Gender is a confusing social construct in a world that is so gendered. There are binaries everywhere, from airport lines and washrooms to schools and gyms. It is contested and confusing.
Gender is not a binary but a spectrum. Sam Killermann’s Gingerbread person is the perfect explanation.
Non-Binary is an umbrella term for people who do not identify as male or female, or as both, or neither. It also encompasses females with bits of male or the other way around. Non-Binary is the grey area of the gender spectrum. A non-binary person can identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, transgender etc. There are many possible and ever-evolving non-binary gender identities.
Here are some things you may not know about being Non-binary.
1. “I’m asexual” “I’m non binary” no you’re 13 go touch some grass”
This post on the Reddit forum r/teenagers explains a lot that younger queer children experience when trying to live their truth.
Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – non-binary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world. A child exploring their gender starts at an age younger than 13 and many come to a definitive label by that age.
Hence, invalidating children because of their age makes them not trust you.
2. “I’m still non-binary even if I’m femme!”
Dresses don’t make you a woman, pants don’t make you a man and one does not need androgynous clothing to be or “look” non-binary.
Someone’s gender expression is not a representation of their gender identity. Instead of assuming that someone with a feminine expression is a woman, it is better to just ask.
3. Not all non-binary people undergo medical procedures.
Some people may want to undergo medical and surgical procedures. It is critical and life-saving for them. However, everyone does not wish to undergo procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity.
Hence, asking prying questions or questioning the validity of someone’s identity due to their body is disrespectful.
4. Non-binary people are just not those with they/them pronouns.
Non-binary people can and cannot have binary pronouns. Although ‘they’ is gender neutral and must be use unless specified, it is not the only pronoun.
They can have one set of pronouns and more than one too.
5. Non-binary people can have other gender identities too.
Some people identify as nonbinary and as a man or woman or trans or something else. They do so because that label acknowledges both their social and innate identification.
Having more than one gender identity means different things to people.
6. They can have a variety of sexual orientations.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are two separate things. Someone can be cisgender and queer, and they can also be transgender or nonbinary and straight. Or, they can have any their gender identity without labeling their sexuality.
Additionally, being attracted to a nonbinary person does not determine your sexuality.
7. Dysphoria is not compulsory
Although gender dysphoria is common amongst transgender and nonbinary people, it is not compulsory. A non-binary person who does not experience dysphoria is still a non-binary person.
Dysphoria can be common and is sometimes influenced by the ways in which society, at large, enforces gender binaries that are not meant for everyone.
8. There is no such thing as being “too old to be non-binary”.
Non-binary people do not always feel they were “born that way”, their realization or discomfort may materialize until later in life. For some, there’s little to no distress, and just an internal acknowledgment that their gender is beyond the binary.
Hence, saying that someone is “too old to be non-binary” paints gender identity as a trend, which it is not.
9. There is no such thing as “proving” an identity.
Nobody has to change things about themselves when they realize that they are non-binary. Changing one’s presentation, behavior or pronouns is not the segway to proving one’s identity.
Being non-binary does not have to be a huge deal. You do not have to do anything special or come out or behave differently. Gender is personal and for yourself.
10. Non-binary people are not famous.
Celebrities like Ruby Rose, Miley Cyrus, Mae Martin, Sam Smith, Emma Corrin, Janelle Monáe and Faraz Arif Ansari are some talented non-binary celebrities. These celebrities are breaking down barriers with their powerful visibility and showing the world that they are able to be who they are and successful at whatever they wish to do.
As media starts to grow in its representation, more genderfluid and non-binary celebrities are starting to come center stage and share their stories.
As the concept of the gender binary slowly starts to recede, it does make you wonder what people’s gender identities would look like if they were never introduced to the binary in the first place