Being non-binary, unfortunately, is still something that sometimes needs to be explained to some people. However, that does not mean that it is wrong to be non-binary, and the more we have open discussions with non-binary people, the less this will have to happen.
So, we have put together a quick guide to what it means to be non-binary based on a few of the internet’s most frequently asked questions, and there’s some more links to help you come out as non-binary, or support someone in your life who has recently come out.
What does it mean to identify as non-binary?
Most people, including transgender people, identify as either male of female. But non-binary people don’t identify as either. Sometimes called agender, genderqueer or bigender, non-binary people might have characteristics of both men and women. Whilst all terms mean slightly different things, they all mean that a person’s experience of gender is not simply male or female.
Non-binary people might prefer different pronouns because of this. They might prefer to be referred to as “they/them” or “ze” instead of “he/him” or “she/her”.
Are non-binary people transgender?
Non-binary people are not the same as transgender people. Whilst some transgender people might also identify as gender non-binary, most will identify as male or female.
Some non-binary people might have surgery to make their outward appearance more congruent to their gender identity, but this is different to having surgery to transition gender.
Are non-binary people gay?
Somebody’s sexuality isn’t really your business unless they decide to come out to you. This is the same case with non-binary people. But if you are confused, it’s important to understand that someone’s gender identity is different to their sexuality, and just like anybody else, non-binary people could identify as any sexuality.
How can I tell if a non-binary person is a girl or a boy?
This misses to whole point of what it means to be non-binary, because it means that they don’t identify as either. Whatever someone’s sex is that was assigned to them at birth is not your business, unless they decide to tell you.
How do you come out as non-binary?
Coming out as non-binary can be difficult, because there is a lot of people who don’t understand what being non-bonary actually means, and you could end up having to answer a lot of difficult questions.
You’re first port of call would be to point them to this article, which explains what it means to be non-binary.
How can I support a friend or family member who has come out as non-binary?
If someone has come out to you as non-binary but not to anyone else, it’s important that you are there to support them. Here are some quick tips to help you help someone:
- Make sure they know that you are there for support
- And that they don’t have to rush to tell everyone in their lives
- Encourage them to have a little practice of the conversation before they do it with you
- Know that it is not your job to tell anyone else – it’s their life
For more information on how to support someone who has come out, read this.