WARNING: CONTAIN MENTION OF SUICIDE, SELF-HARM AND BLOOD.
Non-binary is a term that’s easy to understand, yet not enough people seem to have any idea of what it’s. As a kid, you might have asked your parents about what it means to be a “woman” or a “man” and their answer was likely to be as follows, “when a mother gives birth to a baby, the doctor looks at the newborn’s body and decides the baby’s sex. If the sex was female, we give that baby a “she/her” pronouns and if the sex was male, we give that baby a “he/him” pronouns”. Well, that’s kind of not true because someone’s gender can’t be decided based on their sex. Gender is a wide spectrum that includes many identities and people might fall under any of them or none of them based on their internal feeling of who they’re. Keep in mind that your parents, your doctor, or your friends don’t have the right to decide it for you.
Some kids might grow to use the same pronouns that was assigned to them at birth while others might feel the need to change it and that brings us to the term “non-binary”. Non-binary people don’t fit into the categories of “woman” or “man”, “female” or “male” and for that, they get to decide on their pronouns based on how they feel on the inside.
As we all know, women use the pronouns “she/her” while men use the pronouns “he/him” but WHAT ABOUT NON-BINARY PEOPLE? Well, while some non-binary individuals choose to use the pronouns “they/them”, there’re still ones who use “she/her” or “he/him” and others who might choose some other pronouns like xe, ze, sie, and so on.
Just like non-binary people get to decide the pronouns that fits them the most, they also get to decide on how to express their gender identity through their clothes and behavior. Non-binary people are allowed to express their gender identity the way that suits them and gives them the most comfort. And other people around them should learn to considerate and respectful.
While people in some countries around the world have enough knowledge about non-binary, people in Iraq continue to use only the two common pronouns which are “she/her” and “he/him”. Here in Iraq, people’s pronouns get decided early at birth and continue to be used until the day they die. There’s not any consideration given to non-binary people and that could lead them to feel odd.
As an Iraqi who’s trying to support non-binary Iraqis, learn to ask everyone new you meet for their pronouns instead of guessing it because you really never know what a person feels inside. In the beginning, it might seem confusing to learn people’s pronouns and you might make some mistakes here and there but what matters is that you keep trying.
A lot of Iraqi non-binary people have bad experiences that they need to talk about and Noor is one of them. Noor is a fourteen-year-old non-binary individual who uses the pronouns “she/her”. Noor never felt that he/him, which was the pronouns assigned to her at birth, was the right pronouns.
She says, “”He/him” pronouns is used to refer to me by everybody but it never seemed the right pronouns. Eventually, I started using “she/her” pronouns which I found to be the most appropriate.
If someone asks me what non-binary is, I would say it’s the way you feel inside about yourself that doesn’t consider the standards of society or the gender roles that are set to control people. Simply, being non-binary means having the freedom of choosing yourself.
Personally, I care a lot about fashion so what I wear is affected by that more than it’s affected by my gender identity. It doesn’t matter to me whether what I wear tends to be more feminine or masculine. The most important thing to me is to look beautiful. I love makeup too! But I need to be too careful when putting any on my face. I only wear it in my room late at night when my family is asleep and I need to take it off before I go to bed. I put some when I go to places that are full of queer people, like parties and so. And there was only one time when I had makeup on my face while I was out in a public place and that was the same day I tried to commit suicide.
Sadly, my family isn’t supportive! We’re always arguing and these arguments might turn into something really bad. Sometimes, they see my outfit, which they consider inappropriate to be worn in our Iraqi society, and they react in extremely rude and harsh ways. These arguments usually end up with physical assault, swearing, and grounding. Unfortunately, it’s not any better outside my household. I get harassed in many different ways, by strangers in malls and parks and public places and even school.
I tried talking to my mother about sexuality in general and about my identity in particular but her reaction was too bad. She got mad and told my father and many problems happened so I never discussed the topic with any of them after that. Unfortunately, talking to a therapist hasn’t been in any way better than talking to my parents. I’ve been going to a therapist behind my parent’s back! The bad news is that even my therapist turned to be homophobic and that means she can’t be someone I can talk honestly with about my identity.
Not being accepted by others my age at school, struggling to wear what I want, and dealing with constant harassment made me lose my will to live and made me wish I was different than who I’m.
It has been five months since my first attempt to commit suicide and only few weeks since my last attempt. I tried to hang myself multiple times but every time I did that, I ended up waking in a hospital. In my last attempt, I tried to cut my wrist but also woke up at the hospital surrounded by family members. I lost a lot of blood that day so it took me a while to get better! And when I did get better, my family members started threatening to kick me out if I did anything similar again.
The situation is quite bad but I keep hoping that things get better one way or another and that I can wake up in a better place with better people who understand me and love me for who I’m.”