I came out as nonbinary in eighth grade, but now at 16, I’ve come to realize that even those who are accepting don’t really understand what it means.

To preface, there are many different gender identities outside the gender binary of “woman” and “man,” each with varying definitions. People who don’t identify with the concept of gender might identify as agender. Those who feel comfortable with any gender and find their identity to change might identify as genderfluid. Linguistically, the term nonbinary refers to gender outside the binary as a whole (and in some cases is used as an umbrella term), but how I and many others relate to the word is a lot different than how people interpret it.

Many people mistakenly perceive the nonbinary identity as a middle ground between the two binary genders of “man” and “woman,” when in reality, it is its own separate identity. With my experience, I want to help clarify this misconception, explain how it’s harmful and how a person can actually respect nonbinary people, to help them feel truly accepted.

Cora Thompson is a sophomore at The MASTERS Program. Contact them at cgthompsonsf@gmail.com.

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