History of Non-Binary
Non-binary (sometimes referred to as “NB” – ‘enby’) is a gender identity outside of the gender binary – man or woman. Non-binary people can identify as neither man nor woman, as both, or one over the other. Non-binary people are part of the transgender community and can be of any sexual orientation. While the concept of non-binary might seem “new,” especially as International Non-Binary People’s Day was first celebrated in 2012, non-binary identities actually go as far back to at least 2000 BCE. In some Native American and First Nations, “two-spirit” is an umbrella term to describe identities that exist beyond male and female. In Hawaiian culture, “māhū” are non-binary people with important social and spiritual roles.
Non-Binary in Tech
It should go without saying, non-binary people deserve respect, affirmation, psychological safety, and confidence to be who they are. However, non-binary people are often not able to show up authentically as themselves for many reasons, including due to the lack of identification options outside of the gender binary. In our Top Companies for Women Technologists 2022 report, only 58.0% of companies provided a non-binary or third-gender option to employees. Additionally, the non-binary respondents of our 2022 Technical Equity Experience Survey (TechEES) reported the worst experiences in the workplace for both being treated differently due to their gender, and having offensive sexist remarks made to or around them.
- Project Include recently released the research document: Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Inclusion in the Workplace: What companies need to know and do. This is a must-read for companies committed to creating better workplace culture for all. Companies that want stronger teams, better financial returns, and a more innovative world must prioritize Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, including outside of the gender binary.
Learn More About and Support Non-Binary People
There are many amazing resources out there to help shift your thinking beyond the gender binary and unlearn oppressive beliefs and biases:
👥 Leaders To Follow
Alok Vaid-Menon (They/Them) is a writer, performance artist, media personality, and public speaker. They are the author of Femme in Public, Beyond the Gender Binary, and Your Wound/My Garden. They are the creator of #DeGenderFashion: a movement to degender fashion and beauty industries.
“People have been taught to fear the very things that have the potential to set them free.”
– Alok Vaid Menon
Max Siegel (They/He) is a transgender and neurodiversity inclusion speaker and consultant, Director of Trans& and a self-proclaimed “Career Queer.” Max speaks and consults for organizations all over the world to help them better understand, support, and celebrate LGBTQIA team members and customers.
Kara Carrell (She/They) is a Software Developer at TXI, community organizer, and a “queer blaxican communitechie committed to caring for and growing codebases that challenge the ‘Way Things Are’” (@KaraAJC).
Sam Brinton (They/Them) is an American nuclear engineer, LGBTQ activist, conversion therapy survivor, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the Department of Energy for the Biden Administration.
📢 Calls to Action
- Add pronouns to email signature and virtual platform names; include pronouns with introductions.
- Continue to educate yourself about non-binary issues, news, and experiences.
- Use gender-inclusive language, for example:
- Replace “he/she” with “they”
- Use “y’all/you all,” “team,” “everyone,” “distinguished guests,” or specific position titles instead of “ladies and gentlemen” or “guys”
- Use “caregiver,” “parent,” or “guardian” instead of “mother/father”
- Use “spouse” or “partner” instead of “boyfriend/husband” or “girlfriend/wife”
… For Executives
- Ensure your company provides a third gender option (at minimum) and a “prefer to specify” option when collecting gender data.
- Report your organization’s non-binary gender data even when it is too small for statistical significance.
- Assess and address the ways your organization reinforces the gender binary (e.g. bathrooms, dress codes or policies specific to men or women).
… For Policy Makers
📚 Other Helpful Resources:
- PFLAG Non-Binary Resources
- Neither He, Nor She, But Me | Hannah Fons | TEDxAdelphiUniversity
- Building a More Inclusive Environment for Non-Binary People in Tech: Insights from Serge’s Journey
- Bob’s HR Leaders Guide for Non-Binary Gender Inclusion
- National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Understanding Non-Binary People
- PRONOUNS GAME
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