‘WTF is ‘Nonbinary’?’ | Opinion

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Our train is going so fast that some gay and straight people are having trouble getting on. We can speed by without care, or we can slow down a bit to help them join us.

Two cis-gender straight women each asked me in the past two days to explain “nonbinary” to them. I’m a certified sexuality educator and counselor, and a Gay Elder who believes that all are welcome in our movement, and on our train. 

If you have a better answer, please tell me. I said: 

“There’s a difference between sex and gender. Male and female in nature usually designates the impregnator and the birther. Male seahorses are an exception. Male holly bushes, though, require the presence of female holly bushes in order to create holly berries. 

“Sex designates male or female. As is true with all things, there are exceptions to the rules. Some people are born intersex, with no clear designation based upon their genitalia. Some people aren’t born with xx or xy chromosomes. What do they want to name themselves? Nonbinary? It doesn’t fit here, and non-binary people don’t reject the reality of male or female sex. If they do, I’d like to know if they’re saying so because of the makeup of their bodies. 

“Boy and girl,” “man and woman” are gender designations. Many of us feel these social constructs are arbitrary. Blue for boys and pink for girls? Why? Who says? Here, I believe, is where “nonbinary” comes in. Some people reject that there are two genders. They are genderless, mostly because of the expected roles and rules that each end of the spectrum represents. “Why put people in boxes?” 

“Those who accept that there are two genders often reject the clothing, appearance, manner, and roles associate with gender. Doing so has many names, such as queer, gender queer, bi-gender, fluid, and transgender. 

“Sexual attraction is a separate, but often overlapping issue. We are offered a continuum of heterosexual at one end (0) and homosexual at the other end (6). In between you have bisexuality, which is often referred to today as sexually fluid. The name “non-binary can be used here too, because sexual response often defies categorization.“ 

If I’m wrong, please gently correct me, because we need to talk more about this. A recent poll shows that we’re losing public support on both marriage equality and transgender issues, especially as it relates to transgender children and sports. As a sexuality educator, I believe that the diminished support is the result of the LGBTQQIAANB train moving too fast. We need to spend more time educating. Slowing down does not mean giving up ground. We’re on the right tract to self-love, equal rights, and cultural shifts in understanding of sex and gender. But if we move too fast, we leave a lot of people behind. These people are the ones who will vote for candidates who promise to slow down or stop the train permanently.


Brian McNaught has been an author and educator on LGBTQ issues since 1974. Former Congressman Barney Frank said of Brian, “No one has done a better job of chronicling what it’s like to grow up gay." http://www.brian-mcnaught.com/

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