Non-binary is an umbrella term for the spectrum of gender identity that is not comfortable within the binary of ‘male’ or ‘female’. These identities and experiences are varied. This means that non binary people may identify as having two or more genders, having no gender, having a fluctuating gender identity, or being third gender or other-gendered, a category that includes those who do not place a name to their gender.
In the 2016 Australian Census1, some 35% of people who identified as diverse sex, or gender indicated that they were non-binary or another gender.
Something important to note is that trans is not the same as Non-Binary. Generally, trans includes people who do not identify with, or do not sit comfortably within, the gender they were assigned at birth. Some non-binary people don’t see themselves as trans, and it’s most important to listen and to use the language that people use to define themselves.
There is a difference between gender identity, and gender expression. Gender identity is a person’s clear understanding of their own gender, not governed by physical attributes. Gender expression is how you express yourself. This can be masculine or feminine or expressed in any other way, this is able to change and be fluid. The way someone expresses their gender does not make their identity any less valid or worthy of respect.
FOUR WAYS TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE BEING INCLUSIVE OF NON-BINARY PEOPLE IN DAY TO DAY LIFE:
1) Make it common to tell people your pronouns. Put it in your email signature and insta bio. This helps to remind people that preferred pronouns might not always be obvious.
2) Find ways to include gender neutral language in day to day life. Instead of “Ladies and Gentlemen”, you could say “Folks” or “Everyone”. Another way to do this is to use words that describe relationships and don’t rely on gender. Like saying “Partner” instead of “Boyfriend/Girlfriend”.
3) Use gender neutral pronouns! Some people prefer pronouns like ‘they/them’ and using it correctly shows that you respect them. While you’re at it, try to use more gender neutral pronouns in everyday life by swapping out he/her for they.
4) If you get a pronoun wrong, correct yourself and move on. Don’t apologise profusely, keep trying hard and you’re going to get it right. If you hear others using the incorrect pronouns, let them know.