By Barrett White
July 14 is annually observed as a day where we can especially uplift those who identify as nonbinary, celebrating the great diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
July 14 is International Non-Binary People’s Day. This observance celebrates the great diversity of the LGBTQ+ community by highlighting gender diverse individuals and telling their stories.
The term “nonbinary” refers to someone whose gender identity does not fall within the binary of man or woman. This could mean different things for different people: nonbinary people might identify as being both a man and a woman, or their identity could lie entirely outside these categories. Some nonbinary people also identify as transgender, though not all nonbinary people do.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a ‘gender binary,’ because binary means ‘having two parts’ (male and female). Therefore, ‘non-binary’ is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.”
Nonbinary identities aren’t a fad, and have been recognized by cultures around the world for centuries. Take for example two-spirit people of various Native American cultures who have existed here since long before our present society – and continue to today.
“We are not a trend or sign of the times,” says Donte Smith, Patient Educator & Project Coordinator at Legacy, whose pronouns are they/them. “Non-binary, genderqueer, and gender diverse people like myself have existed across all time and within all cultures. Bolstered by the greater visibility currently happening within our societies, I feel like I’m living my ancestors’ wildest dreams simply by living in the fullness of my identities.”
Other nonbinary identities around the world include Hijra in South Asia, ‘Yan Daudu in Northern Nigeria, Muxe in Zapotec cultures of Oaxaca, Mexico, Fa’afafine in Samoa, and Mahu in Hawaii.
“It is not just not about getting our pronouns correct but including our voices and experiences within the work we do,” says Genesis Granados, Patient Educator at Legacy, whose pronouns are they/them. “Visibility means that our lives are respected and taken seriously. Appearance does not dictate identity, so it is always important to have uncomfortable conversations to make sure we respect each other’s humanity – even if it means going against the binary culture.”