I’ve sat at my computer for days trying to write a blog post about nonbinary erasure within the trans community and the world at large and came up empty. I kept coming up short because WE keep coming up short.
We just don’t exist to most people. Cisgender people say things like:
“why do you have to invent new things all the time? Can’t you just be transgender and be a boy or girl or whatever?”
Transgender people say things like:
“You’re not really trans, because you don’t want to transition.”
These things often hurt worse than anything any cisgender person could say. The people who should be our brothers and sisters under the umbrella of transcending gender instead cast us out into the rain.
For some of our LGBTQIAP+* family, the problem is simply one of language.
You see, being LGBTQIAP+ is inherently political. It’s a fact, because our right to exist as equal citizens under the law was not automatically understood.
But just because being LGBTQIAP+ is political doesn’t make every LGBTQIAP+ person an activist.
Activists speak our own language; a polyglot(that means mish-mosh) of regular common tongue and socioeconomic terms with a healthy dose of political science and a smattering of philosophy for good measure. I’ve spoken before about the different way activists use the word “racism” and civilians use the word.
The problem is that within an inherently political group, like LGBTQIAP+, you will have activists and civilians mixing, and language becomes muddled.
Activists THINK in our language. We see things written online(or anywhere, but since we live online, I’m talking about the internet) and interpret it the way we look at the world.
This inevitably ends up with comments like “ugh, can’t you take a joke?” and “Not everything is about that!” and similar things. I have managed to keep a rather decidedly un-activist sense of humor, and it allows me to see the clash from a unique perspective.
Saying “gosh, women drivers!” might get a chuckle from many men and a few women, but an activist will only see “ugh, such misogyny.”
Activists insert our language into such places in an attempt to educate and enlighten, but what happens is civilians who begin to understand then use activist’s language – but don’t have the ability to explain the terms.
In a group I admin on facebook not long ago, a non-binary youth presented a problem to the group at large. Now when you’re a sub-sect of an oppressed group, the number of civilians vs activists shrinks. This young person expressed their dismay at terminology appropriated by an entire separate group. If I seem like I’m being vague, I am, I do not wish to start a flame war over tumblr-based politics.
The terminology in question was pronouns, and the right to create new ones. This is a serious issue for non-binary people and for transgender people as a whole, and should be taken seriously.
People outside of the binary gender spectrum are already excluded inside their own community; shut down, shoved away and made to hide in the dark. We’re told we’re not conducive to the cause; our pronouns are too complicated, our identities aren’t easily swallowed. We are made to feel invalidated and erased because we do not fit the horizontal activist’s truscum views on how we should look in order to “fit in” to society. We shouldn’t have to adjust to fit. We should be allowed to mis-fit. We are a society made of individuals, and everyone is entitled to their own expression and identity, and ours is no different.
I am not less of a person because my pronouns are not he or she. Xe is valid because it identitifes me. It inherently explains that my gender is not on the binary, and that I do not identify as a man or a woman. It’s pretty all-inclusive, as a pronoun goes… and so is Ze, Xhe and all of the other new gender pronouns coming into use.
OUR PRONOUNS ARE VALID. OUR IDENTITIES ARE VALID.
Gender identity as a concept is a social construct. But it’s one we’ve lived with for as long as humans can recollect… so allow us our seat at the table. Now, or when we take it by force. We’re not going to sit quietly in the corner any longer.
NON-BINARY IS TRANSGENDER.
I remain, when blood runs thin…
*I use the letters LGBTQIAP+ here for simplicity, do not cry out that there are letters missing. Missing letters include, but are not limited to: TS, Q, NB, GF. I am aware of several other terms, like MOGAI, and GOLBAT, but this one is easy and familiar for many people.