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Non-Binary with a capital ‘N & B’

G’day my name’s Jess, my pronouns are they/them and I’m a Non-Binary volunteer at Goulburn Valley (GV) Pride.  In my professional life I work as an architectural draftsperson, and I’m a lover of visual art, Lego, attending workshops, looking at buildings and spending time in great ‘OUT’doors.  I also volunteer with the Victorian Pride Centre, and have been on the judging panel for the Victorian Pride Awards for the past 3 years.  Having LGBTIQA+ organisations are integral for our communities to prosper, however, for me it can’t just stop there.  To my fellow Non-Binary folks, I implore you to volunteer, get involved, or attend LGBTIQA+ events, Venues and support queer traders and artists, you can make valuable connections and give to your community/ies.  The opportunity and commitment to my community’s matters to me because it’s important to ensure there are spaces for Non-Binary people to enjoy, have fun and belong, and be seen.

This week marks Non-Binary Awareness Week, which rounds out with International Non-Binary Peoples Day on Sunday 14th July 2024.  This week also marks NAIDOC week, National Aboriginal and Islanders Day of Observance Committee, and is designed to celebrate, recognise and learn about the culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the oldest continuous living cultures on earth (see naidoc.org.au).  This year the theme of NAIDOC is ‘Keep the Fire Burning! Blak Loud and Proud’.  I live part time on Bunurong Lands and Yorta Yorta Country, where GV Pride operates from. The Yorta Yorta totem is a Beyadherra (Long Neck/Broad Shelled Turtle) and turtles, like moths, are very Non-Binary-esque, if only we had shells to disappear into when we are misgendered or have the wrong name used for us.

Non-Binary Awareness Week is an annual opportunity to celebrate ALL Non-Binary people.  The rich tapestry of people that the Non-Binary umbrella covers, are individuals that are not a man or woman (binary gendered) exclusively, do not identify with gender given at birth, or have no gender at all.  Some other terms people use under this Non-Binary umbrella are Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Agender,  Pangender, Bigender, Demigirl and Demiboy. 

Whilst some cis-gendered people may think that pronouns are the only thing we are about, there are other things that can also be difficult to navigate alongside pronouns, such as toilets, birth names and gendered language and assumptions. 

Here are a couple of Non-Binary words to add to your vocabulary:

Joyfriend – a word used to describe a person one is dating, it replaces the ‘boy’/’girl’ in boyfriend/girlfriend

Mx – a title/honorific that is used before a surname

Gentlethem/s – a polite way to address some Non-Binary people, a play on the term gentleman/gentlemen

Nibling – a word for a sibling’s children, to replace or use alongside niece and nephew

Note language is made up and continues to expand and adapt, so lean into Non-Binary and create some more words that support and depict your gender.

I recently undertook the journey to affirm my name legally, and I am now at the end of that rainbow, looking the pot of gold in the face, but it was a marathon to get here.  Systems are not designed for integration and there is still so much educating that we as Non-Binary and Trans people have to do within the broader, mainstream community, even when we just want to affirm our name.  As I consider what visibility means to me this week, I wanted to offer a few insights to what I have learnt during this process.

For people born in Victoria, once you have legally changed your name with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria, here is a list you can start with of things you might need to subsequently change:

–          Licence/learners/proof of age card

–          Passport

–          Car registration

–          Workplace – HR/accounts

–          ATO, Medicare, Centrelink, Electoral roll

–          Bank accounts, Insurances, Super, Paypal, Afterpay

–          Professional licences or registrations, Working with Children’s Check

–          Electricity, Gas, water, internet, mobile

–          Ambulance, private health

–          Email and Social media accounts

–          Doctors, Dentist, Specialists

–          USI – Unique Student Identifier/Student ID

–          Rental agency

Note that at some institutions you will need to ask them to change all of your accounts individually, for example if you have a mobile phone and internet at the same company, double check that they have changed both.  And for accounts where you have a card linked such as a bank, double check that they have ordered a new card with your correct name on it, also double check that they have not ‘surprisingly’ added a title/honorific that isn’t yours. If finances are a barrier for you, consider taking a look at Transgender Victoria’s Name Change fund (see: www.tgv.org.au/id-change-support-fund).

I hope this helps other Non-Binary and Trans people have a little more information in this process, as there is a lot to overcome, as you can see from my list above.  However, when it is complete, it sure does feel great!

And if you see me around at any GV Pride activities or Out in the Open Festivities, come over and say ‘hey’.

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