transgender person sitting on bedIn our society, most people, including some transgender people, have a preferred gender. When such a society only recognizes and legitimizes two genders, you end up with a hard case of gender binary. A binary, meaning composed of two parts, because people assume that only one masculine and one feminine gender exist.

Non-binary is a common term used by people who choose to define their gender outside of the traditional notions of man and woman. Gender identities outside of man and woman have always existed throughout history. One example exists within indigenous communities that recognized two-spirit people as vital members of their communities that mediated between men and women.


non binary student talking to friend at school locker

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here:

As our society grows and evolves, so does our language. An array of different identities have emerged, but they all share the notion of existing outside of the woman/man gender binary. By opting for a gender identity outside this binary, non-binary people show up for themselves as themselves, and on their own terms. Personally, I have always felt like I was different from most other people. In my early years, I remember having interests that aligned me with my female-bodied classmates. I found fun in the activities that were gendered as “girl”. Aside from my affinity for “girl” stuff, I also found myself attracted to other male bodies. Growing up, I didn’t have any queer idols to look up to. I didn’t see a lot of queer people out in the streets, and those that were visible were also being visibly bullied. My upbringing made me feel unsafe to be my truest self.

As the organization Gender Spectrum explains, “Pressures to conform at home, mistreatment by peers in school, and condemnation by the broader society are just some of the struggles facing a child whose expression does not fall in line with the binary gender system.

Right now, I choose to identify as non-binary because it is the most appropriate way of describing something that feels so indescribable. I recognize the expansive state of my being, and that creative life force transcends gender. My existence transcends the gender binary. However, this didn’t just happen overnight for me. My queer healing journey started approximately 3 years ago. It began with inner acceptance of my truest self. Once I was able to accept and acknowledge my queerness, I became more adept at understanding a very intimate part of myself. When I wasn’t accepting of my truest self, I noticed a dip in the state of my mental health. Suppressing such an integral part of my existence made me unhappy. I didn’t realize the importance of living an authentic life. And it can be hard to figure out to be authentic to yourself when our culture wants to place people into one of two categories.

transfeminine and transmasculine people looking at phone laughing together

Dr. Ritch Savin-Williams explains in Psychology Today, “there may added difficulties in having a non-binary gender identity in a very binary world, which leads to greater psychological distress. This group is likely to be less understood and acknowledged than transgender youth whose gender identity fits into the man/woman binary, and this may mean non-binary youth are less likely to have social support [4].”

These days, I am living my most authentic self. I do it for myself, all parts of myself. I do it for the younger version of myself that felt they could only play with makeup when nobody was looking. I believe I have a harmonious blend of feminine and masculine energy that makes me the unique individual I’m meant to be.

Miss B. Haven

Miss B. Haven, is a queer community organizer & co-founder of Shipshowz, a transcendental performance showcase that created space that nurtures embodied creative expression & affirming queer networks in the South. Alternatively, she is a published writer featured in Caldera Magazine, Duke’s Chronicle, & a mental health advocate for Mindpath Health’ Be Well Blog. She is a recipient of Southern ... Read Full Bio »

Photo credits: The Gender Spectrum Collection,
[1]- “Understanding Non-Binary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive” National Center for Transgender Equality,
[2]- “Two-Spirit People” National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center,
[3]- “Understanding Gender”
[4]- “Transgender, Genderqueer, and Mental Health” Psychology Today,

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