Four people living in the UK explain what it’s like to be non-binary.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented increase in awareness of transgender communities among wider society. In 2014, Time magazine declared society has reached a “transgender tipping point” and figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have become household names. However, despite the welcome interest in transgender communities, some transgender identities have received considerably more attention than others. Transgender identities and lived experiences can be much more varied and complex than binary ‘male to female’ or ‘female to male’ transition stories which dominate the press.
Non-binary people can identify as transgender, but often not within the traditional gender binary of male or female. Rather, some non-binary people can identify as a mix of genders, or none at all. Some can feel their gender identity is steady and fixed, while others feel it can fluctuate by the day, by the hour or depending on the situation they are in. For many non-binary people, life can feel like being a minority within a minority.
Here, four non-binary people share their experiences of what life is like for them living in the UK and their hopes for greater understanding and visibility for the future.
J is 39-years-old and works at a university in London
How would you describe being non-binary?
Being non-binary feels like having this hole in your chest where something — my sense of gender — used to be, where you know that almost everyone else has something, and now I just… don’t. It’s not a painful lack, just a noticeable one that sets me apart from most other people.
It means people who don’t identify all of the time as a man or a woman. Maybe they switch between those genders, or feel like a different gender entirely, or they don’t have a gender at all, or something different.