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Non-Binary, Trans*

“I Think I’m Non-Binary.” Common Traits Non-Binary People Have

Photo by Tim Mossholder

You’re here because you’re questioning your gender. Congrats! You’re exploring your identity and understanding how you connect to your body.

This will be a short article giving you the common traits of non-binary people. For a longer run-down on understanding if you’re non-binary, click here.Especially in queer spaces, you can experiment with clothes and speech, mannerisms and what you do with romantic partners. Since non-binary people feel outside of gender norms, they can pick and choose what they want to do voluntarily.

Common traits of non-binary people:

Feeling disconnected to the concept of gender. For many non-binary people, gender doesn’t make sense in most cases. Remember in school when teachers would ask the boys to lift the desks? Why is that? Anyone with arms and upper body strength could move a desk, it’s not unique to one gender.

This sense of bemusement usually never leaves a non-binary person. To them, treating people based on their gender is treating them a certain way because of the color of their hair. Gender seems like a shallow and illogical way to structure how we treat people.

Not really understanding why people adhere to gender. Once you begin questioning your gender, you wonder why people don’t do the same.

Gender roles for men and women are so restrictive, you might say to yourself, so why would anyone choose to adhere to its claustrophobia? You don’t feel such a compulsion, so you don’t understand a cisgender person’s compulsion either.

But you still play with gender. We can critic and ponder gender as much as we want, but it still exists, so you might as well have fun with it.

Especially in queer spaces, you can experiment with clothes and speech, mannerisms and what you do with romantic partners. Since non-binary people feel outside of gender norms, they can pick and choose what they want to do voluntarily.

For example: I’m androgynous enough to use either men and women’s bathrooms whenever it is most convenient for me. It’s great — I usually never have to wait to pee! Being non-binary means I feel ambivalence to the signage of the bathroom, I just care about the toilet inside.

Non-binary people are blessed because they can more easily become gender capitalists, as the androgynous model Rain Dove describes in their TED Talk. Yes, gender exists, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you.

Not wanting to be gendered. Because you feel removed from the concept of gender, you might not want to separate yourself from gendered language, items, mannerisms, appearances, etc. While non-binariness means a lot of things to a lot of people, it is usually associated with feeling agender, or feeling like you lack a gender.

Let’s say you’ve been called “he” all your life, but one day someone slips up and calls you “she.” If you don’t care because it’s just a word to you, you’re probably non-binary.

Alternatively, let’s say being called either “he” or “she” doesn’t sit right with you, because they’re associated with two rigid gender binaries. They — the gender neutral pronoun — feels better because, you guessed it, it’s non-binary. Therefore, you’re probably non-binary if you want to be called “they/them.”

Not giving one single care about gender roles. I’m gonna be honest, in today’s society, it’s easier for AFAB (assigned female at birth) people to do this more so than AMAB (assigned male at birth) people, because we do live in gendered societies with higher expectations for AMAB people to act like “men.”

But you can think gender roles are stupid no matter what your body looks like.

If you can a carefree attitude towards gender roles, gendered speech, actions, dress, etc, and dress like you, you may lean more towards non-binary. It’s hard to generalize as many cis-people don’t care about gender roles either, but not caring about gender is definitely points towards non-binary thinking.

Note: apathy toward gender isn’t necessarily wanting to play with it, as with the “you still play with gender” example. Gender is just not on your radar. You do what you want to do because you want to do it, whether it’s buzzing your hair short or wearing lipstick, no matter what your body looks like.

Feeling weird about gendered parts of your body. Breasts or the crotch area, for example. Voices and hairstyles. Haircuts and facial features are easy to change with a haircut or makeup, but for the harder to hide areas you might feel dysphoric about it.

While we can shrug off ideas of what men and women are supposed to act like, dress like, say or do, we can’t shrug off certain parts of our body.

If gendered parts of your body give you dysphoria, as with your breasts or voice, and you want hormonal treatment or surgery to assuage this dysphoria, you’re probably non-binary. Further, you’re probably transmasculine or transfeminine. All three labels definitely indicate you’re not cisgender and probably fall on the non-binary sphere.

In Conclusion

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are traits that I’ve noticed most non-binary people have or come to adopt through self-realizations.

You could have all these traits or only a few. This might mean that you’re non-binary or it might not. You don’t need a label to define you.

But labels do help put to rest that gnawing feeling of uneasiness and “something isn’t right.” Labels let you understand yourself, even if you decide to shrug off the label sometime later.

I hope this helps. Check out other articles on this blog to help you understand gender.


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  8. Beth

    Interesting article. Thank you for your take on this. I still do not get it, maybe about the body parts. I guess because I was born female, identify with being female and thoroughly enjoy being a female… yet I am very analytical and independent, which is just my personality- not my gender role, none of this has ever bothered me. Granted, I am a mother, so if you call me “he” I am not going to care because my daughter has looked me straight in the face and call me “Grandpa”. Just words. People male/female are all on a spectrum of gender… all just human traits. Now, I do not like being called cis female. If others want me to respect how they want to be called, I should get the same respect. Probably my only “grr” moment.
    Thank you again for the article!

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