July 14 is International Nonbinary People's Day.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, ‘nonbinary’ is a term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories: male or female.
To celebrate this occasion, Outright International is spotlighting the experiences of two nonbinary people.
There is no singular way to be nonbinary, and gender diversity should be celebrated in its many unique expressions and identities.
TAYLOR ALXNDR, who uses they/she pronouns, is a DIY musician, drag performer, multimedia artist, community organizer and founder of the House of ALXNDR. They identify as nonbinary, transfemme and agender, were born and raised in Georgia and currently reside in Atlanta. ALXNDR said that before moving to Atlanta in 2011, there was no visible LGBTIQ community where they lived, and being trans, nonbinary or even cisgender was not commonly discussed.
“The idea of being trans and nonbinary was introduced to me in 2011, and it just clicked based on how I had felt pretty much all of my life,” ALXNDR said.
This was also around the time ALXNDR said she started getting into drag.
“Having that educational space and all that, and also that kind of performance space, allowed me to really just explore gender in a way I had never done before,” ALXNDR said. “And so that’s when I started identifying as nonbinary and agender. Transfemme kind of came a little bit later as I kind of dug deeper into how I really identified and how I felt according to my gender expression and whatnot.”
When ALXNDR first came out as nonbinary, they only used they/them pronouns.
“I was just using they/them just because I felt completely devoid of gender, where I felt like gender just wasn't a necessary thing for me to align with. I wanted to be completely neutral,” ALXNDR said. “He/him just never felt comfortable. It just never felt like the right place for me to situate myself. She/her, for a long time, felt like something I didn't deserve yet, I guess because a lot of the people around me who were transfemme or trans women or feminine nonbinary people presented a certain kind of way. A lot of them were actively taking estrogen and things like that or doing gender-affirming surgeries and whatnot. And I just felt, at that time, because of my lack of education and nuance, that I needed to do those things and perform gender in a certain kind of way to earn she/her or earn transfemme.”
According to ALXNDR, drag allowed her to work through these ideas.
“For drag queens, a lot of us just go by she/her in and out of drag, even some drag queens who are cisgender outside of drag,” ALXNDR said. “And so drag allowed me to be like, ‘You know what, I do deserve these pronouns. They feel comfortable, they make me happy, and I shouldn't have to perform anything a certain kind of way to earn them. Pronouns aren't earned. They're just outright there.’”
ALXNDR is also the co-founder and executive director of Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP). The organization started as meetups at coffee shops and in backyards to help young Black and Brown folks in Atlanta find community when they were too young to access bars, which were otherwise a main source of community interaction. SFQP began hosting the annual Southern Fried Queer Pride Festival in 2013. Throughout the year, SFQP hosts events, from potlucks and pop-up thrift shops, to ballroom events and community workshops.
“We also had a unique kind of understanding that as queer people living in the South, we're often written off, we're not represented in media… The South, the Southeast, has the largest population of LGBTQ people in the country… So we wanted to create a space where we could have southern pride, pride for ourselves,” ALXNDR said.
ALXNDR said that one of her favorite parts about being nonbinary is being around other nonbinary and trans people because that is where she feels the happiest and most affirmed. She also said she loves being nonbinary because she feels free to express herself any way she sees fit.
“I think being nonbinary is still a very radical identity to have because we're still challenging mainstream notions of gender and gender expression, which even some members in our own community are still perpetuating,” ALXNDR said. “So it's an identity that brings so much joy, but it also brings a lot of challenges obviously because of the way that the world works, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm very thankful for finding an identity that felt like home because I know lots of people who spend so much of their life still trying to find something that feels like home.”
Still, ALXNDR admits that being nonbinary has its difficulties.
“Feeling sometimes like I'm not enough, or I'm not trans enough, or I'm not nonbinary enough, or I'm not performing gender in a way that other trans people can see,” ALXNDR said. “I've slowly learned to not fall into that kind of pithole because it's just never productive, and it's not realistic.”
When ALXNDR first started hearing about the recent drag bans and trans-antagonistic legislation in the United States, it did not surprise them.
“It is a political tactic of using trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming individuals as scapegoats to distract people from the actual real issues that we have, which is like infrastructure, healthcare and general care for human beings. … I think in the long run, it’s going to be seen as a silly little blip in the political history of the moment. But right now, it does feel kind of heavy,” ALXNDR said.
ALXNDR gave advice for people wanting to be better allies to nonbinary and trans people.
“Just creating space for the trans and nonbinary people in your life to explore and feel things,” ALXNDR said.
For ALXNDR, being nonbinary means endless possibilities.
“Being nonbinary, just like being and identifying as queer, I think is understanding the multitudes that we contain as human beings and allowing ourselves individual freedom to navigate that however we see fit,” ALXNDR said. “Life is worth living, and why should we limit ourselves or put ourselves in boxes?”