“So you don’t feel like a boy or girl?”

This piece in Esquire is drawing a lot of hilarity on Twitter. It’s a helpful article explaining what “non-binary gender” is for people who have been living in a locked trunk for the past few years. It’s by Sam Escobar, who is non-binary themself (they use “they/them” for their pronouns).

So non-binary.

They (Sam Escobar) start by explaining that people ask them (Sam Escobar) a lot of silly questions once they (Sam Escobar) tell them (the people) they (Sam Escobar) are non-binary. They (the people) even ask them (Sam Escobar) about their (Sam Escobar’s) crotch.

Yes, even in New York. Yes, even among seemingly “progressive” people. And it stems from the fact that most people you meet simply do not know much about non-binary gender identities. It usually goes like this:

“So you don’t feel like a boy or girl?”


“But you wear makeup.”


“But you’re not a woman.”



I have had this exact conversation at least once a week, every week since coming out publicly in November. It’s not one I mind; it just gets repetitive, and occasionally a little insulting if the conversation leads to questions like, “So you’re just trying to be different?” With trans visibility increasing more quickly than ever, non-binary gender identity is coming into focus, too.

No, it’s not. People like Sam Escobar are yammering about it more, but it’s not coming into focus, because it was never out. It’s a self-flattering fiction that everybody else except the oh so special people like Sam Escobar is binary. Nobody is binary. This idea that the Muggles totally identify with their “assigned gender” while the wizards alone see through all that is just a new way to perform Being Better Than Everyone Else in public.

On Tuesday, The New York Times Magazine published a brief etymology of the words “they” and “them” as pronouns for people who identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, gender-noncomforming, and other genders. The piece is another stride in acknowledging those who do not feel they fit on the current male/female binary—and another piece in the growing conversation surrounding gender in society.

What was that little thing called feminism that had to do with a lot of women saying we don’t feel we fit on the current male/female binary and we don’t much like being expected to do all the domestic work while also working full time thanks very much? Oh that was just some boring thing the boring old Wrong Wave did back around the time of Downton Abbey, and not remotely as hip as what the hip people are doing now.

As someone who identifies with gender-neutral pronouns, I was amped to see the Times bring the discussion onto the radar of readers who may not know there are even people out there who don’t identify as male or female. I’ve been out for four months, but I’ve known I’m not cisgender for the last five or so years (probably longer, if I’m honest, depending on how you interpret some odd childhood habits).

And it goes on like that, filling us in on exactly how special they (Sam Escobar) and their (Sam Escobar’s) friends are and how tragically clueless and conformist everyone else is, especially women.

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