Over a year ago, I came out to myself as gender non-binary. I knew this felt more true than any other gender I had been assigned or seen available. Being ‘trans’ still frightened me, though. I needed validation and assurance. I went to the Internet to tell me it was going to be ok. But that’s not always how the internet works. For months, any google search for “non-binary feminism” would lead to a blue hyperlink shouting “Coming out as non-binary throws other women under the bus.”
Damn. That’s just mean.
This article is a spot of warm sunshine for those AFAB enby’s who’ve stared into the creative void of your vulva and said, “I am not a woman, I am not a man, I am, simply, me!”
You’ve come out to yourself! You’re filling your life with affirming vocabulary, clothing and people. You’re becoming the genderqueer cutie you’ve always wanted to be.
But your young punk-rock girls-to-the-front self cries out, “How can you be a feminist and deny your womanhood? Isn’t this just a form of misogyny?”
I hear your struggle. Please, don’t worry. Your gender identity is absolutely compatible with the feminist agenda. Have yourself some ice cream and sit with me for a moment.
American Feminism helped separate gender and sex in late 20th century.
In the mid 70’s and 80’s, philosophers such as Gayle Rubin and Judith Butler described how gender and sex are independent concepts. For centuries, our genders and bodies were artificially united. That unity supported the systemic undervaluation of people without penises. Feminism posited that our genitalia does not dictate who we are, who we love, what we want to become and how we behave.
Feminism champions the idea that our human minds and lives are bigger than some reproductive destiny. It doesn’t matter what junk you have. Your junk doesn’t dictate
your gender. Non-binary identities are rooted in this separation of reproductive junk and personhood.
Feminism is a philosophy in support of gender equality. You don’t need the gender binary to ask for equality of all genders.
Like our trans and cis sisters, our trans and cis brothers, we are all exposed to the mistreatment of those not assumed to be “man enough.” Abusive partners, sexual and domestic violence, undervalued work, emotional labor, catcalling, name-calling, birth control, menstruation, child baring, parenting, abortion, and all while paying for all this shit on a smaller paycheck. Oppressive gender dynamics harm so many more than just the self-identified women.
People who are gender non-conforming are targets of gender-based violence.
I cut my hair. I changed my pronouns. People still look at my chest to place me within one of two narrowly defined camps. Then they determine how to treat me. Sometimes it’s pleasant. Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes, it’s harassment. A couple times it was assault.
Our human bodies bleed. Our human hearts hurt. We are all fighting to be agents of our own will, to be treated with respect regardless of what’s in our pants.
We can stand together.
bell hooks wrote “Feminism is for Everybody.” You know, just like restrooms.