Introduction to Non-Binary genders for the Binary population (part 1)

birth assigned gender

Many of us never question our birth assigned gender, so we don’t understand those who do. Many of us will simply wonder this: Why can’t they just stick with the way they were born?

You see, for those of us who never felt like we were misrepresented by our birth assigned gender, it is difficult to understand why one cannot simply just be a tomboy or a sissy when feeling an affiliation with the opposite gender. We don’t always understand or know that children are born without a distinguishable set of genitalia. Many schools don’t even adequately cover how hormones effect the body for us to understand the impact of opposing hormones and genitalia. We aren’t taught that there are actually more variations in DNA then XX and XY. We certainly don’t realize that not everyone wants to wear their gender on their sleeve as if what your “private parts” are should make a difference to anyone who doesn’t know you intimately.

For those who are curious about the ways that the sex can vary and the implications of it, please watch:


But let’s get back to gender, which is not inextricably linked to sex. The question that I ask back to the binary is this: Why does it matter to you what someone else’s social gender is?

We have an expression in our household for things that people say that are so outside of the norm, or genius, ridiculous or insane that we can’t properly process it in one sitting. It’s a silly expression, but I think it gets the point across. “My head exploded” is the expression. I won’t speak for others, but that was what happened to me when I first encountered concepts of the non-binary gendered. This was followed by a curiosity about what the heck the other genders could possibly be and how did people even come up with them? Why did they have to be special and different and make everyone else’s lives difficult?

Obviously, I recovered from that obnoxious train of thought. So why did it matter to me and why did it cause such an obnoxious initial reaction? Because, as stated in the video, it challenged my idea of the world. If we aren’t man and woman, what are you going to say next? Is gravity a myth? But since the intersex have always been around, how did they choose which gender to be?

Well, that is both easy and difficult to answer. As I understand it, the intersex along with all the non-binary people out there didn’t choose their gender in the first place. Neither did I and, presumable, neither did you. Gender is something that is innately known by a person, it is not a choice. It is not like choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Choosing between the binary genders when you are not one is more like deciding to tell people that you are Italian because you like Italian food and your appearance could pass for Italian. The point is this: people don’t conform to the binary because at the very core of their being, they know that it is not true of them.
So let us stop challenging their identity and expressions of it. There are people out there who are already good at this. Let us continue to work to accept people as they are and not who we would rather they be. And let us definitely stop presuming that we are entitled to know what someone’s gender or genitalia is when we meet them.



Join me Monday for some random musings in gender issued and Wednesday for some thoughts on media representation!

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7 thoughts on “Introduction to Non-Binary genders for the Binary population (part 1)

  1. I’m not really sure I would agree that gender identity is entirely innate and not partly a chosen identification (often formed due to societal constraints). The reason I say this is largely due to conversations I’ve had with other folks about our feelings on gender and gender expression, and having very similar feelings as other folks who were female assigned at birth on gender expression that doesn’t really match up with socially what we are told women are. And yet, the point of divergence for us is that I don’t feel like my sometimes non-normative gender expression means I am not still a woman and they feel calling themselves a woman is too limiting due to these social conventions of what it means to be a woman, so they identify as genderqueer. For awhile it made me wonder if I wasn’t also genderqueer and not really a woman (similar to when I was a child and felt like I had a mismatched brain and body, where my brain seemed to work how boys were supposed to, but physically I was female. Though, here the difference between me and many trans children who feel a brain-body disconnect seems to be that I always felt I was supposed to be a girl- it was my brain and how I thought that seemed wrong. All because often in gender stereotypes I fit what was stereotypical of boys, not girls.) Eventually I realized I wasn’t *really* anything other than what I think I am and what I feel comfortable calling myself, and “woman” does not make me uncomfortable. But I think for some who do feel uncomfortable in the binary it’s not always because they innately don’t fit it, but because socially what we say men are like and what women are like are too narrow and restricting for some people, and shedding those identities all together feels more comfortable than keeping the identity with a non-normative expression. But if socially we stopped expecting all men and all women to fall into these very tiny, restrictive boxes in terms of gender expression, the identity aspect of “man” or “woman” might not feel as confining for some (but not all) folks who identify as something other than a man or a woman.

    • We do seem to be in an interesting time when gender expression and gender identity are changing and shifting in confusing ways for many people. My main concern here was to get people to move away from the idea that people who don’t identify within the binary are perverted or just looking for attention. It appears that most of them are simply trying to not to be categorized in ways that don’t feel true for them. People should be free to figure out who they are without judgment when they don’t conform to expectations. I do hope that we can get to where these things don’t matter at all, that is my goal.

  2. Hey! I’m new here (found you through your follow of me on Twitter) but I already know I am going to adore this blog. I write a lot about gender and sexuality, but sometimes feel bad because I only know so much. No one ever told me there were more variations to DNA than more variations in DNA then XX and XY. No one ever mentioned that intersex existed. These were all things I discovered on my own. Personally, I never had a problem with the idea that people were different from me because, in my tiny little town, I was so very different. Everyone else was the same and I was the outcast. While I didn’t have the same struggles as someone of a non-binary gender, I know enough. I thought growing up that no one deserved to be treated like I was and knowing that people out there are treated even worse because of who they are is just disgusting. Why can’t we just accept we are all different. I think deep down we all know we are different. Why fight it?

    • Thank you! I have been following you for a little while and just love your blog! I actually have you mentioned in tomorrow’s post. I received a chain post on getting to know other blogs and mention you there, but no obligations attached. I loved your posts on FGM and the way that you tied it in with circumcision and “normalizing” of intersex babies too. I felt exactly the same way when I read about it. I hadn’t thought about circumcision until I started the blog, though. I feel bad for having it done on my son now.
      I don’t understand why people have to be so negative towards each other for being different, either. I just hope this little blog can make people think twice about it and see people as people too.

      • Don’t feel bad! It’s so common and it’s not my intention to make anyone feel bad. I just think we should look at these every day actions a little more closely. There’s so much that we do just because everyone else does it. When it comes to life changing decisions, be it circumcision, college or sexuality, we need to actually consider what we do before we do it.

        Honestly, I had no problem with male circumcision until I finished my senior thesis. I wasn’t expecting the issue to even connect to FGM, but it did.

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