Updated: Nov 21, 2020
By Bren Bartol
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The gender binary- the limiting of gender to female and male only- is a narrow minded view. In recent years, however, this narrow minded view has begun to change. Thanks in part to Generation Z, the use of pronouns like they/them, de/dir, or ze/zim, has become more prevalent, a sign that society's perspective on identity has started to shift (but not without objections).
History class will never teach you about it, but numerous cultures expanded past the gender binary before Christian missionaries erased them. In today’s world, such cultures are reviving, and others are growing to accept the fact gender is not only an umbrella term but also a spectrum (a great book to read that discusses this further in depth is Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 people Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager).
Since being non-gender conforming is a fairly new concept to many people, there are a lot of misconceptions and biases against pronouns like “them.”
“It’s not grammatically correct.”
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the use of the pronoun “they” singular dates back to the 13th century.
Grammar isn’t static. Language evolves. Take Shakespeare. No one talks like that anymore, and that’s okay! The evolution of our language reflects growth in our society.
Whether it’s grammatically correct or not in your eyes, putting grammar above the well being of someone you care about tells them you don’t care, and hopefully, that’s not true.
“It’s not natural (in regards to a queer person).”
Neither are body enhancers, makeup, or a plethora of other things that shape our identities. So many things that surround us on a daily basis are not natural; from hybridized vegetables to processed meats. our lives are fueled by unnatural things. Yet people accept these unnatural concepts that impact their daily lives more easily than they accept the existence of a non binary identity.
“It will teach our children about un-christian things, queer things (take your pick)!”
Studies like those led by Professor Jennifer Steele and Dr. Amanda Williams, and many others show that racial and gender biases start in children at ages as young as preschool. Introducing young children to the world that exists outside the gender binary at a young age is not harming them in any way, it’s simply telling them people who are different exist. Starting to dismantle biases before they even form will lead to a more empathetic, understanding generation.
The way you have phrased your statement suggests it’s a horrible thing. It’s not. And to be honest, it’s none of your business how someone identifies on the gender spectrum.
“It goes against my religion because…”
Plenty of religious people do many things that are technically proscribed by their religion. For example:
You are not allowed to get tattoos. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, not print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”Leviticus 19:28
Women were not allowed to speak in church. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.” Corinthians 14:34
These are both passages from the Bible, but similar justifications can be used in other religions as well. You may say, “But you’re cherry picking!” So are the majority of religious excuses! “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22
If you get to cherry pick, so do I! Most religions preach love, acceptance, helping one another, learning.
I can disagree with you on pizza toppings or movies, but blatant disregard and disrespect for another person is not only shameful, but also goes against the love your religion calls for.
If you want to read a great article further in depth about this subject, go read Julia Lewis’ article Using the Bible to Justify Homophobia Needs to Stop.
“You’re just confused.”
So what if I am? My identity, or “my confusion,” is not hurting anyone. It’s like being confused about fractions. If someone doesn’t understand fractions, it doesn’t hurt you. Confusion can be a sign of self reflection and growth. Isn’t that what everyone strives to do? Grow? Isn’t that what parents encourage for their children? That it’s okay to make mistakes?
These are a small fraction of the micro-aggressions that are said to gender non conforming people everyday. It does not account for the violent words and actions taken towards us. I cannot stress this enough: we are not dangerous. We are not hurting anyone. We do not wish to. We just want to live as full a life as you do.
Living as a gender non conforming individual is exhausting, because we live outside the “normal.” We are always treated as outsiders, never as part of the norm. Stop allowing people in your life to get away with delegitimizing non binary people. You want to see change? This is my call to action. Step up. Argue. Fight back. We are here, we aren’t going away, and we aren’t going down without a fight. Join us.
Written by writer Bren Bartol