Sweet SBC, I come to you today as one of the 1.2 million non-binary people in America to shed light on Non-Binary Awareness Week (July 11-17, with July 14 being International Non-Binary People's Day). I know there are many folks who are not familiar with what "non-binary" is, but it's pretty simple: it refers to anyone who does not fall into the gender binary of man or woman. There are several non-binary types including people who may have two or more genders (bi- or tri-gender), they may have no gender (agender, nongender, genderless), they may move between gender identities (genderfluid), or they may be a part of the Indigenous community (Two Spirit). How can you show love and respect while supporting the non-binary community?
Address folks by using the name and/or pronouns they give you. If you’re unsure, the best thing to do is simply ask “What pronouns do you use?” Also, if you make a mistake, just apologize*, correct yourself, and carry on with the conversation.
Educate yourself on non-binary people and gender identity. Do your homework and remember, Google is your best friend. There is a plethora of information out there: books, blogs, articles, etc. Your non-binary friends are probably answering so many questions about their identity, so make it a little easier for them by bringing yourself up to speed. Lee Airton’s Gender: Your Guide is a great read!
Show gratitude to your friends! Coming out can be a terrifying thing so opening up to them by thanking them for sharing their journey with you can make all the difference in the world. And it makes them feel safe.
Share your own pronouns to normalize it at school, work, and/or online. Adding your pronouns to your e-mail signatures, social media profiles, Zoom meeting names, work websites, etc. not only makes this information accessible, it also solidifies the importance of sharing pronouns and not assuming anyone’s gender identity.
Be an advocate! Whether it’s for gender-neutral bathrooms or dressing rooms or even hosting events around the community, you can advocate and create safe spaces for those people who are non-binary and gender nonconforming. The more inclusive spaces we have, the less stress and anxiety for those outside the gender binary.
I hope that this information is helpful. It’s not difficult to show support to the non-binary community. Even though the change may take a little getting used to, respecting folks will not hurt you and it makes people like me feel seen and acknowledged. Happy Non-Binary Awareness Week! -Whitney Hunter (they/them)
Editors note: This is Whitney's preference, but not all people require or need an apology. Use with your discretion as the moment arises.