There has been a bit of a rumpus concerning an announcement on a LNER train recently in which the words, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” was objected to by a non binary passenger.
Now, as an older fellow I was a little confused as to what a non binary person may be, as my only contact previously with the word binary was some vague recollection of a connection with computer stuff and had something to do with 0 (zero) and 1 (one) but this was obviously of no use at all in identifying what a non binary person was, so I reverted to the interweb.
Low and behold there is reams of information on non binary people, unfortunately none of it was any help at all and just seemed to muddy the waters, you can make your own mind up from some of the following.
Just as a bit of a clue, I believe binary is what they describe men and women as, what most of us consider to be the norm by way of describing people of a different sex, so I’m guessing that people who are non binary are neither Arthur nor Martha as the saying goes.
There’s No Such Thing As “Looking Non-Binary”
Most people understand that you don’t have to wear dresses to be a cis woman or wear pants to be a cis man. Yet many people seem to believe you need an androgynous style to be non-binary, creating the assumption that non-binary people who wear women’s clothes must be women.
In an effort to make sense of this I looked up cis and apparently it is someone whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth, rather like the vast majority of the population.
Being Non-Binary Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have Any Other Gender Identity
Some people identity as non-binary and as a man or woman or trans or something else, one can identify as a non-binary woman or man because, this identity acknowledges both that you don’t have an innate identification with any gender and that you’ve been socialized as a woman or a man.
Having more than one gender identity means different things to others, one can identify as both non-binary and a woman to acknowledge that one loves one’s female-coded body but doesn’t always feel it accurately represents you.
Unfortunately there was no description as to what would accurately represent someone in this predicament, so I am unable to add anything which may help you in making any sense of the previous two sentences.
Not All Non-Binary People Go By They/Them Pronouns
Non-binary people can also have a variety of pronouns. Some go by they/them, some go by she/her, some go by both, and some go by more than that. The only way you can know is to ask.
As they say the only way to know is to ask, although I have absolutely no idea what the question might be.
We Are Not All Intersex, Transgender, or Anything Else People Assume We Are
There’s some confusion about what it means to be non-binary. Some equate it with being intersexed, that is, having a body not traditionally classified as male or female but it has nothing to do with your biology.
Intersex people can be non-binary, but so can people who are not intersex. Others equate being non-binary with being transgender for example identifying with a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth. Some non-binary people feel this definition applies to them, but others don’t.
There was reams and reams more but I was beginning to lose the will to live so stopped as I didn’t want to endanger my mental health. As they say, there is some confusion about what it means to be non-binary, which is very much an understatement as far as I can see, so I shall endeavour to sum up.
From what I can gather from all this, you can be male complete with all the gentleman’s paraphernalia or female with all the ladies downstairs bits, transsexual, LGBTQ, unsure if you’re Norris or Doris, in fact virtually anything from a cabbage to a baboon as long as you don’t think of yourself as a man or a woman.
I’m guessing that the percentage of the population who fit this criteria is exceedingly small and yet because one of them has complained about a train announcement using the words, “good afternoon ladies and gentlemen” the vast majority of us will no longer be able to hear those words uttered on a train again, which seems a bit of a shame as I thought it was quite a pleasant way of addressing all the people on the train.