Beyond the binary – questions, anyone?

April 25, 2013 § 30 Comments

2nd EDIT: I’ll be closing questions on May 8th – so if you want to ask something, ask now.


EDIT: Many thanks to all who’ve left questions so far – the panel is already working on responses. I just want to make it clear that all kinds of questions are welcome (well – all polite questions are welcome) – as with the broader trans Q & A series, we’ll take the 101 questions as a starting off point and hopefully move on to more complicated ground later in the series. As a knowledge sharing exercise, it’s extremely useful to have some of the more common questions we face on a regular basis presented – so, as before, we’re tilting more towards expanding general awareness, rather than focusing solely on internecine debate. So, fellow gq/androgynous/neutrois etc. etc. people – if you want to add the questions you’re constantly faced with, that would be really helpful. Thanks again.



As the enormous general trans project is now over, and more than a few people have asked for something similar on genderqueer/androgynous/neutrois/binary-breaking issues – what would you like to know? What kinds of questions do you frequently hear/have to answer? What questions would you like a shiny panel of people to address? Leave them as comments and we’ll do our very best. Same caveat as before – any genuine question gets a genuine answer – any obvious trolling gets mocked. We were lucky and didn’t get any trolls last time…but the sarcasm is ready and waiting in the wings, should it be needed.

§ 30 Responses to Beyond the binary – questions, anyone?

  • Queste Desmarais says:

    What is the difference between genderqueer and genderfluid?

  • Do you know of any social spaces where people aren’t instantly assumed to be men or women?

    Question two: I am genderqueer and have a femme presentation, which seems to be a distinct minority among genderqueer people. The “standard” (maybe stereotypical is a better word) genderqueer presentation is more androgynous or genderfuck. Is there a good deconstruction of this around, or do I need to write it?

  • I should elaborate on my second question, for some reason I lost a sentence in there. I have heard a lot of people talking about what makes a gender presentation more or less genderqueer, or that they have a more genderqueer presentation than femme or butch. It just seems really invalidating to have that be a thing that a gender presentation is rather than just a gender.

  • Jonathan says:

    Three related questions in one: How would you define sex and gender from a genderqueer/non-binary/neutrois/etc perspective? How do they intersect and/or conflict? And in the latter case, how might such a conflict be resolved?

  • J McK says:

    How long do we reckon it’ll be before non-binary recognition becomes a thing?
    (I know non-binary is a contentious term, but I don’t have a better or more descriptive catch-all term for people who don’t have a static identity that is necessarily male or necessarily female)

    • J McK says:

      Come to that: do we have a better term that’s broadly equivalent to non-binary? Gender-variant is adequately descriptive, but for the fact that it was coined in paediatrics as a diagnostic cop-out so that a doctor didn’t have to call a trans kid trans. Also “variant” is again quite othering for those who mind such things.

      Another one: where do you each stand on the asterisk? I’m not a fan myself, I think it’s needlessly divisive.

    • J McK says:

      Is it time to get NB people into media such as soaps and video games, and how can this be done in a way that is meaningful rather than tokenistic?

  • J McK says:

    Do you have any NB heroes, modern and historical?

  • zclcagl says:

    I have a couple of questions:

    1 How do you view NB identities (starting, of course, with your own) in terms of trans* – are you trans*? Do you think all NB people are necessarily trans*?

    2 To what extent do you feel “pushed” out by the binary trans community?

    3 Do you think NB people can be considered equal in a bathroom situation where all NB people are allocated one gender neutral bathroom, whilst binary people each get one attributed to their own gender? Is it fairer to JUST have neutral stalls?

    4 How does your sexuality relate to your gender? I know a few agender people who are all asexual, for example – do you think there could be a link there?

    5 For gender fluid people, do feel as though you’re “allowed” to state your gender as what it is at a given time (eg you feel neutrois today), or do you feel like you might be accused of appropriating/stealing someone else’s identity because you might be different the next day?

    OK, it was a big couple…

    • J McK says:

      Question 5 there is a good’un. I’d add to that by asking, if you do feel this way, then how much of that feeling do you attribute to TERFs?

  • zclcagl says:

    What do you think about the term “non-binary” and why?

  • @morscerta says:

    Has anyone written about the difficulties of separating body dysmorphic disorder from gender identity disorder if you have both?

  • Goblin says:

    How bad shd I feel about the frequency with which I am attracted to genderqueer/androgynous folk? I worry it might be objectifying.

    • Maeve says:

      If it is objectifying (which I guess is probably up to individuals to define for themselves), I’d be interested in deconstructing how that’s different than being monosexual towards binary genders (e.g. gay/straight). Is there something fundamentally different about being GQ that sets it apart from binary genders, so we’re not talking about ‘another’ gender, but something else altogether? Or is it simply that there are more distinct lines around identities at the binary ends? (i.e. we probably mean similar things when we say ‘woman’ but could mean completely different things by ‘genderqueer’)

      I’ve seen in feminist spaces the dichotomy described between a radfem-esque intent to remove all gender as the only way to defeat patriarchy, and the newer, ‘queerer’ movement to include trans* people and other genders within feminism, recognising that we all suffer at the hands of societal gender norms. How do the panel feel about the way gender is defined within feminism, and how can we make the movement stronger? (assuming it is a movement that people identify with)

    • flux says:

      Goblin, it is my opinion that you have no reason to feel badly at all. There are many factors that determine human attractions and gender presentation is a huge one. Initial attraction happens, then we get to know the person. By asking this question, you have shown your awareness and respect for people. As a GQ/ andro person, I have felt objectified on occasion, but it was not by people as thoughtful as you. It seems your intention is to be respectful of people, therefore I don’t see you treating anyone as an object.

  • Are there transwomen’s histories/timelines that you would recommend? Trying to research female sexuality (esp over last 40 years) as part of background for a book on female sexual fantasy but finding representation of all women is proving challenging. I’d love to know if/ how transwomen’s experience has changed between 1970s and today and if there are any milestones that are generally considered steps forward in transwomen visibility/rights (and indeed, it’d be great to have more transwomen contribute to the book too – more info at

    • cnlester says:

      Hi Emily,

      Not really the place for that here, but have you tried asking Roz Kaveney? If you’re looking for a fount of knowledge on feminism/trans history/sex positivism etc. then you couldn’t find better x

  • Steph says:

    How were you able to decipher your identity? I’m having major issues working out how to even start! How do I gender?!

  • Ginger says:

    What are good terms for NB/GQ who experience sexual attraction to only one gender, for example, people’s who sexualities would be described as “gay” or “straight” in binary IDed people?

  • emergentlifeform says:

    Many (if not most) people, but especially LGBT people, feel more or less uncomfortable with the demands of the gender roles that they occupy (including binary identified transitioning/ed people), because these roles are in many ways one dimensional, limiting, & downright impossible (for men and women). If you agree with this analysis, what do you think the difference is between being genderqueer/non-binary and feeling relatively uncomfortable within your gender role?

  • […] than uncomplicatedly ‘male’ or ‘female’. Please go and ask us questions here – it closes on May […]

  • sabotthecat says:

    How important do you think space (physical, emotional etc.) to experiment is in the development and expression of non-binary gender identities?

  • ten says:

    1) If someone identifies as non binary and firmly not {their assigned birth gender}, but prefers pronouns that match their assigned-at-birth gender, and goes by a matchingly gendered name, then in what way are you supposed to act or talk differently to them compared to a cis person?

    Failing any other insights I’ve gone with ‘don’t assume anything about them based on either gender or non-binaryness, do not apply any gendered terms to them beyond pronouns (e.g. ‘ladies/gents’,’female/male’) unless they specifically communicate that you should’ but I try to I do that for all peoples anyway because bleurgh, the gender binary, fuck that stuff. Am I missing anything? It feels like it should be a bigger divide between cis and not, but maybe it’s not such a big deal?

    2) Speaking of which: how much difference does having a non binary gender identity make to people’s experiences of cisprivilege and transphobia? How does this differ from e.g. being visibly non gender conforming?

    3) If mentioning someone whose gender is non binary but goes by male or female pronouns, are you supposed to make this obvious to the listener so they don’t make the wrong assumptions?

  • how would you go about defining yourself, in terms of gender or lack thereof, to a wider group? i am agender and find difficulty explaining that and my asexuality to everyday people, ie mum and other relatives. my friends have no issues or silly questions being that they are as “odd” as i am, or more so. secondly, i heard on the radio a few months back, someone (i cant remember the country this person lived in) got the letter ‘U’ applied to their legal documents. i was ecstatic to hear this and am wondering the process one would have to go through (in Canada) to do the same.

  • David Howell says:

    This is probably logically following on from the question about separating dysmorphia from Morscerta, and I know I’ve spoken to CN along these lines on Twitter already, but…

    How do you go about dealing with issues in relation to body image, diet, and exercise? Do any such issues go beyond the obvious issues relating to gender dysphoria?

  • Jennifer says:

    I thought of one… What do you think/feel, personally/politically, about the title “Mx”? E.g. would you/do you use it yourself? Is it a good/complete resolution to the existence of gendered titles or what shortcomings does it have? Would you rather not have a title at all?

  • flux says:

    In Leslie Feinberg’s book Transgender Warriors, there are examples of indigenous people and cultures which respect and honor trans people. Are there also examples of this for non-binary or neutrois folks anywhere?

    Do you know of any religious or spiritual beliefs which speak to this?

  • Conner Kenneth says:

    I was born a female named Hannah Grace

    In high school, there are only women and male restrooms. I don’t feel comfortable going to either of them. I can’t just ask them to make an intersex bathroom, but I don’t know where to go considering I am agender.

    I have come to one teacher about using the they/them pronouns. She told me that God made me a girl for a reason and that I need to turn to God. Not necessarily what I was going for. She had told me she will respect my wishes, but I will understand my sex in the future.

    How do I even go out about telling others that I am an Agender named Conner? I want my name to be Conner in the system, but I don’t want my mum to find out at the same time. I also feel as though teachers won’t understand about being outside of the binary.

    • cnlester says:

      Hi Conner – I’m really sorry to hear that things are being so hard. The best thing I can think of doing is contacting some trans youth organisations who have expertise in this area, and asking for their guidance? I can send you through some names, if that would help?

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