Real Stories: The journey to finding my authentic non-binary self

Wren Browne (they/them) sat down with Yahoo Australia to unpack their journey to finding their authentic non-binary/transmasculine self. Watch more.

Video transcript

WREN BROWNE: One of them came up to me and said, are you a boy or a girl? And I said, I'm neither. And then they said, oh, well, then what are you? And I said, I'm non-binary. And they're like, wow, I've never met anyone that's non-binary before. And then I was just like, well, now you have.

Hi, my name is Wren Browne. And my pronouns are they/them. I originally came out as gay or as a lesbian. And maybe it didn't feel right, because it wasn't like the right thing for me. And now, I feel more valid, not just because I've gotten to transition in the way that felt right for me, but also because I've finally found like the label that it's right.

Like growing up, mom and dad always said, like, it doesn't matter who you bring home, as long as they're not covered in tattoos is actually what they said. But now, I have lots, so that doesn't really work. I came out when I was traveling overseas like officially. But they never really made it a space that we had to come out. So it was never really a big deal.

I always had a lot of, like, dysphoria around my chest. I didn't really know what that meant. And my partner at the time explained to me that like top surgery was a thing. And then I sort of drove into that world. And that helped me understand. But I didn't really know of the label. And I mean, a lot more stuff has come out about gender recently, but there was a long period of time where you couldn't see any of that even on social media.

I would say the biggest shift was when I started binding, because that was a more, like, the process to top surgery it was short in the actual timeline of things. But it felt like a long time. And the binding made a more dramatic difference in the short term.

I was riding my bike up the east coast. And this was before I was binding. And anytime, I'd go over a bump, I could feel my chest move. And that would be so triggering. And then one day, I had the idea to just try wearing two sports bras, which kind of substituted a binder before I knew what that was. And the next day of riding, just I felt, I guess, what was gender euphoria, because I didn't feel my chest move on every bump.

And then I was like, wow, I maybe could have a happier life if I did something about this. Then coming out as transmasculine, I think, has been a constant changing of style and things. Especially after top surgery, it's super euphoric being able to like try on a shirt that you only had worn pre-surgery and then realizing how it fits you differently. I think that's one of my highlights with that.

I was living in another state at the time. So I think I did a lot of my gender exploring on my own. And I think that probably is what solidified it and made it a really awesome self-discovery journey for me, because I was able to be separate from everyone I knew. So going into a new state and starting a new life there meant that I could be whoever I wanted to be.

Yeah. So I guess that coming out, I was already-- I had already really come to terms with it a lot myself. Right now, they/them feels comfy, but I also work with young people. And I find a lot of the time, they will use he/him pronouns for me. And I-- and I don't mind that.

So it definitely doesn't feel as safe and comfy as they/them pronouns, but I am very comfy when they say it. So I think pronouns is a constant journey for me.

I think it's really your intention with pronouns and with any gender question you might have. For most trans people, I imagine, if you're approaching them with compassion and curiosity, then you can't do any wrong. Like, yeah, it's all about how you're approaching.

I like to think that with my name, like, I have been Wren this whole entire time. And I do like for people to refer to-- like if we see a photo of young me, that's still Wren, because I'm the same person. I just have better language to describe myself.

I think when I was younger, I didn't feel like any labels were like necessary. So I was able to be me, which, at the time, I didn't have the name for but would have been transmasculine, I would say, until about the age of maybe 10, where then I felt the pressure of society a bit more.

One, like, a cool memory for me is when we're at the Miley Cyrus "Can't be Tamed" concert. And I had my hair quite short at the time. And I went into the women's bathroom, as I did, because I had been told I was a woman. So that felt like a comfortable space for me.

But there were some young women in there that were like, oh, there's a boy in the girls bathroom. And that made me very uncomfortable. And I think, like, looking back on that now and unpacking that a little bit, I think it might be to do with the fact that was one of those moments in your young brain being like, oh, I've been told I'm a woman, these people don't think I am one. So I must be doing something wrong. So I need to change something.

So I think it's all those little moments that then cause you to shift. And then I did start presenting more feminine in the world. And I did-- it wasn't an uncomfortable thing for me, because I think I still was living a happy life. I think you can just live a happier life.

But it is kind of beautiful to look back on some photos from younger years and think and see those parts of me that I am able to embrace now that I was embracing at that stage without the weight of the world. As I started a new job at the same time as going through, like, the early stages of my medical transition, so I was very afraid of how the world would view me and also then working with young people-- young people can be mean.

I was serving breakfast to some of the students. And one of them came up to me and said, are you a boy or a girl? And I said, I'm neither. And then they said, oh, well, then what are you? And I said, I'm non-binary. And they're like, wow, I've never met anyone that's non-binary before. And I was just like, well, now you have. And then they're like, yeah.

And they, I guess, all of those words, if I heard them from someone else, they could have knocked me down and ruined my day. But it was the way like the curiosity that that child approached me with, I just couldn't not love that interaction. Like, it was so kind and genuine. And they were just curious.

Yeah. When you're moving through the world as your most authentic self, kind people will see that and honor that and love you for that.