This summer has been a whirlwind of crazy news articles. And today, I came across another one that I just can’t resist commenting upon. It’s a headline on the CBC, titled, “I shouldn’t have to look non-binary for my identity to be respected.”
That’s cringey, but the tagline further reads: “I like my feminine name and wearing the occasional dress. But that doesn’t define me”.
And, finally, the image caption, “Julia Wright, 19, says almost every person they meet assumes they’re a woman because of their appearance.”
I’ve read the article so that you don’t have to, and in it, Julia describes how even though they present as a woman, they find it really hurtful and debilitating when people make the assumption that they are a woman. Julia goes on to share that they like a bunch of things that are considered feminine, but there are also ways where they don’t feel particularly feminine.
If you are biologically female, utilize a female name and dress as a women, people are going to presume you prefer the pronouns that the 99% prefer. This isn’t disrespectful like the author suggests, it’s what’s happens when you interact with other humans.
Do you know what that sounds like to me? Most of us! Don’t we all, to a certain extent, find elements of gender stereotypes that don’t fit us so well?
This whole thing strikes me as rather peculiar. If you are biologically female, utilize a female name and dress as a women, people are going to presume you prefer the pronouns that the 99% prefer. This isn’t disrespectful like the author suggests, it’s what’s happens when you interact with other humans.
It would be like walking around a golf course carrying a pack of golf clubs and then becoming inflamed the moment anyone makes the assumption that you know a thing or two about golf.
This whole matter gets down to the core of what being non-binary ‘is’. And that’s something well worth discussing because at its core, ‘being non-binary’ is a political statement. I say that because it’s a public attempt to change people’s paradigm of the relevance of our two biological sexes.
In saying that I am deliberating refraining from passing judgement on whether It’s appropriate to ‘be non-binary’. That’s not my purpose here. What I do want to highlight is that it’s not the same as being gender dysphoric and transgender and we need to stop equating the two.
Here’s the thing. I am biologically male. We all know this. And I live a world, as do we all, that puts a whole host of expectations, assumptions and restrictions upon my gender.
For me, my instinctive responses, preferences, reactions, interests and the manner I socially connect with others is far more akin to that of women than that of men. Why? who knows! But it’s been that way for a very long time and after 30 years it certainly doesn’t seem like it is going to change.
Transition for binary individuals such as myself isn’t about running away from being male so much as it’s about embracing and modelling what resonates with me. And when I say modelling, I truly do mean that my presentation is for other people as much as it’s for myself.
I accept that we live in a world of binary sex and I am not looking to change that paradigm for anyone. But our society places a lot of ‘baggage’ around sex that aren’t actually tied to one’s biology at all, they are tied to our social conceptualization or masculinity and femininity.
So for myself, I use visual clues to signify to others that I align much more closely with women in terms of my interests, mannerisms, and how I socialize, and thus I would appreciate such treatment if one is willing to extend it.
Does that change the definition of womanhood? Does it mean that a sex binary doesn’t exist? If anything, it re-enforces the binary by proving that by changing certain elements of my physical appearance I can signal to an entire population that I align as something that I’m not. If the binary didn’t exist then that wouldn’t be possible.
As regular viewers of my videos will know, I don’t ever ‘share my pronouns’ with anyone. I simply go by Julia, present the way you see here, and go about my life.
I don’t share my pronouns because I don’t believe in compelled speech, but I also don’t share my pronouns because I don’t need to: everyone knows what I’m going for because I’ve given people a clear model (gesture).
Do you know what you are doing when you choose to require very specific pronouns from an individual and give them no visual indicators to help? You are creating an impossible situation and are just asking for a reason to be upset. You are creating a trap that people will inevitably fall within.
It’s like a police officer hiding behind a tree or a bridge or something, and then popping out to give a ticket to anyone who ends up exceeding the speed limit.
See, speed traps are great if you’re objective is to catch people messing up, but if you’re real intention is to get people to slow down then you have to address why cars are going so fast? Maybe you need to change the roadway or add speed enforcement signs to give drivers a better gauge of their speed.
Or maybe the speed should be higher, drivers can sense this, and it being marked so unreasonably low is confusing good faith drivers who don’t feel like they are going particularly fast on the roadway.
And that in a nutshell is Other Julia: doing nothing to present as anything other than their biology and then fixating on how devastating it is that people would dare assume ‘she’.
This is not taking ownership of one’s situation—it’s offloading responsibility for one’s own mental wellbeing onto others. I did a whole video on the dangers of this that I’ll link to at the end of the video.
Other Julia is the kind of person who makes things hard for actual transitioned individuals. When they advocate that we explicitly, always, ask everyone for their pronouns, all the time, they give people the impression that gender dysphoric individuals like myself are out to dismantle their paradigm of gender.
I’m going to do a follow-up video getting into Non-binary identities more in-depth, but right now I am losing my sunlight so I’ve got to wrap up for the evening.
One other subtlety I’d like to point out: You’ll notice that in this article I referred to the author as they/them throughout the piece. I don’t buy into the concept of non-binary identities, but as I’ve expressed in my other videos on pronouns, I nonetheless believe that referring to other’s as they ask to be referred is a gesture I am willing to do out of basic respect. Some others might not follow that rule, and that’s for you to decide for yourself.