When it’s not one or the other
For ANZ employee Harley Bird, International Non-Binary People’s Day is a day of recognition and celebration of non-binary identities and voices across and outside of the gender spectrum and is an important day to help increase visibility within the LGTBQ+ community and beyond.
Gender has always been complicated, for me. I knew from a young age I didn’t fit into Box A or Box B – coming to terms with being non-binary helped me realise that gender can be more nuanced than just being a man or a woman. Knowing I didn’t - or that I didn’t have to - exist on those terms and could simply be myself – whether that be a bit of both, neither, or something else entirely – was one of the most freeing realisations I’ve had.
While I always leant more towards the masculine side of things - at least in terms of presentation – I knew I wasn’t part of that binary. It’s a choice in presentation that I actively make, because it makes me happy and feel more like myself, more than a sense of obligation or having to fit into an assigned role.
Gender expression or gender identity?
Things such as clothes, make up, hairstyles and even mannerisms in our society tend to be gendered a certain way – but they don’t have to be. People can enjoy these things no matter their gender and express themselves in ways that make sense to them.
Gender expression and gender identity can be the same, they can be exact opposites, or they can vary – and they can change. Your relationship to them will be very personal, and not everyone experiences them the same way.
For me gender expression tends to be more external. It’s about how you present yourself to those around you, and how you wish to move through society. Gender identity is more intrinsic, and internal – your sense of self, of personhood, and how you feel or know yourself to be.
The topic of pronouns
Including pronouns in email signatures or on social media platforms is one way to help gender non-conforming folks see that you have an understanding that someone’s gender identity can’t be assumed by our perception of them.
By making the choice to share or include your own pronoun information on your email, it not only communicates how you want people to refer to you, importantly it is a green flag that you’re going to be safe for us to interact with.
Some people within the LGTBQ+ community may not include pronouns for good reason. For example, they might not be ready to share their gender identity and it’s unfair to expect them to do so or have them misgender themselves if they’re not ready to.
International Non-Binary People’s Day also helps introduce the concept of being non-binary to those unfamiliar with it. And for those of us who identify that way – helps unite us with our community and see there is a place for us to thrive in this world. It’s all about connection.
ANZ’s LGBTIQ+ and Gender Diversity networks Pride and ForWARD are hosting ANZ’s first International Non-Binary People's Day panel discussion on 14 July which aims to increase the awareness and inclusion of non-binary identities through the sharing of lived experiences and personal stories.
How you can be an ally to non-binary people
There are a number of ways to be supportive of non-binary people:
- Use the name or pronoun people ask you to use. This is the most important way you can show respect to non-binary people at work and in the community. If you’re not sure what pronoun someone uses, ask. Some non-binary people may use ‘they’ while others may use ‘he’ or ‘she’ or they might prefer something else.
- Don’t assume. Try not to make assumptions based on gender expression. You can’t tell if someone is non-binary by their appearance so until someone has communicated how they identify to you, don’t assume.
- Advocate. If you hear people misgender someone (who has come out), advise them of the person’s correct name or pronoun.
- Amplify trans and non-binary voices, take time to talk with non-binary members of the community and listen to their stories.
- Support non-binary businesses and artists, and donate to charities that support our communities and support other marginalised communities too including the wider LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC, people with disability and neurodiverse individuals. There can be a fair bit of crossover between them, and things can be even more difficult if we fall into multiple categories.
Harley Bird is an experienced Support Services Specialist with a background in IT hardware and software support and has been working at ANZ for more than four years
If this story has raised any issues for you, or if are feeling isolated or in need of support, please reach out to QLife on
1800 184 527 | QLIFE.ORG.AU or visit lifeline.org.au
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