Rat & Schlag

Loving your genderqueer friends and lovers

Con­tent warn­ing: men­tion of sex­u­al vio­lence and trans­pho­bia

Dis­claimer: This arti­cle focus­es on non-bina­ry trans indi­vid­u­als and main­ly speaks of their expe­ri­ences, told from one person’s point of view. Every per­son is dif­fer­ent and so are their needs and expe­ri­ences! Not every­one nec­es­sar­i­ly iden­ti­fies with these par­tic­u­lar labels of ‘trans­gen­der’ and ‘non-bina­ry’ either, and bina­ry trans folx might need you to do gen­der com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent­ly!

Maybe some­one you know asked you to change the pro­nouns you refer to them with, maybe some­one new you’re see­ing just told you they are non-bina­ry, or maybe you are sit­ting in a class­room with a gen­derqueer per­son and you don’t know! What­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion, it is impor­tant that you take into con­sid­er­a­tion that not every­one around you is cis­gen­der, ie. some­one who iden­ti­fies with the gen­der that is typ­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with their sex assigned at birth, for exam­ple, a cis woman could be some­one who iden­ti­fies as a woman and is assigned female at birth (afab). It is impor­tant to note that both the ideas of ‘sex’ and ‘gen­der’ are social­ly con­truct­ed and in real­i­ty, nei­ther of them exist in bina­ries (look up: Inter­sex peo­ple and Indige­nous gen­ders like Two-Spir­it). There may be many gen­derqueer peo­ple around you who, for what­ev­er rea­sons, are not open about their iden­ti­ty. Queer peo­ple in gen­er­al are under no oblig­a­tion to let you know how they iden­ti­fy and there may be many rea­sons why some­one would not be com­fort­able shar­ing per­son­al infor­ma­tion. Regard­less, it is on all of us to work through our mis­con­cep­tions of gen­der and make sure that the gen­derqueer peo­ple in our life feel under­stood and valid!

This writ­ing is meant to serve as gen­er­al guide­lines on how to inter­act with the gen­derqueer and non-bina­ry peo­ple in your life, espe­cial­ly friends and peo­ple who you are in roman­tic and/​or sex­u­al rela­tion­ships with. There are some aspects of ver­bal, roman­tic and sex­u­al inti­ma­cy that may be dif­fer­ent when you take gen­der out of the equa­tion, or at least rad­i­cal­ly recal­i­brate con­ven­tion­al gen­der norms. While a lot of this infor­ma­tion applies to when you are inter­act­ing with a gen­derqueer per­son in any set­ting, some of this is only okay when are you in some form of inti­mate rela­tion­ship with some­one, whether pla­ton­ic or oth­er­wise, so please bear with cau­tion and treat each indi­vid­ual sit­u­a­tion as unique and spe­cif­ic!

Please keep in mind that ask­ing for someone’s pro­nouns, while stan­dard in a lot of places and rather nec­es­sary, can be trig­ger­ing for some­one, espe­cial­ly if they are ques­tion­ing and are active­ly in the process of fig­ur­ing out how they want to be addressed.