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Gender FAQ

What is your gender?

What are your pronouns and honorific/title?

I am non-binary. I use they/them pronouns primarily, as well as a plethora of nicknames.

 

Because gender is very personal and being openly Trans* and/or non-binary can be very dangerous in this too-often-terrifying world, I encourage you not to ask people's identities or pronouns upfront. Instead share your own pronouns if you feel safe and comfortable. People may offer this information to you at their own discretion.

 

As of current, I prefer for people to either opt out of using an honorific for me, or to use the honorific "M." or "Dr." for me.

 

(I do not have a doctorate. Neither did Dr. Seuss).

What is non-binary?

Non-binary is an umbrella term that contains multitudes. Within the "non-binary" umbrella are a practically infinite number of identities, such as agender, demigender, and so on, and so on. Not all non-binary people choose to identify with anything under the umbrella: many simply identify as "non-binary," which is okay.

 

Anyone who does not identify strictly within the modern Western gender binary of "male" or "female" may claim "non-binary" as an identifier.

There are people who identify as non-binary women and non-binary men. Often, though certainly not always, these people's identifiers can be described more thoroughly as "nonbinary Trans women" and "nonbinary Trans men." That's fine. If you don't get it, that's okay. Identifiers only need make sense to the people using them.

"Nonbinary" and "non-binary" are both perfectly fine spellings.

What does "enby" mean?

What does "NBi" mean?

What does "NB" mean?

"Enby" (plural "enbies" or "enbys") is a popular shortening of non-binary (a phonetic spelling of the acronym "NB.") It's generally thought of as a sort of cutesy term.

Because "NB" stands for "non-Black" in many contexts, the community at large is beginning to shift to utilizing other shortenings for those times when typing or speaking "non-binary" in its entirety is a hassle. "NBi" (pronounced "N-Bi") is another shortening that may be more appropriate. When you use it, I'd definitely encourage you to refer to non-binary people as "an NBi person" rather than "an NBi."

 

Not all non-binary people like the word "enby." Many find it infantilizing.

Please don't refer to me with the word "enby" unless I've given you express permission.

Are non-binary people Trans?

What does "trans" mean?

Yes and no. Trans*, like non-binary, is an umbrella term (hence the asterisk you will occasionally see).

To claim the identifier Trans (or transgender), one must simply identify with a gender that is not wholly the gender that they were assigned at birth. Typically, "Trans" is claimed by those who have experienced or gone through some semblance of a transition in regards to their gender -- whether this be medical (i.e. gender-affirming surgery, hormone replacement therapy, etc), social (i.e. name change, pronoun change, coming out, etc), or some combination. Gender transitions can be very external, and transitions can appear to be very internal. Regardless, they are still transitions.

 

Many non-binary people identify as Trans and many do not. Many non-binary people also identify as metagender (neither cis nor transgender). Many simply identify as non-binary.

 

I identify as Trans.

What does "Queer" mean?

Are non-binary people queer?

"Queer" is a reclaimed slur and identifier that can be utilized by anyone within the LGBTQIA+ community (which is a wildly huge community comprised of several smaller communities - and no, we don't all know each other). For many of us, "Queer" is a powerful word that describes succinctly our politics, beliefs, and/or experiences. I identify as Queer.

 

As "Queer" is a word with a history of cishet violence behind it, it can be rather dicey to decide whether cishet people should be allowed to say it. In my opinion, it depends largely on the context.

Also because of the history of the word "Queer" or for any other myriad of reasons, there are many LGBTQIA+ people who do not identify with it. That's okay. I'd encourage you to refer to the LGBTQIA+ community as just that, rather than as "the Queer community." To refer to any of the various communities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, you should utilize their own individual names (i.e., the Trans* community; the Intersex community, and - yup - the Queer community).

(While you're here, the LGBTQIA+ community does not -- I repeat, does NOT -- claim pedophiles. That's bullshit. Though I do think that those people deserve and should have access to preventative mental health resources and rehabilitation. But this is a conversation for another day).

Are non-binary people gender non-conforming (GNC)?

What does "TGNC" mean?

While there are non-binary people who choose to use the identifier "gender non-conforming" to describe themselves, many do not. "Gender non-conforming" (or "GNC") is a phrase that nowadays tends to refer to cisgender people who present in ways that do not align with modern societal expectations of their assigned gender - such as a cis woman who wears pantsuits, or a cis man who wears nail polish, and so on, and so on.

 

GNC could also refer to, for instance, a Trans woman who opts not to undergo hormone replacement therapy or other 'expected' forms of external transition, but that would ultimately be up to the Trans woman in question to decide whether it's a fitting descriptor.

 

You should not automatically assume that Trans* and non-binary people feel comfortable being called "gender non-conforming." In my experience, the vast majority of Trans* and non-binary people do not use that terminology to describe themselves.

TGNC stands for "Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming." You would not typically refer to a single person as "TGNC," though that person may possibly "be part of the TGNC community" or "identify within the TGNC spectrum." I more often just use Trans*, but will use TGNC in contexts in which I am including cis people who are GNC. The definitions and clarifications here are shifting and evolving even at present.

 

(And yeah, as a matter of fact, every time The Cishets complain, we will add seven more letters. Just because it's fun).

 

As I feel I am living and presenting within the world and "conformities" of my own personal gender, I do not personally identify as GNC.  

What does "cishet" mean?

What does cis/cisgender mean?

"Cishet" is a shortening of the words cisgender and heterosexual. It is pronounced "sis, het" and refers to people who are both cis and het.

To be "cisgender" (or "cis") means to identify with the gender one was assigned at birth. I like to call cisgenders 'cissies' (pronounced like "sissies"), just because it's fun.

While many Trans* people identify as straight/heterosexual, I will often refer to cishet people as The Straights. Again, just because it's fun.

What does "AGAB" mean?

What does "AFAB" Mean?

What does "AMAB" mean?

"AGAB" is an acronym for "assigned gender at birth," referring to the gender that was chosen for every person in modern Western society when (and usually even before) they were born.

"AFAB" (pronounced A-Fab) stands for "assigned female at birth, and "AMAB" (pronounced A-Mab, to rhyme) stands for "assigned male at birth."

I'd highly, highly encourage you not to use these words to describe Trans* and non-binary people (especially if those people are intersex), if for no other reason, because it's rarely relevant. We'll bring it up if and when it is.

But you Called Yourself a...

Yes, I am allowed to call myself gendered words (like boy, girl, man, woman, queen, king), even if they aren't entirely accurate. I'm probably joking. I'd advise for others not to call non-binary those words without our express permission.

I'd definitely advise cis people not to refer to non-binary people as "theys," though many non-binary people, myself included, will jokingly refer to ourselves that way.

But you look like a...

Trans* and non-binary people don't have any particular look. We don't all need to look a specific way. I promise we know ourselves well enough to tell you who we are.

Expression does not inherently align with identity.

What pronouns do non-binary people use?

Much like all other people, non-binary people use lots of different pronouns! MyPronouns.org is one resource to begin educating yourself on the wide variety of pronouns that exist in the world and how to use them. There are many, many resources to help you learn and practice pronouns that may be new to you both online and off.

 

Some non-binary people use they/them; some use fae/faer, ze/zim, or any number of other neopronouns; and some use she/her or he/him.

 

Some non-binary people use more than one set of pronouns, such as he/they. In these instances, they may prefer one over the other, or they may ask for them to be used interchangeably. If you don't know if they have a preference, it's best to try to use their different pronouns more or less interchangeably.

 

Some ask to only be referred to by their names. It's all on an individual basis. Example:

  • "Vivi was wondering if you and I could bring Vivi's lunchbox by the studio today?"

I'd encourage you to not refer to "he/him" as "male pronouns" and "she/her" as "female pronouns." Instead, just say "he/him pronouns" and "she/her pronouns." Many non-binary people go by "he/him" and/or "she/her" pronouns for any multitude of reasons and don't necessarily identify as male or female.

Not all Trans* and non-binary people are out or safe in all contexts. I would encourage you to ask your Trans* and non-binary friends and colleagues if there are any people or situations in which you should refer to them by an alternate set of pronouns/honorifics, or perhaps a different name. (Lotta slashes in that sentence, hey?)

What honorifics/titles do non-binary people use?

Non-binary people can use whatever honorifics they choose to. Many, though not all non-binary people use the honorific "Mx" (pronounced "mix"). Many may use "Ms," "Mrs," or "Mr," "Dr," "X," or some combination, for starters. Non-binary people's honorifics, much like their pronouns or ever names, are on an individual-by-individual basis.

 

I do not of "Mx." Personally, I choose to use no honorific in many situations. If one is necessary, I try to opt for "M." or "Dr." (though I do not have a doctorate, nor any intention towards getting one as of the present time).

Not all Trans* and non-binary people are out or safe in all contexts. I would encourage you to ask your Trans* and non-binary friends and colleagues if there are any people or situations in which you should refer to them by an alternate set of pronouns/honorifics, or perhaps a different name. (Lotta slashes in that sentence, hey?)

How do I use they/them pronouns for one person?

The same way that you use them for groups of people!

 

(By the way, they/them is far from the first English pronoun set to be used in both the singular and plural forms. "You/your" is a great example)!

You don't need to conjugate anything clunky like "They is walking," or "Is that they's house?" (Though if you do conjugate something silly like that in earnest and not to make fun of us, you'll likely make us smile. Personally, I think it's endearing and appreciate the effort).

Here are a few examples:

  • "They're one of the coolest people ever."

  • "Alex is the best! Have you met them?"

  • "Hey! Before we get to their house, remember that Benji asked that we refer to them as he/him around their family."

  • "That notebook is theirs."

  • "They walked all the way there by themself."

 

Though sometimes Spellcheck will tell you otherwise, "themself" and "themselves" are typically both acceptable.​ MyPronouns.org has fantastic resources on using singular they/them as well as several other sets of pronouns!

Should I ask people for their pronouns?

It is not necessarily always appropriate to solicit someone else's pronouns. If you are comfortable and safe with your own (especially if you are cisgender), I would encourage you to introduce yourself with them without placing any pressure on the other person to give theirs. By doing so, you provide the opportunity for others to provide you their pronouns at their own discretion and without pressuring them.

 

Here are some examples of good ways you can introduce yourself!

  • "Hi! I'm Sinclair, and I go by she/her. I'm glad to meet you!"

  • "My name is Tom, he/him. I look forward to interviewing you today."

  • "Hey, I'm Marci, my pronouns are they/them. Are you new here, too?"

  • "Hello, I'm Jax. I use she/her and he/him pronouns. Thanks for calling!"

  • "Hi there, I'm Ringo. I accept all pronouns. Welcome to the jungle!"

It is typically alright to use "they/them" pronouns for people when they have not shared their pronouns with you, though it may be safer to stick to using the name that person shared with you and gender-neutral descriptors if need be:

  • "I don't know where Rex went."

  • "Have you seen Lynne's book?"

  • "We'll have to tell Jon that story once Jon's back."

  • "Could you remind me the name of the person in the orange turtleneck?"

    • (Bonus points if you respond without using pronouns: "That's Paul.")​

This may be a difficult shift at first, and will almost certainly be an ongoing journey of relearning how to refer to people. It's important and appreciated work.

Not all Trans* and non-binary people are out or safe in all contexts. I would encourage you to ask your Trans* and non-binary friends and colleagues if there are any situations where you should refer to them by an alternate set of pronouns or perhaps a different name.

How many times can someone change their name?

How many times can someone change their pronouns?

As gender is by its very nature fluid and not static, Trans* and non-binary people's names and pronouns may very likely change. They often change more than once. That's okay. You don't have to always understand; you just have to respect and uplift. If you're frustrated, ask yourself why. Do some soul-searching.

Do you have any advice on learning someone's new pronouns?

One great way to start practicing new pronouns for someone is to put them as a parenthetical into their name in your phone contacts (i.e. Maxie (he/him) Gray or Sara (s/h) Luker). This provides a wonderful visual reminder! And if you use Siri, you can still say "call Maxie Gray" or "text Sara Luker" without a hitch. You can usually add nicknames to contacts on most smartphones, as well!

I'd also suggest practicing that person's pronouns aloud when you aren't around them! This will get you into the habit when you aren't around them, so you are much less likely to mess up around them and cause them dysphoria, stress, or discomfort. Call up a mutual friend and have a practice date!

PracticeWithPronouns.com is one of many great online resources.

What should I do if I mess someone's pronouns up?

First off, don't stress too hard. It happens to all of us. I even mess up my own pronouns at times. In a way, it's like accidentally calling someone by the wrong name. Embarrassing and uncomfortable, but not always the end of the world.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't try or that you should take it too lightly, though, either! Misgendering a Trans* or non-binary person can be very triggering, dysphoric, and in some cases, unsafe.

 

If you've misgendered someone, get in the habit of correcting yourself discreetly and immediately, and do everything in your power not to do it again.

In the moment, you should absolutely not make a big deal out of your mistake or draw unnecessary attention to it. I'd recommend you quickly correct yourself -- or accept correction -- and move on. Please avoid apologetic phrases like "I'm so sorry," which place the burden on the Trans* or non-binary person to forgive you (especially if you really harp on it!) and can make the situation even more uncomfortable, anxiety-producing, triggering, and/or dysphoric for the person you've misgendered. If you do say anything beyond the correction, make it an acknowledgement of your own mistake rather than a request for forgiveness.

 

Don't wait for approval after correcting yourself. That's so uncomfortable, and we don't owe you congratulations or thanks for getting it right any more than anyone owes you thanks for remembering their name. Just make the correction subtly and move on with the conversation.

Don't do this:

  • "I hope we see Mark -- oh my goodness. I completely forgot! Martha doesn't use that name anymore. I'm so embarrased. Please don't tell!"

  • "Hey Lilith. I know we were gonna get lunch today, but I wouldn't blame you if you never wanted to speak to me again. I'm so, so, sorry that I called you by the wrong pronouns earlier in front of our co-workers! I feel really, really bad. I'm trying really hard, but it's difficult since I've known you so long. I'm working really hard though! I hope you can forgive me?"

  • "​Yeah, when he and I -- oh, my god, I meant to say "she" -- Jackie is Trans and I'm still learning, it's hard for me not to call her by her old boy name too because we've known each other so long! -- so, I guess, when she and I were on our way to the mall..."

  • "I was walking with Cade, and he--"
    "Cade uses they/them pronouns"
    "Oh yeah! Sorry. It's just so hard to keep track! I wish Cade would pick finally."

Do this instead:

  • "I hope we see Mark -- I mean, Martha at the party."

  • "Hey Lilith, before we go: I realized I called you by the wrong pronouns earlier. It happened really quick, and I didn't want to draw too much attention to it in front of our co-workers just in case they don't know you're Trans. I wanted to let you know I'm aware of my mistake and am working to be better, because I don't want to misrepresent you. Still down for that slice of pizza?"

  • "Yeah, when he and I -- my bad -- when she and I were on our way to the mall, we saw three kids in a trench coat trying to get into an R-rated movie. Swear on my grandmother's grave!"

  • "I was walking with Cade, and he--"
    "Cade uses they/them pronouns."
    "Thank you -- they showed the coolest thing: a video of a skateboarding lizard!"

What if someone else messes up a friend's pronouns?

Gently and quickly interrupt, correct them, and move on with the conversation. Get into the habit of doing this always.

What characters do you play?

can non-binary people play cis roles?

can cis people play non-binary people?

Can cis people play Trans* people?

Can cishet people play LGBTQIA+ people?

I personally feel comfortable playing roles from a wide variety of genders, including many cis roles. I submit myself for roles that I feel comfortable and appropriate playing. My representation submits me for roles that I feel comfortable and appropriate playing. I strongly believe that I am the best judge of what types of characters I am most able to authentically inhabit.

 

That said, I strongly believe non-binary and Trans* people can play characters of whatever gender identities they feel comfortable playing. In my opinion, non-binary and Trans* performers have an incredibly nuanced understanding of how to perform gender by means of our own life experiences and are therefore the best judges of what types of characters we should and can play.

There are only a small handful of explicitly Trans* and non-binary characters currently in the theatrical canon, as well as written for TV, film, and radio. (The internet provides very foggy information as to whether "there is" or "there are" would have been the better conjugation there. I made my bed, and I'll sleep in it).

 

Very, very few of those few Trans* and non-binary roles that currently exist have been written as fully-rounded human beings, rather than caricatures. Very few of that very few are currently being played, written, directed, and/or produced by Trans* and non-binary creatives. (And very few of that very few are being played, written, directed, and/or produced, by Trans* and non-binary creatives of color).

I do not feel it is currently acceptable or appropriate for cisgender people to be playing Trans* and/or non-binary roles. I also do not feel it is currently appropriate for cishet people to be playing any LGBTQIA+ roles (with the exception of cishet intersex actors, who of course can play intersex characters).

For what it's worth (though I strongly and firmly believe that this really should go without saying, as I and other white people existing within the global community should be well beyond this point in terms of progress) as a white person, I do not feel that it is in any way appropriate for me, nor any other white actor, to play roles written for Black people, Brown people, Indigenous people, Latinx/Latine and Xicanx people, and/or People of Color. Nor do I think it is anything near okay that white bodies and narratives are continuously centered in such a vast majority of the media that our industry puts out, that the people in power in our industrial and educational settings are so heavily skewed white, or that any of the other countless manifestations of whiteness rear their ugly heads in both subtle and loud, explicit modes of harm. I could write about this for days. Lots of reading about this topic is available all over the internet as well as in countless books and journals. All of this to say, it is absolutely crucial for my fellow white Trans* and non-binary siblings to not only recognize that we benefit immensely from our white privilege, but to stand in solidarity with our fellows of color and to actively work to dismantle the systems of racism, anti-Black violence and oppression, and the harms of -- in no particular order -- whiteness and white supremacy; elitism and classism; transphobia, queerphobia, and homophobia; ableism; fatphobia; misogyny, transmisogyny, and misogynoir; and all of their many and varied intersections within ourselves, our society, and our industry.

How can I support trans* and non-binary actors and artists?

As a producer or patron of the arts, you should consider funding, investing in, watching/reading/following/listening to, hiring, and amplifying the works and voices of Trans* and non-binary artists, actors, creators, and writers.

If you are a producer, casting director, manager/agent, or a creative at a theatre company or collegiate program, I'd encourage you to be especially and personally invested in the safety and comfort of your Trans* and non-binary collaborators. If you are producing any tour or producing work in anything less than an extremely progressive area, I would highly encourage you to have an ongoing, open conversation with your Trans* and non-binary collaborators to make sure you are doing everything within your power to not only keep them safe and protect them, but to ensure their comfort. I'd encourage you to do this even if you are producing or filming in the most progressive place on earth. (Also, if you're producing or filming in the most progressive place on earth, please hire me).

I'd encourage you to use language in casting searches that makes your intent to cultivate a safe, equitable, and gender-diverse space explicitly clear. Include the pronouns and gender descriptors for characters in your production, as well as for theatre/casting personnel. I'd highly encourage you to explicitly note in descriptions for characters that they do not need to be played by, for example, a "cis man," but by someone who feels comfortable playing a masculine character who uses he/him pronouns. If you have flexibility for characters' pronouns, make note of that. If your play includes a character who is Trans* or non-binary, make note that you are ONLY seeking Trans* or non-binary candidates for that role - and don't cast a cisgender person in the role.

There are countless other actions you can take to ensure you are uplifting and protecting Trans* and non-binary artists, but these are just a few off the top of my head.

 

How can I support Trans* and non-binary people?

If you are cisgender and/or comfortable and safe with your pronouns, consider adding them to your resume, email signatures, Zoom name, social media profiles, and other similar spaces as well as when introducing yourself in conversation. This normalizes people stating their pronouns so that Trans* and non-binary people can more safely and discreetly assert theirs. Should your pronouns change, you can always update them. (Trust me).

Use our pronouns even when we aren't around you. If our pronouns change (and they may!), please respect the change to the utmost of your availability.

I'd highly encourage you to continue your education by following Trans* and non-binary creators, reading Queer theory and literature by Trans* and non-binary people, engaging in conversations with the Trans* and non-binary people in your lives (without imposing or leaving them thankless for their labor), and looking for local Trans*-led charities and organizations to which you can donate, and with which you can seek opportunities for further education.

There are countless other actions you can take to ensure you are uplifting and protecting Trans* and non-binary people, but these are just a few off the top of my head.

I sincerely hope this info has been helpful to you!

If this information has benefited you, please consider reaching out for consultation and/or sending me support for my labor!

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