudden.”
“For you,” Dex said. “Not for me.”
“Okay,” Sister Mara said, for her duties as Keeper were simply to oversee, not to dictate.

as just the _acceptance_ in that sudden for you, not for me "Okay," feels to me as a mirror to the _warmth_ i found when i published this, and the essay peer review i hold in my heart;

"i love that for you. your essay is very sweet"
"this is the nerdiest coming out essay ever and i love it."
"it really sounds like you've discovered a new part of yourself that makes you happy and brings you peace."