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Old 1st July 2020, 07:25 AM   #1
d4m10n
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Non-binary identities are valid

Okay so I've seen this meme a few times now:

https://twitter.com/theFoxFisher/sta...66556488830976

I've been wondering if it can be unpacked in a sensible way, such that people who've never questioned their gender will understand how and why non-binary identities are valid. Is this unique phenomenon amenable to scientific study? Are there any objectively falsifiable or verifiable propositions being put forward here?

ETA: There are non-binary skeptics as well:


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Old 1st July 2020, 08:09 AM   #2
The Great Zaganza
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Just shooting the **** here:


in order to consider oneself as "non-binary", one would probably had to grow up in an environment that has some very strong norms about gender roles and characteristics to begin with: it's hard to fall outside a norm that is wishy-washy to begin with.
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:09 AM   #3
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What's the medical opinion on this?
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:23 AM   #4
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Stop erasing hexadecimal identities. 1Cs are 1s, period!
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Just shooting the **** here:


in order to consider oneself as "non-binary", one would probably had to grow up in an environment that has some very strong norms about gender roles and characteristics to begin with: it's hard to fall outside a norm that is wishy-washy to begin with.
Makes sense to me.

I think it could also be an issue if the person you're talking to has strong personal views about binary gender, and is trying to hold you to their standard.
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
What's the medical opinion on this?
I found a flyer from the APA which sort of helps, but it mentions "the underrepresentation of non-binary gender populations in the literature" as well as "limited research on individuals with non-binary gender identities." It also says that clinicians should defer to personal experiences, blogs, essays, etc. when it comes to understanding the lived experience of non-binary persons. Basically, I'm not getting the sense that they are doing a load of science on the problem, at least not yet.
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
in order to consider oneself as "non-binary", one would probably had to grow up in an environment that has some very strong norms about gender roles and characteristics to begin with: it's hard to fall outside a norm that is wishy-washy to begin with.
I don't think that's true. When my nephew was a few years old, he asked me why I have "girl's hair" (I had long hair at the time). I feel confident in saying he didn't get this from his home life--his parents encouraged him to sleep with a doll around this time, and got mildly annoyed at me for buying him a dinosaur toy (too stereotypically male, I guess).

In general, people underestimate the ability of children to draw strong statistical inferences from even weak environmental cues. We think we teach children who they are, when it's more accurate to say they learn who they are from observing the world around them. And even in the crunchiest, most genderless households, there's plenty of information around to allow children to differentiate between boys and girls, women and men.

I'd expect that people with openly non-binary identities are more likely where gender norms are weaker, for the simple reason that the social consequences are less severe.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
ETA: There are non-binary skeptics as well:
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I've been wondering if it can be unpacked in a sensible way, such that people who've never questioned their gender will understand how and why non-binary identities are valid.
There's not going to be a magic explanation that everyone will automatically understand and accept. Someone who's comfortable with binary identity and has never question theirs may well find the whole concept incomprehensible and even silly. Possibly threatening or insulting. I don't think there's any way to bridge that mindset gap with rhetoric or science.

About the best explanation I can think of is:
biological gender is binary, but identity and expression are a state of mind, and there are as many states of mind as there are human beings.

No two people are going to agree on every detail of gender expression. Even among hardcore gender binarists you're going to have some people who think that being a tomboy is consistent with female polarity, and some people who think that being a tomboy violates the binary principle.

And that's just personal perceptions. We haven't even started on broader social constructs. And we haven't even started on variances between social constructs in different communities and subcultures.

So either you drive yourself insane trying to define exactly what is and isn't at the extreme each binary pole, and discovering that literally nobody else - not your pastor, not your parents, not your life partner - agrees with all your definitions... Or you accept that it's not binary and move on with your life.
But there's no guarantee that anyone who's never questioned their gender will understand it or recognize that non-binary identities are valid.

I wonder if you can't really consider the explanation without questioning your own identity, at least hypothetically. Once you start down the rabbit hole of "no question I'm a dude, but what about the fact that nobody else agrees with me about what exactly a dude is?" there's no turning back. Some people just aren't interested in going down that personal identity rabbit hole, for a variety of reasons. Any explanation is going to fall on at least some deaf ears.

Searching for an explanation that will be universally or even widely accepted may be a fool's errand. Best we can hope for - what we should strive for - is simply an explanation that explains.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
Because we live in a society. Social constructs have value. It is reasonable to want to debate challenges to, and dissent from, the prevailing social constructs.

More generally, we happily endorse questioning the validity of other people's feelings about themselves all the time.

"I'm just trying to have something nice on my wedding day."
No, you're being an unreasonable bridezilla and you need to calm down.

"I just care about my children and want what's best for them."
No, you're a controlling and abusive parent.

"Anorexia is a lifestyle choice that really helps me to be the best me I can be!"
No, it isn't. It really isn't.

"I need to be true to myself and not hide it from the world!"
This is the third time you've "come out" this year, and it's pretty obvious to all of us that you're doing it for the attention, not out of some sincere need to be open and honest about your sexuality.

Etc.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:19 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
Yeah. I read "are valid" as "ought to be accepted", and I have no problem doing that, for the simple reason that it's no skin off my nose.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
For the exact same reason people are concerned with how other people feel about them.

"Feeling about" is a two way street.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:40 AM   #13
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Bisexuality is the norm in social animals.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Bisexuality is the norm in social animals.
Or is it?

Do most animals have enough of a personal sexual identity for something like bisexuality to even exist, for them?

Also, is there a difference between bisexuality as such, and opportunistic "any port in this horny storm" heterosexuality?

Sailors and prisoners making do doesn't mean they were bisexual all along. You might say that "bisexuality" is the norm in sex-segregated prisons, but would it be true? More to the point, would the term even be useful if you make it that broad?

I don't think this is a problem that can be solved by oversimplifying it.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:48 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Bisexuality is the norm in social animals.
So is rape, nudity, and crapping outside in the winter.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:51 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I found a flyer from the APA which sort of helps, but it mentions "the underrepresentation of non-binary gender populations in the literature" as well as "limited research on individuals with non-binary gender identities." It also says that clinicians should defer to personal experiences, blogs, essays, etc. when it comes to understanding the lived experience of non-binary persons. Basically, I'm not getting the sense that they are doing a load of science on the problem, at least not yet.
Considering the tiny numbers of trans people, and that non-binary ones should be, I think reasonably, expected to be a small minority of those, I can believe that it would be hard to study them to begin with.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:53 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
Because those beliefs project into real-life consequences.

And also because humans are routinely wrong about even themselves.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:53 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
So is rape, nudity, and crapping outside in the winter.
Only in the winter?
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:55 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Only in the winter?
Fertilizer's expensive and my HOA is sticklers for a green lawn, don't judge.
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Old 1st July 2020, 09:59 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Considering the tiny numbers of trans people, and that non-binary ones should be, I think reasonably, expected to be a small minority of those, I can believe that it would be hard to study them to begin with.
I see non-binary as a separate category from transgender. I expect there's a lot of people (relatively) who don't suffer from gender dysphoria or have any strong desire to present themselves as something other than their birth gender, who also don't have any strong affinity for either binary option in their self-identity.

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Old 1st July 2020, 09:59 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Bisexuality is the norm in social animals.
Which has what to do with gender identity?
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:00 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I see non-binary as a separate category from transgender. I expect there's a lot of people (relatively) who don't suffer from gender dysphoria or have any strong desire to present themselves as something other than their birth gender, who also don't have any strong affinity for either binary option in their self-identity.

"I'm not transitioning from anything to anything; I just don't think of myself in those terms."
Well, I guess it depends on whether we define "trans" as someone with dysphoria to begin with, or one who transitions, or simply one who identifies, etc.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:01 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Fertilizer's expensive and my HOA is sticklers for a green lawn, don't judge.
Raises questions about what kind of diet produces the best fertilizer, and whether it would be cheaper to have a health-optimal diet and just buy the fertilizer.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:06 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Well, I guess it depends on whether we define "trans" as someone with dysphoria to begin with, or one who transitions, or simply one who identifies, etc.
Sounds reasonable. How are you defining it here?
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:16 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I've been wondering if it can be unpacked in a sensible way, such that people who've never questioned their gender will understand how and why non-binary identities are valid. Is this unique phenomenon amenable to scientific study? Are there any objectively falsifiable or verifiable propositions being put forward here?
Define "valid".
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:27 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
You should perhaps make a thread about the real issue, so this frivolous thread doesn't distract therefrom.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:28 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Fertilizer's expensive and my HOA is sticklers for a green lawn, don't judge.
Oh. I thought you meant that animals come indoors to poop during the summer months. I pictured moose knocking at the front door, "hey man, I really gotta go, let me in!" That'd be cute if it were a cartoon moose, very much the opposite if it were a real moose.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:30 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Define "valid".
I'm not in a particularly propitious position to do that, since part of what I'm asking is what people really mean when they encourage others to adopt this idea.

Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
Yeah. I read "are valid" as "ought to be accepted", and I have no problem doing that, for the simple reason that it's no skin off my nose.
Seems like a perfectly healthy attitude to me, but then again I'm not running an event/group/facility intended to be a space for either men or women so basically all I'd need to do is think a bit harder about pronouns.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:35 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm not in a particularly propitious position to do that, since part of what I'm asking is what people really mean when they encourage others to adopt this idea.

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I guess they are asking you to accept that there will be non-binary people around and that their presence and needs will sometimes challenge your perception of what ought to take place in gendered areas. They are also asking you not to be a dick (or your equivalent) about that and to work to find a solution to your bothers that is empathetic to the needs of others.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:35 AM   #30
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Which has what to do with gender identity?
It indicates that gender identification based on sexual behavior is probably not very useful.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:44 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm not in a particularly propitious position to do that, since part of what I'm asking is what people really mean when they encourage others to adopt this idea.
In that case the answer to these questions is no. If you can not define the terms used in the proposition "non-binary identities are valid" then it is neither amenable to scientific study nor objectively falsifiable or verifiable.
Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I've been wondering if it can be unpacked in a sensible way, such that people who've never questioned their gender will understand how and why non-binary identities are valid. Is this unique phenomenon amenable to scientific study? Are there any objectively falsifiable or verifiable propositions being put forward here?
In a way you might as well be asking "Is sqqj kudqs ;qssqd amenable to scientific study or objective falsification?"
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:55 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
In a way you might as well be asking "Is sqqj kudqs ;qssqd amenable to scientific study or objective falsification?"
In this case, "sqqj kudqs ;qssqd" would be "non-binary self-identity."

The question about scientific study was intended to be a separate one from the question about validity, whatever that should be taken to mean.

ETA: The tweet that got me thinking about this said both "valid and real" and I assumed the latter part would have to relate to scientific inquiry.

ETA2: I think we can probably go with one of the usual definitions of "valid," though we might do even better looking to "validation" in the social sense of the term.
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Old 1st July 2020, 10:59 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by uke2se View Post
I guess they are asking you to accept that there will be non-binary people around and that their presence and needs will sometimes challenge your perception of what ought to take place in gendered areas.
I could just barely care less whether a non-binary person (of either sex) uses the gentlemen's loo, showers, or lockers at my local gym. That said, I don't feel qualified to have a say as to what should happen in the ladies.

Did you have other "gendered spaces" in mind?
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Old 1st July 2020, 11:30 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
I don't care how anyone feels about themselves. But when you start trying to impose nonstandard pronoun usage on other people, you're well past how you feel about yourself, you're now insisting how other people act.
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Old 1st July 2020, 03:24 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
There's not going to be a magic explanation that everyone will automatically understand and accept. Someone who's comfortable with binary identity and has never question theirs may well find the whole concept incomprehensible and even silly. Possibly threatening or insulting. I don't think there's any way to bridge that mindset gap with rhetoric or science.

About the best explanation I can think of is:
biological gender is binary, but identity and expression are a state of mind, and there are as many states of mind as there are human beings.

No two people are going to agree on every detail of gender expression. Even among hardcore gender binarists you're going to have some people who think that being a tomboy is consistent with female polarity, and some people who think that being a tomboy violates the binary principle.

And that's just personal perceptions. We haven't even started on broader social constructs. And we haven't even started on variances between social constructs in different communities and subcultures.

So either you drive yourself insane trying to define exactly what is and isn't at the extreme each binary pole, and discovering that literally nobody else - not your pastor, not your parents, not your life partner - agrees with all your definitions... Or you accept that it's not binary and move on with your life.
But there's no guarantee that anyone who's never questioned their gender will understand it or recognize that non-binary identities are valid.

I wonder if you can't really consider the explanation without questioning your own identity, at least hypothetically. Once you start down the rabbit hole of "no question I'm a dude, but what about the fact that nobody else agrees with me about what exactly a dude is?" there's no turning back. Some people just aren't interested in going down that personal identity rabbit hole, for a variety of reasons. Any explanation is going to fall on at least some deaf ears.

Searching for an explanation that will be universally or even widely accepted may be a fool's errand. Best we can hope for - what we should strive for - is simply an explanation that explains.

A "magic" explanation may or may not be possible, but what was asked for was a sensible explanation, and this fits the bill. Eminently nommable. And it was Trebuchet's nomination that drew my attention to this post.

As someone who, like the post says, has never questioned my sexual identity, and who finds the very idea bizarre (even as I'm entirely -- if only intellectually -- accommodative of others who do so question theirs), this post got me understanding, realizing, how sexual identity may well be something we're now in the process of overgrowing, so that in a generation or two the whole Mr Mrs Ms thing, that entire thinking, may well become an anachronism.

But of course, that's something we're -- hopefully -- evoloving towards, as a society. We're not there yet, not quite. And, in some places, not at all, thus far.

Anyway, this doesn't really get us to solve the separate-bathroom-for-transfolks issue, because clearly separate stalls for tomboys is laughable, as is a whole series of stalls for a whole vibgyor of identities. I guess a Men, and Women, and a third Everything In Between (however labeled) may do the trick for now?

Last edited by Chanakya; 1st July 2020 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 1st July 2020, 07:19 PM   #36
d4m10n
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
But when you start trying to impose nonstandard pronoun usage on other people, you're well past how you feel about yourself, you're now insisting how other people act.
If someone had asked me "Hey what if we replaced all gendered/sexed pronouns with a single unitary pronoun which recognizes all people as worthy of equal dignity?" I'd've been like "Yeah, sounds cool." AFAICT, tho, that isn't really the ask on the table here. Instead, we're in for waves of further complexification along with a few miles on the euphemism treadmillWP.
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Old 1st July 2020, 07:29 PM   #37
Robin
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Originally Posted by Earthborn View Post
There are also deniers of bisexuality. The real issue is: why do so many people feel the need to question the validity of how other people feel about themselves...
But I can be very clear about what I mean when I say I am bisexual, I don't just say "I feel like a bisexual".

When I say I am bisexual I mean that I feel sexually attracted to both males and females.

If I were to question whether I am binary or non- binary in my gender identity, how would.I know where to start?

How does it feel to feel.that I am a man? How does it feel to feel like I am a woman?

If I don't know the border condition then I can't even know what the spectrum is.

So may be I am neither binary nor non-binary. How would I tell?
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Old 1st July 2020, 07:49 PM   #38
Robin
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Searching for an explanation that will be universally or even widely accepted may be a fool's errand. Best we can hope for - what we should strive for - is simply an explanation that explains.
But I haven't even seen an explanation that explains.

When I say "I am a man" I mean only that I am biologically male.

I don't know of any other definition. If I were to wonder if I was really a man I would only be wondering if I was really biologically male.

I am and have always been open to other definitions of "man" but I have never ever seen one beyond "someone who feels that they are a man"

But how does that feel? No one has ever been able to tell me.
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Old 1st July 2020, 07:51 PM   #39
Robin
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
If someone had asked me "Hey what if we replaced all gendered/sexed pronouns with a single unitary pronoun which recognizes all people as worthy of equal dignity?" I'd've been like "Yeah, sounds cool." AFAICT, tho, that isn't really the ask on the table here. Instead, we're in for waves of further complexification along with a few miles on the euphemism treadmillWP.
But I have never considered any pronoun to imply any greater or lesser dignity.
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Old 1st July 2020, 08:16 PM   #40
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
But I haven't even seen an explanation that explains.

When I say "I am a man" I mean only that I am biologically male.

I don't know of any other definition. If I were to wonder if I was really a man I would only be wondering if I was really biologically male.

I am and have always been open to other definitions of "man" but I have never ever seen one beyond "someone who feels that they are a man"

But how does that feel? No one has ever been able to tell me.
I seem to recall circling this roundabout with you previously, Robin.

It's no more an expressible feeling now than it was then. You can't tell me what it feels like to smell roses, and I can't tell you what it feels like to be male. All that can be said, is if you're sure you're sure, and if you're not, then nonbinary could be the gender identity that sits best with you. Try it on for size and if you don't like it, go back to identifying in agreement with your genitals.
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