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nonbinary:

Earlier today, CN Lester posted an articulate and well considered constructive critique of the umbrella term ‘Nonbinary’ now commonly used within many genderqueer, gender variant and gender nonconforming communities.

The following response is adapted from the Twitter conversation I had with CN in response:

Despite having just announced a ‘Nonbinary’ visibility, education and advocacy network, I strongly agree with much of your critiques of the word.

I think it’s really important that we have these conversations about the language we use. I believe that any single word is going to be flawed and likely to exclude some by implication (just look at all the debates around the words ‘trans’ and ‘transgender’), so it’s important that we work to ensure the definitions and explanations in our resources and visibility work recognise and minimise these shortcomings.

I’m currently working on a Nonbinary FAQ and I’m aiming for it to address everything you’ve covered here. I’ve already had a couple of lengthy and heated discussions about this with some other activists and will be incorporating their perspectives and criticisms too.

And I say all this as one of the architects of the modern positive Asexual movement and author of the original asexuality.org FAQ. I hope I can use what I learned through helping to build a positive, inclusive community around a ‘negative’ word (asexual is defined by a lack of sexual orientation after all) to ensure that ‘Nonbinary’ does not become exclusionary or elitist.

Part of this effort in forming a community around this commonly used umbrella term is to bring people together under their common experiences rather separate under many individual identities. And that’s coming from someone who has been deeply frustrated by having to choose if I was ‘androgyne’ or ‘neutrois’ on community sites in the past (and ultimately joining and contributing to both, wishing I could bring their resources and communities together).

Please see the following for an example of my commitment to inclusivity and recognition of all identities and experiences under community umbrella terms:

Practical Androgyny: How transgender organisations can demonstrate inclusivity

The nonbinary visibility campaign planned will put just as much effort into increasing awareness of all the diverse identities under the umbrella as the umbrella term itself. We all gain from more people understanding identities like bigender, fluid gender, genderqueer, neutrois etc, and everyone gains from the freedom to define their gender identity (or lack of it) and gender expression in whichever way they wish.

I hope this has addressed some of your very justified and valid concerns, and thanks again for starting this conversation and giving valuable critique!

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Announcing a new sibling site coming soon, please spread the word, case studies needed!

nonbinary:

Announcing a new international Nonbinary gender visibility, education and advocacy network coming soon, arguing for equal access to employment, services and medical treatment for those who don’t fit the gender binary.

Please follow us if you’re nonbinary, genderqueer or gender nonconforming and want greater public understanding and equal access to employment, services and medical treatment. Allies welcome too!

We’re looking for case studies. Have you sought access to transgender medical care while openly nonbinary, genderqueer or gender nonconforming? Please get in contact.

Please follow Nonbinary

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Richard O’Brien’s, creator of the Rocky Horror Show is back in the gay press talking about the experience of being nonbinary and turning 70:

“As a child I loved stories of wonderment,” he tells me. “Knights in shining armour, princes in tights, fairy princesses, that sort of thing. My elder brother says I used to scare myself silly with monsters, skeletons and graveyards. I lived in my imagination because I knew deep down I should really have been born a girl. I couldn’t say that out loud so I pulled the shutters down and lived inside my head.”

I ask if he’s ever considered gender reassignment. He says no. He describes his gender identification and bisexuality in the following way:

“My feeling is that there are hormonal triggers in the womb. For me, hermaphrodites are proof that things don’t always go according to plan. I keep arguing we’re all on some kind of continuum. Some are hard-wired male or female and others are somewhere in between. After a period feeling schizoid I decided I’d just be me. I’m more male than female, but if I want to go out in a frock I will.”

Read the full interview at Pink News

O’Brien previously talked to Pink News about being nonbinary transgender in August 2009, saying:

“All my life, I’ve been fighting never belonging, never being male or female, and it got to the stage where I couldn’t deal with it any longer. To feel you don’t belong … to feel insane … to feel perverted and disgusting … you go f***ing nuts.

“If society allowed you to grow up feeling it was normal to be what you are, there wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t think the term ‘transvestite’ or ‘transsexual’ would exist: you’d just be another human being.”

“I’d been fighting, going to therapy, treating what I was as though it were some kind of illness to be cured. But actually, no, I was basically transgender, and just unhappy.”

O’Brien, who uses transgender to describe feeling “in between” being a man or a woman, added: “There is a continuum between male and female. Some are hard-wired one way or another, I’m in between. Or a third sex, I could see myself as quite easily.”

On plucking up the courage to tell his children about being trans, O’Brien said their reaction was: “Dad, and your point is?”

Read the 2009 story at Pink News

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I wrote an article appraising and critiquing this year’s IoS Pink List, suggesting constructive responses and looking at how some of the eleven (binary, transitioned) trans* people included for the first time this year have inspired and represented me as a nonbinary, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, queer-identified, atypically transitioning, andrognynously presenting trans* person. Here are some extracts:

This stuff is important. I had an ‘inspiration board’ on the wall of my teenage bedroom, full of printed out song lyrics, pictures and newspaper clippings that kept me going through my last couple of years as a closeted queer teenager at a rural comprehensive school (1996 to 98). My board included people like teenage Age Of Consent campaigners Chris Morris (who was the same age as me) and Euan Sutherland, and famous performers like Ellen DegeneresWilson CruzBrian MolkoDavid McAlmontAni DiFrancoMichael Stipe and Skin from Skunk Anansie. Being surrounded by images of successful queer and gender nonconforming people and listening to their music made me feel like less of a freak and gave me hope for the future.

As a community, we need visible inspirational ‘heroes’ to look up to. Some people survive, get through it and are inspired to succeed and perhaps become activists themselves due to newspaper articles just like this one. It is possible to critique the form of an award and the nature of the organisation that issued it while still seeing it as important and valuable. As little as I believe in the honours system and the monarchy, I still found it incredibly significant and inspiring when the establishment recognised the work of trans* activist Christine Burns by issuing her with an MBE in 2004 and Stephen Whittle by issuing him with an OBE in 2005.

I see these lists and the tendency to single out certain prominent famous and notable people for recognition and awards as only problematic in isolation. If we let this be the only way that trans*, queer and LGBT people are celebrated in our communities, then yes, it is problematic. If we let this start a conversation about who else should be recognised and celebrated, the hard work that so many others do in our communities and all the different ways people make a difference, then it becomes just one of many ways that the deserving, inspiring people in our communities receive thanks.

When Dan Savage started the It Gets Better campaign, I was among the critics who found it deeply problematic. But it started a conversation that prompted complementary and constructive campaigns that focused on helping young people to Make It Better, and inspired many other It Gets Better videos that weren’t problematic in the ways that Savage’s had been. There are now some amazing trans* and queer It Gets Better videos out there and no end of testimonials from people saying how seeing them has helped them in the way my inspiration board helped me.

And let’s not forget that we do have eleven openly trans* people and several more trans* allies recognised within the Pink List article. Forget the numbering and the different categories and focus on the recognition these people have been rightfully given. As I said above, I want to see more trans* people included, more trans men, more trans* people assigned female at birth, more nonbinary, openly genderqueer and solely gender nonconforming people, and I want us to work towards getting those people into next year’s list and given recognition through our own community efforts, independent of The Independent. But let’s not play down the hugely important work those who are listed have done to represent, inspire and improve the lives of all trans* people.

Travel writer Jan Morris whose groundbreaking 1974 memoir Conundrum and its journey through her transition (most notably chapter 12) was my first exposure to the reality that it was possible for me to become androgynous, it wasn’t just something that some people were naturally gifted with that I could never achieve. I cannot overstate how important this was to me and how much hope and inspiration it gave me as a dysphoric nonbinary person trying to find comfort with my body and social role.

Sarah Brown, Britain’s only openly transgender activist serving in an elected political position; a Liberal Democrat Cambridge City Councillor, and chair of the Lib Dem Transgender Working Group. Sarah was instrumental (along with Zoe O’Connell) in influencing Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert to raise the issue of gender neutral documentation such as passports in the House of Commons. Something that will be vitally important to many nonbinary, genderqueer, transgender and gender nonconforming people in this country (including myself).

Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence, an organisation that does hugely important creative work with young transgender and genderqueer people and is explicitly inclusive of the wider transgender spectrum. Jay organised the wonderfully positive and inclusive Trans Community Conference, that I was lucky enough to attend this year, and was previously the chair of FTM London, an AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans* support and social group known for being inclusive of all identities and expressions within the wider transgender spectrum. I have briefly spoken with Jay and seen him speak from stage and on video. He comes across as someone who comfortably challenges stereotypical assumptions that all trans men are hyper-masculine. Read him here encouraging readers of the Times Educational Supplement to celebrate transgender students and allow male assigned students to express femininity in their schools.

Journalist Juliet Jacques (in the ‘Nice to meet you’ section) whose blogging for The Guardian has talked frankly about the process of coming to terms with being a trans woman and undergoing transition in a very public and visible way that has exposed the human story behind trans* people’s lives to a whole new audience. In her earlier articles, Juliet talks about how she did not have the stereotypical transsexual childhood story (in a way I hugely identified with), and tried on and explored numerous transgender identities and communities before transitioning. She writes about having been drawn to male crossdressers, made to feel less alone by the comedy of ‘action transvestite’ Eddy Izzard and going through years of identifying as a gay male crossdresser and later ‘transgender’ as described by Leslie Feinberg and Kate Bornstein. As such she is one of the few journalists to have written about transgender people who ‘live beyond the traditional gender binary’ in a mainstream outlet.

So while I am not aware of any nonbinary, genderqueer-identified or solely gender nonconforming trans* people recognised on the Pink List this year, every one of the trans* people listed above has either worked for their rights and/or recognition in some way, or challenged binary gender roles and the public’s stereotypical view of transgender people through their openness, their humour or their own gender nonconformity. I don’t know about you but, as a genderqueer and nonbinary person, I think that’s worth celebrating.

Read the entire article at PracticalAndrogyny.com

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Style sites for androgynous/femme men and male-perceived people?

I’m in the process of gathering links to useful resources on other sites. Currently I’m looking at style/presentation. I’m aiming to be comprehensive and cover all types of people who express androgyny and different ways of being androgynous.

Can anyone help by suggesting a site aimed at men, people who were assigned male at birth and/or are perceived by society at large as men, who are expressing androgyny, femme identity or gender nonconformity through presentation alone (clothes, hair, makeup etc)?

I’m hoping to find sites similar to DapperQ, Androstyle and Stud Magazine, but aimed at AMAB and perceived male in society people transgressing in the femme or androgynous direction through presentation alone.

If so please respond here, in the Ask Box, through the contact form or via Twitter.

So far I have a variety of interesting blogs talking about the experience of being a femme guy, but not much actually focused on style and the practicalities. Here’s the one good example of that so far, albeit with a limited topic: ManUp MakeUp

Thanks for your help!

Edited to add: To be clear, I have found a wealth of resources aimed at trans women, some aimed at AFAB femme/androgynous trans* guys but virtually nothing for AMAB femme/androgynous men and femme/androgynous-presenting people perceived to be men within society. I also have a number of mixed/general resources that cover all people presenting gender ambiguity.

I want to be able to link to resources of equal quality and focus for all facets of the trans* experience that fall under Practical Androgyny’s remit, but as yet this particular facet seems to be under-served.

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gqid:

subtlecluster:

Genderqueer Links and Books

The following are link and book recommendations, all evaluated myself, as helpful resources for learning and/or places of connection that relate to genderqueer concepts and identities. If there is a resource you would like to suggest, please use the GQID ask box or submit form (select Submit a Link from the drop-down). If you are instead looking for the bibliography for the Genderqueer History and Identities project, click here.

     Links:

Genderqueer-friendly TumblrsAndrogynites UniteAnything But BinaryAsk a Non-BinaryBreak the BinaryLGBTQ AdviceFuck Yeah Androgyny!Fuck Yeah Bigender!Fuck Yeah GenderlessFuck Yeah Gender Studies!Fuck Yeah, Genderqueers!Fuck Yeah Non-Binary SeahorseThe Gender BookGenderforkr,Gender QueeriesGenderqueerGQ MomentsKNOW HomoNeutroisNonbinary Autistics!Non Binary ConfessionsNon-Binary Folkno gender rulesPractical AndrogynyQueer DictionarySTFU BinaristsTrans ParrotfishTrans* TransgressionsTrans* Tumblr DirectoryTRANSPRIDE

GQ-friendly Livejournal CommunitiesAndrogynesBigenderBirlsGender Blur,gender_fluidGenderqueerGirlfags and GuydykesTransgender

Websites and FAQS: Androgyny Rarely Asked QuestionsChroanagramGenderforkGenderologyGenderpediaGenderqueer in the UKGenderQueer RevolutionGender SphereThe Midwest Trans & Queer Wellness Initiativepipisafoat: FAQ on Genderqueers, Gender Expression, and Gender VariancePractical AndrogynyQuestioning TransphobiaT-Vox

Organizations and EventsClick here for a list.

ForumsLaura’s PlaygroundSusan’s PlaceTransYadaWhat is Gender?

Identity Sites: Androgyne OnlineBi-Gender the Bisexual Partner,GirlFagsNeutrois.com/Neutrois OutpostNeutrois Nonsense

Prounouns and Titles: Art of Transliness: Gender Neutral Relational TermsGender Neutral Pronoun BlogGender Queeries: Gender Neutral/Queer TitlesMIT’s Ally Toolkit: Gender Neutral Pronoun Usage

Articles: Click here for a list.

Fun, Videos, Podcasts, & Performance: Genderqueer ChatGendercast: Our Transmasculine GenderqueeryGender Queeries, Kreative Korporation: Yay genderform! (a comprehensive and fun to play with list of gender, sex, orientation, and more identities), Midwest Genderqueerregender: A Different Kind of Translator

Education: Gender Diversity ProjectGender Spectrum: ResourcesQueer Teaching TipsSafe Schools CoalitionTRANScending Identities: A Bibliography of Resources on Transgender and Intersex Topics

The Trevor Project: “The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services” to LGBT youth: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) Also available for matters of less urgency, Dear Trevor is “an online non-time sensitive, Question & Answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.” A directory of previous questions in the category of Transgender/Genderqueer is available as well.

Banner: This Journal is Gay/Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Intersex, Genderqueer, Asexual Positive (with flagswithout flags). Designed by nethdugan.

     Books: 

Note: Try Worldcat.org to see if the book you’re seeking is available at a library near you!

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us - Kate Bornstein

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation - Kate Bornstein

My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely - Kate Bornstein

Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws - Kate Bornstein

Books and essays by Ivan Coyote

GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary - Joan Nestle, Riki Wilchins, Clare Howell

Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity - Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality - Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel

Queer Theory, Gender Theory - Riki Anne Wilchins

Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender - Riki Anne Wilchins

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (in-progress) - Laura Erickson-Schroth

Feeling Wrong in Your Own Body: Understanding What It Means to Be Transgender - Jamie A. Seba

That’s Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation - Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Transgender Voices: Beyond Women and Men - Lori B. Girshick and Jamison Green

Transition and Beyond: Observations on Gender Identity - Reid Vanderburgh

I’m amazed and proud that the Genderqueer Identities resource list has been reblogged 800+ times! Now updated with links newly added since this was originally posted. Let’s keep passing it on.

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A story covering non-binary gender and gender neutral pronouns in the New York Times ‘Fashion and Style’ section, specifically the ‘After Curfew’ teen column:

Though Google created the “other” option for privacy reasons rather than as a transgender choice, young supporters of preferred gender pronouns (or P.G.P.’s as they are called) could not help but rejoice. Katy is one of a growing number of high school and college students who are questioning the gender roles society assigns individuals simply because they have been born male or female.

“You have to understand, this has nothing to do with your sexuality and everything to do with who you feel like inside,” Katy said, explaining that at the start of every LGBTQQA meeting, participants are first asked if they would like to share their P.G.P.’s. “Mine are ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘hers’ and sometimes ‘they,’ ‘them’ and ‘theirs.’ ”

P.G.P.’s can change as often as one likes. If the pronouns in the dictionary don’t suffice, there are numerous made-up ones now in use, including “ze,” “hir” and “hirs,” words that connote both genders because, as Katy explained, “Maybe one day you wake up and feel more like a boy.”

Teenagers are by nature prone to rebellion against adult conventions, and as the gender nonconformity movement gains momentum among young people, “it is about rejecting the boxes adults try to put kids in by assuming their sexual identity labels their personal identity,” said Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, director of the Cornell University Sex and Gender Lab. “These teens are fighting the idea that your equipment defines what it means for you to be a boy or girl. They are saying: ‘You don’t know me by looking at me. Assume nothing.’ ”

Dr. Savin-Williams, who is also the author of the book “The New Gay Teenager,” went on to list some of the new adjectives young people use to describe themselves: “bi-curious,” “heteroflexible,” “polyamorous” and even “wiggly.”

Read the full article at New York Times Fashion & Style

While it’s encouraging to see coverage of nonbinary gender and gender neutral pronouns in such a mainstream publication, I can’t help but feel the presentation of this as something new and fashionable that young people are doing encourages the reader to dismiss our genders as a fad or form of rebellion, while erasing all the nonbinary, genderqueer and gender nonconforming people who have identified as such for years or who came to understand or express their genders in later life.

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The ‘Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders’, the document used to justify the gatekeeping of transsexual and transgender people’s treatment and historically used to bar nonbinary, genderqueer and gender nonconforming people from access to hormones and surgeries, is to become considerably more progressive. The new document will be called ‘Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People’ and features a number of revisions:

gqid:

Some key revisions:

• Psychotherapy is no longer a requirement to receive hormones and surgery, although it is suggested.

“It used to be a minimum amount of psychotherapy was needed. An assessment is still required but that can be done by the prescribing hormone provider,” Bockting explained.

• A number of community health centers in the U.S. have developed protocols for providing hormone therapy based an approach known as the Informed Consent Model. These protocols are consistent with version 7 revisions of WPATH’s standards of care. 

“The SOC are flexible clinical guidelines; they allow for tailoring of interventions to the needs of the individual receiving services and for tailoring of protocols to the approach and setting in which these services are provided,” Coleman explained.

“Access is more open and acknowledges transgender care is being provided in community health centers. This certainly makes it easier to access hormones,” Bockting added.

• There are now different standards for surgery, as well. For example, a transgender man who wants a hysterectomy no longer has to live one year as a male in order to receive the surgery. Likewise, a transgender woman who wants her testicles removed does not have to live one year as a female. 

For people who want genital reconstructive surgery, however, the standards of care recommend living a year in the role of the gender they are transitioning. 

• Another major change, Bockting explained, is that the standards “allow for a broader spectrum of identities – they are no longer so binary.”

“There is no one way of being transgender and it doesn’t have to mirror the idea of a change of their sex,” Bockting explained.

“These standards allow for a gender queer person to have breasts removed without ever taking hormones,” he said.

Read the full summary at GA Voice

The entire text of the new SOC is now available in PDF form

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Androgynous model Andrej Pejic known for modeling both male and female fashions is interviewed by ABC News about ‘taking androgyny mainstream’:

The difference is that he is still biologically a man. Pejic said he does not take hormones to alter his appearance, and he has never had to shave his face.

"I prayed to God and it worked," he said.

While he does consider himself to fall under the transgender umbrella, Pejic said he has no plans to undergo any surgeries.

"I feel comfortable the way I am," he said. "I don’t feel the need to alter my body significantly."

Happy in his own skin, Pejic readily admits that his look doesn’t just blur the line between male and female, it seems to erase it. The runway is now dominated by flat-chested, rail-thin giants like him.

When asked if he saw himself as a man or a woman, Pejic responded, “I see myself,” adding that he doesn’t see gender.

"Women are sexier than men," he said. "With every species, there is always a gender that is more extravagant, and in humans that is women. … There is hair, there is skin, there is just more to show the beauty."

Pejic and his family moved to Australia when he was 8 after his parents divorced, escaping ethnic-war-ravaged Yugoslavia.

I grew up in a refugee camp in Serbia,” he said. “My mum was Serbian and my dad was Croatian.”

He said he was 3 or 4 years old when he first put on women’s clothing and, even away from the cameras, Pejic said he is more comfortable wearing female fashions over menswear.

"Like any other kid, except for cowboy outfits, it was something else," Pejic said.

All he saw was “a child,” he said, not a gender. A modeling agency discovered Pejic while he was working at a McDonald’s. They knew he wasn’t the classic alpha male, and Pejic soon crossed over into women’s wear.

Fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier put him in a wedding gown for showing his 2011 spring collection. Gender confusion is precisely what Pejic’s “It Girl” status depends on.

"Now, I tend to use the women’s room because it’s a lot less complicated," he said. "When I try to use the men’s room it’s like, ‘Please leave,’ when I want to go to the toilet. I don’t want to go through the whole process."

More friendly than flirtatious, Pejic said he’ll chat with both men and women while out in public, but remained coy about his sexual identity and his romantic life.

"For me, love has no boundaries," he said.

View the video interview and read the full article at ABC News (NB, the video introduction doesn’t respect Andrej’s genderless identity and the interview is not all that sensitively worded and asks invasive questions about sexual preferences and activity)

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Alex Brett links to several articles summarising the situation by which the ‘X’ sex marker allowed by the international standard for passports is being adopted or considered by Australia, New Zealand, India and the UK. The meaning and availability of the ‘X’ varies by country:

Australasia

  • New Australian passports allow third gender option (BBC) 
  • The official policy (Australian government). Here X means “indeterminate/unspecified/intersex” and “[a] letter from a medical practitioner certifying that the person […] [is] intersex and do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth, is acceptable." To their credit the policy does use singular they - but overall this isn’t much good for non-binary people
  • Zoe has a nice clear summary of who will be affected and how
  • New Zealand also offers gender X, but not for intersex people [content warning for degendering]

India

  • In India the third gender option is displayed in the human-readable section of the passport as E (apparently for eunuch). I’m not clear on the usage or availability but I understand it is intended for use by hijra.

UK

Read the original post at Alex Brett’s Dreamwidth

There has also been extensive coverage of the UK proposals in the press, with varying degrees of accuracy. Some media outlets, such as the Daily Mail, have included some strong expressions of prejudice against non-binary and intersex people (with worse in the comments).

View a list of related news articles at Google News