Tired of Explaining You’re Genderfluid?
Sonny Curtin identifies as Genderfluid/Non-Binary and Pansexual, but acknowledges this article is from a perspective of a white-passing multi-racial person that has 30 years of white male privilege…and still in many instances, however unintentionally, does. This is not an all encompassing academic dissection of gender. I am a broke freelance writer, digital marketer, nonprofit co-founder, and comedian.
The question everyone’s grandmother doesn’t understand: what even is non-binary/genderfluid?
Recently these terms have been in the public light as people argue about pronouns, celebrities come out, and white male teachers take some of the dumbest stands possible.
Now if you’re like me you’re tired.
Having to have the same conversation over and over explaining where it is on the vast continuum of gender identity you lie, if you even know yourself, is exhausting. And while the idea of being third gender, gender fluid, or non-binary has been around for a while, only now has it been widely accepted into western lexicon. So, I thought I would hash a few things out, so you can go enjoy a mimosa instead of having yet another conversation about how genitals do not a gender make.
According to Teen Talk (dot) Canada, these are umbrella terms for anyone that feels like they don’t fall into the (false) dichotomy of male or female. These are extremely broad terms that can include people that feel they are genderless, combinations of two or more genders, or are split between two or more genders. This can also apply to those people who feel like their gender varies from day to day, environments, or situations. Some people feel their gender is reactive of those around them. There are an infinite possible combinations, and therefore an infinite number of genders.
There are even culturally specific identifiers, like the Two-Spirit . This is a term only for those that are Indigenous, and it came about in 1990 (year I was born, huh). Two-spirit people can identify in a number of ways that can include any variation of LGBTQ+.
Some regard genderqueer as being under the Trans umbrella. But I don’t agree. Non-binary/trans start off at the same basis, that a person’s gender is not the result of their genitals at birth. But I feel that each should have its own term under the LGBTQ+. I’ve seen in non-binary online forums (I’d prefer not to link because many that post are not out out) discussions about how often cis gendered (people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) conflate Trans and genderfluid. There is a justifiable frustration there for many that do not identify with either male or female. Some feel like something different altogether. Although there are those that identify as both genderfluid and trans, or are genderfluid before transitioning, and that is perfectly fine. Understanding yourself is a lifelong task.
Personally I feel gender is like a color gradient sphere. The “male” and “female” areas aren’t on opposites, but they merge and intersect at different points, and in varying measures of mixing.
They/Them pronouns are used by many, but there are different pronouns being used by different subsets of non-binary people. Em, fae, it, zir, or hir are a few pronouns being used. Some may use a combination of he/she/they/her/him/them. I use they/them pronouns because I try to keep things simple, but I have to admit when writing fiction it is tiresome to either constantly use first names or they/them. Having more options for pronouns might actually make it easier to differentiate between characters.
Unfortunately many have not caught onto this. Dozens of jobs I have applied to lately do not have options to select Non-binary or such when you forced to select gender. If you’re lucky there’s a “decline to identify”, but then you are still forced to use your deadname (an assigned name at birth one no longer uses) on the legal sections, which can complicate matters like paychecks being made out to the wrong name, or accidentally being taken off of a schedule (I’ve had both of these things happen to me).
I have also noticed since coming out that the frequency in which I would be contacted for interviews has decreased significantly, despite my resume now being slightly more impressive (I feel anyway) after successfully co-founding a new non-profit during the pandemic.
These are just acronyms for “Assigned Female at Birth” and Assigned Male at Birth”
Body Dysphoria is when a person feels uncomfortable about their body because of the gender they were assigned at birth, whereas dysmorphia is when a person feels their body is abnormally flawed for one reason or another, and is often associated with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. There are many different ways a person can have body dysmorphia. I definitely have dysmorphia, but it’s not gender related.
It is perfectly possible to have varying degrees of body dysphoria while being non-binary. Some AFAB people “bind” or wrap bandages around their chest to conceal breasts. Some AMAB people tuck their penis in. This may or may not be to feel more masculine or feminine. It is also possible that they may want to feel more “genderless”, or outside the constrains of either gender. And some may feel they have no dysphoria at all, and that is fine too. All of these situations are valid.
Body Dysmorphia unfortunately has had a significant effect on the trans and non-binary communities. Mental illness in general affects a large portion of queer or gender non-conforming people, but trans people are six times more likely to attempt suicide than cis people. The largest survey of trans and non-binary people found that more than half were suicidal or had been. I myself am a non-binary person who at the age of 24 attempted suicide. While there were many factors, including a long undiagnosed case of major depression, I understand now how not understanding my identity played a part in it. Luckily for me, absurdist literature made me really start questioning the lines between the genders, reasons for, their potential utility, and ultimately the pointlessness in gender roles.
Here’s where everyone gets confused about gender: inanimate objects. Here are a list of things that have no reason for being gendered outside of marketing purposes:
- Dolls/Action Figures
- Make Up
- Baby Showers
- Baby Clothes
- Television Shows/Movies
- Anything a bro would have said “No homo” after
For some genderfluid people this may have them dress “outside” their AAB gender. I would count myself among that group. If I look cute in it, then I’m gonna wear it. BUT this does not mean you have to dress in a gender non-conforming way to be valid as genderfluid person or identify as non-binary. You can be AFAB and wearing dresses, or AMAB and wearing ties.
In the last year, a swarm of celebrities have come out as using They/Them pronouns. Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, Eddie Izzard, Erza Miller, Demi Lovato, and Elliot Page just to name a few. Some may think that these are celebrities that have hopped on the Queer bandwagon, but I’d be surprised. I think many, like myself, didn’t know there were other options outside of “male” or “female”. Even as trans issues were finally getting recognition in the late 2000’s, gender was still discussed largely as that 50/50 split.
What is disturbing is how writers for television shows are handling adding non-binary characters. Recently Disney made the declaration that Loki is non-binary. (SPOILERS FOR LOKI AHEAD) On episode 2, it is found out that the evil (eviler?) Loki they are hunting is AFAB. I don’t care for this. It feels like they are saying Loki is fluid because there are female identifying Lokis on other timelines? There seems to be a trend of genderfluid characters that are not actually human. Loki is a frost giant that lived on Asgard, why would our idea of genders apply to them?
On the DC cartoon drama Young Justice, the character Halo merged with a motherbox and then declared that they were both no longer their gender or species. Then there’s Janet from the Good Place’s catch phrase “Not a Girl”. Granted, bisexual people have had this problem with representation for years, so it’s unsurprising.
So, now if someone wants to bombard you with an epoch’s worth of gender related questions you can refer them to this article while you do a crossword and get frustrated when you can’t remember how to spell restaurant correctly.
If you’d liked this article you can watch me live on July 17th! I’m hosting a fundraiser for Believe New York, which will be live streamed on our Instagram account, @BelieveNY. If you’re in Brooklyn there are a few tickets left, but seating is limited!
Visit here for details!