Today I decided to send an email to my colleagues about my non-binary gender identity. I'll write more later, but for now, here it is:
Hi all, I wondered what would constitute a good mailing list to send this to. To be honest, I am still not sure but I figured what the hell.
I want to bring to light a detail that's become an increasingly important part of my life and identity over the last few years. After much deliberation, soul searching and consulting with various folks - I'd like to broadcast my status as a non-binary individual.
💼 Executive summary 💼
- I don't identify strictly with masculine or feminine gender.
- I greatly prefer the singular gender-neutral pronouns "they/them/their" for talking about myself
Below is a sort of blog post-style collection of words; I am sure there are many people in <Company Name> who don't require the whole thing, but it seems to be the easiest format for me to cover everything I want to - this stuff's hard!
Non-binary gender identity refers to how someone, anyone and anybody, may view themselves as neither strictly masculine, nor strictly feminine. What does it mean to be masculine, feminine or neither or both? What even is gender? 🤷
I don't claim have a universal answer that everyone will agree to; I can only try to articulate my experience, that is: I experience gender as a social construct and I find that where behaviour and internal experience doesn't "match" gender-based expectations, this generates friction and/or shame, and is a bit rubbish. I want to distance this from being a biological conversation of any sort; it's a common tangent which misses the point and frankly, work is not my preferred venue for such topics ;-) .
Why are you telling us this
This is a difficult one and, as little as anyone may understand exactly why being correctly identified matters, it does appear to matter to humans and I appear to be mostly a human ;-) .
In many ways I would *love* for this to be a non issue for me; it would make my life easier! But I want to be a decent, functional blend of realistic, authentic and pragmatic.The experience of fitting in with masculine norms and/or simply tolerating having them applied to me consumes a non-zero amount of my mental + emotional resources; these are resources that I'd rather spend on other things, like <Awful hateful technical task I will have to do soon>. I am honestly tired of holding all of this on my own and would like to give others the opportunity to help me out, even simply reading this and validating my experience makes more of a difference to me than one might expect.
If you've been hanging around the blogosphere for the last ten years, you may have noticed a rise in people who choose to go public with such an identity; perhaps you've noticed people using gender neutral pronouns they/them/their as singular when referring to such individuals in the third person.
It's not perfect but for me, this is the best that English has to offer and I prefer to be referred to in this way. This facet is one that some find quite contentious and difficult to get to grips with; there is no pronoun-police and nobody is forcing anyone to do anything; please just know that this is my preference.
Identity is a complex subject about which I am absolutely no expert, and gender is but one axis; there are plenty of other important axes including sexuality, race, ethnicity; these are systems of classifying humans which are baked into the collective consciousness, codified into law; these things form the foundations, floors, walls, ceilings, windows and chimney-pots of our society. They are often invisible and not considered, but everything we do is built around them. As such, many people experience issues with identity and many never speak about it; perhaps it isn't emotionally, professionally or even physically safe to do so. I believe that <Company Name> is a safe place for me to share this message, and while nobody has to come out and not everybody can, I want to offer myself as an ally and a cheerleader for anyone here who experiences an atypical gender identity.
Thanks for reading, y'all. If anyone has respectful/sensitive questions, I'd like to try to engage with them.