IN FOCUS Discussion: International Nonbinary Day

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – International Nonbinary Day is celebrated around the world every year on July 14. It’s an occasion to lift up nonbinary members within the LGBTQ community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the term “nonbinary” describes someone who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman.

A nonbinary person may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or completely outside of these categories. While many people also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Nonbinary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer, and genderfluid.

Some pronouns that nonbinary people use are they/them, xe/xim/xir, ze/zim/zir, and sie/hir. Some notable people who are nonbinary are Demi Lovato, Elliot Page, Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Jonathan Van Ness, Amandla Stenberg, Indya Moore, Bob the Drag Queen, and Alok Vaid-Menon.

Nick Arteaga, community program coordinator for the Utah Pride Center said 23 states and Washington D.C. currently allow the “X” gender marker on their IDs and driver license. There are at least 12 states and Washington D.C. that allow birth certificates to be changed to the “X” gender marker. However, there are still current barriers facing nonbinary people when it comes to social, societal, governmental, and employment recognition.

“Nonbinary folx are constantly erased in literature, employment, handbooks, legal documents, public restrooms, dating, and social media sites. Even clothes department store options are binary and further perpetuate the stigma around gender non confirming people that follow them in all spaces,” said Arteaga.

They said the feeling of erasure makes it harder for a nonbinary person to feel valued or validated when common signage and traditional nonbinary rhetoric, like check boxes on legal forms, leave no space for them to safely exist in public spaces.

“Lack of representation leads to stigma, which leads to harassment, constant “othering,” and in some cases violence and/or death. We may not realize the impact of inclusive language in the moment,” said Arteaga. “But from my own personal experience, I can say that I’ve never felt more sure of myself and alive than when I’m in spaces that honor my name and pronouns. Statistically, using someone’s name and pronouns reduces the risk of suicide by 40 percent.”

Arteaga (he/him/they them) and Bee Nanase Barbera (they/them/fae/faer), two local nonbinary people, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. They explained the difference between cisgender, transgender, and nonbinary. They also talked about the history of nonbinary people, the statistics about nonbinary people in the U.S., gender as a spectrum that is not linear, and the pronouns that nonbinary folx use.

Christopher Malan (they/them), a local nonbinary person

Christopher Malan (they/them), co-chair of the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, discussed whether being nonbinary means being nonconforming by nature, the similarities within bisexual culture and nonbinary culture, how often nonbinary language is missing in policy, and how that can make things confusing for nonbinary folx.

M (they/them), a local nonbinary person, shared how parents and teachers can support children who come out as nonbinary, their response to people who may be reluctant to use they/them pronouns because they believe it’s not proper English, why it’s hurtful to approach someone who is nonbinary in the bathroom, and some ways that businesses and employees can be more inclusive of nonbinary people.

Barbera compiled the following list of nonbinary educational resources:

Utah-Based Organizations:

Books:

  • A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
  • Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (Revised+ Updated) by Kate Bornstein
  • Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
  • Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
  • You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discover by Dara Hoffman-Fox
  • Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Meg John-Barker and Alex Iantaffi
  • Continuum by Chela Man
  • Sissy: A Coming of Age Story by Jacob Tobia
  • Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
  • In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-Binary Life by Jamie Windust
  • They/Them/Their: A Guide to Nonbinary and Genderqueer Identities by Eris Young

Websites:

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with all the guests, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie_Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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