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- Janelle Monáe appeared to come out as nonbinary over the weekend after the singer tweeted a GIF with the caption “#IAmNonBinary.”
- According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, nonbinary people identify as a gender outside of the traditional categories of male and female, sometimes identifying as neither or a mixture of both genders at the same time.
- Being nonbinary is a gender identity, which is different from sexual orientation and the sex people are assigned to at birth. It’s also impossible to tell if someone is nonbinary by looking at them.
- Nonbinary visibility is at an all-time high, with stars like Indya Moore and Sam Smith identifying openly as nonbinary. The singular pronoun “they” was even named the word of 2019 by Merriam Webster.
- But the community still faces disproportionately high rates of homelessness, mental health issues, and physical violence related to transphobia.
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Janelle Monáe is known for breaking boundaries in their music and visual art, exploring themes of queerness, blackness, and feminism. The “Dirty Computer” singer made another bold statement over the weekend after appearing to come out as nonbinary, writing “#IAmNonBinary” in a tweet.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, nonbinary people identify as a gender outside of the traditional categories of male and female, and sometimes identify as neither or a mixture of both genders at the same time.
Monáe is one of a growing number of people identifying as nonbinary. A recent Pew Research survey found that one-third of teens and people in their early 20s know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, the set of pronouns that many nonbinary people use as opposed to “he” or “she.”
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Being nonbinary means identifying beyond “man” or “woman”
Despite some Twitter users claiming “everyone is nonbinary” because everyone should be breaking gender stereotypes, being nonbinary goes beyond breaking gender stereotypes.
Rather, nonbinary is an umbrella term for different gender identities that exist beyond mainstream societal ideas of man and woman. Some of these indentities have existed for centuries and across cultures, and include Two Spirit people in Native American nations and Waria people in Indonesia.
Being nonbinary is different from being transgender, which describes someone whose gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
It also has nothing to do with what gender or genders a person is attracted to, or their sexual orientation.
Finally, being nonbinary is different than being intersex, which describes people whose physical and hormonal characteristics do not fit neatly into scientific definitions of “male” and “female.” Intersex people can also identify as nonbinary, though.
It’s not possible to know if someone is nonbinary simply by looking at them. A person can be wearing a dress and makeup and still be nonbinary.
People who are nonbinary also typically use pronouns aside from he or she to refer to themselves. One of the more known pronouns non-binary people use is “they,” though nonbinary people have also used “xe” or “zir” or multiple pronouns.
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Nonbinary people are more visible than ever before, but still face a higher risks of physical danger and mental health problems
Nonbinary visibility is at an all-time high. with stars like “Pose” actor Idya Moore and singer Sam Smith identifying openly as non-binary.
Merriam-Webster added the singular pronouns “they” and “themself” to the dictionary in September 2019, and even named “they” word of the year in 2019.
But transgender and nonbinary people still face disproportionately high rates of homelessness and physical harm – especially femmes of color. (Femmes are queer people who act and present in a feminine way. This can mean trans women or femme nonbinary people.)
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