non binary lesbians FAQ
a carrd by twitter user enbyles
this carrd was made in response to the growing discourse surrounding the concept of n-b lesbians and n-b gays. while i don't believe n-b people are required to explain our genders to anyone, i still felt the need to make a carrd addressing the common "anti hesbian" arguments, as i cannot argue with every single "anti hesbian" on twitter.
this also exists to help those who may be genuinely confused by the concept. the language is a bit curt, but i am interested in informing anyone who is actually asking questions in good faith.
i will update as needed.
what is non binary?
"Nonbinary (also spelled non-binary) is an umbrella term covering any gender identity or expression that does not fit within the gender binary. The label may also be used by individuals wishing to identify as falling outside of the gender binary without being any more specific about the nature of their gender."
what is a non binary lesbian?
a non binary lesbian is a person whose gender falls outside the strict binary of woman and man, but still feels that the word lesbian explains how they experience attraction, and/or their position in society.
isn't a lesbian a woman who is only attracted to other women?
there are multiple responses to this.
common non binary genders include genderfluid, genderqueer, bigender, demigirl, which means the person who uses the label identifies with binary genders to some degree.
(if you don't "believe" in these genders, you don't understand what being non binary is and are subscribing to the concept of the "gender trinary" where in which there are three completely separate genders. which is not true, by the way.)
most of us also have no interest in explaining what these new labels mean to any stranger that asks. why call ourselves "trixic" when lesbian is more commonly used, easily comprehensible, and explains our experiences just as well? we are not attracted to men and we are attracted to women, we don't need another word for it.
gender is socially constructed. the role of woman is given to those "designated female at birth" (language that many trans women dislike, but i am utilizing here for the sake of brevity), it consists of the expectation of femininity. femininity includes attraction to men, as women's "feminine" is seen as the counterpart to men's "masculine." many lesbians, as a result, feel 0 connection to womanhood while still feeling a connection to lesbianism and the lesbian community.
it is described in the article in defense of non binary lesbianism:
"In a world where women are forcibly socially defined by their relationship (or lack thereof) to men, a woman who does not experience attraction to men will inevitably have a different experience of womanhood. To pretend that “woman” is a stable gender category is to entirely ignore the lived experiences of lesbians."
in general, gay people have always spearheaded the subversion and erosion of gender and what is expected of those deemed to be "men" and those deemed to be "women." the idea that lesbians or gays cannot reject gender while still celebrating their gayness and lesbianism is ahistorical and frankly, conservative.
do "he" lesbians invalidate trans men?
men don't own masculine presentation or gender expression, pronouns are included in that. if a cis person uses n-b lesbians to "prove" trans men are lesbians in denial, it's just because they're transphobic. trans people are never to blame for transphobia.
butches and studs have been called boyfriends, bois, husbands, handsome, kings, daddies, and so on long before any of this discourse existed and they won't stop to appease a stranger's own insecurities about his masculinity.
do pronouns equal gender?
no, they don't. non binary is not a third gender, we are not obligated to be androgynous and use "they" pronouns.
non binary is an umbrella term for multiple genders, not a third gender in and of itself. you are pushing the idea that we are all one single third gender that is obligated to be as androgynous as possible, which defeats the whole point of being non binary.
many anti n-b lesbians will say "you can be gnc without identifying as a new gender" and then will say n-b people can't use pronouns besides "they." which one is it? is it okay to be gnc or must n-b people conform to the gender role pushed onto us to be "real?"
will n-b lesbians make cis people take us less seriously?
cis people don't take trans people seriously because they're transphobic. that is not the responsibility of other trans people.
wouldn't a gay n-b person be someone who is only attracted to other n-bs?
this only would work if n-b was a third gender and not an umbrella term for multiple genders with multiple different presentations and alignments. n-b people are capable of being incompatible based on gender because we are not all the same gender.
i'm n-b and the idea that i could be gay/lesbian makes me uncomfortable.
your discomfort is not the responsibility of strangers. a stranger who is an n-b lesbian is simply most accurately describing their sexuality and gender, it doesn't reflect on you at all.
in defense of non binary lesbianism sums things up pretty well.
many site the woman-identified woman as a source that proves n-b lesbianism isn't possible, but the manifesto has absolutely nothing to do with this topic at all, if anything, it's a point towards n-b lesbianism, as it discusses gender only mattering in relationship to men and womanhood being defined by how men react to you.
the manifesto calls for the reclamation of womanhood by rejecting "femininity" and defining womanhood on your own terms, which is exactly what "he" and "they" lesbians do.
below are a few quotes from trans butches describing their experiences with gender ↴
from the book transgender voices: beyond women and men (2009) KT, a trans butch lesbian, discusses his experiences with gender briefly:
the butches and studs who have defied the male gaze and redefined culture an article from the NYT discussing butch gender identity. the following quotes are from kimberly peirce and allison bechdel:
(i don't agree with everything in the article)
TO BE CLEAR: this section exists solely to point out that the only source that says she never used he pronouns is from a TERF WEBSITE. my ultimate point is to leave stormé's name out of this, she's dead and can't defend herself. that goes for both sides of it.
i have taken out the article i originally had quoting that she used "he" pronouns.
the only source that denies stormé delarverie's usage of multiple different pronouns is this article from a terf website that also shows support for jk rowling and is generally anti trans.
this article made the rounds in many terf and gender critical spaces, in which they complained about the acknowledgement of non binary and gnc lesbians being "lesbian erasure."
as a black lesbian myself, i'm uncomfortable with a bunch of non black cis people sitting around debating a black lesbian's gender and attempting to "debunk" any aspect of her identity. show some respect for your elders.
"debunking the new n-b
a twitter and instagram user by the name of renzezz/megamindflops attempted to debunk this carrd. here's my response.
"they use pink news as a source" the article is in response to a video posted by pink news, of course pink news will be mentioned. pink news is mentioned three times total, two of which are to quote an n-b lesbian that works there and the other time to critique it.
leslie feinberg is only mentioned to bring up butches within history who are trans or gnc to the point of their identity seemingly overlapping with transness, as well as a summary of his book. that is it. it is impossible to discuss this topic without bringing him up because he is one of the most notorious trans butches. renzezz skirted past all of the other arguments made to address things that are ultimately meaningless or even critiqued in the grand scheme of the article.
nothing in this quote indicates a lack of understanding of gender identity vs gender expression. they are speaking on lesbian identity inherently subverting what it means to be a woman because, as i have stated a million times now, womanhood is inherently tied to being attracted to men as it stands in society.
renzezz is taking their quote out of context, using it to say that they misunderstand gender when the point of the quote is to explain why lesbians feel so alienated from other women.
i am not a "radical inclusionist" so i don't know why renzezz projected that onto me. i've never stated the WIW is a terf work. i do recognize that feminists during the second wave (and in general) call for a womanhood defined outside of its relationship to men, and this did not have anything to do with non binary genders. i was stating how their words lend more to the n-b lesbianism side of the argument than the anti n-b les side, as the entire manifesto is about womanhood being redefined by lesbians.
i'm not sure what the arrows are supposed to be pointing to? i know the quote i included, they're discussing women, specifically lesbians, redefining womanhood to include our unique experiences, rather than "trying to be women" in the traditional sense, which includes conforming to heterosexuality and femininity. this doesn't disprove anything i stated in here about womanhood and lesbians using masculine and gender neutral language to express their feelings about gender and reject womanhood as a concept altogether.
more importantly, how does this "prove" anything related to n-b lesbianism? the WIW is one work of many by second wave feminists. there are multiple lesbians, cis, n-b, and trans alike who have discussed gender in depth, its function as a social construct and its inherent relationship to misogyny. i would especially recommend listening to trans women leftists on these issues, as they are the most harmed by gender. i only brought up the WIW because it's used as a source to disprove n-b lesbianism as if anything factual is stated in there. it's theory. you can't "debunk" someone by interpreting theory differently from them.
my purpose in even bringing up stormé is that the only source saying she didn't use "he" pronouns was a from an anti trans, pro terf website. regardless, she is a dead black lesbian and needs to STOP BEING BROUGHT UP IN DISCOURSE. ESPECIALLY discourse that is being led by white, cis, non lesbian teenagers. renzezz included the screenshot of me saying it is disrespectful to her, both as an lgbt elder and a dead person, to use her as a pawn in these discussions, but continued anyway.
renzezz did say she agrees stormé needs to be left out of it, but her inclusion of arguments about her gender in the ig post despite me not wanting to argue stormé's identity either way made that statement feel disingenuous to me.
as far as the book goes, i only read the section with butches speaking on their personal experiences, i'm sure it gets plenty wrong as it's from over a decade ago, but none of the screenshots she uses explain what's wrong at all. "the gender binary has very little wiggle room" is not an inaccurate statement, especially for over a decade ago. women are treated poorly for being too masculine and men are treated poorly for being too feminine. maybe it's because a lot of you are young, but the idea that men and women should be allowed to dress and present however they want comfortably isn't a common belief now, let alone that long ago.
the rest of this slide is just an opinion. "it likely misgenders a trans man" this is in reference to KT.
we don't know KT, but he describes his literal experiences as that of a butch who ultimately feels uncomfortable with femininity but is used to being referred to as female in his everyday life.
renzezz sites statistic probability as the reason she assumes KT is a trans man, but you cannot use statistics for something as personal as gender identity and expression.
as for the article, i agree with renzezz that it has a lot of problems. i stated myself that i disagree with a few things they wrote, but i am borrowing quotes they got from two important and famous butches. although i disagree with them, there are trans men who still call themselves lesbians because they spent most of their lives as lesbians before coming out, because that's the community that accepted them, or literally any other reason. there are trans men on the app her just like there are trans women on grindr. again, i don't agree, but ignoring this nuance does not erase its existence nor does it have anything to do with n-b lesbians or the quotes i got from kimberly peirce or allison bechdel.
there are people who label themselves non binary and nothing more (i know because i did it for years, not feeling comfortable with any label.) these are two real things that, despite not being a part of twitter discourse generally, still exist in lgbt spaces where boundaries aren't as set.
renzezz assumes they are misquotes and thus the article is invalid because the writer cites experiences that go against the popular online LGBT communities' ways of operating.
to conclude, all she did correctly was point out that some of my sources had some inaccurate info here and there, which i agree with! you'll be hard up to find articles on LGBT topics that are not outdated or plain wrong in some ways because it is an ever shifting community. the word "vixenamoric" did not exist last month, "trixic" was created in 2016, the current lesbian flag was made in 2018, and so on.
i'm doing my best here, finding info and stories of people's experiences, but i have a life outside of the internet and i'm not getting paid to do this. it's your responsibility as the reader to look into things and figure out if a source is usable, an explanation is satisfactory, or a quote is taken out of context.