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What My Parents Should Know About My Nonbinary Gender Identity as an Adolescent

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What My Parents Should Know About My Nonbinary Gender Identity as an Adolescent

Nonbinary Gender

Someone who does not strictly adhere to the binary of male or female is considered a nonbinary gender. A person who identifies as non-binary may experience feelings of ambivalence or non-existence about their gender. I don’t fit neatly into either of the gender categories. None of those things apply to me.

In some cultures, like ours, there are just two sex roles: male and female. The term “gender binary” can refer to the belief that male and female are the only two possible genders. The word “binary” itself implies “having two parts” (male and female). So, “nonbinary” is one way people talk about genders that don’t fit neatly into either the male or female categories.

Definition of Nonbinary Gender

Whether you identify as male or female, most people fall into one of those categories. “Man” and “woman,” “male” and “female” are oversimplified terms for certain individuals.

 Some individuals, for instance, do not identify as either male or female; instead, they exhibit characteristics shared by both sexes. Gender is just a label for some people. The gender of some people changes as they age. 

Many people who do not identify with either the male or female gender use the word “nonbinary” (often spelled “non-binary”) to describe themselves. Genderfluid, bigender, agender, and genderqueer are among the many other terms. 

Despite their differences in meaning, all these words and phrases relate to a gender experience. Please ask nicely if you need clarification about the definition of a word.  

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The Essentials on Nonbinary Persons

  • In terms of gender nonconformity, there is nothing novel. People who identify as non-binary aren’t only experimenting with different gender roles; in fact, non-binary identities have been acknowledged by various civilizations and societies for thousands of years.
  • Medical procedures are used by some nonbinary people to help them physically align with their gender identity. While medical treatment is essential—and often life-saving—for many nonbinary persons, every nonbinary person doesn’t need to lead a full life.
  • There is a large majority of transgender persons who do not identify as nonbinary. Although there are transgender people who the fact is that while some individuals do not identify with a specific gender, the majority of transgender people do identify as either male or female. And should be treated accordingly.
  • Contrast being intersex with being nonbinary. Anatomically or genetically, intersex people do not conform to conventional ideas of what it means to be male or female. However, some intersex people may not identify with a binary system and instead identify as nonbinary. Contrary to popular belief, non-binary people are not often intersex. Rather, they are usually born with bodies that conform to conventional gender norms. Still, they do not identify with either the male or female gender.

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Guidelines for Treating Nonbinary People with Dignity and Support

Nonbinary Gender

Being accepting and inclusive of nonbinary folks, especially if you’re just beginning to understand them, isn’t as difficult as you may imagine.

  • Respecting someone who identifies as nonbinary does not require you to have any knowledge about their identity. It is acceptable if some people are unfamiliar with or confused by nonbinary genders. Even identities that aren’t understood by everyone should be respected.
  • When someone asks you to use their name, use it. Because the name you’ve been using could not accurately represent a nonbinary person’s gender identification, this is an extremely important part of showing them respect. Never inquire as to a person’s previous name.
  • Refrain from making assumptions based on people’s gender. Just as it is impossible to discern a person’s gender identity from their outward appearance, it is also impossible to determine a person’s nonbinary status. Pronouns are not based on how a nonbinary person presents themselves; they can look feminine, masculine, genderless, or exhibit a combination of gendered traits.
  • Inquire about someone’s pronoun choice if you are unsure. Pronoun usage varies among nonbinary persons. “They” is used by many nonbinary persons, whereas “he” or “she” are used by some and other pronouns are used by others. An uncomfortable but essential method to show respect for someone’s identity is to ask if they want to be called “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun.
  • Lean towards policies that include non-binary identities. Living, dressing, and being accepted for who they are in public, at work, and at school is a fundamental human right for nonbinary persons.
  • Recognize that many nonbinary persons find it difficult to navigate gendered environments, such as restrooms. Because of the possibility of verbal or physical harassment or assault, many nonbinary people may feel unsafe using either the women’s or the men’s restroom.
  • People who do not identify with a specific gender should have the right to use the restroom that they feel most comfortable in. Suppose you want to show your support for nonbinary persons. In that case, you should listen to their experiences and choose venues that don’t force you to choose between their genders.  
  • It is helpful to speak with nonbinary people to better understand them. Becoming nonbinary can take many forms. If you want to know what it’s like to be nonbinary, you should talk to and listen to other nonbinary people.

I Am a Nonbinary Teen: Important Information for My Parents

You might be confused about my gender if we met. I agree with you. No, I am not. Neither gender describes me.

Can you define nonbinary? There is no gender associated with this identification. One way to look at it is that nonbinary is just one of many genders; there aren’t only two. The pronouns they or them, rather than he or she or her, are more commonly used by nonbinary people. They are my go-to.

You could have thought of transgender persons as a condition rather than a person. But I’ve always been this person.

The idea that there are two distinct sexes with different preferences in clothing, makeup, and playthings has been ingrained in me by society since I was a little child. However, I desired to deviate from the norm when it became clear. If I wasn’t compelled to, I would never wear a dress.

My hair was cropped short, sported “leather” jackets and tucked-in button-up shirts from my dad’s wardrobe. Skateboarding and drumming, often associated with machismo, drew me in. I tried to keep my voice as low as possible.

Up until I turned 12, I thought this was just my activist side coming out, spurred on by the idea that gender shouldn’t be linked to physical characteristics like race or ethnicity and a strong desire to use what little knowledge I had to challenge preconceived notions.

Furthermore, I maintain my stance that inanimate items ought not to bear the labels of gender. But I understood that my reluctance was rooted in something more fundamental. My goal now is to educate parents about the experiences of nonbinary youth in today’s society.

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I Will Explain How I Learned That My Gender Identity is Non-Binary.

Nonbinary Gender

In sixth grade, I was first exposed to the idea that one does not need to identify with either gender when a buddy of mine came out as nonbinary. I discovered that being nonbinary was a real thing after doing some internet research on various identities.

After reading about other people’s struggles, I felt more connected to their stories. It hurt to be called “she” or “her” before I came out, and using female pronouns was uncomfortable overall. It didn’t feel quite right, but I never minded him or her either.

What gives these seemingly insignificant words the power to inflict harm and distress? How can someone be insulted by being characterized by a word that doesn’t signify anything? The instinct to mispronounce someone is strong, but I can’t understand why it hurts.

That’s how it feels. In my opinion, it’s undeniable. You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable being referred to as the opposite gender if you identified as either male or female. For nonbinary folks, it’s normal to feel angry at times.

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Coming out was a terrifying experience for me. It took me about a year to inform my parents, even though I knew they would likely accept me because of my close relatives.

There have been numerous instances of people being forcibly removed from their homes, having their identities denied, and being subjected to efforts to “change” them. No matter how unreasonable my fears, I was terrified this would happen. Fortunately, my folks have been really encouraging.

Since few people at my school hold the belief that there is more than one gender, and even fewer have heard of someone identifying as transgender or nonbinary, I have chosen to keep my identity a secret for the time being.

I tend to look male, so using the ladies’ restroom was the most challenging aspect. The kids who don’t know me just stand there, staring and whispering to each other. I appear to them as a space alien.

Keep Our Genders Separate, Please.

Nonbinary Gender

Misgendered people do exactly what it sounds like. They refer to me by a gender that doesn’t apply. And it fills me with dread as I navigate the world. As a result, I do my best to disguise my gender as a guy by binding my chest and wearing my hair short.

I believe being mistaken for a boy is much better than being mistaken for a girl. I borrow my father’s excellent clothes and talk in a low, gravelly voice. Occasionally, I wear suspenders, belted pants, waistcoats, and blazers. I can muster a smile when I gaze into the reflection.

I try very hard not to be misgendered, to keep people from assuming that I’m a girl, and it shows in my behaviour, my speech, and my clothing. Lighter colours, earrings, and high-waisted pants are just a few things I’d love to wear. Still, I’m afraid others will mistake them for belonging to a different gender.

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Even If You Gave Us Our Name, We’d Like You to Use It From Now On.

For nonbinary and trans people like me, deadnaming—being called by a birth name I no longer use or seeing that name on official school documents—is one of the worst things that can happen.

For many trans and nonbinary persons, the decision to change their name to one that more accurately reflects their gender identity is a way to shed the past, when their given name may have sounded more feminine or masculine depending on their biological parent’s intentions.

I have been confined to the gender binary since the day of my birth, and my dead name is a symbol of that. It stands for the anguish of being misgendered and of being pigeonholed into a group to which I did not naturally belong.

I changed it not long after telling my parents I didn’t identify with any gender. At first, they had trouble remembering the new name, but I was pleased they made an effort. They assisted me in getting my passport updated and changed my name legally not long ago.

They accomplished all I asked of them and more; I was worried they would be against it at first. Whenever my name appears on a document or an airline ticket, it brings me joy and gratitude.

Changing one’s name may be a little gesture, but it represents love and acceptance. Now that I don’t have to hide who I am, hearing my new name makes me happy.

Even Little Changes Can Have a Big Impact on the Planet.

Society appeared to be gendered to me throughout my childhood. There are separate men’s and women’s sections in clothing stores and separate men’s and women’s restrooms.

Every time I tried to sign up for a new account or fill out a form, I was met with the same depressing choices: a female figure wearing a dress or a male figure wearing pants, with the option to choose my gender displayed underneath.

But things are starting to change. For instance, in the recently released Animal Crossing game, players may only choose between two playable characters, one with a more feminine appearance and one with a more masculine one.

Gender options outside “male” and “female” are popping up more frequently, whether I’m filling out forms for online services or doctor’s appointments. I wish we keep progressing as a society and that there will be more than two choices one day.

An important step in this direction is for parents to support their children as they adapt to an increasingly diverse world regarding gender. My pronouns will be universally accepted one day.

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What to Tell Your Little One When They Wonder, “Are You Having a Boy or a Girl?”

Nonbinary Gender

Do not assume or pretend to know someone’s gender if a child asks you. To help your youngster understand that it’s impossible to know for sure unless someone comes out and says so, try using “they” or “them” pronouns or other gender-neutral terminology.

Iverson proposes the following response: It’s challenging to gauge someone’s internal emotions accurately based solely on their outward appearance. What’s sparked your curiosity about this right now?”

Remind everyone that it’s extremely courteous to not assume anyone’s gender or pronouns and to treat everyone with kindness.

I usually use the women’s restroom while I’m out and about because there isn’t usually a gender-neutral choice. A little girl asked her parent or guardian if I was in the correct restroom not long ago while I was using the facilities.

Because of my masculine appearance, this little kid thought I was a boy using the girls’ bathroom. My muscles stiffened because I’d received my parents’ incorrect responses far too often. A wise mother, nevertheless, said, “I believe we’re in the right spot, and I trust they feel the same way.”

It was too much to ask of a stranger when I was on the toilet to thank her, yet I would have done so if I hadn’t been physically exhausted. If only all parents could be that forthright and encouraging.

The youths aren’t the ones having trouble adjusting and embracing. When it comes to their children, parents often make assumptions based on their own biases and the gender norms they’ve absorbed as children.

However, when parents step back and look around, they’ll see they’re already engaging in these discussions with their children. Our family always teaches our children that they should feel free to wear whatever makes them happy, use whatever colour they like, and pursue whatever career path they want. The same logic applies to the concept of gender identity.

We must instill in our children the value of self-determination and the right to express themselves freely within reasonable boundaries that do not endanger others. Comfort and security are different, as Iverson points out.

Just because we don’t know what to expect from anything novel doesn’t mean we’re in danger. You may see this in action in the restroom. Individuals are accustomed to seeing toilets as either male or female. Still, when individuals start to police where they think we should urinate, it becomes an unsafe area for those who do not comply with those binary categories.

Iverson says that if nonbinary people want to be healthy and comfortable, they need to be able to use the restroom in a way that makes sense. While we adjust to new methods of doing things that are safer and better for everyone rather than leaving anyone out, some people may experience difficulty. However, this discomfort is manageable.

Keep in Mind That Even Gender Is Comprehensible for Children

Nonbinary Gender

When Casey Brown’s daughter was six years old, she came out as nonbinary. Brown acknowledges that teaching nonbinary was challenging but not impossible and notes that their child didn’t have a strong grasp of gender or identity at the time.

Together with their daughter, Brown jotted down gendered and neutral terms on a large sheet of paper. Their daughter learned that Brown preferred the neutral column words to describe herself, and she also knew that the “girl” adjectives made her feel good.

As a 10-year-old, Brown’s daughter says she now knows that people misgender her parent because they don’t understand transgender people. Still, she explains that her desire to respect her parents’ identities occasionally motivates her to correct others.

“When people inquire, ‘Is that your dad?'” Yep, that’s what I say! When people ask if it’s my mom or dad, I always respond, “Yup, that’s my parent!” “So I’m answering their questions without sounding weird,” she explains.

I don’t really consider [my parent] to be trans; they’re simply my parent, and this is how our family functions. So, it’s nice when my peers and instructors get it straight. We are merely an ordinary family.

But that is the crux of it. Everyone is simply a person. Although it’s natural to feel uneasy about coming to terms with the fact that gender is and has always been fluid, it is unacceptable to put another person’s safety or existence at risk. Every single one of us has the right to be happy and accepted just as we are.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you enjoyed it, please consider following me on Medium and LinkedIn and subscribing to my website newsletter for more stories in various categories. Have a great day!

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