A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a Facebook status about how they (formerly “she”) now identified as gender-neutral and therefore would prefer if people addressed them as such. Having had some experience with discussing the limitations of gender binaries before, I was totally cool with this new development, and judging by the comments on their status, most of their friends were too… awesome!
But not everyone is as knowledgeable about these things, and sometimes we have to give them a little helping hand. Sometimes, as such open and accepting Millennials, it’s hard to realize that not everyone grew up with the resources we did for learning more about other people. The internet is a big part of that. For most of our lives, we’ve had the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere, all over the world. We have been able to Google pretty much anything we want to know. We have been able to learn more about ourselves and others… Our parents and grandparents weren’t so lucky. With that in mind, here are some great ways you can lead by example, be respectful of your non binary friends, and make the world a more accepting and pleasant place.
It may not seem like a big deal to you, but using your friends’ preferred gender pronouns could mean the world to them. Whether it’s he, she, they, ze, or any other pronoun, make an effort to be respectful and use the correct one.
Just like sexuality, gender is on a spectrum: there are not just two options. Try your best to be open and accepting.
People shouldn’t have to fit themselves into a societally-prescribed ideal of what gender should be. Don’t ask somebody what their gender is, and don’t assume things about them. Instead, try respectfully asking questions like “what are your preferred pronouns?”
Some people take a while to come out as genderqueer, and that’s okay. Respect that people have totally different ways of coming to terms with their gender identity and all of them are okay.
Sex is the biological x and y chromosomes and genitalia we’re born with (male/female/intersex). Gender is a societally-constructed system of roles and expectations based on sex, but not necessarily dependent on it. Sexuality is who you’re attracted to.
Keep these five tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an awesome genderqueer ally! Remember, it’s important to let people be who they want to be. What is someone’s existence doing to you personally? An accepting society of good people is a happy one – it doesn’t matter if we’re different, it’s what makes the world so interesting! Everyone deserves respect. Especially those who are brave enough to reveal their true selves – which just might happen to be outside what’s considered “normal.”