So, every once in a while someone asks me why it is I seem to like animals more than people. This makes me feel sort of guilty, because it’s not that I like them more; it’s that I feel more comfortable around them. The reason is pretty simple – animals aren’t complicated.

On the outside it apparently seems like I have no fear, that I’m confident and secure in my self-identity. This could not be farther from the truth, it’s just that my big mouth tends to serve as a cover for the stuff I don’t want people to see. The truth is that I’m just as worried, just as insecure, as anyone else out there.

Being genderfluid isn’t easy to explain to people. Even my own family has met the revelation with sort of a lukewarm acceptance. Oh, I know they love me, but do they really understand? I don’t think so. They try, sure, but it’s awkward at best. This is not a criticism of them, or something I see as a failure on their part – not at all. I adore my family and wouldn’t change a thing about them. It’s just tough to see the world from someone’s point of view when it’s so different from your own, so how can I blame them for not understanding? They try. They get big props for that.

Friends are mostly the same way. It’s tough to ‘come out’ to them. In some cases it’s almost easier to tell them I’m transgender. A lot of people my age at least get that term. Fluid seems a bit more vague to them. Transgender is probably even closer to the truth for me, too, but I just can’t make myself care too much about labels. If it helps someone else ‘get’ me, then that’s okay. But I just want to be me, without anyone trying to over-analyze it. Without anyone being afraid of using ‘the wrong pronoun’ around me. Without asking awkward questions about whether or not I want various surgeries. Without delving into whether or not I need, have, or have had a therapist.

It’s kind of a lonely life. It’s terrifying because I can’t always define myself as ‘male’ or ‘female’ or ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ and people want those labels because they feel better when they can file me under one of them, and they know how to react. I can’t always give them labels. Sometimes I give them the wrong one and get nervous trying to explain. And sometimes even when I give them one, I get backlash. I’ve met straight people who hate gay people. I’ve met gay people who hate transgender people. I’ve met transgender people who hate cis people. It’s everywhere, and I don’t really have a camp. I get hated by some of them equally, and accepted by some of them equally.

So I draw a lot of comfort from the company of a dog, a cat, or a horse. Simply put, they don’t give a shit. And I am comforted by that.

My dog doesn’t care whether I put on a skirt or a pair of slacks to walk her. My cat doesn’t give a rip if my fingernails are polished when I scratch her head, or if my hair is long or short. My horse doesn’t have an opinion on how I ‘present’ or whether I ‘pass.’ As long as I’m kind to him when I ride him and treat him nicely, he will treat me well in return.

In other words, I get from animals the same exact thing human beings preach to each other but frequently do not practice. So can you blame me for loving their company when it’s so relaxing? I can be who I want, look how I want, and do what I want as long as, at the end of the day, they have been fed, attended to, played with, and loved. They don’t judge. They don’t label. They just like when I come home and spend time with them.

It’s frightening to define yourself in a way that makes people question everything about you. At the end of the day, how I live my life is worth it to me because whether I’m loved or hated for it I’m being true to myself, I’m being the person I feel like I am from the inside to the outside, and I’m not hiding anything. I might disgust you. I might make you proud. You may not care at all. How you choose to perceive someone like me is your business.

Could I go on? Yup. Sure could. But the point I’m trying to make is, I don’t care more about animals. I don’t like them more. It’s not a matter of ‘more‘ or ‘less‘ in my mind. To me, they’re the same. I treat animals the way I try to treat people and I afford them equal care and respect because in my life, they are the majority of the ‘people’ who have accepted me wholly, completely, and unconditionally.

If that isn’t deserving of love and care, I don’t know what is.