Quotes which draw on contemporary experiences of living beyond the gender binary to inspire collective action, resistance and solidarity.
The gender binary refers to a system for classifying people into one of two mutually exclusive categories – men or women. In addition to obscuring diverse experiences of gender, this system shapes our expectations about what is appropriate for women but not men, and vice versa. Any deviation from these and other, often conflated, binary expectations are violently discouraged.
While pervasive, gender binary expectations are not universal and have met with resistance whenever imposed. While this resistance has largely been a matter of survival, it has also created new possibilities for openly living beyond the gender binary.
It is really important, in a world that is often very “either/or”, to remember there can be both, neither and everything – that is, other than the ‘binary’ of male or female. – Sally Goldner, 2015
To amplify these possibilities, I’ve drawn the following quotes from contemporary experiences of living beyond binary expectations of gender (with each quote linked to a source with additional context) and grouped into five broad themes: resistance and resilience; intersecting impacts; (the need for) solidarity & coalitions; community, kinship, and (chosen) family; and, better futures.
However, before turning to these recent quotes, is important to emphasise that they are part of a much longer history of LGBTQIA+ activism informed by, and contributing to, broader efforts to resist all unjust systems.
I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. – Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us. – Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Resistance & Resilience
Queer and trans people are constantly navigating our way through systems and structures that are not necessarily built for us (or are built to privilege some of us – white, cis, able bodied people – over everyone else). – Shaez Mortimer, 2021
As I read history, searching for my trancestors (trans ancestors), I experience a profound sense of both gratitude and grief. What remarkable poiesis: manifesting majesty amidst so much misery… There are so many lessons in the lives of our trancestors. Their possible impossible lives were templates of everyday, embodied practices of freedom. – Alok V Menon, 2021
If you try presenting yourself as something other than your birth assigned gender, and it makes you feel euphoric, that’s just as valid a reason to transition as escaping dysphoria. – Laura Kate Dale, 2021
Trans people deserve the freedom to have messy, gradual, honest recoveries from the symptoms they were once forced to suffer with in silence. – Devon Price, 2019
Science appears straight. Your personal life is further removed than in most other professions, and being queer is very strictly “personal life”. Perhaps this is why initial searches for a genetic cause of being gay looked for a single gene, whereas if you actually asked a member of the LGBT community they’d be able to tell you that sexuality and gender are both on a spectrum, not a binary attribute. – Sophia Frentz, 2016
All of us are conscious of the fact that… it will also be the first time that I speak publicly since my transition. Parenthetically this is a word that has very complicated subject for me because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative that I am not particularly comfortable with. Yet I realize the moment I go on camera, that act will be subject to projections that are both personal and political. – Lana Wachowski, 2012
Being born between two cultures and coming to terms with your queerness sounded a little bit similar. Identities and self-acceptance shift in a world where you are not the default. – Ellie Freeman, 2021
As queer people or as people with disabilities, we already face isolation whether it’ll be from our family, friends or our peers. It is hard for us to build these connections. As someone who’s both, that isolation becomes much more pronounced. – Charbel Zaba, 2020
My experiences of femmephobia will probably always override what is considered transphobic in motivation, purely because of the omnipresent oppression experienced by women and femmes across all intersections. This kind of gender policing shares disturbing similarities with our shared histories of culturally-entrenched patriarchal violence. – Cee Devlin, 2018
There are a lot of youth who are ostracised and marginalised because of their sexuality in the name of faith, so to have platforms where they can reconcile both their spirituality and sexuality is quite important. – Nur Warsame, 2017
Coming out erases the nuances of my cultural identity and the identities of many others like me. It fails to grasp the subtleties, dynamics and movement of oneself. The narratives surrounding coming out constantly try to convince queers and femmes that we somehow have to prove ourselves to be legitimate. – Asiel Adan Sanchez, 2017
Solidarity & Coalitions
It’s also so important to understand that these systems of oppression do not exist as siloed and unique weapons of destruction, but are rather the same tools of discrimination as racism, sexism, ableism, fatphobia, xenophobia, colourism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, capitalism, etc. They rely on very similar principles and hierarchies of power. In order to dismantle one system, we must dismantle them all. – Nevo Zisin, 2021
A gentle reminder on this day that the gender binary arrived with colonisation and is upheld today through a colonial lens and structure in so-called ‘Australia’. – Hayden Moon, 2020
y’all were always so quiet
forgetting it was sylvia and marsha who started this fight
now the flag’s more white than
tryin’ to bury the fact that the first pride was a riot
– Rafeif Ismail, 2017 – from the poem why i don’t fuck with white queers no more
It is a standard tactic of white rhetoric to generalize (and thereby reduce, erase) identities and categories… What is even more standard in white rhetoric is insisting that this kind of erasure by generalization is necessary in order to achieve any real solidarity for working towards freedom. – b. binaohan, 2014
The oppression of trans women and cis women are expressions of the same societal force of misogyny. So if we leave trans women out of our feminism, we can’t reckon with misogyny in all its forms, and all women, trans and cis, suffer. – Emily Hamann, n.d
I knew I was going to come out but I knew when I finally did come out I didn’t want it to be … this moment fulfilling the cathartic arc of rejection to acceptance without ever interrogating the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge the spectrum of gender in the exact same blind way they have refused to see a spectrum of race or sexuality. – Lana Wachowski, 2012
Community, Kinship, & Family
Pride is about resistance, and specifically resistance through community solidarity. – Joanne Zou, 2021
Rainbow people, LGBTQIA+, the alphabet soup, the QUILTBAG — no matter what terminology we might associate with, I think the important aspect at the core of it all is the solidarity, support, empathy, community and diversity of our experiences as people who have been told by society’s constructed norms that we are not valid. – Mama Alto, 2021
We wanted our kid to experience a different kind of childhood. To learn about gender in an expansive way, without assignments, expectations, or restrictions. I should have known that, in the process of keeping my child free from the chains of the gender binary, I could also loosen its grip around me. – Kyl Myers, 2021
Queer people have a unique relationship to kinship, as they often possess at least one distinct identity from those of their immediate biological family members; as such they have often sought to (or been forced to) form non-biological kinship networks. – Drew Heckman, 2019
After years, I had families. I have families. More than one, all but one chosen, and the one I was given, remade. We decide the details of these families, it isn’t verified anywhere, and the only proof of it is lived. – Kavya Murthy, 2018
I’m a ‘they’, so what!? – Foxy Fox, 2021 – 11 years old
Gender diversity is part of our reality. The sooner we can hold space for the complexity of this, the closer we will come to a future that celebrates all genders and sexualities, and cares for and protects all bodies. – Shannon May Powell, 2021
We seek the proliferation of possibility that blooms when people can self-fashion their own ways of living, loving, and looking. – Alok V. Menon, 2020
Non-binary acceptance is a collective project, which needs to permeate the spaces of everyday life in a way that is accessible and culturally sensitive. Given the role of the colonial system in embedding binary gender, the aim of recognising identities outside of this binary is inherently connected to the project of decolonisation. – Hannah Gillard, 2020
All governments want to appoint one person from a weaker community to a top post so that voices of others of the community are muffled. I would not let that happen. – Joyita Mondal, 2018 – on being appointed India’s first transgender judge.
…disability has just as much impact on my relationship to masculinity as queerness has, my limp as much as my limp wrists. My disability did, and still does, give me the tools to unlearn a system that tells me I’m wrong for lacking masculinity. It gives me the tools to start dismantling the binary world I live in, because I never neatly fit within it in the first place. – Alister Baldwin, 2017
The future that I see for gender expression is more than a rainbow. It’s fabulous. It is anything you want it to be. – Participant in the BBC *Beyond Binary* documentary, 2016
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