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  • Writer's pictureSteff & Ells

understanding non-binary identities and respectful terminology


A quote from Alok Vaid-Menon from their book "Beyond The Gender Binary" against a purple background with a non-binary flag rainbow. The quote says “We want a world where boys can feel, girls can lead, and the rest of us can not only exist but thrive. This is not about erasing men and women but rather acknowledging that man and woman are two of many—stars in a constellation that do not compete but amplify one another’s shine.”

In a world where identities are as diverse as the colours of the rainbow, the term "non-binary" stands out as a powerful expression of gender beyond the binary. In this blog post, we'll explore the nuances of non-binary identities and shed light on the importance of using respectful language. It's crucial to embrace inclusivity and avoid inadvertently perpetuating harmful misconceptions.


Defining Non-Binary: Non-binary is an umbrella term encompassing a range of gender identities that do not exclusively align with the traditional categories of "male" or "female." Individuals who identify as non-binary may experience their gender as a fluid spectrum, encompassing a multitude of expressions and experiences.


Respectful Language Matters: Using respectful language is a fundamental aspect of acknowledging and honouring non-binary individuals. Let's delve into some terms commonly used within the non-binary community:


Non-Binary (NB):

  • While "non-binary" is a widely accepted umbrella term, it's important to note that the abbreviation "NB" can be problematic. "NB" is commonly used to mean "non-Black" in certain contexts, leading to potential misunderstandings. To avoid confusion, it's best to use the full term "non-binary.

Enby or Enbie:

  • A popular and affectionate slang term for non-binary, "enby" or "enbie" is a shorter, more informal way to refer to individuals within the community. It's crucial to use this term with respect and only when it's clear the individual is comfortable with it.

Genderqueer:

  • This term is often used interchangeably with non-binary and reflects a gender identity that doesn't conform to the traditional binary norms.

Genderfluid:

  • Individuals who identify as genderfluid experience a fluid or changing gender identity. Their gender expression may vary over time.

Agender:

  • Agender individuals do not identify with any gender. They may feel a lack of connection to traditional gender categories.

Bigender:

  • Bigender individuals identify with two distinct genders, either simultaneously or at different times.

Gender Nonconforming (GNC):

  • Individuals who are gender nonconforming (GNC) may express their gender in ways that defy societal expectations or norms. This term is used to describe those whose gender expression does not align with conventional stereotypes associated with their assigned sex at birth.


Understanding Pronouns: Pronouns play a crucial role in acknowledging and respecting non-binary identities. It's essential to use the pronouns that individuals prefer, and this can include they/them, ze/zir, or other neo-pronouns that individuals may choose to use. Neo-pronouns are newly coined pronouns that go beyond the traditional he/she/they. Examples of neo-pronouns include ey/em/eir, ve/ver/vis, and xe/xem/xyr.


Promoting Inclusivity: In the spirit of inclusivity, it's crucial to listen, learn, and respect the preferences of non-binary individuals when it comes to terminology and pronouns. Language evolves, and it's essential to stay informed and adapt to the preferences of the community. Creating a supportive environment involves embracing diversity and using language that reflects a genuine commitment to inclusivity.


Understanding non-binary identities, including respectful language and pronouns, is a powerful step toward a more inclusive society. Let's celebrate the richness of human experiences and ensure that our words contribute to a world where everyone is seen and respected for who they are.

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1 Comment


Amy Sillince
Feb 16

Thank you for sharing this and helping to inform people in being more inclusive!


As a vendor in the wedding industry working to be inclusive, something I often wonder is what less gendered terms can be used for non-binary people that aren't bride or groom?


I tend to just use 'the person getting married' but I'd love to know if there's a more relaxed way to say it?

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