Nonbinary gender in the media

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Nonbinary.org aims to increase the public awareness and understanding of nonbinary gender and identities that fall under the nonbinary umbrella.

This page aims to gather links and references to factual media coverage and depictions of nonbinary people, identities and concepts.

See also fictional depictions of nonbinary gender.

United Kingdom

Newspapers, magazines and news sites

Huddersfield Daily Examiner

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner is a local daily evening newspaper covering the Huddersfield area.

January 2013
Transvestite or cross-dresser? Huddersfield’s Peter Dawes explains his views on being ‘gender neutral’
Description
Positive article about local non-binary musician
Author
Nick Lavigueur
Extract
“If pushed I say I am ‘gender neutral’ because psychologically, I feel no sway towards the ‘normal’ male or female genders. Outwardly, I tend to dress as a girl, even though I have a man’s body. If you ask me why, I couldn’t actually tell you. There appears to be a contradiction when I describe myself as gender neutral and wanting to look female. However, there is a big difference between your inward gender and your outward appearance."

Huffington Post (UK Edition)

The Huffington Post is a mainstream online-only newspaper, launched in the United States. The items listed here featured in the UK edition.

November 2011
Gendering Free: Exploring Outside the Binary
Description
Positive, gentle introduction to nonbinary gender
Author
Kate Harrad
Extract
They might describe themselves as nonbinary, non-gendered, genderqueer, genderfree, trans, androgynous or all or none of the above or something else entirely. What they have in common is that they can't or won't fit into a simple binary definition of male or female.
Notes
Specifically mentions 'nonbinary' and a number of identities under the umbrella. Gives a positive and accurate, if simplistic, description of nonbinary experiences. Includes extracts from interviews with multiple nonbinary people. Uses a town vs country metaphor for binary vs nonbinary gender. Discusses how children relate to nonbinary and gender variant adults. Featured in the blog section of the site.

Pink News

Pink News is a United Kingdom based LGBT online news site with a predominantly gay and lesbian audience.

March 2011
Interview: Genderqueer Performer CN Lester
Description
Sympathetic interview with activist and performer CN Lester, discusses the difficulties of living as a visibly genderqueer person working as a classical musician
Author
Paris Lees
Extract
What harassment do you face? I don't take hormones, so the majority of people perceive me as a woman, but obviously a woman who is transgressing gender norms. So the street harassment I get tends to be sexual aggression from cis [non-trans] guys, like "Hey baby, how about one up the arse?" or "Suck on this darling." Or trying to grope you in the street. Then it gets mixed in with the transphobia, when they’re not entirely sure if I’m female or male, that adds to that aggression and it just turns into "f**ing freak" or "faggot". I think one guy even came out with "You f**king pervert." I thought wow: you have no idea what I do in bed.
Notes
Sympathetic portrayal, primarily in the interviewee's own words. Uses the labels genderqueer, trans and transgender. Discusses street harassment, career prospects, access to services (changing rooms, taxis etc) and trans activism, as well as transgender themes in opera.

The Psychologist

The Psychologist is the magazine of The British Psychological Society.

January 2012
Settling into gender: Francine Béar and Jennifer Wild on My Transsexual Summer
Description
Review of the Channel 4 documentary series My Transsexual Summer from a psychological perspective, containing problematic wording.
Author
Francine Béar and Jennifer Wild
Extract
Finding foot on the gender identity continuum is certainly a long journey when there’s a mismatch between biological and psychological sex. Channel 4 has done an excellent job in revealing the struggles that dominate when there’s a poor fit, what’s involved medically on the journey to make a better fit, and importantly, the need to see gender as spanning a continuum rather than a dichotomy. Only in seeing this, will we have a chance to transform the stigma, misunderstanding, and mockery that transgender individuals face when they take steps to be who they really are.
Notes
Positive about the programme itself. The only criticism is given to the over emphasis on surgery rather than psychological aspects, yet the article seems to conflate body dysphoria (or lack of it) with differences in gender identity, eg "wish to keep the parts of their bodies that make them male" (the programme also does this to a lesser degree). Talks about a 'gender continuum' pointing to nonbinary gender, but it's not clear if this is talking about a continuum of bodies or gender identities (may imply that all trans people are somewhere along the continuum regardless of personal binary identities).

Television Documentaries

BBC One

The flagship channel of the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), the United Kingdom's 'first channel'.

March 1995
Q.E.D.: Sex Acts
Description
Prime time documentary exploring gender as performance (through a drag king workshop) and gender outside the binary including interviews with people described as 'third gender', 'transgenderists' and 'androgynes'). Features Christie Elan-Cane.
Air date
9:30pm, 28 March 1995
Production Company
BBC
Producer
Richard Dale
Editor
Lorraine Heggessey
Series
Q.E.D (aka 'Living Proof')
Episode title
Sex Acts
Running time
30 minutes
Availability
Not available online but reportedly viewable at the British Film Institute
Review
Contemporary newspaper coverage of the episode (from the Independent) (Includes inappropriate use of male pronouns for third gendered individuals).
Notes
Despite its age, this is still the most prominent prime time coverage of nonbinary gender on British television. The gender specialist psychologists interviewed, including Russell Reid, are extremely hostile to nonbinary gender. The information and attitudes presented and the terminology used are now dated.


United States

Newspapers, magazines and news sites

Associated Press

November 2013
'Preferred' pronouns gain traction at US colleges Yahoo Huffington Post
Description
Information on and quotes from students, faculty, and staff at U.S. colleges where use of preferred pronouns has become institutionalized. Mentions singular “they”, a variety of alternate neutral pronouns, and the only-by-name preference.
Author
Lisa Less
Extract
At the University of Vermont, students who elect to change their names and/or pronouns on class rosters now can choose from she, he and ze, as well as the option of being referred to by only their names. Hampshire College in Massachusetts advertises its inclusiveness by listing the gender pronouns of its tour guides on the school's web site. And intake forms at the University of California, Berkeley's student health center include spaces for male, female or other.
Notes
Emphasizes that it’s not only college students, but also faculty and staff using neutral pronouns. Has a particularly uncomfortable passage where it seems to be setting nonbinaries in opposition to binary trans people: “But as fewer young people choose to undergo sex reassignment surgery, such students [binary trans students who are attributed with starting the campus inclusion movement] are slowly being outnumbered by peers who refuse to be limited”. Overall positive portrayal of the issue with relatively little space given to the “controversy” of non-binary identities and pronoun preferences. If anything, doesn’t give enough recognition to binary trans identities as opposed to non-binary.

Netherlands

Newspapers, magazines and news sites

Noordhollands Dagblad

June 2015
June <19th

The newspaper reported in short blurbs that Dutch politicians had been working to remove the male/female indicator off of official documents, to specifically aid transgender, intersex and nonbinary people (near quote). In a daily poll question, 81% of the readership indicated to approve of such endeavors.

June 23rd

Starting of showing the “Call Me Caitlyn” Vanity Fair cover to illustrate the predominance of transgender people in media, the article continued to make a similar case for people of non-binary gender identities changing their names. Stating that (undefined) sources support that there exists a large number of non-binary people in the Netherlands, the article uses "intersex" as a catch-all term for non-binary gender, going as far as saying that "LGBTI" covers all possible gender identities.

See also

External links