Respecting and Supporting Non-Binary People

At the Deschamps-Braly Clinic, we treat patients of all genders, so it is important to us to make sure that everyone is respected and supported. Whether you are the friend or loved one of a non-binary individual or simply want to learn more, some simple considerations can help you ensure you are being as respectful and supportive as possible.

What Does “Non-Binary” Mean?

Non-binary gender identities fall outside of the traditional categories of “male” or “female” in some way. Each non-binary individual’s gender identity may differ. Some may identify with both male and female characteristics, others may find that their gender changes over time, and others may identify as neither male nor female at all. These examples do not include all possible non-binary identities.

Often, “non-binary” is used as an umbrella term to include many diverse gender identities. Other terms include genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, and bigender, among others.

Keep in mind that non-binary gender identities are not the same as being intersex. While intersex people have anatomy which falls outside of typical male or female definitions, this is independent of an individual’s gender identity. Most non-binary people were assigned either male or female at birth, and many intersex people identify with a binary male or female gender.

Non-binary identities are nothing new. Across numerous cultures throughout history, a multitude of gender identities have been recognized. However, it is only recently within modern Western culture that non-binary identities have begun to be embraced and respected.

Non-Binary People & Gender Affirming Procedures

Some non-binary people will choose to undergo gender affirming procedures, whether surgical or non-surgical. These surgeries may create a more typically masculine, feminine, or androgynous appearance according to the individual’s gender identity and expression. Gender affirming procedures can help relieve dysphoria for non-binary patients just as they may for binary transgender patients. However, it is important to note that not all non-binary people will wish to change their appearance or undergo surgical or non-surgical procedures; this does not invalidate their gender identity in any way.

Understanding Non-Binary Names and Pronouns

Often, non-binary individuals will use pronouns including “they/them” or neopronouns such as “xe/xem” or “ze/hir.” Others may use combinations such as “she/they” or “he/they” or have no preference regarding pronouns. If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, you can politely and respectfully ask and share your own to help them feel included.

Remember that you don’t need to understand the details of a person’s non-binary identity to be respectful of them. Especially among acquaintances, just be sure to use the correct name and pronouns when speaking or referring to them. If someone you know changes their name to better suit their non-binary identity, make an effort to use that name while calling as little attention to the change as possible.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are a non-binary individual and are interested in pursuing gender-affirming facial surgery or a non-surgical procedure, schedule a consultation at the Deschamps-Braly Clinic. Call +1-415-6585 to set up an appointment in our San Francisco office. 

board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon at Deschamps-Braly Clinic | + posts

Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery for adults and children. He is also one of the world’s foremost leaders and innovators in facial gender confirmation surgery.