There are people in the world who are neither men nor women! It’s not just that they don’t “identify” as men nor women, they are just simply not men nor women. They are not wrong; the gender binary is wrong. This is not some young people on the internet theory, this is not some trendy politics, this is about real peoples lives and experiences with violence.
It’s not an accident that nonbinary people have been so thoroughly erased from the collective imagination, from political and social movements, from the historical archive. It’s not an an accident that frameworks like “sexual orientation” are always anchored to the gender binary. It’s not an accident that nonbinary people experience tremendous forms of interpersonal and state violence. It’s not an accident that people only understand “patriarchy” as being enacted by (cisgender) “men” against (cisgender) “women.”
This situation is the result of a series of calculated equations, decisions, and histories. Including “nonbinary” in a mission statement isn’t enough. Understanding that nonbinary people exist isn’t enough. Exceptionalizing us and regarding us as anomalies isn’t enough. Push further.
How did all of the complexity in the world, all of its difference, all of its context become reduced to two categories only? How did we come to think it was okay to link and define our sexual orientations to binary gender (let alone mobilize entire movements around them)? How did trans politics come to be about trans people “gaining rights” and not everyone divesting from gender to begin with? How are we upholding institutions, rituals, cultures, politics, and ideas that further entrench the gender binary and facilitate violence against nonbinary people? How did gender become so essential that it has become required for humanity?
These questions are not rhetorical. They have answers. And nonbinary people have been on the frontlines of providing them.
support the author