Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. -Bernard Baruch
People rarely fit into neat little boxes, and they don't have to!
In many cultures, there are binary genders: either male or female.
While many people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, that’s not true for everyone.
If a person doesn't identify as their birth gender, they're called transgender. Many transgender people identify as men or women, but not all do.
If a person doesn’t feel like either gender identity fits them, they're considered non-binary, because they don't identify as male or female.
People who are nonbinary may use gender-neutral pronouns. While there are a variety of gender-neutral pronouns, the most commonly used one is the singular they.
Instead of saying: "He went to the market to sell his wares," say: "They went to the market to sell their wares," when referring to a person whose pronouns are they/them/theirs or whose pronouns you are not aware of yet. Like all things, with practice, this becomes a habit.
If you are not sure, ask: What are your preferred pronouns?
Using a person's preferred pronouns is both truthful and respectful.
Misgendering (referring to a person with the wrong gender or pronouns) causes mental health issues for people.
Learning The Lingo
Other Names for Non-Binary
There are many individual identities that are grouped under the term non-binary. Some include:
Non-binary or nonbinary is sometimes shortened to “NB” or “enby” and can identify as gender-nonconforming
Agender: a person without any specific gender identity
Bigender: someone who identifies with two or more genders
Genderfluid: a person whose gender identity frequently changes
Genderqueer: someone with a specific gender that is not a binary gender
Two Spirit: a term created by and for indigenous people in North America to describe a variety of genders with specific social and/or ceremonial roles
Ways to be more inclusive:
Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go. - Doug Cooper
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This Byte has been authored by
Director of Content Programs | Debate Coach