Today, 31st March, is International Transgender Day of Visibility –
– and this is me being visible as a transgender person. I’m doing this because it’s relatively safe for me to be open about my gender identity: my job’s safe; my family’s safe; my relationships are safe. Lots of trans people find that it’s not safe to be open about being trans, and I hope that each person who is open makes the world a tiny bit safer for the next person.
The words I use describe who I am are “non-binary gendered” and “genderqueer”. That means I fit somewhere between “man” and “woman” – sort of neither and sort of both.
I’ve been identifying as “butch” for a long time, but in the last few years as I’ve learned more about what labels people use and thought more about my own, the boxes of “woman” and “man” feel too inaccurate for me to occupy them comfortably.
I also describe myself as “transgender” or “trans” – my gender doesn’t match the ‘girl’/’woman’ label that was assigned to me when I was born. Transgender/trans is more of an umbrella term and can apply to men and to women as well as to people with a non-binary identity.
I’ve identified myself as genderqueer for a few years, publicly but without any big announcements – but I’m conscious that it’s a thing I drop hints about and skirt round the edges of, and I prefer to be clear and direct.
None of this means I’m a different person from who you thought you knew: I’m still just me. These are just more accurate words for describing me.
Extra information in case it’s useful:
Some transgender people change their name to something that feels like a better fit for their gender.
I’m sticking with my old name (at least for now! It’s a question I revisit a lot.) [Edit: I have since changed my name – please call me Fred! I’ve edited the following paragraph to reflect my newer name and pronoun choice.]
There are several options for third-person pronouns which are gender neutral— i.e. not ‘he’ or ‘she’. “They” is the one that ‘s most commonly used by non-binary people (“Have you met Fred? They’re the IT officer.”)
– but I’m also comfortable with people using “she”
An estimated 0.4% of the UK population has a non-binary gender identity.
It’s not currently possible in the UK for identity documents such as passports and driving licences to show a non-binary gender, although there is an early day motion to facilitate that, currently supported by 80 MPs: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/47
Where it is possible for records about me to accurately reflect my gender, I’d like them to, and I’m working on this.
Further reading, if you’d like it:
Evidence for the 0.4% figure: http://practicalandrogyny.com/2014/12/16/how-many-people-in-the-uk-are-nonbinary/
Trans Media Watch has a good introductory document: it’s made for people in the media but I think it’s a pretty good general introduction: http://www.transmediawatch.org/Documents/non_binary.pdf
And a related recent news story: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/02/04/scotland-law-society-will-let-solicitors-register-as-gender-neutral/