When my oldest child came out as non-binary, I didn't understand what that meant. A quick Google search told me that non-binary was identifying as neither male nor female. I took it to mean if gender was a straight line with a male at one end and a female at the other, my child was in the middle. And because I understood that, I let that be good enough.
When it comes to the gender and sexuality of your child, never let good enough be where your learning and understanding ends.
We live in a culture that loudly and largely enforces gender binaries from the cradle to the grave, and gender non-conforming people are often left without representation and a place to belong. No one should feel left out because of their identity.
Each year, the week surrounding July 14, which is Non-binary Person's Day, is dedicated to the non-binary community. We celebrate and recognize those who don't fit within the traditional gender norms. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Non-binary Awareness Week "shines a light on those who identify as non-binary and celebrates the rich diversity of the community."
Here are three ways you can be a better ally to the non-binary community:
1. Display your pronouns. Put your pronouns in your email addresses, social media profiles, Zoom handles, and on your name tags. This reminds people that it's not obvious what pronouns people use based on their appearances and makes non-binary people feel safe to use their pronouns.
2. Use gender-neutral language whenever possible. Replace words like mailman with mail person or use singular their vs. saying his/her when referring to non-specific people.
3. Use words that define relationships instead of the relationship and gender. For example, instead of mother and father, use parents. Or, instead of sister and brother, use siblings. Use children instead of saying son and daughter.
We all want to belong, and non-binary people are no different. A little extra effort on your part can go a long way to ensure that everyone feels included.
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