I’ve heard that people are uncomfortable about Enbies/Non-Binary folx like myself. However, I understand it; it can be difficult learning about something new to you. So, let me talk you into the world of gender variation.
Gender Variation has been around much longer than the binary we’re often put into today. Anthropologist April Scarlett Callis believes that the traditional binary system can only be traced back as far as the 19th century – which means that we’ve been living as binary for less than 0.1% of the time humans have existed.
So, what happened before this time of pink and blue boxes? Well, to start with shops began selling gendered clothing – just not as we know it. Stores were selling pink items for boys and blue items for girls. This changed in the 1940s when the fashion industry changed their minds making boys wear blue and girls wear pink.
However, before this we were all dressed in gender neutral clothes. In the 19th century before the pink and blue revolution, children were dressed in what we now view as christening gowns – mostly until the age of six. They wore white dress-like outfits, no matter their gender.
Back in the 18th century, it was quite common for England to have what was called “Molly Houses”. These were often meeting places for homosexual men, trans women, and trans men. There was a variety of different people in these tavern/pub-like places. But the history in England is full of variety, a few of our kings chose to wear what we now see as feminine clothing – Charles II enjoyed wearing a lot of purple, while Henry VIII wore short robes (that remind me of Posh Spice in a little black dress) and tights.
We can go further back to the Egyptians where pharaohs dressed quite masculine – after all, Cleopatra, one of the most known pharaohs in existence was known for wearing a fake beard so that she could portray masculinity for the position.
Also, let’s not forget the Third Gender many different cultures keep speaking of – Mexico for example, has a people called Zapotecs who are known for having a third gender. Along with native Americans who have a third gender titled ‘Two-Spirited’, showing a third gender or a non-binary gender identity isn’t a western thing – in India there is a community of intersex and trans people called Hijra.
It varies from culture to culture, we’re not new, but the reality is – we’re just like you.
We can be different; I’ve never met a non-binary person that is the same as me. We have similarities, but just like everyone, we have our differences too.
Something that I recommend to anyone who is speaking to a non-binary person, especially if you’re not sure about something is pronouns. Pronouns are something that I’ve found many people are confused about, and it’s just as simple as asking people for their pronouns. If you’re not sure – ask.
My pronouns vary He/Him are my go-to because I’m a masculine person. (I wish to have a beard and a deep voice someday). However, I sometimes go by She/Her because I have some very feminine days. A blanket pronoun for non-binary people, (that many people use for me) to prevent confusion, is They/Them – which is also acceptable to me.
The difference between me and other Enbies is that some of us don’t use known pronouns (e.g. Ey,Em,Eirs) and some don’t use multiple (e.g. They/Them).
When you first meet them, you may not know that they’re an Enby, but if you gender them a certain way and they comment on it – correcting their pronouns or the gendered comment, don’t take it personally. Listen to them and learn from the mistake. So when talking to a non-binary person, it is always best to ask for pronouns. It avoids embarrassment, awkwardness, and upset.
Moreover, we’re nothing to be afraid of, if anything, we’re incredibly relaxed.
The main thing is to avoid messing up pronouns – if you’re confused, just ask – otherwise, enjoy having a conversation with an Enby!