This week marks Non-Binary Awareness Week, as well as International Non-Binary People’s Day on Thursday. In honour, here are four simple ways you can support the non-binary community. These things may seem small to you, but they make a big difference to us.
Be mindful of your language
Binary language is ingrained into our vocabulary, and that can be tough to unlearn. But everyday phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” can be isolating for non-binary people – it’s a reminder that we don’t fit in. Pay attention to how often you use gendered language and think of some neutral alternatives. Instead of “ladies and gents,” try using “people” or “folks”. Check out some more examples from the Scottish Trans Alliance.
Do not assume all non-binary people are the same
Everyone experiences gender differently, non-binary people included. The umbrella covers a whole spectrum of genders, including everything from genderfluid to agender. Keep in mind that not all non-binary people are androgynous, not all of us use they/them pronouns, not all of us experience gender dysphoria. This does not make anyone more or less non-binary.
Share your pronouns
Whether it’s on a badge at work or in your Twitter bio, displaying your pronouns can make others feel safe to share theirs with you. However, if someone doesn’t want to tell you their pronouns, don’t push them. They might not have come out yet or could be questioning their gender. Instead of using pronouns you think “fit” them, try to just use their name.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – respectfully
There is no shame in not knowing something. No two non-binary people are the same, so it’s always best to ask what sort of language someone is comfortable with. For example, some non-binary people are happy with masculine compliments like “handsome”, but some aren’t. If you’re ever confused about a label or term, just ask. Most people with be happy to explain. However, don’t rely on us to be your teachers – do your own research as well. Above all, be respectful and have an open mind.
Featured Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com.