Non-Binary People Are Changing the World for Good

Another person harms a transgender woman of color. Teens bully a gender-nonconforming classmate. So many transgender stories center around pain.

But non-binary producer, writer and activist Jacob Tobia is choosing to write a memoir called “Sissy” that centers around laughter.

“Through claiming my own story and mining the humor in my journey, I feel that I’ve learned to transcend the ‘trauma narrative’ that is put on trans/gender-nonconforming people and just be funny,” Tobia told Entertainment Weekly this summer. ”As trans people, we are often only valued if we have a huge, traumatic story of overcoming a specific obstacle. People want the drama. But a culture that only values trans people for our trauma is a culture that flattens us out, making us two-dimensional and oversimplified.”

Tobia, who uses the pronoun “they,” is one of a handful of non-binary people GLAAD features in its Beyond the Binary photo series.

In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, the LGBTQ nonprofit is showcasing vibrant and influential people who don’t identify strictly as men or women.

Maybe their gender shifts between the two. Some see themselves as somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Others don’t claim a gender at all.

Artist ALOK Vaid-Menon has performed in more than 30 countries. Student activist Rowan Hepps Keeney fights for LGBTQ rights on campus, from participating in anti-rape demonstrations to leading countless groups at Barnard College.

Gender stereotypes hurt everyone — and that’s the very feminist idea that advocates like Jeffrey Marsh want us to remember:

Although it may seem uncommon to be non-binary, the experience of feeling boxed in by gender is very common. You can relate to your non-binary friend or coworker because you were told the same lies about gender. Do men always take out the trash? Are women really bad at math? Of course not.

And non-binary folks feel the same way you do. We feel the same sting of being misunderstood and shamed for not exhibiting the ‘correct’ behavior for our perceived gender.

There are countless examples throughout history of non-binary people pushing for social justice and achieving remarkable success.

Just consider role model Sylvia Rivera, a brave trans and bisexual activist with a fluid gender identity. She championed transgender rights starting in the 1960s and ’70s when gay movements swept them under the rug.

And just a few years ago, artist Mikah Bazant co-founded the Transgender Day of Resilience.

These brave individuals wanted to celebrate trans lives, including non-binary ones. We should too.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

60 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Thank you

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Mike R
Mike R28 days ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R28 days ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R28 days ago

Thanks

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hillabout a month ago

thanks

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Ingrid H
Ingrid H1 months ago

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Roberto MARINI
Roberto M1 months ago

thank for this article

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Jaime J
Jaime J1 months ago

Thank you!!

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Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

I think of human sexuality/gender identity as being neither black nor white-there are many differing shades of gray, all of which are important. Shelley W, gender is not merely genitalia-it's how we identify, and trans people are quite literally born in the wrong body. Thank the Goddess and the God we live in an era where we're *slowly* becoming more understanding and accepting of trans people and what they're going through to get their outside to match their inside (Religious Reich bigotry notwithstanding). And Freya H, I must have been a male in a previous incarnation because except for the fact that I suck at sports involving running or a ball I'm a total tomboy. Gender-wise, I identify as female, but feminine trappings such as dresses, heels, purses, make-up, hairstyles, etc. drive me NUTS and to me are a total waste of time that could be put to better use. Does that make me any less a woman than a "girly" woman who wouldn't dream of leaving the house without her hair, dress, and makeup just so? No, it doesn't! Same applies to a man who prefers cooking or artistic endeavours instead of "macho" pursuits. Many shades of gray, people!

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