“I am as non-binary now as I was before and I am certain that I don’t identify as a man or a woman”
BY JUDE GUAITAMACCHI, IMAGE VIA PEXELS
This Trans Awareness Week I aiming to bring to light the nuances of non-binary discrimination by advocating for a separate term to recognise the legal, medical and social challenges the non-binary community face.
Non-binary is a fixed or umbrella term to define people who identify as something other than a man or woman. People may be specific using terms like gender-fluid, agender or bigender (there are many more) but we can only loosely define these terms because identity is so personal in meaning.
I came out as non-binary at 30, after a lifetime trying to conform to the gender I was assumed at birth. Like many of us I was taught that gender was binary. The expectation to be a girl was drummed into me and a Section 28 generation made it illegal to promote anything LGBTI+ related by any local authorities which included the education system. Which meant I was denied learning about myself when I was younger.
At this later stage I finally discovered the words to describe how I’d always felt and in these few short years I have been able to break free from long arduous battle through life and start the journey to becoming my authentic self.
But there was a lot of uncertainty to begin with, coming to terms with my identity put into question everything I’d been taught to believe.
I asked people to start using they/them pronouns and although it felt a bit odd to begin with, I also remember feeling so much relief.
I knew I needed to seek medical care but friends who had been through the process told me that identifying as non-binary could reduce my chances of accessing gender affirming care.
I found the idea of being inauthentic after all this time so bizarre, so I found alternative methods to access hormone therapy. I eventually saw a specialist who diagnosed me with gender dysphoria.
As I started looking more physically masculine I just assumed that I would wake up one day and feel like a man … but five years on and that day just never came!
I am as non-binary now as I was before and I am certain that I don’t identify as a man or a woman.
It’s examples like these that initiated the idea for the campaign. It’s clear that there is still very little understanding of non-binary experiences including by gender care professionals.
As a speaker and content creator my work is dedicated to raising trans and non-binary awareness, talking openly about my identity in-person and online. But I have been met with endless trolling including from LGB and trans people. I’ve been accused on making a mockery of the trans community, told that I am attention seeker and that I’m just trying to be different.
Statements like these are frustrating considering that all 8 billion of us are all individually unique.
I hear a lot of conscious bias with people bringing into question non-binary validity, using generational differences as an excuse or referring to us as just a “trend”.
Although accepting the idea of gender diversity may be confusing to some, non-binary people have existed throughout history.
Another challenge is legal recognition in the UK which was shelved this year by the government deemed “too complex” to even consider. The UK Prime-minister recently announced that he wanted to remove trans protections from the equalities act, essentially making discrimination towards trans and non-binary people legal.
Non-binary people are real, we deserve recognition, respect and equality.
So, in light of the political and social climate, I feel like campaigns like these are vital. If we begin to acknowledge that non-binaryphobia exists then I believe we can truly begin to challenge it.
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