This article was published on February 25th, 2021
Cody Newman is just 15 years old and recently came out as non-binary. Cody is a talented artist, who at 14 (around this time last year), had their debut single at #33 on a major chart and was scheduled to feature at The Worldwide Radio Summit before the pandemic hit and grounded everything to a halt.
That, however, didn’t deter Cody from their passion for music. A year later and Cody is releasing an acoustic song they wrote titled “I Want To Learn To Love Me.”
“Raw, genuine, emotional, gut-wrenching and beautiful.” That’s how most people have described Cody’s latest song that speaks to her life experiences up to this point in life. It also sheds light on an issue most people misunderstand: Coming out as non-binary.
What is a “non-binary”?
For a long time, sex and psychological experts have agreed that sex and gender fall on a continuum. In other words, it’s not always so clear-cut black and white. Lots of grey areas exist.
For instance, some people who identify as male or men have traits, physical or character that lean on the female side.
People who identify as non-binary, such as Cody, don’t fit neatly into the typical categories of male or female (man or woman). These people, whose gender is neither male nor female, describe themselves using other terms such as non-binary, genderqueer, agender, bigender, etc.
However, these terms don’t mean the same thing. But, they all speak to the experience of being neither male nor female.
What you need to know about non-binary people
Most societies only recognize two genders. You’re either male or female. However, reality doesn’t fit neatly into those categories.
Non-binary encompass those people who don’t identify as either of the genders.
Don’t worry if all this is too confusing. The following basic facts about non-binary people are all you need to know.
- Fact #1: Non-binary people have been around for a long time. These people are not confused or conflicted about their gender identity. If anything, they embrace it and have been recognized for centuries by cultures and communities worldwide.
- Fact #2: Not all transgender people are non-binary. This comes as a surprise to most people. Most transgender people have specific gender identities of either male or female.
- Fact #3: Intersex and non-binary are two different things. Intersex people have sex organs that don’t fit male or female definitions. In contrast, non-binary people usually have anatomy that fits the typical definitions of either male or female. But, their gender identity doesn’t fit into these categories.
- Fact #4: Few non-binary people require medical procedures to make their bodies align with their gender identities. In fact, most do not need specialized medical procedures.
Expressing support and respect for non-binary people
Coming out is a challenging life event for most LGBTQ people, regardless of gender identity.
Cody Newman’s story speaks to the courage and resilience that has come to define the LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking about her newest song and life experiences so far, Cody said:
“This song is about my journey of gender expression and identity. I still have a long way to go, but I’m definitely making progress and getting there, learning to love myself and appreciate myself for who I am. I’m so proud to be open about this and share my journey because others are not so lucky. I want them to see this as a beacon of hope through these challenging times.”
Most people experience a long-winding and challenging journey before coming out. It gets even more confusing if you come out as non-binary. You’ll have a lot of explaining to do for people who don’t understand or appreciate your journey.
Cody’s bold step charts a path for other people, especially teens, to start freely exploring and expressing their gender and sexual identities.
Here’s what you can do to show respect and support for non-binary people.
- Even if you don’t fully understand what non-binary means, show anyone that comes out to you as non-binary the respect they deserve.
- Only use the names non-binary people ask you to use. The name you’ve been using may not reflect their gender identity.
- Don’t make any assumptions about people’s gender identities. Ask.
- Ask about non-binary people’s preferred pronouns. Some non-binary people use “they” while others pick the more mainstream “he” and “she.”
- Asking their specific preference is one of the most significant signs of respect for non-binary people.