|Let’s get to know each other! I’ll start: My name is Abrina. I’m a 20yr old Poli-Sci Major/Gender Studies Minor in John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I am Ukrainian and Jewish, and I am a first generation American of my family. I’m agender and pansexual, and I use they/them pronouns to identify myself. I also identify as “femme” which means I like to portray myself as feminine, but that is not my gender identification, it is merely just a way I like to play with the concepts of gender. I also have other interests such as makeup, video games, and horror movies. My love for makeup also stemmed from my experiences in the feminist movement. I’ve been dealing with acne as a teenager, and when I turned 18 my acne became cystic. I was very nervous about using makeup especially because there is such a negative culture attached to it from the outside world, but makeup is really just a form of artistic expression and a way to feel good about yourself. As for video games, I became a fan as a kid from playing with my GameCube, but it really turned into a hobby when I started playing The Sims and also Tomb Raider. I still love both of these games series, although I’ve been a die-hard fan of the Assassin's Creed series for a while, mainly because of the effortless combination of real world history and fantasy elements. I’ve also been a fan of horror movies since I was 8 years old, and the scariest movie I have ever seen is IT, from Stephen King, who also happens to be one of my favorite writers, next to Chuck Palahniuk. (No, Fight Club isn’t my favorite work of his, it’s actually Damned. My favorite book however, is A Clockwork Orange!)|
When people think of gender, what usually comes to mind is male, female, and the genitalia associated with it. What many of us to fail to remember is that gender and sex are different, but also that gender is a spectrum, not a binary. Like there is not only two colors in the color spectrum, there are not only two genders in the gender spectrum. Gender holds variations of masculine/feminine identities, and it also holds identities that completely disassociate themselves with the spectrum. Like black and white, which are the absence of colors, there are identities which are the absence of gender. This is known as non-binary.
The word ‘transgender’ is an umbrella term for people who do not define solely with their assigned gender. This encompasses multiple gender identities that would all be considered trans. Unlike genderqueer, which can include someone who moves within the binary, non-binary is for people who identify outside of it completely. There are subsets within non-binary that individuals can use to further identify themselves. Like binary trans people, non-binary people may want to get surgery that can include but is not limited to;
- Genital reassignment surgery
- Facial reconstruction
- Breast implants/breast removal
Non-binary individuals may also look to getting hormone therapy as do binary trans people, but that is up to the person to decide for themselves.
According to an article from Psychology Today titled “None of the Above” written by Matt Huston about the growing visibility of non-binary people, “As an umbrella term, the word transgender refers to those whose sense of their gender differs from what is expected based on the sex characteristics with which they are born. The transgender stereotype, at least in mainstream culture, is a person who identifies as the “other” gender and switches from a masculine appearance to a feminine one, or vice versa.” (Huston, 2015). The problem with this ideology of trans people is that it erases trans people who do not transition or fall within the binary gender scheme: “Overlooked by much of the media are those who feel that they are not exclusively men or womThey use labels like nonbinary, genderqueer, or one of many related terms that generally describe a sense of gender that’s beyond, or somewhere in between, the concepts of “man” and “woman.” (Huston, 2015)
While some non-binary might prefer to appear androgynous, many non-binary people like to appear as masculine or feminine. This doesn’t harbor any relation to their gender, rather it is just a form of expression of self. In terms of legislation, it is still a problem for non-binary to be legally recognized for their gender. While in America, it’s currently not possible for non-binary people to legally identify themselves in this way, there have still been strides made. Many schools, companies and medical facilities are becoming more open to the fact that people identify differently from what we presume. Surveys, company forums, medical questionnaires and college/university documents are including boxes where people can indicate what their gender identity is and what they prefer to be called, including what pronouns they would like to be used when they are addressed: “The existence of non-binary people testifies that there are myriad, complex ways of conceiving of oneself. But it does something else, too, by inviting broader conversations about how everyone understands gender.” (Huston, 2015)
Opening up conversations about gender identity and bringing them out into the open is not only important, but it is necessary. By understanding gender identities and experiences, we can begin to understand how we can help non-binary people in their experiences of navigating the world, and we will be able to open up the world stage to all types of trans people.
Huston, M. (2015, March 09). None of the Above. Retrieved December 9, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201503/none-the-above