Inclusive Language Series: Non-Binary

As part of our Inclusive Language Series, we are introducing some terms and resources for you to learn more about this semester in an effort to create more inclusive communities. This week’s term is: Non-Binary.

What Does “Non-Binary” Mean?

The term “Non-Binary” is a way for people to identify themselves when they don’t feel as though they can neatly fit into our society’s definitions of “man” or “woman.” People who use “non-binary” to identify themselves when speaking about their gender may use pronouns outside of ‘he’ or ‘she,’ which are pronouns that many people are aware of and regularly use. For examples of potential pronouns that individuals can use, or to learn more about pronoun usage in general, visit UW Madison’s Gender and Sexuality Campus Center’s page!

How to Be Respectful of & Support Individuals Who Identify as Non-Binary

Being respectful to people who identify as non-binary is not difficult – at the end of the day, they are human beings, too. In fact, you don’t need to even understand what being non-binary means to respect people who identify as so. Using the preferred name and pronouns that people want to be identified with is a great and simple way to respect and support that person. It is also important to be mindful of any assumptions you may have about someone before meeting them. You cannot tell if someone is non-binary just by looking at them. If you are ever unsure of what pronouns someone uses, it is okay to ask (in a respectful way).

Please also be aware that gender identity (and sexual orientation) can be thought about as a spectrum, where people may not identify as being on one end or the other, but rather somewhere in between. Our society has adopted specific gender roles and heteronormative culture over the course of history, much of which actively exclude LGBTQ+ people and serve as barriers to identity and cultural development. Narrow-minded thinking and unwillingness to learn about others and the challenges that impact their lives every day continues to contribute to the stagnation of identity and cultural development. It is never too late to learn more about the people around us!

Want to Know More? Resources are Available.

If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and/or questioning your gender identity and/or sexual orientation, please know that resources exist and there are communities on campus to support you!

Online Resources – Learn More About LGBTQ+ Topics!

    • PFLAG is dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
  • National Center for Transgender Equality
    • Learn more about understanding non-binary people, as well as information about understanding transgender people.

Places to find resources and community on campus:

Upcoming Holidays & Observances

November 1-30: National Native American Heritage Month – celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans

November 1-30: National Family Caregivers Month – honors caregivers across the country who support aging parents, ill spouses, or other loved ones with disabilities who remain at home.

November 13-19: Transgender Awareness Week – the week before Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20, in which people and organizations participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face

November 19: International Men’s Day – emphasizes the important issues affecting males, including health issues that affect males, improving the relations between genders, highlighting the importance of male role models, and promoting gender equality. This holiday is celebrated in more than seventy countries.

November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance – established in 1998 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia and to raise awareness of the continued violence endured by the transgender community

November 20: Feast of Christ the King – Catholic holiday established to thank God for the gift of time and a rededication to the Christian faith