July 14 is recognized around the world as International Non-Binary People’s Day. This occasion shines a light on those who identify as non-binary and celebrates the rich diversity of the community.
The term “non-binary” describes someone who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary folks may identify as being both a man and a woman or as falling completely outside these categories. Many non-binary people also identify as transgender, though not all do.
While American culture may reinforce the notion that gender exists as a strict binary, we know there is so much more to it. Non-binary people show us every day that knowing one’s self and identity is a powerful thing that no one can strip away. There’s a lot of work to be done in securing full protections and rights for our non-binary siblings, but amid that work we must take time to celebrate as well.
In honor of International Non-Binary Day, we asked HRC staff — all of whom are members of HRC’s Transgender, Ally and Gender-Expansive Staff Employee Resource Group — to share what non-binary visibility means to them.
"Telling our stories and being visible as non-binary people is incredibly important. For a long time, I didn't know it was possible to even be non-binary because of the lack of non-binary representation in the world around me. Knowing that there are lots of other non-binary folks out there — and that there always have been — is both empowering and joyful. For me, embracing my non-binary identity means that I'm able to be myself without compromising any part of who I am. Non-binary people are here, and we're here to stay." - Madeleine Roberts | HRC Assistant Press Secretary | Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
“For me, being non-binary is about celebrating my authentic self and honoring my South Asian roots. When I was younger, I was shamed for expressing my gender authentically, having "boyish" interests, and not behaving in a way that my family, teachers and classmates expected me to based on my sex assigned at birth, which led me to repress this side of myself for a long time. As I grew older, learned more and felt safer, I felt more comfortable in reclaiming and expressing my gender identity. I felt empowered when I studied South Asian history and learned about the various gender identities and expressions which existed in our society long before British colonizers criminalized them, realizing that there have always been people who looked like me and shared gender identities similar to mine. I hope that people who are not non-binary can understand that there is no one way to look or present as non-binary, and that we are not a new fad - in fact, we've existed longer than the gender binary has!” - Pallavi Rudraraju | HRC Youth Well-Being Program Coordinator | Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
"As a trans woman, I continue to learn from my non-binary siblings every day, siblings who often face unique obstacles in their daily lives because they are non-binary. For example, HRC Foundation research shows that non-binary youth are about half as likely to be out to various people in their lives compared to trans boys and girls, often because their identities are invalidated for being neither exclusively ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’ That being said, non-binary folks teach me and remind me every day that the gender binary imposes strict rules for how all of us should behave, look, think, or dress — trans, non-binary or otherwise — yet gender, gender identity and gender expression do not have to be confined to those strict rules. The liberation of trans and non-binary people, and all people really, from the gender binary is closely linked to deconstructing it, and non-binary people should be centered in leading that effort." - Charleigh Flohr, M.P.P. | HRC Foundation Research Manager | Pronouns: She/Her/Hers