International Non-Binary People’s Day, July 14th 2023
On July 14th, we celebrate International Non-Binary People’s Day. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness to the non-binary people and the wider gender diverse community. The week surrounding this day is Non-Binary Awareness Week.
For this year’s International Non-Binary People’s Day we want to offer you a guide on what non-binary means, while addressing some of the issues this diverse community continues to face.
The term non-binary refers to people who do not identify with the gender binary of male and female. Many identities fall within this umbrella term, such as genderfluid, agender, and genderqueer. Some people may identify with certain aspects about the gender binary, potentially fluctuating between the two oppositional categories. However, others may reject it completely.
While non-binary encompasses people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, not everyone sees themselves as trans. It is also important to understand the difference between gender identity and gender expression. Simply put, gender identity is who you are, whereas gender expression is how you present yourself. You can present as masculine, feminine or androgynous. However, your appearance does not dictate your gender identity and vice versa.
Recognising Non-Binary People
In December 2022, the Swiss government rejected the proposal to introduce a third gender option on official records. According to the Federal Council, the ‘binary gender model is still strongly anchored in Swiss society’. This statement does not excuse the government’s rejection to recognise non-binary identities.
What happened in Switzerland is a wider issue of recognition. Governments around the world do not recognise non-binary people’s identity as real, claiming a false narrative of there being only two genders. There are more than two genders and believing otherwise only further dismisses any non-binary identity. Not only is gender not binary but so is sex. There are countless different sex variations, intersex people being one of them.
Tips on how to be a better ally
Here are some useful things to remember when talking to and about non-binary people.
- First and foremost, respect non-binary people’s identity! It is always important to respect the language and labels others use to define themselves.
- Use the correct pronouns. Just because somebody identifies as non-binary, does not mean that their pronouns are ‘they/them’. Some may wish to use ‘she/her’, ‘he/him’ or any other pronouns or combinations.
- Gender expression does not equal gender identity. Non-binary people do not owe you androgyny. They can present as masculine or feminine. No matter how they present, their identity is still valid.
- This goes without saying, but never ask a non-binary person whether they are AMAB or AFAB. It defeats the whole point of not identifying with a particular binary. This question only serves to put non-binary people back into a binary category based on their sex assigned at birth. Not to mention, it is harmful, invasive and disrespectful to ask this question.
- Don’t assume trans and non-binary people’s pronouns! Simply ask what they would like to be referred to. Try to use gender neutral language as much as possible, especially when in a room full of strangers whose pronouns and genders you do not know. For example, you can address a group of people as ‘everyone’, instead of ‘ladies and gentlemen’.
- Lastly, stand up for non-binary people’s rights!
For more tips on how to be a better ally, read through The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth. This guide helps you understand how to better support young trans and non-binary people.
Non-binary people are valid
Bringing awareness to non-binary people is vital to ensuring that this community is no longer overlooked. They continue to experience discrimination and invalidation. Many governments around the world still do not acknowledge the existence of people who do not conform to the binary of man and woman.
However, we are here to tell you that YOU ARE VALID. Your non-binary identity is valid, no matter what governments or other people claim.