What are some of the challenges of being an agender?
Non-binary is not a look, but an identity
When I tell people that I identify myself as non-binary, they almost always react in the same way: “But you don't look non-binary at all ?!”.
It's frustrating, but somehow I understand why they say that. After all, we live in a society in which there are very clear ideas a.k.a. Drawers there. I know they are not being rude, hurtful, or derogatory on purpose. You simply haven't had any experience with people who don't feel they belong to any social gender. You have never talked to non-binary people and therefore don't know how to do it. And yet I find it difficult to ignore the implicit statement that goes with sentences like these, which is: Something is wrong with my identity.
There is nota Way of being non-binary. Some of us look androgynous, some don't. Some of us - but not all - identify as trans. What we all share, however, is the fact that gender is a spectrum for us. And we are somewhere in the middle.
Even in 2019, there are still (communication) problems. For example, in late October Apple was criticized for its gender-neutral emojis for reinforcing the myth that gender identity (who you are) is the same as gender presentation (how you look). In truth, things are much more complicated: the two terms are different, but they are still related. For many non-binary people, playing with their own looks is a way of exploring and communicating their own gender identity - but that doesn't apply to everyone.
Below I introduce you to six non-binary people. They all have had very different experiences with the subject of appearance.
“In the past I always had the feeling that I had to hold back and think carefully about how I would dress, but now I wear whatever I feel like doing,” says style blogger Ben Pechey. Ben's closet is filled to the brim with bright colors and exciting silhouettes. “When I think about what to wear, it's about how I will feel if I put on a dress with a certain cut, or how the clothes will change my mood. I think clothes can create a change of mood. ”Gender, on the other hand, does not play a role in the choice of outfit.
According to Ben, the media are largely responsible for the image that many have of non-binary people: "They spread half-truths, myths and misconceptions". It could all be so simple: “My gender identity and the pronouns that go with it are not determined by how I dress. To think someone has to have a certain look to be non-binary is a dangerous assumption. "
“And yet it can be hard to have the print look androgynous Not internalize. I wore makeup as a kind of protective shield; I thought that if I optically communicate that I identify as non-binary, I could nip possible questions in the bud. "
Charlie is 23 years old and experimented with the gender spectrum before coming out: “Sometimes I tried to dress more masculine. It didn't feel bad, but it didn't feel right either. I just didn't always feel feminine and thought this was the only way to express that. But that was before I came out. Today I feel good about dressing feminine now and then because I know that a dress doesn't automatically make me a woman! "
One of the reasons for experimenting was the need not to want to be perceived as a woman: "I had the feeling that if I dress feminine, I would be perceived more clearly as a woman". Non-binary people believe that being androgynous would lower the risk of people assigning them to a gender. In this respect, appearance can be a means of getting by in the world and experiencing as little frustration as possible.
But an androgynous appearance isn't an option for everyone - especially if your body deviates from the super-thin norm that the fashion industry often uses as a basis for androgynous editorials. “I've always wanted to dress more masculine,” says Devin (27). “But as a plus-size person with“ feminine ”curves, that's difficult. It took me years to find masculine clothes that I feel comfortable in - clothes that are not super wide in some places and much too tight in others! ”But in January Devin finally found the perfect clothes store, even if Devin meanwhile no longer felt the need to dress masculine in order to feel like a “real” non-binary person.
Deciding on a visual identity was not easy for CHAV, a New York musician: “Sometimes I think about what it would mean for me to win over a heterosexual audience and my personal expression Lowering the minimum to have a chance at all ... But on the other hand, it's also my job to help queer POC and femme people; I have an obligation to them to be authentic. "
CHAV admits that it can be a challenge at times. A never ending conversation. Especially when the subject of art comes into play. “I was in the middle of a promo tour and had a beard - which the single was about. Somehow I felt the need to shave my beard off, but that worried me too, because all of my press photos showed me with a beard. I was afraid it was too early to look any different because people were just getting to know me. But then I suddenly realized: I am an individual. As a non-binary person, I have the right to distance myself from these outdated ideas of what it means to be a pop musician and to be successful in this industry. "
Tom Pashby told me that the level of gender presentation depends on the environment. “When I'm not working, I find it easier to wear clothes and makeup that show I'm non-binary; the work culture is still pretty conservative, however. So when I have meetings in Parliament, I feel less insecure if I only subtly suggest that I'm queer - with bleached hair or painted nails, for example. "
For activist, speaker and trainer Jules Guaitamacchi, part of the job is to educate people who don't know anything about non-binary people: “I am constantly trying to dispel the prejudice that gender identity is linked to gender presentation, biology or sexual orientation together. "
Jules is in the process of sex reassignment but also says it won't change anything. “Most assume I am male because my gender presentation is masculine. There are many non-binary people who are perceived as binary, but still hold on to their gender identity. "
Every non-binary person I've spoken to has told me that at some point he or she felt confused, confused, misunderstood - or forced to present themselves in certain ways in order to “prove their identity” ". Being non-binary is exhausting anyway. It may not seem like a big deal, but small statements or questions that imply we are not correct, add even more frustration. And believe me, we've already had enough of that because we live in a world that reluctantly acknowledges that we exist.
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