Something I’ve been asked and seen posted quite a bit is how I can be non-binary and bisexual. How can one perpetuate the gender binary when being outside of it?
I think a large part of this comes from a misunderstanding of bisexuality. It has generally been used or accepted to mean “attracted to men and women”, and that definition does absolutely reinforce the gender binary. Many bisexual people still use that definition, and that’s okay. Not everyone is attracted to all genders or we would all be omnisexual and this discussion would be silly.
For a lot of bisexuals, especially we non-binary people, looser, more fluid definitions are preferred. I define my bisexuality as an attraction to people with similar and different genders. It isn’t an attraction to everyone but it isn’t limited to the socially assigned dual gender system. This version of bisexual is less confining, more aware of and open to the myriad of identities.
Sexuality and gender are (or should be) fluid, varied, and non-restrictive, allowing for diversity and the evolution of identity many people experience during our lives. Our identities are (or should be) personal, self-assigned labels that help us make sense of ourselves and our world.
Many people with the same label will define their identity differently, and that’s okay. We are different. But my personal choice of a label and definition of it is never an attack on another person or community. It’s a way of describing myself, not a means of denying the existence or legitimacy of others. To ask me to explain my identity is to learn more about who I am. To take offense at it is to assume that my sense of self is wrapped up in other people, and that I should be more focused on the perceptions of others than being true to myself. Let’s be as open to the personal variations in identity as we are to the overarching idea of non-binary genders and sexualities.