All the women in question knew I wasn’t a woman, so they should have known better than to erase who I am in order to make my experience more relevant to them. And that is why it hurts so badly for them to do so, and why it’s so incorrect — they were trying to draw an equivalence that wasn’t accurate, in order to make my experiences more coherent to their own frame of reference.

Nearly all the men who have assaulted me in my life knew I was nonbinary at the time that they did it, and in many cases my assaults were inseparable from that fact in one way or another. Many of the men who have assaulted me were not straight, and wouldn’t have in engaged with me the way they did if I was a cis lady. So while perception absolutely does color the amount of harassment a person gets (I’m harassed by strangers far less often now than when I was read as a woman), it’s not the case that my assaults were driven by perceptions rather than actual identity. For me, my assaults were a nonbinary person experience more than they were a perceived-as-a-woman one.

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