Gender is now being described as a spectrum that allows people to identify as whatever they feel an emotional connection to.
Jo Kichenbrand is a 19-year-old from Surrey, who identifies as genderqueer – also referred to as non-binary. They do not believe they are either male or female, but more something in between. Growing up with relaxed gender stereotypes from their parents, Jo was able to come to terms with who they were in a relatively comfortable fashion. Out of Jo’s parents, it is only their mother who knows about their preferred gender identity, and even though Jo’s mum did not understand it at first, she just was just pleased her child was happy and comfortable with who they are.
Speaking to Jo, it is clear that there is still a long way to go with educating other people in what it means to be genderqueer, and how vital being one with your identity is to a person’s life. When asked about what gender means to them, Jo said, “It’s how you identify as a person, and it really has nothing to do with your physical features, [rather] than your emotional features I guess. It is a lot more like a deep emotional thing.”
There are changes being made to our country in terms of potential legislation that helps support people who have struggled with their identity. In 2017, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, pledged that legislating for non-binary recognition would be as important in her next parliamentary term as equal marriage was to the last. With the recognition of identity becoming a significant part of accepting people within our communities, those who live outside of antiquated social constructs could be seeing a much more accepting way of life.
There are even parents out there who are raising their children as genderless, something that sounds incredibly progressive. However, it might not be the best way to go about avoiding gender constructs. In doing this you could argue the child needs an initial identity, and it seemed that Jo agreed it may not be the most suitable situation.
From pronouns to gender-neutral toilets, to dating as someone who is genderqueer, give the podcast a listen to learn about what it means to be non-binary and how you can respect those who are.