Let’s start with a definition:
Describes someone who does not identify within the gender binary. For some folks this means identifying somewhere between the binary ”ends” (male and female), for some it means identifying as a combination of genders, and for others it means feeling a complete lack of a gender. For many folks, being nonbinary entails liberation from the stereotypes and gender roles attached to the gender they were assigned at birth.
Note: Many folks use the term “enby” as a short term for nonbinary. This is the spelling of the abbreviation “NB” but folks have strayed away from using “NB” to refer to nonbinary folks as “NB” is used more widely as an abbreviation for non-Black folks.
A few misconceptions & corrections about nonbinary folks:
1. NOT ALL NONBINARY FOLKS ARE THIN, WHITE, AFAB* & ANDROGYNOUS
Anyone can be nonbinary if that’s how they identify! Gender identity does not equal gender expression. Many folks assume that identifying as nonbinary means that one must present in an androgynous manner. This is false. Nonbinary folks do not owe anyone androgyny! Anyone can present their gender any way they’d like. Just because a nonbinary person doesn’t pass as or want to be androgynous doesn’t mean they are any less nonbinary.
*AFAB: Assigned female at birth.
2. NOT ALL NONBINARY FOLKS USE THEY/THEM PRONOUNS
Many nonbinary folks use they/them pronouns, but some folks use she/her, he/him, ze/zir, and other pronouns! If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask them respectfully, and privately, if possible – that is, I’d advise against asking them in a large group of people.
3. NONBINARY IDENTITIES ARE NOT A FAD.
Nonbinary identities are real, valid, and have existed for millennia. The earliest records of nonbinary identities date back to ancient Mesopotamian times (1700BCE). Nonbinary folks are not expressing their identities for attention or to ”be cool”; a nonbinary person’s identity and declaration of their identity is not for you or for me; it is for them and their own self and their own peace.
4. NOT ALL NONBINARY FOLKS ARE ‘GENDERLESS’
Being nonbinary does not necessarily mean experiencing a complete absence of gender. Many nonbinary folks identify their gender itself as nonbinary; many folks experience their gender as feminine, masculine, or a combination of the two at different times or in different intensities.
5. NONBINARY FOLKS CAN IDENTIFY AS OTHER LGBTQ+ IDENTITIES AS WELL.
Many nonbinary folks also identify as trans masculine or trans feminine, as gay, queer, pansexual, asexual, bisexual, etc. It’s also important to note that not all nonbinary folks identify as trans!