Articles about nonbinary people are always entertaining because they promise to explain and clarify what nonbinary is but they don’t; instead they contain nothing but extravagant nonsense.
The article I’m discussing today is called What it Means to Call Ourselves Non-binary and despite the promise of the title, sadly and unsurprisingly it contains no definition of nonbinary. (Unless the word nonbinary does in fact mean rambling text and unnecessary labels.)
Let’s dive right in:
“Being non-binary or genderqueer is inherently kind of confusing because it depends on not identifying with a gender. Therefore, it’s definitions are wide and varying and complex. Here’s how just a few of us on staff think about what it means to call ourselves non-binary. Guess what? Our definitions are wildly different!”
Okay, I’m already rolling my eyes. And just to warn you right here, if you do plan to read the full article, please take a moment to stretch your eye-rolling muscles before you start, because you’re going to be doing a LOT of eye-rolling, and you don’t want to pull a muscle.
For some reason, “not identifying with a gender” is presented as complex and confusing. Why? I don’t identify with a gender, and I find it very simple and easy. Here’s what you do: Go about your day as usual. Wear the clothes that you feel comfortable in, and go about your daily activities like you normally would. While you’re doing this, don’t bother assigning a gender label to your interests and appearance. Just skip that step altogether! Pretend gender doesn’t even exist and ignore any messages about whether your clothing and mannerisms are “correct” or not. If someone tells you that you should look or behave a certain way because of your sex, tell them they are shallow and sexist and that you disagree with their views. Tell them that people are varied and complex and we are not stereotypes and in fact, those stereotypes are harmful and need to go. You don’t need to tell them that you don’t identify with a gender, because there is nothing odd or unusual about you at all! There is just something wrong with them. They are being shallow and sexist.
I can sum up “not identifying with a gender” in one simple phrase: “I’m a person who doesn’t buy into sexist bullshit.” Done!
However, folks who identify as nonbinary try to take something as simple and easy as “not identifying with a gender” and turn it into something very complicated, in addition to ambiguous and vague.
The first writer, Alaina, says:
“Non-binary is the easiest way for me to publicly recognize that my gender is not woman or man or anything really, and so I keep it around. For now. But like, what does it mean? I don’t know! It means that my gender is not on the binary. Which is not very specific at all. Very unhelpful, indeed.”
So I guess this article shouldn’t be called “What it Means to Call Ourselves Nonbinary.” Instead it should be called “People Who Have No Idea What They’re Trying to Say Jabber On About Nothing to Fill Space.”
“And like, I don’t know, maybe I’m too much of a Gemini or whatever, but my innermost self changes literally hourly…. How could I expect to find a gender that expresses that?”
Wow. Why would you need to find a “gender” that expresses your hourly feelings? It’s normal to feel different from moment to moment. We have different physical and emotional reactions to each event of our days. This is standard human experience. Why on Earth do you need a “gender” label to describe the normal experience of being human? WTF.
Also, isn’t it fitting that these writers decided to use language and vocabulary that sounds like a spoken conversation among teenagers? It’s almost like nonbinary is a teenage fad!
“I just want to be able to exist and like be a person who is just themselves and is only seen as that, an individual human being. Non-binary is the closest I’m getting to being able to talk about myself in that way.”
Again, I find I’m dropping my jaw in disbelief. You were already “just a person” who is “an individual human being” before you ever heard of gender identity theory. You were born an individual human being just like everyone else. All of us are individual human beings who are just ourselves. My question to you is “What is making you think that anyone is anything other than an individual human being?” All of us, even those of us who don’t identify as nonbinary, see ourselves as individual human beings. I’m flabbergasted as to why this universal truth about humans would require a label at all.
Here’s some advice: Just live your life as an individual human being, and if anyone you encounter has a preconceived notion that you should be something in particular that they’ve come up with, they are wrong. Either ignore them or prove them wrong, as appropriate for the situation.
The next writer, Cee, says:
“I’m definitely not an expert on this, but my understanding of nonbinary is simply someone who exists outside the two option male/female gender binary.”
You sure aren’t an expert! You don’t even know the difference between gender and sex, which is essential knowledge for this conversation. Let me help you out: sex is biological, and it refers to reproductive characteristics that come in two types: male and female. In rare cases there are individuals who are born with atypical sex characteristics, but the vast majority of us have typical reproductive anatomy and are easily classifiable as male (producing sperm) or female (producing ova.) Gender is a social construct that can mean many things, but primarily it means: (1) the attributes and roles that are socially assigned to people based on their sex, and (2) a social category that is not clearly defined but which corresponds with a set of preferred pronouns. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, yes, there is a male/female binary. It exists in nature, it’s the way we’re born, and it doesn’t matter whether we’re comfortable with it or not because we cannot change it. Gender, on the other hand, can come in infinite types, since we can keep making up ideas about gender forever and ever.
Everyone exists outside the social construct of gender because we are material bodies that exist in the real world no matter what constructs we dream up. Almost everyone exists within the male/female binary because the vast majority of us are typically male or female, and even people born with intersex conditions can often be classified as one of the sexes, because they are similar to one or the other. If someone had equal amounts of male and female sex characteristics, then I could possibly agree that they exist outside the sex binary but this is something physical, not something you can “identify” as. And there is no “third sex,” by the way. There is no sex gamete besides sperm and ova. People who are unclassifiable are still variations on the two sexes, not another sex entirely.
Cee reports having certain preferences in dress and behaviour, and she reports preferring not to have breasts. This is totally normal and none of that means she isn’t a woman. Although there are lots of women who like having breasts, myself included, there are also lots of women who don’t like having them. It’s normal if you do and normal if you don’t, and in both cases you are still a valid woman.
The next writer starts off by apologizing:
“Not to start off on the wrong foot, but I’m terrified that everything I’m about to write is wrong. I am a white, afab, spilled-glitter-on-my-tie-of-center, liberal arts-educated human with money in savings and a Toyota Corolla. What gives me the fuckin’ right, ya know?”
Holy crap! Women have always been expected to stay silent, and it looks like what she has learned in SJW communities is more of the same. She literally thinks she has no right to speak. Sure, as a person with money, she isn’t qualified to write a piece about how it feels to live in poverty, and as a white person she isn’t qualified to speak about how racial oppression feels, but she is certainly qualified to write about her own experience.
“Like, I fully expect everyone else to assume I don’t have any real problems so I’m inventing a gender crisis to seem interesting.”
It’s interesting that she brought this up on her own. Now I know this is exactly what I should think about her.
“I assumed all women felt deeply ambivalent about being women. For the first quarter-century of my life I lived into the idea that “being a girl can mean whatever I want it to mean,” and I did whatever I wanted and cut my hair short a bunch of times (but never said I wanted a boy’s haircut, always a pixie — always one centimeter and a razor fade from having my head look how I really wanted it to). At my first A-Camp, all that suddenly felt like punkass bullshit.”
Wait, wait, wait—WHOA. What are you calling “punkass bullshit”? Because it sounds like you think that the idea that women can feel ambivalent about being women is “punkass bullshit” and it also sounds like you are calling your correct statement that being a girl can mean anything you want it to is also “punkass bullshit.” I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to interpret here besides that. It sounds like you started out a non-sexist woman who accepted herself as-is but then turned into a sexist when she learned genderist ideology. That wouldn’t surprise me, because genderist ideology is profoundly and shockingly sexist. So now you think that wanting to have short hair means you’re not a woman. The 1950s called, and they want their gender roles back!
“To be clear, being a girl can mean whatever you want it to mean.”
Okay, good. So please explain, on what basis do you believe that you are not a woman, if women can be anything?
“I know that in the venn diagram of gender there are many women who share many characteristics with me except that they feel really strongly about being women.”
Huh? Who feels strongly about being a woman? I’m not even sure what that means. I just know I’m a woman because I know what parts I have and I understand what the word woman means. A woman is an adult human female, and I’m an adult human female, so I’m a woman. It has nothing to do with a personal conviction.
“It feels more and more alien when people call me “ma’am” or “lady” or “miss,” which happens a lot here in Texas. That language is so far from the way I see myself that it makes my brain hurt trying to figure out how other people still see me that way.”
I’m not sure how simple forms of address used for all adult human females could possibly encapsulate “the way you see yourself.” How would they do that? They are just forms of address. They don’t express how I feel about myself either. These words aren’t there to express any personal feelings.
My brain hurts trying to figure out how you can have a university degree and still not understand basic human anatomy and basic functions of common words.
“She/her pronouns don’t make me feel much of anything, positive or negative.”
Well, of course they don’t. They’re just pronouns. No reasonable person gets emotional about grammar. I don’t feel anything about female pronouns either, or any other pronouns. They just exist so we can refer to the people around us when we talk.
“They/them pronouns make my heart click together, make my legs stop shaking in their subconscious effort to burn off my endless anxiety.”
Oh my gawd, why? What is it with these people and randomly assigning intense emotional meaning to neutral and insignificant things? Hearing a pronoun makes your heart click together? Fer feck sake, I’m gonna write an article for Autostraddle about how conjunctions and subjunctive tense verbs make my soul fly among the heavens.
The next writer, Cecilia, identifies as ALL of the following:
- Knife-Licking Femme
- Glitter Witch Femme
- Cyber Femme
- Child in a Miyazaki Film
- Futuristic Ash Ketchum
- Cis-Passing Art Hoe
- Neutral Cis-Passing Take Me Seriously I’m A Capricorn Rising
However, even though all these descriptions apparently describe her, the word “woman” does not. How someone can be both female and feminine but somehow “not a woman” is beyond me. How a woman can consider herself a movie character but not a woman is beyond me.
She seems to choose her gender labels according to spiritual energies and artistic expressions. It’s fine to have spiritual energies and artistic expressions, and many of us have these. But there’s no reason why any of these require a “gender” label, and there’s no reason why anyone other than herself needs to take any interest in this. I feel a lot of resonance with certain artistic expressions too, but I just experience them without going around making other people validate them for me or change the way they talk about me because of them. There’s no need for that.
The last writer mentions having to explain over and over what nonbinary means, and yet she doesn’t offer an explanation in her write-up here. You’d think that if she was in the habit of explaining what nonbinary means, and if she was writing for an article about what nonbinary means, she’d at some point define what nonbinary means? Nope! She just offers a rambling account of her life that doesn’t add up to much of anything. She likes to wear a binder and doesn’t like her breasts touched. Okay, fair enough, so you don’t like having breasts. Not all women like them! You’re allowed to have boundaries! None of this means that you aren’t an adult human female!
I remain open to finding out what nonbinary means, and I will continue reading the articles I come across. But according to what I’ve read so far about being nonbinary, it can mean any of the following:
- Being cool, special, geeky, or artsy; having feelings and experiences
- Not fitting in with the popular clique
- Being uncomfortable with certain body parts
- Believing that normal human feelings require special labels
- Requiring the people around you to refer to you by a label you like
Except for the obsession with labels, being nonbinary is no different from being any other human being. Genderist ideology requires that we apply unnecessary labels to normal human traits and take very seriously things that are neutral and unimportant. It’s a bunch of, shall we say, “punkass bullshit.”
I’m not buying it.