Nonbinary erasure

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« I just didn't know before because I had never been taught that being different and unable to relate didn't make me weird or a freak. »
Zayden, 26[1]

Nonbinary erasure, or non-binary erasure, refers to an attempt at erasure, or an intentional refusal of acknowledgement, of gender identities which do not fit in the gender binary of "male" and "female". During the mid-to-late-19th and early-20th centuries, instances of nonbinary erasure increased significantly. During that period many nonbinary identities, particularly those in colonial regions, were subject to nonbinary erasure. Ever since the end of the 20th century significant work has been done in educating people on the existence of nonbinary genders, which has helped to raise awareness of nonbinary erasure around the world. Even today however, there are still attempts made at nonbinary erasure, especially in certain countries and regions.

Nonbinary erasure and eurocentrism[edit | edit source]

See also: Gender-variant identities worldwide

Having slowly come about for centuries, in Europe (and North America) during the mid-to-late-19th century and early-20th century, there was seen a dramatic rise in literature which sought to organize the world into strict, specifically-defined structures across disciplines and topics. Most of those writing this literature however tended to be of socially-conforming, upper class, Christian backgrounds, leading to nearly all of the categorization within this era representing a very confined view conforming to the authors' religion, education, and upbringing. Notably for the scope of this wiki, during this era many attempts at defining gender and sexuality were written.

Although there were some early Western authors such as Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, whose views and experiences led him to acknowledge gender and sexuality in a broader sense than just "male" and "female", there were few others like him. Many Western authors, relying on arguments of religion and morality, were able to spread their views of binary gender and sexuality very widely, often being supported at home by religious figures, nationalists, as well as by other authors. By the end of the 19th century, the view of nonbinary gender identity being "unacceptable" was extremely common among Western nations. As this was the era of colonialism these views of binary gender, codified in the West, were spread and applied around the world in tandem with the planting of flags and marching of soldiers.

In many regions, much like Europe before strict definitions of binary gender were applied, there existed terms for groups of nonbinary people. These groups and the terms used for them were often ignored however, be it for reasons of political control, racism, or ignorance. One of the reasons nonbinary gender identities were so infrequently written about during the era of colonialism may have been due to the less-structured, usually loose definitions to which certain people applied; this falling in line poorly with the strict structures and definitions which had become expected in the West. Because of a lack of higher educational institutions and publishing in areas conquered by colonialism, even widely-used terms were looked upon as being "less legitimate" than those used in the country by which control was applied.

For all of these reasons, both in the West and abroad, many nonbinary people were forced into binary gender roles. Those who considered themselves to not fall within binary roles were often looked down upon. In some places, those who were nonbinary could be subject to punishment, often by means of "morality laws" where they existed. Some groups considered nonbinary gender (much like homosexuality) to be a "sickness", which "needed to be cured". Hence, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries many instances of nonbinary erasure were attempted in order to make nonbinary people conform with others' views of religion and morality.

Legal Erasure[edit | edit source]

In many situations, nonbinary people are denied their human rights[2] because they are not allowed nonbinary gender/title options in documents. Examples of this can be found in birth certificates, passports, driver's licenses, and other legal documents.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. This quote is a snippet from an answer to the survey conducted in the year 2018. Note for editors: the text of the quote, as well as the name, age and gender identity of its author shouldn't be changed.
  2. Yogyakarta Principles: LGBTQI rights clarified.