Gender binary is the categorization that there are only two sexes: male and female cf. These sexes are considered to be opposite to each other. Due to socially crafted expectations, the two genders are placed in “boxes” that determine their actions, role in society, dress, behavior and others.
Growing up, most of us recognized only two genders, female and male. But there are those who don’t exclusively identify themselves by these two genders. So, what if you feel in your heart that you don’t belong to this gender binary ? You may be non binary.
So, what is non binary? The term “nonbinary” describes someone whose gender identity does not conform to the traditional gender categories of male and female; that is, they do not identify exclusively as one of the two generally accepted sexes of man and woman. A nonbinary person does not follow the socially defined gender binary.
Most people, including most transgender people, identify as either men or women. But not everyone falls into the male or female categories. Non-binary people may feel they are a blend of male and female genders. Some may not even identify with any gender identity. They may even identify as a combination of male, female, and other non binary identities.
If you are a non binary person, your perception of your gender does not conform with the traditional views that the biological anatomy you were born with does not determine your gender identity.
The “non-binary”definition encompasses a diverse range of gender identities that exist beyond the traditional male/female binary. Some individuals use this term to describe their gender as something other than male or female. In addition, several other gender identities are often considered non-binary, such as:
- Gender fluid
It’s important to understand that these terms don’t exactly mean the same thing, they just describe a gender identity and experience that is not male or female.
When discussing with a stranger or new acquaintances, it is best practice to ask for what or how they identify themselves and what terminology they’ll prefer. This’ll help reduce confusion over what all these terms mean and how a person can sensitively use them without being insulting.
One more important thing to note is that the sexual orientation of nonbinary people or the people who they’re attracted to isn’t related to their gender identity. They could be gay, bisexual, straight or asexual.
Although, nonbinary people and the non binary community are considered to be a new phenomenon, in history, we’ve seen that nonbinary identities have existed for centuries and have been part of many cultures in history, although they may have had different labels.
An example were the Hijras from ancient Hindu society. Ancient Hindu texts have records dating far back as 400 B.C.E to 200 A.D. The Hajiras were stated to be a community of “third gender” people who didn’t identify themselves as male or female. Another historical example is the native American society. Some of them identified androgynous people to have spiritual roles in their society.
What Is Non Binary Gender Identification?
To explain the non binary meaning, it’s essential to understand what non binary gender identification is.
Gender identity explains how individuals see their gender. A person’s gender identity explains the internal sense they feel of who they are, and for some individuals, it usually agrees with the sex they are assigned at birth. When this happens, gender identity is thought of as binary: man or woman.
From birth, doctors determine the gender of an individual by assessing the infant’s anatomy like their external reproductive organs. From these factors, an individual gets their gender identity decided as per whether they are male or female.
When the gender an individual is assigned from birth goes along with their gender identity, they are referred to as cisgender. For example, an individual who possesses male genitalia and identifies as a man is referred to as a cisgender man, while an individual who possesses female genitalia and identifies as a woman is referred to as a cisgender woman. This method of thinking of gender is binary.
Now, for the non binary identity, some do not view their gender in the binary form. While they do not identify as male or female, they still have a strong sense of their sex.
Based on research, it’s been identified that the concept of nonbinary comes from the feeling that gender is a spectrum and not binary opposites. There are some whose gender identity may cut across, or even fall outside the gender spectrum.
Nonbinary people’s gender identity and experience could include some part or multiple parts of the gender spectrum or none of them at all. A nonbinary person may also conceptualize their gender identity as fluid and their experience as ever-changing.
More than ever, our understanding of nonbinary identities and gender fluidity has increased and the social visibility and acceptance of non-binary individuals is superb. Despite this, there are still several people who don’t understand or accept the concept of gender fluidity and non binary identities. A survey conducted in 2015 discovered that as much as 86 percent of non binary responders did not correct people who made mistakes with their genders stating that because most don’t understand it, they don’t even try explaining.
There are several different non binary gender identities, and some people may use various labels to explain the conceptualize their gender identity.
Here are few common non binary gender identities:
- Bigender: This term is used to explain people who identify as a blend of male and female.
- Agender: This term is to describe people who either do not have a gender identity or those who do not feel that gender is an integral part of their identity.
- Demigender: This term is used to describe people who feel they are a partial blend of male or female. They may also feel that their gender identity is a blend of male, female, and some other identity on the gender spectrum.
- Genderfluid: These are people whose gender identity may change as time passes. They may have feelings such as being male for one day and female for the next day.
- Androgynous: This term is used to describe people whose gender identity and experience are a blend of both male and female. They may also have a gender identity and experience that isn’t male or female.
All these identities are a few examples of the various non-binary gender identities that exist. What is important to understand is that everyone’s gender identity and experience is very unique.
Non-binary individuals have been called “enby” by some people because it sounds like the shortened form of nonbinary which is ‘NB’. The term ‘enby” seems to have originated from a Tumblr user in 2013 who was looking for a way to describe a nonbinary individual with an expression similar to “boy” or “girl”.
Challenges Faced by Non-Binary Individuals
Non-binary individuals may encounter several obstacles regarding their gender identity. Among the most notable is a lack of comprehension and approval from society. Non-binary people could experience bias and bullying in their personal lives and at work, including being referred to with the incorrect pronouns and having to answer intrusive questions.
Additionally, non-binary individuals may confront hurdles associated with legal action. Several countries only accept male or female as gender choices on legal papers such as passports and driver’s licenses. This can create problems for non-binary people who seek to have their gender identity recognized by the authorities. Some non-binary individuals may opt to change their name or gender marker legally, but this is usually an arduous and expensive process.
Despite these difficulties, there is a rising movement to support and empower non-binary individuals. Non-binary activists and organizations are striving to raise awareness and promote acceptance of non-binary identities. They are advocating for changes to legal documents and healthcare policies to better recognize and support non-binary individuals.
Non Binary Pronouns
Non-binary pronouns are a way for people who don’t identify strictly as male or female to be referred to in a way that reflects their gender identity. These pronouns include “they/them/theirs”, “ze/hir/hirs”, “xe/xem/xyrs”, and others. Using the correct pronouns is essential to respecting a person’s gender identity and making them feel seen and valued.
It’s important to remember that not all non-binary people use the same pronouns, and it’s okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer. By using non-binary pronouns, we can create a more inclusive and accepting world for all gender identities
To wrap up, non-binary identities are an important and valid part of the gender spectrum . Non-binary people have unique challenges related to their gender, but more and more people are working to support them. It’s important for all of us to create a more accepting society where non-binary people can be themselves.