International Non-binary People’s Day, is observed each year on 14 July and is aimed at celebrating non-binary people, and raising awareness of the issues faced by non-binary people, globally. The day was first celebrated in 2012, and the date was chosen for being precisely between International Men’s Day and International Women’s Day.
The importance of celebrating this day
Having a day dedicated to who you are and what your identity is, is very impactful. It makes us feel all the more real, valid and accepted – and gives us one more reason as to why the world can’t take our identities from us.
In a world were gender recognition laws have a long way to go, formal days dedicated to acknowledging LGBTQIA+ identities are crucial in legitimising our individualities.
What does non-binary mean?
Non-binary is an umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female. There are several different terms to describe this identity, like genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, gender non-conforming, and many more.
The way people identify themselves is completely up to them, and it’s important to be aware of the multiple ways that they do!
How can we better support non-binary people and become allies?
There are many ways to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of their gender identity. Our language and the way we speak is often embedded with hidden gendered cues, so to be more inclusive, we can try practicing the following:
- Introduce yourself with your name and pronoun.
- When addressing others, be respectful and use the correct pronouns. For non-binary people the most common gender-neutral pronoun is ‘they’ (they/them/theirs). However, it is important to remember that there are many different pronouns that are used by non-binary people, and simply asking the question, ‘what are your pronouns?’ will not only ensure that you’re addressing people correctly, but – most importantly – that you’re being respectful.
- Instead of addressing groups of people with binary language such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, try more inclusive alternatives such as ‘folks’, ‘pals’ or ‘everyone’.
- Start practising using gender neutral language in everyday life, rather than resorting to the ‘default male’. As a society we use the default male without even thinking most of the time – it’s that engrained in our vocabulary. As an example, instead of saying, ‘ask that man’, or ‘ask that woman’ – use instead, ‘ask that person’. Or, as another example of when the default male might crop into common use is when we automatically gender something, for example a new baby or a puppy. Instead of ‘what’s his name?’ or even ‘what’s her name?’ – ‘what’s their name? is a better alternative. It takes some practise, but it’s a good practise to have.
- 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).
To anyone reading this who is non-binary or trying to figure out if they are non-binary…
Firstly, non-binary people have existed for millennia, in different cultures and countries around the world, so being non-binary is nothing new; it’s an identity rich in history, culture and experience. The word non-binary is so beautiful, because many identities and expressions can exist within its definition. To exist outside strict definitions is powerful; but also, vulnerable; which is why we should admire people who are able to live their lives honestly. Living openly as non-binary is a statement made to society that says we can be more than what we were told to be.
- For more information about gender, visit organisations such as Gendered Intelligence: genderedintelligence.co.uk or, Mermaids: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/
- Visit lgbthero.org.uk/forums for a safe and non-judgmental space where LGBTQ+ people can talk to one another about their issues and life experience.
- If you would like to speak with someone about LGBTQ+ issues, visit switchboard.lgbt/ and call them on 0300 330 0630 between 10am-10pm.
- HOPELINE247 is always here for you, if you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide. Contact our free, confidential, non-judgmental service on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . We’re here from 9am to midnight, every single day of the year.