Good morning Britain! Let's talk about non-binary issues properly
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On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia(17/05/2017) Owl and Fox went on Good Morning Britain with the best intentions. They went on to provide a positive contribution to a discussion that has been raging over the past few days and weeks about gender neutrality. From schools to the police service, universities to the NHS - public organisations are trying to include people who don’t fit within the labels of Male or Female. They’re doing this to try to provide a welcoming, safe, and secure environment to some of the people in our society who need that security most. Yet, over some weeks, the initiatives proposed have been ridiculed and the people proposing them have been mocked. The discussion has been no longer a discussion, but a one-sided tirade from individuals who, by their own admission, have difficulty understanding Non-Binary issues.
Unfortunately, even the best intentions of a Non-Binary couple – who spend their time advocating for other people like themselves and helping for no reward – were not enough yesterday, as Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan dedicated a quarter of an hour of Fox and Owl’s ‘interview’ to doing the same to them as he’s done to any other guest on the show that’s disagreed – mocked and invalidated them.
The community would like to continue to take part in these discussions, but we need an equal playing field. We cannot be invited to speak then silenced, invited to share our identities then have those identities erased and trampled on, invited to contribute then have our contributions twisted. We realise fully that, as Susanna Reid said, there is confusion and misunderstanding regarding these issues. We also realise that the public may want to understand, and not want to make us feel uncomfortable. That’s why Fox and Owl agreed to go on Good Morning Britain – to help provide some answers, and to help educate the country about our lives.
And right there is the most important thing to note – this issue is not just a hypothetical discussion. For some of us, it’s our entire reality. It’s when we’re forced into clothing at school we’re not comfortable with and bullied as a result. It’s when we’re walking down the street and mocked, threatened and in some cases attacked for simply existing. It’s when we can’t apply for a passport, or a bank account, or even a prescription for debilitating health conditions without being forced to identify as something that, to our core, we are not.
This isn’t about being confused. If anything, non-binary people are often the least confused about their gender identity that they’ve ever been in their entire lives. If anything, they can feel liberated being able to just be themselves without having to hide things. This isn’t even about, as has been suggested, making everything around us gender-neutral and eliminating binary genders. We want a space in society of our own, not to erase other people’s – especially as so many of our transgender siblings feel comfortable labelling themselves as Male or Female and nothing more. What this is about though, is belonging.
Everyone wants to belong in society, but the 225,000 non-binary people living in Britain today do not legally exist as themselves. To us, trying to take part a people of a nation that doesn’t recognise us as people at all is hard. If this was a choice I don’t believe many of us would choose it. We’d want to contribute to this country as teachers without the baggage of having our identities called unfit for children. We’d want to serve this country in the military, police, and NHS without being called out for the people we are under the uniform. And we’d want to be able to go on TV and share our ideas, identities, experiences and dreams on a public platform without being mocked for showing up.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that choice. The 40% of transgender people who have attempted suicide after unending heartbreak, bullying, and often violence don’t have that choice. Fox and Owl don’t have that choice.
But the choice we do have is this: Fox and Owl, and others like them, are willing to give this another try. We’re willing to come on Good Morning Britain again, as well as any other media outlets that want to have a frank and open discussion about this issue. We’re willing to educate, to help with understanding, and to provide non-judgmental advice to anybody who is struggling, whether they be Non-Binary themselves or not. All that we are asking is a chance to do that properly. Without ridicule or mocking, without being talked over or erased, and without being forced into silence or worse.
Good Morning Britain, and others. We’re willing to come to you. Are you willing to listen?
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