Ash Hardell, YouTuber, author, and non-binary person tweeted yesterday, “… Know any nb people over 30 years old? Tag them (or yourself) in a reply to this tweet! I’m looking for folks to be in a project”
My mental response was, “Oooooh! Me! Me! Me! And ‘over 30?’ Try over 45!!” I replied to the tweet with a more mature sentence structure. And I don’t mind saying that I hope my reply tweet is noticed… Community is important and I’m looking for one.
(An idea I’ve had for this blog is to do a series of guest posts from “older” genderqueer/non-binary folks – so stay tuned to see if I can make that happen!)
I think I’ve mentioned here before how grateful I am that “the kids today” are expressing their gender identities outside the binary in a vocal and visual way that was just not around when I was younger. Thanks to the interwebs and “those kids,” I’ve seen and read the words of people like me! I’m not alone! I’m not a weird-o!
But where are my fellow GenX-ers and where are the Baby Boomers who identify as genderqueer or non-binary?
They’re out there (here’s a truly moving article from one). I’ve also found a small cadre on Facebook (darn Facebook, I just can’t quit you!), in a recent thread, someone who grew up in the late 70s/early 80s said they’d always thought gender was like a light switch. If you were AFABs (assigned female at birth) you either transitioned to male or conformed to society’s expectations. This person made the astute observation that if you’ve already developed a way to cope, there’s usually no reason to revisit your gender identity.
I also think that “older” NB people are likely spending their time online doing things like looking for how to fix their broken dishwasher, finding solutions to child rearing challenges, buying stuff on Amazon, and other more mundane life-y things, rather than reading about new-fangled gender identities.
My own discovery of gender identity “options” came from online information, but I’m a DINK with a bad internet habit. Though, I didn’t just accidentally stumble across the information while looking for deals on lawn mowers or something, which tells me that I was, in actual fact, probably searching for the answer to something I didn’t really realize was a question.
I started reading Everyone is Gay years ago and from there, began following what the greater online community of LGBTQ+ young people were doing in terms of self-expression, identity, and advocacy. Yay them! Seriously, the children are our future. (Though it should be noted that some of these “kids” from back in the day are now approaching their mid-thirties and will soon be running the world.) I devoured YouTube transition videos, Medium submissions, Huffington post articles, Autostraddle contributions… and they were mostly about gender binary transitions. At least at first. In the past few years, genderqueer/non-binary, agender, etc. experiences began to spring up like grass after a long, cold winter (or something like that…).
Representation matters. (Ring of Keys, anyone?) These genderqueer/non-binary people speaking out, expressing themselves, and talking about their identity gave me a vocabulary to think about and express my own identity. What if these “role models” had been around when I was a kid? There would be a LOT more “older” non-binary individuals than there are now, that’s what! And a lot of us wouldn’t have spent so many years thinking there was something weird or wrong with us.
Community is important, and I long for one. But it’s hard when there just aren’t that many of you. Hanging out with some new acquaintances at Pride (some of my niece’s co-workers) was fantastic, but when I talked about gender identity, there were a lot of “huh?” faces around the table. Non-trans, non-cis gender identity taking its pride of place (see what I did there?) next to the other LGBTQ+ identities is in its nascent stages in the minds of older Millennials and up. We’ll get there, Millennials and younger generations will become the “establishment” and non-binary gender identity will be naturally part of the fabric of the greater community.
Until then, I’ll keep searching for “my people.”