‘Gender’ is one of the most contested and confusing concepts in today’s times. It is everywhere, infused into everything. It often crops up in many conversations, yet whose uses seem to be changing all the time. It seems to be always on the move, producing new variations of meaning. We talk about gender roles, gender identity, gender gaps, gender bending and so much more.
One thing is certain – gender comes in many flavors and there are many different genders out there. Gender is not binary, as we all know. It is a spectrum.
Sam Killermann’s Gingerbread person fantastically shows this spectrum!
This makes one thing perfectly clear – Gender identity is one’s personal experience of one’s own gender.
But what exactly is a non-binary gender identity? Is it a preference, or something else entirely? Can you “turn” non-binary, or are we all just a little non-binary anyway? Here’s your guide to everything non-binary.
What is Non-Binary?
It is an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as male or female, or who identifies as both, or neither, or female with tiny bits of male, or the other way around.
source: google image
Essentially, Non-Binary is the grey area of the spectrum.
Umm… Like Genderfluid?
Genderfluid is a gender identity that refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. Gender fluid people may also identify as multigender, non-binary and/or transgender.
So yes, many Non-Binary individuals prefer the terminology genderqueer or genderfluid.
Mumbai based artist Durga Gawde puts it beautifully when she says, “Being gender fluid means that I sometimes identify as female, sometimes as male, sometimes as both at the same time and sometimes neither. Like the term, it’s fluid, like water, my gender flows into each other and sometimes there’s more clarity about how I’m identifying in that moment, but most often, it is ambiguous and makes me feel closer to being human than when I used to try and force myself to fit the binary.”
In our experience of talking to some of the Non-Binary people, they had to take a soul searching journey to really know who they are, and how they like to express themselves!
Essentially, a Non-Binary person can identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, transgender, or any other numerous terms. Each person has to determine that themselves. The language has to honor the pride afterall, isn’t?
There are many possible non-binary gender identities, and they are constantly evolving.
Artwork by Sakshi Jalan
Many non-Binary people have different gender pronouns. The easiest way to find out someone’s pronoun is by simply asking; “What is your pronoun?”
It is important to use the correct pronouns. A correct use of pronouns and gendered language is essential and can be a positive and affirmative experience for everyone.
Pronouns are not limited. We already know of he/she/they. Lots of non-binary and/or trans people use these pronouns. However, not all non-binary and/or trans people use these pronouns. Some of the more common ones are shown in the visual below.
Did you know that ey/er/eim is actually the first documented gender neutral pronoun? It is easy to remember if you think about just removing the th from they/them/their.
Artwork by Fishead
Pronouns are about respecting the other person’s identity and validating their experience.
A few Important Facts
- Non-Binary people can have any sexual orientation.
- Pronouns are not preferred. They’re either correct or wrong. And non-binary individuals decide which are appropriate for themselves.
- What you see is NOT how someone may identify.
- Not Every Person Who Identifies As Having Non-Binary Gender Will Identify As Trans.
- Non-Binary people are not trying to be different. Their gender identity is as valid as those of monogender people.
- Not all non-binary people want to transition. Some do, and many don’t.
Buzzing Celebrities – Aha!
In the recent years, we have seen many celebrities reject the notion of gender binary and have openly spoken about their non-binary, genderfluid identities!
Our favorite crush Ruby Rose, star of the known TV show Orange is the new black, was noted saying, “[I] feel more like I wake up every day sort of gender neutral”.
Tilda Swinton, the 54-year-old Academy Award-winning actress, who recently starred in in Snowpiercer and The Grand Budapest Hotel, told The WIP that she is “probably” female. “I don’t know if I could ever really say that I was a girl — I was kind of a boy for a long time. I don’t know, who knows? It changes.”
Err… What about our local heroes?
There are many inspiring awesome non-binary people closer to home, and we are bringing their fabulous stories soon in the coming days.
Keep watching this space, and wish all non-binary friends and families a very happy July 14th.
Artwork by Sakshi Jalan