Non-Binary Problems

I’m agender – I think that’s probably the best way to some it up, but genderqueer is fine, and to be honest I’m happy not to use any label other than to say I’m not ‘male’ or ‘female’. My preferred pronouns are neutral although both male and/or female do not particularly bother me either. I believe gender is a social construct, and due to a large combination of (social) factors, I don’t identify with either label. I don’t identify with stereotypes, and whilst that may be the case for many people who do still call themselves either ‘male’ or ‘female’ (regardless of whether they are cisgender or transgender), I don’t really see what is left of the concept of ‘gender’ when you take away stereotyping. It seems wholly arbitrary to me. However I definitely champion the right for everybody to identify as they feel fit and most of all I realise that my life experiences are likely what lead me to this non-binary worldview, and other people have had very different ones.

The above was a very brief introduction. What I really am wondering about right now is where I fit in terms of gender representation, particularly in light of women’s liberation movements. I don’t identify as a woman – so logically that would mostly exclude me from women’s liberation movements. For example on a University level, I’m not deemed to be represented by our Women’s Officer. I didn’t vote in those elections because only self-defining women were permitted to. However this raises some issues for me. I am largely ‘female-presenting’. People who view the world in binary (i.e. almost everyone else) will undoubtedly look at me and presume I DO identify as a woman, or at the very least push me into their mental box of female. Therefore I am generally ‘treated like a woman’ by others, even if I don’t feel like one. In this way women’s liberation directly affects me, because the way that people perceive and treat women will be largely how they perceive and treat me. The Women’s Officer will be actively working on projects that should directly affect my life on campus, because people think I am a woman, even if I am not. However I am denied the right to vote for who that Officer will be. I am also denied access to the forums and networks of women who make decisions and discuss progress that directly affects me in almost exactly the same ways as it would affect those who DO identify as women.

I don’t find the above discriminatory, and I definitely understand the need for female only environments. Would I advocate men being present at such forums? Whilst I think that men can play a helpful role in the liberation of women it’s ultimately not their domain for decision making and often women-only environments are the best places for discussion of female-related issues and liberation. It is just unfortunate that non-binary people such as myself can fall through cracks where we lack representation and effectively a voice in something like this which does directly affect us in ways that it doesn’t affect males.

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