It isn’t that they’re scared to come out, per se. It’s just that it isn’t really important enough to be worth mentioning.
Sure, sometimes Izuku felt like sinking through the floor anytime someone thought they were a boy. And yeah, maybe sometimes they do feel like peeling all of their skin off just to prove that gender literally doesn’t matter we’re all just muscles and tissues why are you guys so obsessed with it. And okay, maybe it crushes them a little bit more every time their childhood hero accidentally misgenders them. But it’s fine.
There isn’t really a way to pass as genderqueer anyway, not when society is so obsessed with what’s between your legs and how that affects everything about you as a person. And maybe there’s a small, tiny, insignificant part of them that’s scared maybe All Might, the number one hero, their hero, the person they’ve looked up to practically since conception, will think they’re just… a stupid, confused kid.
So they just stick their genderqueer pin to the inside of their uniform jacket and sometimes incorporate the colors of the non-binary flag into their outfit, and hope they can call that being out and proud.
Sometimes it works, it makes them feel happy and like maybe one day they’ll finally be able to tell someone other than their mom, maybe even the whole world, and it’s great. Other times they’re left feeling like a coward. On days like that, they don’t wear the pin. It’s like if they can’t claim their identity, can’t face the world head on and be completely unapologetic about who they are, then what right do they have to wear the flag?
It’s one of the days where they’ve got the pin inside their jacket, and they’ve worn black shoes instead of their usual red with purple and white socks and an aggressively yellow bracelet. It’s a good day, and they’ve just arrived at training with All Might.
They have to go change. Their uniform has to come off so they can change into sweatpants and a T-shirt, and unfortunately so does the bracelet, but the shoes and socks can stay so it’s alright.
Izuku rushes passed All Might, standing patiently on the beach waiting for them, and hurries into one of the beach stalls to change. Their training is cut a little short today because of a teachers meeting All Might needs to attend, so there’s no time to go home and change, and Izuku wants to squeeze in as much practice as they can.
They change quickly, and then they are darting back out to meet up with All Might, bag slung over one arm. The man must have wandered closer to the stalls while waiting for Izuku to finish changing, and he holds something between his fingers. When he spots Izuku coming towards him, he turns to the teen and shows them the object.
“This yours, kid?” The hero asks.
Izuku’s eyes widen, and they almost drop their bag in their haste to get it off and check its contents. They rip the bag open and find their school jacket, hidden beneath their pants, and feel the inside flap. No pin.
They look back to the purple, white, and green pin sitting in the palm of All Might’s hand. Izuku’s frozen.
“I think you dropped it when you were running,” All Might continues, pulling the pin back up to his face to get a closer look at it. He holds it back out to show Izuku again. “Is it yours?”
Izuku can’t seem to think of any words to say, so they just nod, holding out their hand. It’s shaking.
All Might drops the pin into their palm, and they robotically move to put it into their bag.
“It looks kind of like one of those LGBT flag things,” All Might says. Izuku freezes in the middle of loosening the ties on their bag. “There’s so many of them now, though, I can’t really keep up with ‘em.”
All Might chuckles, and Izuku tries to laugh too, but it comes out loud and harsh. They finish putting the pin away quickly and turn back to All Might. He’s giving them a weird look.
“You okay there, kid?”
Izuku nods stiffly and All Might shrugs and lets it go. They almost dare to hope they’ll finally start with training, and the pin can be forgotten.
“So, what’s the pin for anyway?” All Might starts conversationally as he leads Izuku to a more secluded section of the beach.
“Oh, it’s nothing!” They say, probably more forcefully than they need to. All Might raises an eyebrow and Izuku struggles to come up with an explanation. “It’s from… Uraraka! Yeah! She made one for each of us, me, her, Tsu, Iida, and Sho!”
All Might blinks at them, and their eyes dart from place to place, trying to settle anywhere but All Might’s face.
“Kid… you’re shaking like a leaf. Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Everything’s fine!” Izuku shouts at their shoes, black with purple and white socks. They know they’re lying. “I just want to start training as soon as possible! Let’s go!”
They try to go ahead of All Might, but the pro hero grabs them by the shoulder and forces them to halt.
“Hold it, kid. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“But we don’t have a lot of time to-“ Izuku starts to argue. All Might stops them.
“If you’re too distracted while training, you’re just gonna end up hurting yourself.” The man sighs. “Come on, let’s find somewhere to sit, and then you’re gonna tell me what’s going on.”
Izuku allows All Might to guide them to a spot off the sand to sit, and they struggle to come up with something to say on the way there.
They both sit, and before Izuku can even start providing their bullshit excuse, All Might says, “It’s a pride flag, right?”
Izuku feels like their panic is stabbing them, and something in their chest feels heavy and like it’s constricting their throat. Their words come out like they’re suffocating Izuku.
“Wha- no it’s just- it’s nothing like that, I swear it’s-“ Getting air is starting to feel impossible, and they’re chest is almost heaving. “Uraraka made them, honest, I- Why would I make that up, I don’t even know how I would do that I mean I didn’t even know it looked like a pride flag, I-“
“Woah, kid. Take a breath.” All Might puts his hands on their shoulders and stops their panicked speech. He breathes a laugh, and now that Izuku’s actually looking, through eyes blurred by frantic tears, they see the worry in the lines of his mouth. “It’s alright, kid, just breathe. Tell me what’s going on in that head of yours that’s got you so worked up.”
Izuku takes in enough air that their lungs feel like they might pop. There are so many things that they’re scared of happening. They let the air out and the words come with it.
“You might think it’s stupid.” They shrug, unsure how to say the next part when it sounds so ridiculous out loud. “… And something in my head just keeps, I don’t, it just keeps thinking that you might… regret making me your successor. That you might not think about me the same way or-or wanna train me anymore.”
“If you feel this way about it, then I’m not gonna think it’s stupid, okay?” All Might puts a hand on each side of their face, wiping any tears that have managed to flow over. It’s gentle and reminds Izuku of their mom. He makes Izuku look up at him. “I’m not goin’ anywhere, kid, just explain it to me.”
Izuku meets his eyes and takes another deep breath, hoping it can force out their words again. It doesn’t, but they find themself able to get them out anyway.
They move to grab their bag, and All Might lets go to allow them. They pull out the pin and fish for their bracelet to pull out as well.
“This… is the genderqueer flag.” They hold it face up in their lap so All Might can look, but don’t take their own eyes off of it. They move their other hand to show the bracelet resting in their palm. “This is one of the colors of- of the non-binary flag. I wore it today with these shoes and socks, so that I could kind of have that flag with me too.”
They look up at the man sitting across from them, listening intently. They take another deep breath to steady their shaking hands.
“Basically what that means is that my gender falls outside of the gen- gender binary. Genderqueer and non-binary are both umbrella terms for genders and… and gender expressions that aren’t entirely male or entirely female, or even male or female at all.” Pause. Another breath. Continue. “For me, I don’t really like the idea of being thought of as male or female. There are more specific terms I could use, but for right now I’m good with just these ones.”
Izuku looks up to the hero again. “Does that… make sense?”
“Kind of? I’m just a little confused about how you can feel like neither a boy nor a girl,” All Might says, then adds quickly. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I just… I don’t understand it.”
Another breath, he’s not being mean, just trying to understand.
“I don’t think it’s really something you can fully understand unless you’ve actually felt it,” Izuku starts. “But for me it’s like… you know, how you wouldn’t like being mistaken for a woman. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being a woman, you just… aren’t one, right?” The hero nods. “Well, I feel like that when people call me a boy. I also feel that way when they try to call me a girl. It makes me… uncomfortable, so I know that I’m not either of those things.”
All Might hums in thought. “So it’s like the transgender thing?”
Izuku nods hesitantly. “Yeah… kinda. A lot of non-binary people like to identify under the trans umbrella, but a lot of us also don’t. I, uh, personally don’t really… identify with the word trans, but if someone described me as trans, I wouldn’t really mind. But it could be completely different for someone else! It’s all about preference.”
“Okay…” He says, processing, Izuku thinks. “So… do you have new pronouns?”
Izuku blinks. Had they really forgotten to mention pronouns?
“Oh, well, uh, I actually use they/them pronouns, b-but I get if that’s a lot to get used to! I know some people get really confused using them, so if you don’t want to, that- that’s okay.” It really isn’t, but Izuku doesn’t want to be annoying, and All Might’s already done more than they could have asked for. “I can understand-“
“Kid, I’ve had to adjust from being quirkless, to being the number one hero with one of the strongest quirks in the world, back to being quirkless again. I think I can handle some difficult pronouns,” All Might reassures them. “And lets be honest, they aren’t even that difficult.”
Izuku smiles at their hero. It feels a little wobbly, but it’s genuine. “Okay… Uh, thank you.”
“‘Course, kid.” He stands, chuckling. “And stop crying, it’s embarrassing.”
Izuku wipes their face, laughing too. They stand up. “Sorry, it’s just always so… surprising, how nice you are to me.”
“Kid…” Izuku finds themself wrapped in a hug. “I swear, it’s like you’re trying to break my heart.”
Izuku returns it.
“I’m not trying to, I swear.” They don’t want him to think they’re trying to guilt him into anything.
“I know, kid,” he sighs, and Izuku thinks it’s almost fond.
He pulls away, holding Izuku by their shoulders as he looks them over. He rubs their arms, like he’s trying to warm them up even though it’s not cold.
“You okay now? Ready to start training?”
Izuku nods and then remembers the time. “Wait, don’t you have that meeting soon?”
All Might waves a hand dismissively. “What are they gonna do, fire me? I’m All Might, the number one hero, for chrissake. They can’t fire the symbol of peace.”
Izuku scuffs their shoe in the sand. “I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me.”
“Nonsense! If I don’t go, that’s my decision,” All Might says. “And besides, mentoring the next number one hero is my top priority, anything else falls under that.”
“But if I hadn’t gotten so worked up over nothing and needed you to calm me down, we could be almost done by now,” Izuku argues.
“Midoriya, you’re a kid, you can’t be expected to be at 100% all the time. I don’t even think that would be a reasonable expectation if you were an adult,” All Might tells them. “Being your mentor means making sure you’re doing well mentally as well as physically. Both are important.”
“No more buts! It’s time to train!”
They finally make their way to their usual section of the beach, and training begins.
And hey, maybe Izuku hasn’t really worked up the courage to tell the whole world, but telling the person who’s entrusted them with said world’s safety sure isn’t a terrible first step. It certainly helps them to feel, while fastening their pin once again to the inside of their jacket later, that it’s exactly where it belongs.
Maybe they are too.