The Gender Exception

Noor transcends the binary

Noor Ahmed, Writer

I was feeling more bold than usual that morning when I was walking down the hallway to my homeroom in Year 11. Before then, some feelings in me had emerged, and I would be discreetly addressing said feelings towards my homeroom. When I walked in that classroom, I wrote a note on the board saying that I now identify as nonbinary, my pronouns were now they/them and my new preferred name was now what was originally my middle name, Noor.

But in order for y’all to understand what I am talking about, what does being nonbinary mean? Well, nonbinary refers to individuals whose gender identity doesn’t align with either male or female. Male and female are known as binary genders, hence the name. Nonbinary is also an umbrella term to refer to a whole range of nonbinary affiliations, such as Genderfluid (someone whose gender identity changes over time) or even Agender (someone who does not identify with any gender). However, being nonbinary does not necessarily mean that one is also transgender. Some nonbinary people do identify as trans, some do not. This was how I came to conclude that I was nonbinary myself, as being a woman didn’t really fit me, nor did I think of myself as a man. I think after two years of being out of the closet, I should give my current thoughts regarding the subject.

To be frank, aside from gendered bathrooms, I am actually pleasantly surprised with how much the ISL community cared towards accommodating me, not only by calling me Noor and adjusting themselves to using my pronouns, but also changing my name in the official register too! Of course there are the moments I have to give someone a mini seminar about what being nonbinary is, why I’m nonbinary, explaining how pronouns work and a lot more. My parents have accepted me, and I’m extremely happy with that, even when they struggle sometimes with adjusting since it is a process. I actually enjoy being asked about these topics since people are willing to learn! Refusing to learn is where I have an issue, but I have not encountered anything major like that in person so far. 

Equality is something ISL, as I’m sure you may know, takes very seriously. Especially when it comes to one’s gender and sex. The gender equity service group exists for a reason after all. When we’re discussing gender equality, there are women’s rights and men’s rights, but there is little to no mention of nonbinary rights. That should change, not just overall but also within this school too. Besides, where better to start talking about nonbinary related issues than within ISL, am I right? To start, we need to clarify the difference between gender and sex. Sex is referring to our biology features while gender is the socially constructed roles we assign ourselves. Using myself as an example, I identify my gender as nonbinary while my sex is female. What can also help is making said distinction clear in conversations. I get my period still, alongside many other nonbinary individuals and even transgender men (who have not gone under any medical procedures). What about pronouns and especially neopronouns? How should they be discussed? When will we, those outside the gender binary, finally be addressed?

I am eternally grateful for those who have accepted me for who I am. I am especially grateful for ISL for being so accommodating and helpful. However, now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This school needs to include the measures necessary in order for nonbinary students, out of the closet or not, to feel represented by the community. It is understandable why nonbinary representation and inclusion is rare to find, it is only a recent term that people are just starting to learn. But now that we have a word to define ourselves, we must use it.