Is there anything more delightful than a bank holiday weekend? A bank holiday weekend with delightful people that is. And of course a dose of Supportive Sunday. This Sunday, we have El. El is one of my absolute bundle of joy friends and I just 100000% love them. You know you have those friendships where every interaction actually nourishes your soul, uplifts you when you’re down, and makes you smile from your inside out? That’s how El makes me feel. So this weekend, we support and uplift El as they share with us about what non-binary means, their childhood movie crushes, and most importantly what we can do to continue support the non-binary community in the face of a government that won’t even acknowledge them.
Hi I’m El (they/them), thanks for reading today. I am non-binary and today I’d like to chat to you about non-binary rights and how the UK government is harming and preventing them altogether. This week, it was announced that the UK Government would not be legally recognising non-binary as a gender identity. This was announced after a petition with over 130,000 signatures was taken to Parliament asking the government to recognise non-binary as a gender identity. This recent announcement is another in a long list of how the government has quashed LGBTQIA+ rights.
What is non-binary?
To start I’d like to outline what non-binary is. Non-binary is an umbrella term. It carries many terms within it: for example, gender fluid, genderqueer. A very simplistic way of explaining it is that non-binary is gender identities that are neither man nor woman. But it is not a third gender.
Non-binary people can be trans – like me, (but not all). How non-binary people feel towards everything is incredibly personal, and no two non-binary people will feel the same. We don’t all use the same pronouns either (pronouns don’t make you non-binary): there are so many types of pronouns, what we each are is incredibly personal. Extra tip: always ask someone their pronouns if you don’t know: don’t assume because expression is not gender.
To me, non-binary means that I don’t feel like I fit just in woman, I feel more than just that. It’s hard to put into words but I’ll try. A few weeks ago, I realised that my childhood obsession with Sharkboy wasn’t because I thought he was cute: it was because I wanted to BE him! But child El didn’t have the language to understand or even communicate that. I just thought I had a crush on Sharkboy because of HETERONORMATIVITY. The reality is I wanted to be with Lavagirl, and who doesn’t!
How does this government decision affect me?
It means I get misgendered everyday. It means all my legal documents have and continue to misgender me: my driver’s license, my taxes, my pay cheques and the list goes on. It’s painful and it’s dehumanising.
Did you know over 40% of non-binary people are not out at work? We are not legally allowed to exist and we don’t feel supported or safe. If one day I wanted to get married, I would be misgendered at my own wedding.
And pronouns and misgendering are only the start. Many trans people get surgery: in the UK, the waiting list for just a consultation about gender reaffirming surgery on the NHS can be 2 years if not longer, never mind waiting for the actual surgery. Private trans health care is expensive. It’s inaccessible. And most scarily, it’s costing lives. Providing trans health care is suicide prevention. So the government’s decision to not support trans and non-binary people is painful; to not recognise us and cut funding to our healthcare is a death sentence. Currently, I have not decided if surgery is something I would like, but the fact that access to making informed medical decisions is so hard to obtain; to even discuss it with a doctor is a long wait that no one should have to endure.
So how can we support nonbinary people?
At a very initial starting point, we can start with pronouns in our bios and in our email signatures (you can even add them to Zooms!).
We should use gender neutral language.
We should uplift and listen to non-binary voices, and support charities like Mermaids.
We should talk to our MPs about how they can help us in Parliament and change the law.
For me personally, another way we can help is by asking period companies to stop using gendered language. Not everyone that gets a period is a woman. Making period products more gender neutral is such an important step to help stop stigma. While you’re at it, email your work about bins in every toilet….
…..the same goes for contraceptives: everyone uses them, they don’t need to be gendered!
I’d like to end this on a joyful note. A nice little smile for you, and for me because I deserve joy too.
The first time I wore my binder I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked at my body in my t-shirt and I finally felt like me. I don’t often experience gender dysphoria, but experiencing euphoria is a dream. The comfort I experience in myself is like battle armor: I stand taller, I feel happier, I live and experience life on such an elevated level. And that is something that nobody can take away.
The government may not recognise me but I recognise me. I, like many, am very proud of who I am and we deserve to be proud and loud. Thank you for reading!
Thank you El! Didn’t I tell you they are an absolute joy? You can find El on Instagram and if you’re able to, a donation to Mermaids will be hugely appreciated! El’s kindly provided some resources below so do remember to check them out so that we know how to support the non-binary community in the best way possible.
The London Transgender Clinic: Top surgery
National Center for Transgender Equality: Understanding Non-Binary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive