Transitional talk

Transitioning is such a personal thing even for binary people. Top surgery, bottom surgery, facial surgery, hormone levels, social circles, and a thousand other decisions to be made. Some of the answers are clear for emotional or psychological reasons; some are financial; some are practical or based in personal safety.

It would probably be fair (well, maybe a bit hyperbolic) to say “times a million” for us #NBFolks.

A lot of what I’m about to say could also apply to many binary trans people, and while I don’t mean to belittle (or ‘other’) their experiences in the slightest, on this particular occasion, tough. We love you, binary trans allies, but I’m talking nonbinary people here.

Much of the difficulty for nonbinary folks specifically stems from the ultimate question: What does a nonbinary transition look like? The simple answer, and one I feel is pretty darn accurate, is that a nonbinary person looks like whatever a person who is nonbinary looks like (just like a woman looks like whatever someone who identifies as a woman looks like, and same for a man, and so on). Unfortunately, society at large doesn’t always agree, and getting access to any kind of medical treatment often requires us to obfuscate or outright lie about our identity.

Then there’s that awful pervasive poisonous myth that a ‘nonbinary look’ is a skinny white masculine-of-centre appearance, often youthful (heck, media androgyny itself is rife with skinny masculine looks; hey there patriarchy!). We’ve covered presentation before and the response was overwhelmingly that while many of us love playing with expectations and using or subverting traditionally gendered appearance to our own ends, ultimately how we look is most often an expression of self, regardless of how the binary world reads us. But additionally, many nonbinary people seek medical assistance to balance their hormones in a way that more accurately reflects their gender (though getting the NHS in England to do that without causing a fit about how you’re maybe on the way to trans but haven’t quite got there, yet, is apparently hell, sickeningly enough) or go for surgeries to decrease dysphoria and increase body confidence. Some just go for a social transition, ensuring the right pronouns are used and maybe using their presentation to imply a gender queerness without medical intervention. And some don’t transition at all, and I need to add that is just as valid and right and true for those people if that’s done by choice and not out of fear or being roadblocked somehow. I’m (medically) non-transitioning, at present; that might change, but for now, I’m right there with you, ‘pre’-(as if it’s inevitable?!)-everything folks.

So tonight we’re talking transition in all its forms. As ever, unfortunately, some of the points raised might be emotionally difficult or triggering, so please please ensure you look out for number one and participate only as much or as little as is comfortable. And I know I don’t have to tell the #NBFolks regulars this, but be nice: all experiences are true and the vast majority of choices right for the person living them.

Here’s some questions to get the discussion going. As ever, these are jumping off points… What you can come up with in situ is probably much better than these anyway!

Q1. Telling people and politely insisting your pronouns are right, etc, is part of social transition. How’s that going for you?

Q2. Some may consider this rude but among friends (though remember, twitter is public), would you consider surgeries/hormones?

Q3. Do you need your body to change? If you can articulate it and feel comfortable doing so, why/why not?

Q4. Those who have had medical help to be themselves, if you feel comfortable sharing, how did that change things?

Q5. Has anyone any advice for people looking to pursue surgery/hormones?

Q6. End on a positive: share your personal no.1 tip for beating dysphoria when it strikes.

Tis the season! (Well, almost…)

#NBFolks Twitter Chat Sunday 08-11-15 20-00 BST

It’s just been Bonfire Night here in the UK; plus there’s Diwali, Dia de los muertos; Thanksgiving is coming up in the US; then there’s Pancha Ganapati, Saturnalia, Hannukah and goodness knows how many other festivals around this time of year (my sincere apologies if I’ve missed yours; the list above is not intended to be exhaustive or representative!). Winter, it seems, is packed out with excuses for family get-togethers.

And for many nonbinary folks, family get-togethers are a stressful time. This week we’re talking strategy, coping mechanisms, and personal experiences for getting through ’em unscathched. And not decking the relatives, instead of the halls.

As ever, questions are a jumping-off point; discussion is encouraged!

Q1. Are you getting together with family this winter season? If not, do you have plans with friends?

Q2. How do you tackle awkward questions about gender (& related things) from dear old great-aunts and granddads, if a short F.O. isn’t appropriate?

Q3. Share your greatest coping mechanism! It might not just be for this time of year, but applicable all over the place.

Q4. Do you have any fears about upcoming get-togethers? Air them if you wish; community, please hop in to discuss and share tips or experiences!

Q5. If you’d like to, share your favourite holiday tradition or fond memory – family, friends, or anything else. 🙂

Presentation is a funny old thing

Rule #1 as I understand it: presentation ≠ identity. And never assume.

So this week we’re discussing presentation and how it intersects with your identity. Mod note, though I don’t expect any problems with the #NBFolks crowd: identity policing is not allowed. Seriously. Don’t.

Q1. Do you deliberately present in a certain way? Does it change in some circumstances?

Q2. Does other peoples’ perception of you matter to you?

Q3. What does a nonbinary presentation mean to you? Does androgyny come into it?

Q4. Does your presentation match society’s expectations of where (if anywhere) you fall on the spectrum?

Q5. What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to present in a different way to their birth assignment?

Any great facial hair tutorials? Adding femme elements to your look? Share your tips and experiences 😊

Presentation is really personal, obviously, but Q5 is intended as a bit of a community Q&A.

Educating the uneducated and misinformed

#NBFolks Twitter Chat Sunday 11-10-15 20-00 BST

Topic for 11th October 2015: Educating the un-
(and mis-)informed

8pm BST, Sunday, using #NBFolks Twitter hashtag. 😀

Side note: This week’s discussion stems from some personal feelings and questions by mod Lex, and as such, I’m very aware of putting my own thoughts out there as some kind of be-all and end-all opinion piece. Please rest assured that it is the exact opposite of my intention to belittle anyone’s experiences, feelings or abilities or to say that my way of thinking is the only one, nor even that my way is right. I’ve known it from the start, but this week really highlights to me that I need other voices in the questions and discussion startng. Please, please consider signing up to help me make #NBFolks the best, safest community it can be.

Continue reading Educating the uneducated and misinformed

Gendered Spaces

At the time of writing, I’m sitting at a charity boxing match (or rather, a couple of dozen boxing matches): It’s billed as white-collar boxing, and the idea is that ordinary (albeit, it seems, impressively fit) white-collar folks get up and fight other ordinary people with all the proceeds going to Cancer Research. It’s a noble cause, and though the speakers immediately behind this table are putting me at serious risk of going deaf, an enjoyable night.

But this, of course, is just one of many thousands of gendered spaces (and that’s sidestepping the classist implications of ‘white-collar’ boxing existing in the first place). The whole arena is dripping in testosterone; there are the stereotypical ‘ring girls’ with the “Round 2”  cards in bunny-girl leotards and six-inch heels; there are both male and female fighters, but paired on their assumed genders. And I dare bet if one of the assumed females had said she’d rather fight an assumed male boxer, she wouldn’t have been allowed.

And that’s to say nothing about training. I’m thinking this looks sort of fun, and maybe a good way to get in shape – but could I handle training in a segregated team based on my genitals? (Could I make myself get over that if it’s for charity?) And now I’ve started wrapping myself up in all sorts of confusion about binary sexism and why are they split out this way anyway, which is… tangentially relevant, but probably wasn’t my point.

This, plus a reader suggestion about feminine spaces – which we’ll cover in more detail in a future chat – has led to this week’s discussion topics. As ever, they’re just there to get you thinking…

Q1) Do you voluntarily exist in a ‘gendered’ space, such as a gym, club, perhaps even profession (per stereotypes)?

Q2) If/when you have to exist in a gendered space, how do you handle it? Pass? F*** expectations? Other?

Q3) Is there ever a need for gendered spaces (especially in sports), perhaps for safety or fairness reasons? Or not at all?

Q4) Do you have any anecdotes or advice for navigating such things which you could share?

Staying in… and coming out

#NBFolks Twitter Chat Sunday 27-09-13 20-00 BST (1)

Topic for 27th September 2015: Staying in… and coming out.

8pm BST, Sunday, using #NBFolks Twitter hashtag. 😀


You’ve come out once at least, nonbinary friends – to yourself. Even if you’re not 100% certain what label (or labels), if any at all, is or are quite right for you, you’ve figured out one important thing and, hopefully, internalised it. You’re nonbinary in some way. Awesome!

Now the hard part… Telling everyone else.

Some of us are lucky to have really supportive friends, work colleagues, or family (jackpot if you hit all three). Some aren’t so lucky. And for some, it’s downright unsafe to be themself.

This week’s topic is coming out – or staying in: we’ll discuss safety, practicality, maybe even morality and if Lex gets lucky, a little bit of philosophy.

One thing to bear in mind, perhaps more so in this chat than our usual weekly get togethers, is that what you post on Twitter is public. If you’re in the unfortunate situation that being out may be unsafe, please, please think before you write. You can contact chat mod Lex via email or DM any time if you’d like to talk privately.

Here’s this week’s discussion topics. As always, they’re really just there to get you thinking – we’ll cover thus and much more on Sunday…

Q1a) If you’ve come out to at least one other person, how did it go?

Q1b) If you haven’t, do you have a plan for how to do it?

Q2a) If you’ve come out, what was the best experience you’ve had?

Q2b) Whether you have or not, have you thought about how to keep yourself safe and sane when you do? Share any advice!

Q3) Trigger warn if you feel it’s necessary: What was your worst coming-out experience?

Q4) Do you have any advice or suggestions on how we can help ourselves, eg by helping others understand nb genders, etc?