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What I Am (A Non-Binary Song)

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Written & Produced by Shireen Amini
© 2022 People Planet Music (ASCAP)

Guitar, keys, lead and backup vocals: Shireen Amini
Backup vocals: Tonya Abernathy
Mixed by Shireen Amini
Mastered by the Sound Lab at Disc Makers

I wrote this song in response to the lack of acknowledgement or confusion I experienced out in the world when I settled into my gender truth as a non-binary human.

At the same time I hoped to really own “what I am” in this song, I hoped to illuminate it for those who may not understand, with a little pushback against the binary gender paradigm. As one line says, “what I am is ancient…some cultures call what I am sacred.” It is my attempt to elevate into the popular realm of consciousness an understanding that feeling one’s inner self as neither woman nor man is a designation many cultures have recognized for centuries and, in fact, often has been venerated as holding a vital spiritual role for the community. A little different perspective than "it's just another letter those kids are adding to an already overwhelming acronym"…isn’t it?

(Sidenote: Non-Binary does not have a letter in LGBTQIA+, but many consider it a T or “trans” identity because it is a gender different than what was assigned at birth.)

More than just celebrating this particular identity, this song is calling us to question the entire gender paradigm...the constraints, rules, or violence that get justified with it. Whether or not you identify with the binary, we could ALL use some gender liberation. This is a feeling I hope anyone can access through the music behind the lyrics.

I produced this song as part of a Berklee music production course in Spring of 2022 with the support of a professor and community of colleagues. Using musical elements and techniques associated with modern-day pop music was very intentional. It was my hope to reach deep into the younger generations, wide into mainstream consciousness, and evoke dance movement that feels like pride, power, and joy. With lyrics and tone of delivery, it was my aim to create a space around myself and others like me, playfully, that no one can penetrate to invalidate. And just like any oppressed queer identity (that’s redundant, all queer identities have been oppressed), this one could use some lifting up, celebrating, and loving on.

This song is A non-binary song not THE non-binary song. There are as many ways to be non-binary as there are non-binary humans, but there are some common themes that I hope will speak to my kin.

It would be my deepest satisfaction to know this song had the chance to meet many who share any aspects of this identity with me. PLEASE, I highly encourage you to SHARE with any non-binary humans you know, when and how it feels right. May it deepen your own sense of mystery, wonder, and compassion around the gender spectrum each time you do.

This spectrum is natural and beautiful. It always has been.

This track features Tonya Abernathy on supporting vocals, a dear friend of mine based in Portland, OR who has sung for Climbing Poetree, Taína Asili, Grupo Masato and many more. Lifting up Tonya here who lent her incredible talent as an ally on this track.

Enjoy.

~Shireen

Lyrics

What I Am (My Non-Binary Song)
By Shireen Amini © 2022

INTRO
I’m not a lady, I’m not a man
That’s what I AM, that’s what I AM
Call me a sista, call me a mista BONG!
You’re not right, but you’re not wrong

VERSE 1
I’ve been existing, inside of a system
that’s trying to insist I’m, something I’m not
But if that’s what you’re using
to categorize humans
It may be confusing
But this is what I got (what I got!)

VERSE 2
I don’t got a bathroom
I can’t check a box
I don’t got a place in the language
So I’m telling you what I am by what I’m not
If your two genders are two extremes
I am both, I am neither, I’m the space in between

CHORUS
I’m not a lady, I’m not a man
That’s what I AM, that’s what I AM
Call me a sista, call me a mista BONG!
You’re not right, but you’re not wrong


VERSE 3
Out the dance floor, feelin’ my feet
I like to follow, I like to lead
Down in the bedroom, I like to give it and take it (what?)
Regardless of how I look, how I look naked

VERSE 4
And I assure you, what I am is ancient
I’m not making this up,
some cultures call what I am sacred
And I’m certainly not the only one
There are many more of me
You might be one of us

CHORUS
I’m not a lady, I’m not a man
That’s what I AM, (that’s what I am)
that’s what I AM (that’s what I am, oh)
Call me a sista (sista), call me a mista (mista) BONG!
You’re not right (not right), but you’re not wrong (not wrong)

POST-CHORUS

(Yeah, yeah oh…)

BRIDGE
When I’m filled with more self-love
By livin’ out none of the above
I’m more free and more bright
I think the system is wrong
And I’m right
Damn right!


VERSE 5
So check your assumptions
Open your mind
I feel your discomfort
with me not fitting in your paradigm
But I assure you my gender’s a work of art, how?

It’s a petal-lined path
with a spear in its hand
that always bows down to the heart
Got it now?


CHORUS
I’m not a lady, I’m not a man
That’s what I AM, (that’s what I am)
that’s what I AM (that’s what I am, oh)
Call me a sista (sista), call me a mista (mista) BONG!
You’re not right (not right), but you’re not wrong (not wrong)

CHORUS 2
I’m not a boy, I’m not a girl
I’m telling you now (that’s what I am)
I’m the best of both worlds (that’s what I am, oh)
Call me a sista (sista), call me a mista (mista) BONG!
You’re not right (not right), but you’re not wrong (not wrong)

POST-CHORUS x2
(*Elle, elle, elle, oh…)
(Yeah, yeah oh…)

*Elle is a non-binary pronoun in the Spanish language.