Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Binary Does Not Exist

Most people think of gender as a binary but it is not, it is a continuum.
We Are Non-Binary Trans People And Yes, We Exist
Huffington Post Living Canada
By Joshua M. Ferguson
Posted: 10/11/2016

At my birth, my mother asked "What is it?" immediately after I left her body, as if I was not human until I was sexed, gendered and categorized into the sex and gender binary (assigned both a sex and a gender identity in line with this sex). The doctor curiously responded, "It's a girl. No... it's a boy!" And so my life as non-binary began. I am neither a girl/woman nor a boy/man, regardless of the sex category assigned to my body.

The transgender metanarrative in our society is often focused on the lives of binary trans people -- trans men and trans women. So, even when we think about the possibility of someone being trans, we assume that they are either a trans man or a trans woman. This elevates the lives of binary trans people while excluding non-binary trans people from social and legal recognition.

Trans people are diverse, but we are not all the same. Non-binary trans people have been largely excluded from the discussion about trans people, and this erasure delegitimizes our identity. This erasure is increasingly important for non-binary trans people of colour who are already at an increased risk of discrimination, violence, police surveillance and incarceration.
That is something many of us trans people forget that nature loves diversity while us humans hate diversity. We like to put things into nice little labeled boxes but Mother Nature likes to blur the lines.

We entirely dismiss intersex people, so much so that doctors want to fit the baby into a nice pink or blue box.

At Fantasia Fair this year there was a sub-current of breaking the binary culture in the trans community. I know when I first came out I wanted to “pass” to be “stealth” and I used makeup, I went to all the workshops that I could on how to be a “woman.” But over time I realized that wasn’t who I am, I lived all my life a lie and I didn’t want to go back and live another lie, I wanted to be me.

I also learned that there are more to being a woman than a dress, heels, and make-up.

Yesterday I went to a LGBT senior center function and do you know what… none of the women in the room wore any makeup, none of the women wore a dress or a skirt, and none of the women wore heels. I remember when the marriage equality law was passed in Connecticut and I was at the Love Makes a Family office the day when there was going to be a big party to celebrate the passage and I asked what the dress was going to be for the party. Should I wear a dress? One of the women in the office gave me a blank stare and said she was going to the party that was celebrating the victory with what she was wearing, a flannel shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

What is so strange about non-binary gender? We dress in unisex clothes; we wear our hair with gender neutral styles; we are trying to break down the gender barrier in the workplace, but as trans people we are reinforcing the gender binary.

It seems like the younger generation gets it, but those my age don’t. I was in a discussion group about lesbians and trans people, and in workshop we never got that far, when we went around the room telling something about ourselves the twenty something lesbians included their pronouns and wanted to know why the older lesbians didn’t. It got to be a heated discussion, the older lesbian said that their gender was obvious while the younger generation said you cannot go by looks.

But you know what, the young people are right, the older generation fought to break down the gender barriers but are reinforcing the gender binaries.

Most languages have gender neutral pronouns but English doesn’t, I am not a big fan of using they/them, why can’t we steal some gender neutral pronouns from other languages?

When you stop and think about it makes sense to question the gender binary.

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