International Non-Binary People’s Day

July 14th is International Non-binary People’s Day, which aims to celebrate the wide range of people worldwide who identify as non-binary. But do you know what it means to be non-binary? And do you know how you can better support non-binary people? Here are some ideas!

Let’s start with the basics- What does non-binary refer to?

Non-binary is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.

Non-binary people can feel that their gender identity and gender experience involves being both masculine and feminine, or that it is fluid, in between, or completely outside of that binary.

Gender Identity vs Gender Expression

In order to understand non-binary gender identities better, it’s vital to understand the difference between gender identity and gender expression.

Gender identity refers to a person’s clear sense of their own gender. This is not something which is governed by a person’s physical attributes. Gender expression is how you express yourself and just like the rest of society, non-binary people have all sorts of ways to express themselves and their identity. They can present as masculine, feminine or in another way and this can change over time, but none of these expressions make their identity any less valid or worthy of respect.

What can I do to be an ally for non-binary people?

There are many ways to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of their gender identity. Here at Victra, we support using language that’s inclusive for all. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it will make people feel acknowledged and valid.

Here are 8 tips you can start using right away!

  1. Introduce yourself with your name and pronoun. Stating your pronouns reminds people that it might not always be immediately obvious what pronoun someone uses.
  2. Not everyone necessarily uses ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns and it’s important to be respectful of people who use different pronouns. The most common gender-neutral pronoun is the singular ‘they’ (they/them/theirs). Using people’s correct pronouns shows that you respect them and who they are.
  3. Using the pronoun ‘they’ is very useful when someone’s gender or identity is unknown. You will often already be using it without realizing, i.e. ‘somebody left their hat, I wonder if they will come back to get it.’
  4. Put your pronouns in your email signature or social media profile.
  5. Instead of addressing groups of people with binary language such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, try more inclusive alternatives such as ‘folks’ or ‘everyone.’
  6. Use words that define the relationship instead of the relationship and gender. For example, use ‘parents’, ‘partner’, ‘children’ or ‘siblings.’
  7. Not everyone is comfortable with gendered titles such as ‘Ms’ or ‘Mr’. Titles are not always necessary, but if they must be used, it’s good to provide alternative ones such as ‘Mx’ (pronounced mix or mux)
  8. Use the singular ‘their’ instead of ‘his/her’ in letters and other forms of writing, i.e. ‘when a colleague finishes their work’ as opposed to ‘when a colleague finishes his/her work.’