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:
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!
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.
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.