Hello -I’m a non-binary person!

Equality - 24 Jun 2020

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Hello -I’m a non-binary person! What does that mean? It means I do not identify as male or female. I fit somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum. I identify outside the binary definitions of 'man' or 'woman'.  

From an early age, I did not feel like a 'girl' and even though non-binary  / gender non conforming folk have always existed, I just didn’t have the language or terminology to express my identity. For many years, I believed I was trans. However, I was lucky, I met  lots of other queer and trans folk in my early twenties who really helped me come to terms and understanding of my own gender identity.  

Some people find this hard to understand, which I can appreciate. In some ways it’s a new term and the way we talk about gender and sexuality has grown and changed massively in the last 15 years. However, workplaces that are inclusive and demonstrate  dignity and respect to everyone, regardless of gender, make all the difference to people like me. 

So how can you make your workplace more inclusive?  

Be an ally.  Be sure to speak up and challenge others who may not be willing to show understanding 

Firstly, it’s important to understand that many identities and expressions can exist within the non-binary definition and my experience of being non-binary will not be the same as some other non-binary / gender non conforming folk. I can only speak of my own experience of being me. 

I was assigned female at birth (AFAB) and have plans to change my body by going onto testosterone and getting top surgery but not all non-binary people will have the desire to change their appearance. My pronouns are they / them. Some people who identify as non-binary may not have desires to change their appearance or pronouns. In short the non-binary community is diverse and each experience is different – which is no bad thing! 

Secondly whilst some countries have progressed, in the U.K, non-binary people currently have no legal recognition for their gender. This pushes the idea that our existence is not valid. This can lead to massively negative experiences in the healthcare system, education system, applying for jobs and in the workplace, essentially anywhere were you need to tell people what your gender is.  

However, these barriers can be broken down, while changes in law would make a big difference, there is lots that workplaces can do create a more inclusive workplace for Nonbinary people: 

  • Normalising the use of saying your pronouns on introduction is a good start in any  workplace. For example, "My name is Dylan and my pronouns are they and them’. Attaching pronouns to emails and social media (for any gender) is also good practise. 

  •  Always try your very best to use peoples correct pronouns. If you mess up, that's ok, just simply apologise and move on. Don't over-apologise and make a big deal about it as that can make the person feel uncomfortable and draw unwanted attention. We're all learning here, and that’s ok. 

  • Make sure you use peoples correct pronouns even when they aren't around. This shows that you have respect and understanding for how people identify, and it will also normalise it for yourself and the other people you are talking to. 

  • Any forms should include the option to describe gender, not just 'male' or 'female' they could include non-binary or 'other'. Titles on forms should also have the option of 'MX' and 'none'. 

  • Be an ally.  Be sure to speak up and challenge others who may not be willing to show understanding and that means educating yourself, especially if you are an employer. There are endless resources online to choose from. 

  • Include non-binary folk in your bullying and harassment policies. Why not hold anonymous surveys to find how inclusive and understanding your work force / work place is and use your results to find out what areas you need to improve on? 

  • Don't assume that just because someone looks a certain way, that is how they identify. Non-binary folk do not owe you androgyny.  

  • And remember, it is absolutely ok to make mistakes. Don't dwell on those mistakes or views you may have held in the past. Accept your journey in becoming more and more inclusive of others.  

  • Acceptance costs nothing. Before passing judgement, ask yourself if someone's identity negatively impacts you. Acceptance is easy and can mean so much to the marginalized colleague. 

Non binary people -We do exist and we are valid. 

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