Greetings From the Three of Us

Jun 1, 2024 | 2024 Summer - More than One Letter

By Karen Schnurstein

I’m going on 49, and I’ve only just realized that I’m trigender. At first, I’d concluded that I’m bigender, but then I remembered this other, “third” genderless part who’s always been inside of me. I know this because I’ve seen her in photos going all the way back to my childhood, and I do feel her, rather often. 

I didn’t face my bisexuality until the time immediately following the Orlando shooting in 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded in a mass shooting at Pulse, an LGBTQ+ nightclub. That event compelled me to stand and speak up, though at first just politically. My overwhelming feelings and thoughts were, “These are my people; I am one of them. I must come out for the sake of all of us.” I simply could no longer deny the truth about my sexual identity.

Being both bisexual and trigender, for me, is a little bit worrying because of the hostility many people have towards those of us who are different in these ways. Add to this the fact that I’m in remission from severe mental illness and have experienced recovered traumatic memories, and I’m even more of a minority. 

Living in conservative northern Indiana makes me feel unsafe even just placing a bi pride sticker on my car’s bumper, especially since it looks like someone’s tried to chip away at it. But I’m gradually realizing there is a growing safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. I can turn to this space now, and I have done so already as a contributor to Bi Women Quarterly. The feelings of belonging, of being wanted and accepted, are available to me in such spaces, and they are critical to my quality of life and well-being. 

Currently, I’m feeling a bit isolated, and I don’t even know how typical my experience of trigenderhood is. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve behaved and looked rather masculine and felt very much in touch with my definitions of male identity and energy. I’ve also had the sexuality that most would consider to be of a bisexual man, and this adds an interesting layer to my sexual psyche. 

I’m mostly my idea of girly-girl on the inside, and I’ve the body parts from birth to match that. But there truly is this third part of me with absolutely no gender at all. She can feel at times like an “it” of some kind, and that can feel confusing and unpleasant when it comes to my experience of my public self. However, this part of me feels quite comfortable privately. Hopefully, soon she can engage with the world more comfortably. 

I refer to this part as “she” because I’m still a woman who chiefly identifies as one. This third part is contained within my understanding of “her.” My experience of all of this corresponds with the concept of gender fluidity, and I’m very curious to eventually know others who are like me.

Karen Schnurstein (she/her) is an emerging bi+ poet and writer living in northern Indiana, U.S. Her work can be found in Bi Women Quarterly, New Feathers Anthology, The Dawn Review, Steel Jackdaw, and elsewhere. Read more about her at

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