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Activism is action taken to bring about change in society and politics. This page will focus on activism taken to help people with nonbinary gender identities. It will also address related and wider issues about the rights of transgender and intersex people, and certain feminist causes (such as gender neutral language).
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These are some areas of concern for nonbinary people, which are in the way of their recognition and rights. Activists can take up these problems as causes to address.
- Business and legal paperwork and language often puts much importance on whether a person is female or male, and exclude and make problems for nonbinary people.
- Passports and identification papers often need a person to put their sex/gender as either female or male. Passports that allow an alternative gender marker, such as X (unspecified), E (eunuch), O (other), or T (transgender), have made problems when the person goes to countries that don't have those, or that mark them in a different way.
- In countries that let people put their legal sex/gender as other than female or male, they might not be able to vote, which requires a female or male legal sex/gender.
- Most kinds of paperwork should stop taking record of sex/gender at all. Most businesses don't need that information, because they have better ways of identifying people. Groups that have good reason to mark sex/gender, such as hospitals, should give better options for how to mark it. Birth certificates should stop taking record of assigned gender at birth in the first place, which would make legal transition easier for all transgender people.
- All paperwork should either give options for gender neutral titles, or not require a person to have a title.
- Websites and social networks should give users more options about how to put their gender and pronouns.
- Many countries require transgender people to do things that are difficult, impossible, or a violation of their human rights in order to change their legal gender markers. Many countries require transgender people to be sterilized in order to change their legal gender. Using coercion to sterilize a minority group is part of a human rights violation called eugenics, meant to get rid of that group. Many countries require transgender people to give proof they have had certain kinds of physical transition or surgery in order to change their legal gender. For many transgender people, that kind of physical transition isn't what they want for their body, or isn't possible for them to have enough money for. Nonbinary people don't necessarily want a kind of physical transition that would satisfy these requirements, which were made to make transgender people conform to binary cisgender ideals. Any person should be allowed to change their legal gender markers without any requirements for physical transition or sterilization.
- Transgender people who want to have a legal or physical transition need to get a therapist's letter in order to have permission to do much of it. However, many therapists aren't willing to give one to nonbinary people, only to binary transgender people. Nonbinary people should be able to get a therapist's letter with no more difficulty than a binary transgender person.
- Health insurance often covers none or only part of the medical transition of a transgender person. It should cover nearly all. Gender-validating procedures should be given recognition as necessary, not "cosmetic".
- It can be difficult for people to get health care if they have had a physical transition, because many doctors haven't had any education on those issues. This makes many problems, ranging from disappointing to life-threatening. Some patients have had to educate their doctors about their own health. Doctors have turned patients away just for being transgender. For example, the trans man Robert Eads, who died in 1999 from untreated ovarian cancer for this reason. Doctors should always be educated about transgender issues and health so that patients know they can trust the knowledge of their doctors, and that they won't be discriminated against or suffer malpractice.
- People whose gender expression is in any way gender-nonconforming, especially if feminine, are often victims of violence and hate crimes. This affects trans women of colour more than any other LGBT group. ("98% of all 'transgender' violence was perpetrated specifically against people in the male-to-female spectrum; of the 38 murders of transgender people reported internationally in 2003, 70% were women of color.") There should be more kinds of protection to prevent this, and to bring justice when it happens.
- 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. There need to be more resources to help LGBT homeless youth. Homeless people who are nonbinary or even binary transgender often face difficult choices when homeless shelters are either for women or for men. Homeless shelters should not turn away homeless people just for being transgender, and should not ask queer couples to break up in order to use the shelter. Parents should be educated about how throwing out their children is far from the best response to them being LGBT.
- It should become standard etiquette when being introduced to someone new to ask for their name and pronouns, and to give one's own. It should be standard even for cisgender people and for people whose gender expression looks conventional. Make it standard practice to not assume people's gender or pronouns based on how they look.
- There should be widespread social recognition that nonbinary people exist, and that female and male aren't the only genders.
- There should also be widespread social recognition that intersex conditions exist, and that female and male aren't the only sexes. There should be no more non-consensual sex reassignment surgery practiced on intersex infants. It should be accepted that some intersex people can be cisgender.
Some ways that people can do activism to help the rights and recognition of nonbinary people include letter-writing, petitions, and changing they way people talk and write about gender (taking up gender-neutral language).
See main article: Petitions
In this wiki, the petitions page has an up-to-date list of online petitions that support visibility and legal recognition of nonbinary genders, organised by country.
See main article: Recognition
Recognition of non-binary gender identities in law and other paperwork. Through networking and activism, people can find out which groups (businesses, government organisations, and so on) give recognition to non-binary genders, and can ask for recognition from groups that still need to do so. In this wiki, the recognition page has an up-to-date directory about all kinds of groups that recognize or have yet to recognize non-binary gender and issues, sorted by country.
Gender neutral language, also called gender-inclusive language, is important to non-binary people. This is because many of them want to be talked about only in ways that don't give the idea that they are female or male. They also want that kind of gender-neutral language to be available as an option in paperwork, or for paperwork to not ask about gender. Many feminists also want gender-neutral language. Some kinds of supposedly gender-neutral language, such as calling a mixed group of people "men" and "he," still give the idea that male is default. As Casey Miller and Kate Swift explained in Words and Women (1976), much of our language that gives the idea that male is always the default can be used to exclude women. This is especially a big problem in law. Some gender-inclusive language, such as "ladies and gentlemen" or "he or she" have the advantage of including women, but still exclude nonbinary people (nonbinary erasure). Some kinds of gender-neutral language that help nonbinary people include:
- gender neutral titles and honorifics (including the option to do without them in paperwork)
- gender-neutral pronouns
- many other kinds of gender neutral language
- Charities and groups that benefit gender variant people
- Practical Resources
- Glossary of English gender and sex terminology
- Douglas Quan, "B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to consider striking gender designation from birth certificates." May 25, 2015. National Post (news). http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/b-c-human-rights-tribunal-to-consider-striking-gender-designation-from-birth-certificates
- Paisley Currah and Shannon Minter. Transgender Equality: A Handbook For Activists And Policymakers. The National LGBTQ Task Force. http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/TransgenderEquality.pdf