Binary Blues

Recently I received a thought provoking comment concerning binary or non binary transgender women. A subject I don’t think we have ever discussed in the long history of the Cyrsti’s Condo blog. The question was brought up by Connie:

“I’m not so much confused about  Non-Binary individuals, or the portrayal of them, as I am feeling a little discounted for being a Binary Trans Woman. It’s as though the media have highlighted enough of the transgender women , like Lavern Cox – or even Caitlyn Jenner – and now it’s on to the trans du jour of non-binary. Just when I was feeling comfortable living my “authentic self,” and knowing that there were enough people in the world who 

Laverne Cox

had some degree of understanding and acceptance for me, the relatively new concept of “Non-Binary” changes the game. Most people still think along binary lines, and it is much easier, I think, for them to look at me and have some idea, at least, of how I may fit in. Of course, I try to leave as little ambiguity for my gender expression as possible. However, can I  expect that I won’t even be mis-gendered, when there are those who are presenting and expressing one gender, while still demanding that they be referenced as another (or neither….or both)?

I don’t know if I’m being pushed out of the transgender umbrella or crowded into the middle of it, these days.” 

It’s probably just me but I think most of the “non binary” emphasis is a more recent phenomenon brought up by the younger segment of the transgender community. It’s just an easier way to say we don’t fit. 

However, in my travels, I have encountered more and more individuals who didn’t fit a gender binary. I find it encouraging the people I have known (even on a limited basis) have had the courage to live a life somewhere outside the lines of the traditional gender binaries. 

As for me, my authentic self is much like Connie’s. I live as a binary woman. I do my best to present to the world as one and expect to be treated with respect as one. 

I also think we are not being pushed out from under the transgender umbrella, we just need a bigger umbrella and that is not all bad!


  1. Judith_S says:

    Really fascinating subject. In my view, since cisgender basically means you are “binary” feminine or masculine (To me Male or Female refers to biological sex), then “non-binary means you are something else. I also define transgender as meaning anything other than cisgender, but that definition is not universal. The transgender community is full of all kinds of labels, genderqueer, genderfluid, bigender, agender ad nauseum. I understand it is evolving and things change rapidly but I hope these labels start fading away. I ascribe to what I call the Unitary Gender theory (Don’t look for it I just created it in my head). Imagine a circle with a significantly smaller circle drawn inside of it. The space between the inner circle and the outer circle is divided into four sections. Moving clockwise from the top there is 1. FEMININE, 2. FEMININE MASCULINITY, 3. MASCULINE, AND 4.MASCULINE FEMININITY. The inner circle is what I call “The Neutral Zone”. In the Zone is where you find people suffering from dysphoria (sex and the construct built around it does not match brain’s understanding). Everybody else does not suffer from dysphoria and they are generally happy with their biological sex. If you are in the feminine or masculine quadrant then you are exclusively interested in the qualities and attributes of the sex to which you were assigned at birth. If you fall within the other two quadrants your brain is very much at ease with the qualities and attributes of gender construct around your born sex and the gender construct of the other sex. How one expresses “masculine femininity” or “feminine masculinity” varies wildly. It is fair to say that females who express masculine femininity are more accepted in society than men who express feminine masculinity. As a biological man maybe it is shaving your legs or chest hair. Or dressing up as a woman occasionally. Maybe you like to do needlepoint, or crochet. Regardless, at the end of the day you are okay with and prefer having a penis and accompanying testicles. I do believe that gender identity is fixed and cannot be changed. But, and a big but here, I also believe that the extremely oppressive nature of the binary social construct prevents many individuals from understanding that there is anything outside of the binary. While they may have internal conflicts, doubts, or questions, many spend their entire lives not authentically living it and consciously or unconsciously actively suppressing it. I suppose it is kind of like living in The Matrix (you know, the movie). Some recognize that their style is being cramped so to speak and shake the shackles of the construct. Thus if they were being socially compelled to express in the masculine quadrant they can move to and express in the feminine masculinity quadrant. If you are a dysphoric male or female in the zone, then you know the body you have is wrong. Correct, that. Then you choose one of the quadrants that is best for you. The unitary theory of gender. Copyright (c) 2020 Judith Smithson.

    1. cyrsti says:

      Hello Judith and thanks so much for the complex and well thought out comment! It is readers such as you who make blogging worthwhile.

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