A Beginner's Guide to Non-Binary Identities
Whether you are a cisgender man or a transgender woman, there is a world of non-binary people out there who want to be recognized as such.
Many people of non-binary gender identities have been feeling alone because the concept of being “different” is so stigmatized. Non-binary identities are not just a thing — they are actually real life experiences that many people share.
According to the The Unicode Consortium, “a non-binary gender identity is an internal sense of one’s gender that differs from that typically associated with one’s sex at birth.”
These feelings and identities can range from mild and occasionally appear to be open about it (feminine men, feminine women) to absolute and extreme cases of dysphoria where the person doesn’t identify as either male or female (omegender individuals). Read on to learn more about what it means to be non-binary and how you can accept yourself instead of letting social expectations mold you into someone you’re not.
What is a non-binary gender identity?
A non-binary gender identity is an internal sense of one’s gender that differs from that typically associated with one’s sex at birth. This means that someone with a non-binary gender identity doesn’t feel like they fit into the typical “boy” or “girl” categories. For example, non-binary people may identify as neither male nor female, both male and female, or some other non-male/non-female identity.
What does it mean to be non-binary?
Non-binary individuals do not identify as either male or female. They may also feel that their gender is a mix of genders, or that their gender is fluid and changes over time. A few examples of non-binary identities include agender, genderfluid, and androgynous. In general, there are two types of non-binary identities: Some people with non-binary identities are trans, while others are not. Some of the earliest research on non-binary people is from the 1930s and 1940s, when scientists studied people who were intersex (those born with reproductive organs or sexual characteristics that don’t fit the “typical” definitions of male or female).
Why is being non-binary so stigmatized?
Non-binary people face a lot of stigma because of the assumption that everyone is either male or female, and that someone’s identity is binary. This assumption that there are only two genders is called cissexism. The idea of “othering” people who don’t fit into the binary, which is the belief that non-binary (cisgender) people are different from “normal people” and that those differences are bad, is at the root of stigma and discrimination towards non-binary people.
Being non-binary, or even just being aware of non-binary people, is a step towards breaking down the gender binary. The more non-binary people are visible and open about who they are, the easier it is for everyone else to understand that they exist. Non-binary people have always existed and likely always will, and they deserve to be loved and accepted just as much as anyone else.
Click below to view BE DIVERSE's keynote about Being Non-Binary and Transitioning.