Non-binary reflections on a society that “doesn’t get it”

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Struggles in turning gender dysphoria into gender euphoria

Photo by Sie Douglas-Fish.

Imagine you’re getting dressed in the morning, looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself and thinking, “Yes, that’s me.”

Now imagine doing this and someone tells you you’re wrong.

With the recent incidents of anti-trans messages being found on the UVic campus, it’s important to recognize these instances are part of the daily life of a transgender individual. It hurts to imagine how long those messages were paid no mind before finally being removed, how many people might have looked at it without batting an eye. It’s beyond just “getting over it.” 

From straight-up insults to seemingly inconspicuous glances to totally inappropriate questions, a lot of the problems that non-binary folks face come from lack of exposure and education. Much like with sexism and racism, caricatures and jokes made from our identities further reduce the complex experiences of humankind down to a gag.

And, boy, does it get tiring.

The polite corrections, taking the eye-rolls, biting your tongue when you’re asked something like your birth sex or name that is really nobody’s business… the list goes on. And the fact that treating trans folk with basic human decency isn’t a no-brainer reaction yet is upsetting and shows we’re clearly not as respectful as we claim. And these things stick with us.

Being an ally is as easy as doing some Google searches, sitting down with a trans person who’s happy to educate, and being respectful. All it takes is a willingness to learn and adapt, and the lack of this is still embarrassing. You don’t even need to understand it to respect it.

We as a society may be improving, sure, but the reality is hurtful statements like the ones found on campus are commonplace and repeated day in and day out, revitalizing that white colonial ideology of gender and assigned birth sex being synonymous. Many other cultures recognize other identities, including two-spirit, making these existences outside of the binary much more real than we might think. Not only that, but also the negative, overly-sensitive, and even predatory stereotypes of queer individuals are also commonplace.

We’ve all been told, “you’ll grow out of it,” and many of us don’t. Even if you do, what’s the harm in that? What effect does it have on your life that someone else is expressing themselves? Nothing about human identity is set in stone, and there’s no harm in growth and experimentation. At the end of the day, that person is going to thrive and be happy, and you’ll be stuck miserably behind a keyboard hovering over the lives of people that have nothing to do with you.

As a child, we should be encouraged and not discouraged from harmless soulsearching to find our places in this big world. Likewise, we need to teach our children to be kinder and more willing to adapt than our parents and ourselves. 

No two people have the same experiences, and this goes for identity as well. You may see androgynous, boyish appearances typical for non-binary individuals, but there is no true right or wrong way to be trans or non-binary. It’s all about doing what feels genuine to you. It’s terrifying not knowing or feeling safe in your body but no one has any right to dictate how you are to perceive and present yourself, and you deserve to have that right honoured and respected.

Trans rights are human rights.