By Jade Mirabito
Gosh, gender is a bizarre thing. It took me many years to carve out a nook that feels comfortable in regards to terminology, expression, presentation, language for me and my body, spaces I can use, and so many countless little things you don’t really realise is a decision you can make until you have to.
It has been a long and wonderful process, exploring my gender. I see it like trying on different hats, wearing in a pair of new shoes and popping band-aids on the sensitive bits until you find a pair that look and feel great. That can take time.
Often I have to wonder,
- What language feels empowering around my body, what language feels icky and why?
- Why do I want some pronouns used, but not others?
- Which toilet will keep me safe when they’re gendered and I’m not.
- How will my presentation at work impact how people view me, and will they take me seriously?
- Should I tick Mr or Ms on this limited form?
- Should I ignore the people staring at the shops, or acknowledge that I know what they’re doing?
Lots of little things that make up my day.
I currently identify as a transgender, agender, queer, femme and flabulous (yes, flabulous) non-binary person. I use he/him/his pronouns, and I am a very visible gender non-conforming individual.
I am also lucky to work in an industry where I get to educate folk passionately about my community. This is a very fulfilling job that I affectionately refer to as being a ‘professional queer’, however it means that when I come home, the last thing I want to do is keep my work shoes on and keep going into the night after my payable hours.
But lately I’ve been getting pretty overwhelmed and saddened with the amount of content I’m reading on social media that negatively impacts the trans, non-binary and gender diverse community as a whole.
Comments, posts, memes, even political pages and businesses reinforcing the gender binary, aligning sex with gender, general trans-antagonism, gendering body parts and erasing non-binary identities. It makes my heart hurt.
So let’s look at some tips for confidently engaging on social media, so that folk like me can have a well-deserved rest.
- Consider there are more genders than men and women, whilst non-binary people are experiencing big issues out in society, like finding a safe place to pee, being included in their friends lives is also really validating.
“I was asked for my title today when filling out a form, and they had Mx as an option! How awesome!”
- Consider using non-gendered group terminology e.g. “folk/pals/friends” instead of “guys/girls”.
“Hey folks! I want to have a pamper day! Who is coming?”
- Consider when advertising products or sharing targeted content using “people with beards/breasts” instead of “men/ladies”
“Beardy people unite! I found this awesome oil! #beards #oil #inclusive”
- Consider neutral terminology like ‘they’ to reference people you don’t know the pronouns of instead of “he/she” assumptions.
“My cashier today asked for my rewards card, and then they just stood there staring at me as I fumbled around trying to find it for ten years. So awkward!”
- Consider that genitals don’t equal gender and that a ‘genital reveal party’ sounds creepy. So put a hold on your gender reveal party and wait until your child can announce their own gender – that’s cause to celebrate!
“Instead of a gender reveal party, I’m going to host a good old fashioned baby shower! Prepare for an assortment of tiny baby-themed cakes!”
- Consider developing your own inclusive version of “ladies and gentlemen”. My personal favourite is “Guys, gals and non-binary pals”.
“Esteemed guests, thank you for attending this fundraiser for local underfunded youth services.”
- Read over your post and do a scan with a critical eye – is it needlessly excluding folk or erasing identities?
“Oh it’s that time of the month, any
women pals have tips on dealing with cramps?”
- Consider addressing some of these issues when you see them done by your friends, so that exhausted trans folk like me can take my shoes off and have a moment’s peace.
“Hey friend, your post about the updated cervical screening info for women is really important! But people of any gender who have a cervix really need this too! Your message could spread even wider if you targeted it at all cervix owners.”
I hope these suggestions are helpful! Now, I think its time for a cup of tea.