why i don't really talk about being non-binary anymore
December 17, 2016
I was originally going to write a post about the recent US trans survey and the demographics of the ‘nonbinary’ gender category within that survey. How 80% of the people IDing as nonbinary were assigned female at birth. How a goodly portion were also white. But. Honestly? I’m not even sure what else I could say on this topic anymore. I’ve already written twenty eight fucking posts about this stuff. Like… my first ever blog post was about the binary and colonialism. Which got me into a lot of discussions leading to this infamous one with Riley about the binary and colonialism. That second post there was a conversation we were having and it basically was the beginning of the end of the notion of ‘binarism’ as a distinct axis of oppression esp as relates to white ppl. Followed by posts about the notion of nonbinary in/visibility and nonbinary historical erasure. Don’t forget how I was instrumental in driving out ‘trans*’ as thing. Or that time a bunch of us did a whole hastag thing about #tpocrightsnow (this hashtag like many others on twitter was started by two Black trans ppl). And over the last year I have posted a few personal posts about being nonbinary: like my relationship to medical transition, or seeking hormones as an enby girl, or how i used to be brave and actually ‘presented’ as nonbinary. This is honestly a currated list from over thirty posts I’ve written about being nonbinary.
I’m sure some people will look over this list and realize that some of the ideas here are foundational to current enby discourse. That’s because they are. And they either find their origins with or (as was more often) their origins in discussions I had with other nonbinary poc’s (many of the posts I wrote after processing discussions with friends – this is the main reason why I hate talking about single authorship in internet discourse, I didn’t think up this stuff in a void, except for maybe that very first insight about the relationship between binaries and colonialism – as in my very first post before I started engaging others on these topics). And I’m sure people who haven’t been following my writing for a while or haven’t delved deep into my blog archives are surprised to see all of this.
The thing is, is that my role and the role of many of my friends and other enbies of colour in shaping today’s discourse has utterly been erased. And when I look at the US trans survey’s demographics it all sort of makes sense. For a long time we’ve jested that all enby people seem to be white afab’s. And, lo, it turns out that this is actually an accurate assessment. But I also know that my participation in these discussions, along with those of my friends, has largely fallen away.
None of this is an accident, btw. I suppose now is a good time to really talk about the way the enby ‘community’ has shaped itself into a ‘community’ that actively drives out people of colour. It was first exclusionary because the way white enbies discussed gender tended to alienate a lot of poc. After the discussions between me and my friends, this has changed. I know a lot of nonbinary poc. I also know that many of them (esp if they are amab) don’t frequently label themselves as nonbinary. I usually don’t because, in part, I identify as a trans woman of colour for political reasons (although, I’ve also tried to abandon that as well for other reasons).
At some point perhaps we could really start to dig into how white enbies maintain hegemonic control over non-binary discourse while co-opting and exploiting the labour (and histories and experiences) of enbies of colour. Because it is an interesting historical progression that most of the evidence we have of gender diversity in history appears to be focused on amab people of colour but at this point in time its suddenly all white afab enbies? Yeah. I mean, if we expand globally than this really doesn’t hold true but. It’s still even an interesting demographic shift in the US.
We could also talk about how despite having a stranglehold on the community, white enbies continue to make a lot of noise about being invisible and erased.
We could talk about all of these things but. Well. I’ve already talked a lot about some of these. The others already have seeds in other posts and one simply needs to read them and draw out the conclusions. But mainly I don’t really see the point. Anything I say at this point will simply be devoured by white enbies and regurgitated as if they made it themselves. I literally wrote a book that is, in part, very much about gender and colonialism (and thus the binary) and do you know how many invites I’ve had to speak about it? Z e r o.
So I could talk about many things nonbinary. But I probably won’t.