Thursday 14 July is International Nonbinary People’s Day—a day for raising awareness and organizing around issues that nonbinary people face around the world since it was first observed in 2012.
Nonbinary people are nothing new. We aren’t confused about our gender identity or trying to be trendy—nonbinary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies across the globe.
It’s important for nonbinary people to be able to live, dress, and have our gender respected at work, at school, and in public spaces.
Asking everyone (including cisgender people) what their pronouns are when first getting to know them may feel awkward initially, but it’s one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for trans and nonbinary people. Sharing your own pronouns on Zoom, Slack, email, and in-person normalizes this practice.
It is not possible to assume that you know what someone’s pronoun is on first meeting them. They may look like a specific gender to you, but that does not necessarily mean that is their gender, and that’s why this is important. Gently correcting others when they use the wrong pronoun for a trans or nonbinary person is helpful, even if the trans or nonbinary person is not present. Fortunately, there is etiquette for reminding people of pronouns, asking people for their pronouns, and sharing pronouns.
Creating gender-neutral spaces instead of gender-segregated ones is helpful. When a nonbinary person is forced to choose a male or female washroom/bathroom/toilet facility, it feels like our nonbinary gender is being invalidated. On the other hand, the “all-gender” facilities are often also the one for disabled people, and we feel bad taking up their space. The best option is individual cubicles labeled “for everyone”.
Another common obstacle is the gender selection box in software and surveys. These often do not allow people to select nonbinary as their gender.
Gender-neutral clothing is also difficult to find.
And don’t forget that trans men and AFAB nonbinary people are also affected by reduced access to reproductive healthcare.
There are lots of resources available to help you understand gender diversity.
- MyPronouns.org: Resources on Personal Pronouns – Why we need to normalize sharing them, how to share them, how to respond when someone gets it wrong.
- The Pronouns Song – The Doubleclicks
- Charities and groups that benefit gender variant people – Nonbinary Wiki
- Them magazine
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2 thoughts on “Happy International Nonbinary People’s Day”
Utterly agree we use someone’s preferred pronouns: if one can remember unique names for people we meet, we can remember a pronoun.
As a note of caution about asking: some non-cis people don’t want to revela that they aren’t cis to certain segments of their life (family and work are common) so don’t want to be put in a position where they have to either reveal they aren’t cis or lie about it. One alternative to asking is to include one’s own pronouns when introducing oneself to actively create a space then leave it up to them to choose whether they want to express a preference in the specific context.
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Yes, I agree Dave. I am out as a they/them in some contexts, but not in others. Thanks for the comment.
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