How to be an ally to nonbinary people

Hailey Hernandez, Features Writer

The nonbinary flag and a purple heart wrapped with a ribbon inscribed with they/them pronouns. Art by Silvia Catarino/The Runner

As we approach the month of OUTober, it is important to remember to respect everyone’s identity and pronouns. Some people are nonbinary and use different pronouns such as they and them. Nonbinary refers to people who don’t identify as the binary genders: male and female. There is no one way to be nonbinary, as gender is very fluid in terms of expression.

There are many ways to be an ally to nonbinary people. You can help by asking for people’s pronouns instead of assuming and possibly misgendering them. Misgendering is when you refer to people by the wrong pronouns and/or identity.

The University of Wisconsin wrote a piece on pronouns, stating, “When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric.”

With this in mind, always ask for people’s pronouns instead of assuming. However, if you do happen to misgender someone by accident, make sure to correct yourself and move on. It’s important to not dwell on your mistake because excessively apologizing can make the other person feel guilty and like an inconvenience.

A guide created by the Trevor Project states, “The most authentic apology is meaningless if there is no change or if the behavior is repeated consistently in the future.” Actions speak louder than words.

Another way to support nonbinary people is by using inclusive language such as gender-neutral terms. Instead of greeting people with ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ you can say ‘everyone’ or ‘pals.’ It’s important to ask your nonbinary friends what terms they are comfortable with. While some nonbinary people are okay with gendered terms such as ‘bro, dude, queen, or sis,’ others might find it dysphoric. Every nonbinary person is different, so it can’t always be assumed what they’re okay with.

Additionally, it’s important to recognize that gender expression does not equal gender identity. No matter how nonbinary people present themselves, whether feminine, masculine, or androgynous, they are still nonbinary. Someone’s appearance is not an indicator of their gender. There is an infinite number of ways to express yourself and your gender.

Remember to be kind and respectful of other people’s identities. Nonbinary people just want to express themselves freely. It’s a right that we all deserve.