Beyond the Binary:
Recognizing and embracing all possibilities of gender identity, expression, and experience.
When focus is placed solely on normative gender and sexual binary identities (cisgender and heterosexuality), it gives gender creativity an “abnormal” label and can prevent people from exploring a full and healthy range of gender identity and expression. That’s why interventions in health care that support moving beyond the binary are so important. Moving beyond the binary not only validates the spectrum/continuum of gender identities and expressions, it also asserts that there is nothing wrong with existing outside of the gender binary.
Even today, binary-enforcing gender and sexual identity assumptions (cisnormative and heteronormative) permeate transgender health care. Early guidelines for transgender care were very concerned with being traditional, and expected transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) to fit into cisnormative and heteronormative frameworks. Because of this, any gender identity, gender expression, or sexual desire that didn’t fit into this framework was called into question and further marginalized. Still, non-binary identities are being treated as if they don’t exist by many medical establishments because they do not fit into the gender binary of “male” and “female.” This is problematic because sometimes, in order for a non-binary person to access the care they need, they are expected to present as identifying with a particular binary gender. This invalidates their identity and prevents them from receiving the best health care possible. Health care professionals need to challenge the status quo and shift their practices to models of care that are beyond the binary.