Man with colored hair and a colored flag holding a colorful loudspeaker
Shutterstock

What does it mean to be Nonbinary?

Have you met someone whose pronoun is 'they' or 'them?' If you have, I bet this left you confused. You are not alone.

If you have struggled to understand non-binary people or haven’t heard about them, you are not alone. 

We live in societies that tend to recognize just two genders i.e. male and female, this is called gender binary. Binary means having two parts, in this case, male and female. 

Non-binary, therefore, describes genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.

Non-binary is used to describe someone whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female.

Which means? 

This means that someone who does not consider themselves as man or woman, or only as one of those two genders. 

This group might identify as both (bigender), neither (agender), a mix between the two (genderfluid), or they can be unsure of their gender (genderqueer). 

Together at this point?

Yes? Good. 

Societal labeling of a man/woman influences how people feel about themselves and how others perceive and interact with them. Therefore, the experience of gender that is not simply male or female still deserves respect and equal rights are highly stigmatized.

Non-binary people are not confused

Non-Binary gender has been present and recognized for thousands of years within different societies. This rules out the assumption that non-binary people are simply following a new trend or are confused.

Recognizing and appreciating that we have non-binary young people living with us at our homes, streets, schools, work, and other social spaces will help in cultivating a warm, safer, equal, and healthy environment for tender love to flourish.  

It’s important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school, and in public spaces. We should be accommodative and support non-binary individuals who have decided become visible for those who are still unsure or coming out about their identity and being a positive reflection. I    

Tips for interacting with non-binary people

You have probably interacted with non-binary people and struggled how to chat, call, or even had some sense of awkwardness while around them, here are tips on how you can do better:

  • Avoid assumptions about people’s gender, you can’t tell someone’s identity by simply looking at them.
  • Observe and listen to how they refer to themselves, or how their close friends refer to them and use those pronouns
  • Normalize asking the preferred name, it's a simple and important way of showing respect to non-binary people.
  • Ask about the preferred pronoun, many non-binary people use 'they', 'them', or 'their.' while others use 'he' or 'she,' among other pronouns. Others prefer to use their name and not any pronouns at all. 
  • Spend time with your non-binary friends, and let them know that their gender is real and it is valid.

Something to note

Gender is personal (how we see ourselves), while sexual orientation is interpersonal (who we are physically, emotionally, and romantically attracted to).

Do you have any questions or comments about non-binary people? Leave a comment or question below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Did you learn something new?

Comments

Hi Augustine, 

You are not alone. Many people get confused about what non-binary means. To break it down for you, someone who is non-binary does not consider themselves male or female. So, unlike other people who are either male or female, non-binary people do not fall under these two categories. Does this make it easier for you to understand? If not, let's keep the conversation going.  

Add new comment

Comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang>