Hi there, easternstar!
I'm sorry to say that you're absolutely right: this is something that only you
can determine and answer for yourself.
That's the incredibly frustrating thing about identity. It's not some simple algebra problem where you can stick in a couple of variables and get a sure set of answers. It's not some easily diagnosable thing with your body where you can take a quick test and confirm "oh yup, just what I thought, I'm [___]". It's something... innate within us. Intangible. Indescribable, even, sometimes.
Figuring out and determining and coming to terms with who we are and what labels we use is often a slow, arduous, confusing journey. There is not some big "aha!" moment of sureness for many, many folk. Many of us spend years thinking about, exploring, and sitting on how we feel before deciding "no, this still doesn't fit me" or "yes, this actually does fit me". I know when you're just looking for confirmed answers that this can be disappointing to hear, but sometimes the most of what it takes is time. The time to allow yourself to fully immerse yourself in thinking of yourself as one identity. The time to allow yourself to let go of your doubts and any internalized cissexism. The time to accept that unsureness isn't a bad thing. The time to accept that the only person who can truly validate your identity... is you.
I totally get how you're feeling, so I hope I'm not coming off as flippant or dismissive. I remember when I was questioning. For months, I desperately read through every single identity term I could get my hands on. I repeatedly went over the sparse amounts of stories and vents and experiences of nonbinary people that nonbinary people were sharing. I searched so hard for that term that would just click
with me and prove that I wasn't just making my feelings up, wasn't just looking for attention, wasn't just overthinking it, wasn't just lying to myself. If I could find a term, maybe it could prove that I was actually valid enough to matter.
But nothing ever just "clicked" for me. There was no aha moment. No perfect, specific gender. No great wealth of experiences that people shared that I completely and totally related to. There was just an inkling. A discomfort of thinking of myself as a man or a woman. A longing to just be nonbinary and be valid. For months I tortured myself, denying that my feelings were enough to go by and demanding a term that would 100% perfectly fit me and encapsulate my gender feelings (which I couldn't even totally figure out, much less articulate - so this was a highly demanding ask of myself!).
Until finally, I got tired of feeling so bad about myself. I got tired of doubting myself and making me doubt myself more. I got tired of looking for some magical moment of perfect understanding that just wasn't going to exist for me. So, I let go of my anger and stopped holding myself back - because now, looking back, I can see the only one who was holding me back from identifying as nonbinary was myself. Even though I didn't think it really fit me, even though I didn't think I was valid, even though I felt like I might just be doing it for attention, I let myself identify as nonbinary because there was a part of me that really, really
It was not until about three years later when I got to talking to somebody else and we were bonding over being on the asexual spectrum and he mentioned also being agender/not really his gender assigned at birth that, without thinking, I excitedly shared that I was also nonbinary, and we got to openly, without judgement, talk about our gender feelings, that I realized I had finally
accepted myself as nonbinary.
Trying to find that one thing that proves
you're "really" [x] identity is often a part of holding yourself back from actually accepting that you are
[x] identity, really.
You don't have to prove to anyone that you are [x] identity or that your identity is valid - especially not those who demand that you must. That's not what our gender nor our sexuality is.
These parts of us are incredibly personal. The labels we choose to use are less based on "answers" and "facts" and more based on feelings, emotions, bonds, and communication. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to identify as? (Wanting to be something is often a sign that you are that something.)
- What do I not
want to identify as? (Often, figuring out exactly what we want can be confusing, so it can help to instead just rule some things out. Any progress in understanding yourself is progress in understanding yourself.)
- What gives me the most comfort in terms of labeling? What does it make you happiest to identify as?
- What gives me the least discomfort in terms of labeling?
- What helps me best communicate to others how I feel?
- What helps me best connect to a community of people to which I have similar experiences/face similar issues?
There is no right or wrong way to label. It's okay to use one label now and use another one later. It's okay to use multiple labels. It's okay to just label as questioning. It's okay to even just disregard labels.
Even though you are not a teen, transgenderteensurvivalguide on tumblr is an excellent
resource for all things trans. I'm not a teen either, and I rely on them for resources a lot of the time. They have a What Am I?
masterpost that I think could be helpful to check out, as well as the accompanying links in the read through. They include a breakdown of how to start questioning and exploring your gender as well.
It might also be helpful to your journey if you looked into gender incongruence and gender euphoria. transgenderteensurvivalguide also has a pretty amazing breakdown of those two topics
Hope this helps a bit!