They/Them or Non-Binary Gender–What does it mean?

Ok. So you understand how to use pronouns and why they matter. Often, people still have more questions specifically about they/them-singular pronouns. Some of these questions are strictly grammatical questions and others are really getting at questions about what non-binary experience is more generally.

The resources that I have collected for this post focus on what they/them singular means as a personal pronoun. If you run through all of the videos, you’ll have about 68 minutes of content, but you can also jump around to pick which personalities resonate most with you.

This is a nice 7.5 minute collage of perspectives from 5 different people who identify with language like non-binary, non-gendered, or genderqueer. After introductions, the video sorts into sections for “What Does it Mean,” “Where it Gets Complicated,” “How to Clear Things Up,” “The Tough Stuff,” and “A More Hopeful Future.” A good overall introduction to non-binary gender.

Renae Taylor narrates a 3.5 minute reflective video about how their non-binary gender intersects with their Blackness (and other identities). The result is a particularly intimate look at what pronouns mean.

Before exploring more complicated dynamics, you may want to give 3 minutes of your life to this light video designed for children. There is no activist/academic lingo. Just a clear commentary on the heart of the matter. (If you need more resources for children, I highly recommend The Gender Wheel.)

Alok Vaid-Menon takes their time (15 minutes) to break down dynamics about life in a non-binary and Indian-American identity, including everything from fashion to personal safety in public safety (esp. post-9/11). They progressively take off their armor and end with a spoken word poem. CW: Some profanity.

Madin Lopez (Afro-Latinx-American) and Hayden Royalty (Korean-American) offer a wide-ranging (16.5 minute) conversation that touches on hair, language, relationships, identity and more! CW: Some profanity.

Hayden Royalty sorts the classic “Are You a Boy or a Girl?” question (12.5 minutes), including both encounters with strangers and adventures teaching English to Korean students. The video starts with a short manifesto segment, but quickly settles into more conversational anecdotes, which in turn highlight the many ways that the gender assumptions function in social situations. CW: Some profanity.

In a little more than 10 minutes, Yee Won Chong provides insights into family dynamics, becoming an American as a Malaysian asylee, and navigating public spaces while non-binary. While telling their story, they distinguish between key concepts like sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation while providing five tips on “How to Be an Ally” (summarized here):

  1. Assume everyone knows what bathroom they are in.
  2. Do not assume everyone goes by he or she.
  3. Ask yourself, “Would I want someone else to ask me that?”
  4. Do not tolerate anti -transgender remarks or humor.
  5. Be open to thinking in entirely new ways. Start thinking outside the gender binary.

Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on October 26, 2020 (adjustment made October 28, 2020). Please be in touch with questions, concerns, and suggestions!

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