International Non-Binary People's Day
Mid-July must have seemed like the perfect time to celebrate International Non-Binary People’s Day. Halfway between International Women’s Day (March 9) and International Men’s Day (November 19), July 14th is a day to celebrate those who do not identify exclusively as male or female.
Non-Binary gender is an unbrella term used to describe any gender identity that does not fit into the gender binary of male or female. Non-Binary people may identify as having no gender, fall on a spectrum somewhere inbetween male and female or identify as outside of any binary gender identity. Non-Binary as a gender construct is not new. Throughout the centuries in non-colonized culutres we have seen examples of those who do not identify within the binary of male or female. In many cultures these individuals were revered and often identified as healers and spiritual leaders. Non-Binary people may or may not identify as transgender or genderqueer. They often use non-binaried language including they/them/their or Ze/Hir/Hirs pronouns or no use of pronouns at all. It is also appropriate to refrain from titles and honorifics such as Ma’am, Miss and Sir, saying thank you and using their name is polite and well mannered, always a consideration here in the south.
We believe today is an important day for visibility, awareness, and understanding. There is no one way to be a non-binary person and it is up to all of us to do the work the understand the individual needs of our non-binary friends.
Tips for being an ally:
Ask for and use the correct pronouns. Change is hard but practice is key! Your non-binary friends appreciate the effort to respect them with your use of pronouns. A great way to do this is to offer your pronouns when greeting someone which let’s them know you are a person who is interested in knowing their pronouns and using them correctly.
Don’t assume identity based on what you see. Gender presentation is not the same as gender identity. There are many reasons a person may not be able to express their gender identity through means that are visually accessible to you. Some may have to do with cost, safety, employment and other restrictions that are not based on personal choice.
Ask what you need to know not what you want to know. Do not rely on non-binary people to educate you. If you want to know what it means for an individual in your life ask them, “What does being non-binary mean to you?”. Some people are comfortable talking about the subject and others are not. While people may choose to share their story with you, you are not entitled to it. If you don’t understand what it means to be non-binary, seek out educational resources so that you can be a better friend and ally. Here are some great places to start:
If you are exploring your own gender identity and wondering if a non-binary gender fits for you, here are some of our favorite resources: