July 14 was Gender Non – Binary Day.
Gender non – binary is a blanket term for people who don’t identify exclusively as male or female. Some don’t identify with a gender at all (agender).
Statistics and erasure
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) first collected data that to include gender non – binary people in 2016. They found that approximately 35% of those who indicated that they were transgender also indicated that they were gender non – binary.
The American Psychological Association estimates that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as non – binary.
Despite this, I’ve been disheartened at how many people, both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community invalidate non – binary identities. American YouTuber, who’s also trans, Blaire White is one of those people, arguing that there is only male and female. Sydney Herald columnist, Cate Mcgregor argued the same thing when she condemned Safe Schools in 2016 (she has since changed her view on the program).
Why does this matter?
If you read anything about the struggle of bisexual people, you’ll know that they are over represented in hate crime and donestic violence statistics. This is at the very least, exacerbated by erasure and not being believed, or, the other extreme, fetishised. I’ve written that asexual women in particular are often victins of harassment and sexual assault because they aren’t believed.
According to Stonewall UK, both binary and non – binary trans people have experienced a hate crime within a twelve month period, (41% and 31% respectively).
- 28% of trans people reported being victims of domestic violence
- Roughly 12% (1 in 8) trans people reported physical attacks at work by colleagues
- 25% of trans people have also experienced homelessness
- 41% of trans people have experienced hate crimes
These statistics are horrible. All people, regardless of gender identity or any other factor, should be able to feel safe at work, in public and at home.
Most importantly, the rate of homelessness and hate crime highlight the need for law enforcement and shelter operators to be inclusive and supportive of binary and non – binary trans people so people can find safety and justice. I’m pretty sure I’ve wrote in the past that s study in the US revealed that both binary and non – binary homeless trans people often find it very difficult to find appropriate homeless shelters that align with their identity and where they are accepted and feel safe. Binary trans people are often rejected by services that cater to their gender, while non – binary people often don’t have any services or shelters available for them at all.
Gender non – binary and asexuality
The reason why I feel the need to defend and validate gender non – binary people is it wasn’t that long ago that asexual people were misunderstood, not believed and ridiculed. In 2014, 2GB’s Steve Price was criticised for his comments about asexuality on The Project such as ‘try harder’ and ‘I find that [being asexual] ridiculous’. I remember watching the repeat of that segment and was quite offended by what I heard. Another panellist also sarcastically spread misinformation about asexual people.
While The Morning Show wasn’t as harsh in talking about asexuality, misinformation was spread and it wasn’t taken seriously.
Asexual invisibility has had more harmful consequences than just ridicule. In her book An Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, author and asexual activist Julie Sondra Decker highlighted discrimination and even sexual harassment and assault that asexual people face. She cited a study where a number of landlords admitted that they would likely reject applications from asexuals who wanted to rent their property. Asexual people were looked at less favourbly than gays or lesbians.
Everyone should be able to live freely, safely and without fear. I believe that for minorities, visibility and validation contributes that. It’s the first step for the whole LGBTQ+ community to be able to access services that most people take for granted.
To trans/ non – binary people, what have been your experiences? Have you found it hard to access services you needed? How have your experiences been at work and oublic? Feel free to share your experiences below.