Tag Archives: Gender Neutral

Canada Introduces Gender-Neutral ‘X’ Option On Passports

From Thursday, Canadians will be able to identify as gender neutral on their passports under new changes that have been enthusiastically welcomed by rights campaigners.

Canada becomes the first country in the Americas to allow its citizens to use an “X” category, joining those in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand and Pakistan. India, Ireland and Nepal are among the countries that provide various third-options.

Immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement,

All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choos.

By introducing an ‘X’ gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”

Advocacy groups in Canada welcomed the change.

Helen Kennedy – executive director of Egale, a Canadian organisation that promotes LGBT human rights – said

Canada is taking an important and positive first step by acknowledging the challenges faced by non-binary, intersex and trans individuals. Many people will benefit from having the option of choosing ‘X’ as their gender when they go to file for their passport. However, it is not the ultimate solution and the addition of a gender-neutral option, as Canada is implementing it, does not address many of the underlying issues being faced by these folks.”

Kennedy stressed that the introduction of the “X” designation was no panacea for the ID-related barriers non-binary, trans and intersex people face when travelling by air. She also questioned the need for gender markers on passports in the first place.

In order to successfully increase the safety of non-binary, intersex and trans folks, Canada needs to do more work to lobby internationally to remove gender markers on passports, as well as break down existing barriers that are preventing access to gender autonomy in our country.”

For the time being at least, sex fields are mandatory on all travel documents under International Civil Aviation Organization rules.

There are fears that those who identity as “X” may encounter issues when trying to enter other countries.

Adrienne Smith, a Toronto immigration lawyer who specialises in transgender legal issues, told Global News.

I’m really worried that in countries like Uganda and Jamaica, where being LGBT is illegal and there’s laws on the books that prosecute people for identifying as trans, that this could leave people open to arbitrary detention, it could leave them open to scrutiny at airports, degrading treatment.”

Groups in the UK have long called for the introduction of a similar policy.

Rebecca Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, which campaigns for LGBT equality in the UK, said:

It’s great to see Canada introduce a gender-neutral option on passports and we would like this approach to be adopted by the UK.”

She described how trans and non-binary people faced unnecessary obstacles and questions because of the way gender is recorded on official documents, such as passports.

“This leaves many trans people feeling afraid to travel for fear of intrusive questioning. We need this to change. We want everyone to be recognised for who they are and for national and local government documents and procedures to accurately reflect gender identity.”

From She To They – The Pronoun Change That Distorted My Perceived Sexuality

Ever since I learnt about building schemas during my university career, I have literally felt and seen myself adapt my schemas around new information in regards to Dylan’s transition to gender neutral.

As I’ve found out about each new change, I have sat with the discomfort of the Unknown before then adapting my schema to reflect the new information and fit it into my reality. A part of me has marveled at my ability to adapt as I’ve watched my brain ‘come around’ to the new ideas and accept them as the new normal, whilst another part has actively pulled away and resisted these changes due to fear of losing myself in the process. For me one of the hardest transitions to come to terms with has been the pronoun change – which is actually still very new as I write this, and as yet not put into practice by anyone except me.

Dylan told me recently that they planned to change their pronoun from she to they, something that I suspected was coming but if I’m honest really hoped wouldn’t. For Dylan this change was something that made them feel more like themselves, and better reflected the way the gender binary did not suit them-she and he simply did not reflect Dylan’s identity. For me, however, it is through this one word change, from she to they, that I feel the public loss of my identity most keenly.

In using they when referencing my partner a large part of my identity, the lesbian part, is no longer readily obvious. Where previously I could gently ‘out’ myself through a comment such as ‘my partner is a brilliant social worker, she works for…’, I am now faced with the comment ‘my partner is a brilliant social worker, they work for…’ Which I fear will be read as me trying to hide the gender of my partner, rather than as my partner being gender neutral since this gender is not yet part of mainstream consciousness. This then implies that I am uncomfortable in my sexuality and greatly saddens me because I am actually very confident and happy in my sexuality, so to come across as uncomfortable makes me, well, uncomfortable! I mentioned this to an Austrian friend this morning and she actually said that as an ESL

(English as second language) person she would read this as me having multiple partners, something else I hadn’t considered but also inaccurate in my case. In order to avoid this confusion I need to preface every conversation with an explanation of my partner’s gender, something that is at times a little daunting considering that they are part of a considerably small minority group (and we all know that discrimination comes readily when society lacks understanding), as well as a direct explanation of my sexuality if I want to share that part of my identity. No more subtle, gentle outings for me- blunt explanations only.

In this way I have come to realise that the hardest part of this particular change is that this is not going to be a transition from one thing to another and then it is completed. Unlike Dylan’s name change, which was a transition for our current community but is irrelevant in all new social situations, this pronoun change is going to be a lifelong process, and one that requires me to regularly explain. Any person that I ever talk to about my partner will need a direct explanation of both of us if I want them to understand my identity. In terms of my sexuality this is quite different from the simplistic and subtle outing that I have become used to over the last 10 years.

Through this I’ve really realised just how much sexuality is a key part of identity and is often seen as reflected in choice of partner. The problem that I’m now having though is that my sexuality is seemingly at odds with Dylan’s gender- if I am she and Dylan is they then what sexuality am I, and what type of relationship are we in? The use of pronouns, something seemingly so simple, distorts my sexuality and makes it unrecognisable. My place in society is no longer easily readable through conversation, but shrouded in mystery- am I uncomfortable with my sexuality? Dating many people? Don’t know that ‘they’ is (traditionally) a plural?

Whilst this has been a big change for me, I can feel my schema adapting to our new reality and building new pathways to reconcile the new ways that my identity will need to be expressed. I am still daunted and worried but I can also feel a small yet distinct flutter of excitement at the prospect of pioneering social change through sharing mine and Dylan’s confidence in our genders and sexualities. I am learning how to make my language reflect our identities and new ways to feel comfortable ‘outing’ us.

I am learning to truly own my identity, both as an individual entity and as a reflection of Dylan. Yes, I am the partner of a gender neutral person, but I am also my own person with my own identity words. I am a lesbian, who happens to be in love with a human that lives slightly out of the box, and has ‘character’ rather than ‘gendered traits’. I am the ‘she’ in she+they- and that means whatever I want it to mean, not what society stipulates.

My Dating App Success Story

Our story began with Brenda, a lesbian dating app that was all the rage in Sydney in 2013. Although this app was rather sparse in terms of the details you input about yourself, Dylan’s cute picture and short description was quick to spark my interest and I sent them a message.

Thankfully they wrote back. Whilst Chatting like this wasn’t unusual for me, what I didn’t know was that it was Dylan’s first time on a dating site and despite enjoying our conversation they were totally weirded out at the thought of chatting so in depth with someone they didn’t know. So much so that they almost didn’t meet me.

Almost. Obviously we did meet and we had a long first date that neither of us wanted to end, then an extremely romantic second date (night time beach picnic with candles- well done Dylan!) and many many more dates to come. We were a lesbian dating app success story!

Fast forward 3.5 years and we are still a success story, only not the lesbian type anymore, and I guess if we’re being pedantic we never were.

In 2015, Dylan came out as gender neutral, a gender that sits outside the constraints of the male/female binary, and has only just started to be legally recognised in Australia in the last couple of years. Although this revelation didn’t change the way we felt about each other, or the way we related to each other, it did change both of our identities and so caused a lot of confusion for me, especially because the journey was in no way linear.

The revelations started coming for Dylan after I jokingly asked them one day if maybe they might be transgender and be a man. Dylan laughed it off, but unbeknownst to me stayed up late for days on end feverishly googling all things trans and noticing many similarities, as well as differences. This eventually culminated in Dylan telling me that they were a man, and us both crying at the enormity of the situation for a whole weekend. And then suddenly, not to long after this, Dylan changed their mind.

To be fair, it wasn’t sudden for Dylan because they already knew that there were some parts that didn’t add up and that ‘male’ didn’t really fit, but to me, sitting outside of the process and hearing only the end results, it was sudden.

So life went on as usual in our female, lesbian world and then it was happening again. Obviously Dylan had been thinking about this constantly and taking time to consider all possibilities, but again, to me it was a sudden revelation. ‘I am not a man, but one day I want to have a flat male-like chest and then I will feel comfortable.’ It quickly moved from one day on to in a few years and then next year.
I wasn’t shocked that this was something Dylan wanted but I was confused about what this all meant and where it was going. Was it going to be a slow transformation into ‘male’ or just a cosmetic change that made Dylan feel more comfortable in their body?

I didn’t know, but I wanted to know desperately. I realise now that these types of self discovery take time and can be very emotionally draining, but for me, watching from the outside and never knowing what was happening and what to expect also had its challenges. I loved Dylan but I was unsure how I felt about the possibility of being ‘straight’ and dating a man, and basically just wanted to know where the end point of this journey would be so that I could get my own thoughts straight.

After more soul searching Dylan realised that neither male nor female fit for them, and found the right label- gender neutral, or non-binary or genderqueer. We happily interchange these words, although some people probably have a preference for which is right for them. Even after this discovery there were still more revelations to come with Dylan making the decision to change their name and their pronoun (their old name is generally considered a ‘female only’ name so didn’t quite fit).

Writing it all down it sounds fairly condensed, but from the moment I mentioned the possibility of Dylan being transgender, to the point where the first changes were actually made was 18 months, and we are still waiting on Dylan’s chest surgery due to the availability of the surgeon, so it will end up being about a 2 year process in the end. The first 18 months were definitely the hardest part though. Hard for Dylan as they analysed every innermost thought to find their authentic self, and hard for me as I waited on (and at times tried to provoke) these decisions, anxiously wondering what my relationship would look like, and how my own identity would change in Dylan’s reflection.

I’m not going to lie, it was a difficult and challenging time for both of us, and whilst I know for a fact that neither of us ever thought specifically about leaving each other, we both thought the other one might leave. Dylan thought I would jump ship because I wanted a woman and I thought Dylan would run from me because I wasn’t laughing and smiling my way through the situation. Thankfully this didn’t happen.

Finding my voice and starting to write about our relationship and my experiences on my blog She+They was a major turning point for both of us. It gave me the confidence to confront the situation head on and really own my feelings and experiences – both the negative and the positive – and it explained to Dylan exactly why I had found this change hard. It gave me a platform from which to discuss identity, change, relationships, and all things gender neutral and also gave me a new ‘hobby’ with a purpose. I wanted to provide myself with an emotional outlet, educate my community and reach out to other partners of transgender people. I’d like to think that the blog is quietly achieving this.

I know it sounds a bit corny to say this but we are stronger and happier than we have ever been now, and it’s undeniably related to Dylan’s transition. Obviously Dylan is a happier human so this has helped, but the transition also taught us a lot about each other and the different ways we both like to communicate. We learnt that I express my love through tasks whilst Dylan expresses theirs through words, that I like to talk everything through and be a part of ‘the process’ where Dylan prefers to do this alone and then divulge answers and that I like to move quickly, investigate all angles and make decisions where Dylan prefers to ruminate. Neither of us are ‘right’ but understanding the inner workings of each other, and what we both need in times of stress has brought us closer together. We also now know each other’s trigger points, as well as solutions to appease each other, so that basically any argument we may have now dissolves in a matter of minutes.

Obviously Dylan’s journey was not easy for them, and caused great amounts of confusion and fear about what the future may hold, but that said often the journey of a partner is seemingly overlooked completely. Perhaps this is because it is considered easier or insignificant by comparison.

Whatever the reason, it is something that shouldn’t be overlooked or devalued. As the partner of someone transitioning my sense of self and identity was challenged in a way that I never thought was possible.

I mean, I’m a lesbian in a relationship with someone that isn’t a woman, and in a world where everything has labels our relationship doesn’t even fit into a box. I always considered myself open minded so I guess it’s pretty great to be able to back myself up and say that I am quite literally living outside the box. And it’s a pretty damn good space to be in!

Levi’s Partners With Harvey Milk Foundation For Gender-Neutral Collection


Levi’s have launched a new collection of items dedicated to LGBT history ahead of 2016 Pride, in memory of gay rights hero Harvey Milk – who was assassinated in 1978.

The ‘Levi’s x Harvey Milk Foundation Pride 2016 Collection’ includes gender tank tops and shirts which will include a timeline of important LGBT dates, stonewashed shorts with rainbow embroidered watch, and a jacket bearing Milk’s legendary words ‘Hope will never be silent’.

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This year’s Levi’s Pride collection will be the first time it will be distributed worldwide.

Our company is not afraid to take a stand on the important issues of our time.  From supporting policies ensuring equality for the LGBTQ community, to the Levi Strauss Foundation’s support of LGBTQ advocacy organisations around the world, to employee participation in the annual SF Pride Parade – celebrating LGBTQ rights is a part of our DNA,” according the Levi Strauss website.

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Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, the president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, said:

It is a simple message, marked by dignity and respect, that we embrace all without exception, and keep alive Uncle Harvey’s promise of equality for all people, everywhere.”

A portion of the proceeds from the collection will go towards the Harvey Milk Foundation, the not-for-profit global organisation set up in memory of the activist-turned-politician.

The new line is expected to launch later this year just in time for Pride month.

Zara Takes On Gender-Neutral Fashion With New Unisex Clothing Line

Apparently, it’s not about borrowing from the boys anymore – it’s about sharing with them.


This week, Spanish retail brand Zara launched their first gender-neutral line called Ungendered, a line of unisex clothing that comprises wardrobe essentials in neutral colours.

The 16-piece line includes T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, jogging pants and Bermuda shorts have been designed to suit both men and women.


Despite Zara’s best intentions, there’s already been significant backlash. The consensus seems to be that this isn’t at all remarkable, and that without the inclusion of more ‘statement’ items, like a skirt, Ungendered is nothing but a glorified unisex range. 

The range also seems to focus exclusively on masculine styles, lacking any cuts or lines that are typically more feminine. Another gripe is that Ungendered is only featured under the ‘Woman’ tab on Zara’s website.

But the brand is following others, such as retailers like Selfridges, which last year launched its Agenderspace, the line between male and female codes is clearly becoming increasingly blurred in the industry.

We also see models of both genders strutting the catwalk and menswear shows feature skirts, dresses and tunics. Transgender models continue to front designer names and fashion campaigns are becoming more androgynous, too, with the example of Jaden Smith appearing in Louis Vuitton’s latest womenswear ad.

And while we agree with the criticism to an extent. Yes, technically there isn’t anything all that controversial in the product offering. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe it proves the industry is already producing a portion of clothes not defined by gender.

Zara also seems to have gone about this fairly quietly, taking gender fluidity in the fashion industry from an ‘anomaly’ and making it the norm.

We need to start somewhere and fashion giants introducing gender fluid lines – with as little fuss as a new range of skirts in a women’s collection – is definitely somewhere.

Gender blending is not a trend, but a larger movement towards unisex fashion, and it isn’t a new thing either. Think of Tilda Swinton and David Bowie – they were the example of how fascinating is somebody who is not bound by the expectations of their sex.

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Butch In The Bathroom: What Sucks About Gendered Places

In my life, I know that my own “invisibility” invokes a bit of safety for me. I know that, since people don’t believe I’m a lesbian, the only homophobia I will experience is second-hand stuff that’s not exactly directed at me, but I catch it from the side. I know that I can feel safe blending in, not being something so spectacular as to draw attention to myself. Yes, I’m lucky.

But for those in the community who don’t blend in – who stand out – who are true to their nature, homophobia can still run rampant. The campy men who are chastised for it by straight men and other gay men alike. The butch lesbians who somehow embody the stereotypes of all lesbians, but who are becoming a rare creature. The trans people who don’t quite “pass” and want nothing more than to be accepted as they are.

I don’t know what it’s like to have management called on me in the restroom for my (allegedly) perverted ways. I don’t know what it’s like to be called “sir” and “he”. I don’t know what it’s like to be denied equality because I was “different”. Because I’m not different – I blend in.

These people who don’t blend in, or for the ones who can’t, they deserve respect. They often put up with more than I could imagine, and this year alone has shown so much hate killing – and for what? If you’re a member of the invisible community, I think it’s time we acknowledge the battles of those who are highly visible, too.


What are some of the things that happen when you don’t fit into a binary gender?

People’s uncomfortable looks.

If you don’t fall within the gender binary that defines gendered places, there’s a risk of discomforting the other bathroom patrons. Butch women may be mistaken for men. Transwomen may be mistaken for men. Transmen may be mistaken for women. All of these things have the potential to escalate to harassment and assault.


Those who don’t fit into the binary genders but choose to go along with the “perception” of which restroom they should use face danger as well. Since many non-binary people are hard to pinpoint exactly, the assumption by the homophobic may be to assume that they belong somewhere else, no matter which side of the spectrum they fall on. It’s not the case everywhere, thankfully, but it is a risk that must be assessed.


I have never once been misgendered (well, except on the internet), and I am thankful for this. I couldn’t fathom how much pain it must cause for someone to misgender you, particularly in a situation when you’re just trying to do what you need to do. Non-binary people who deal with this on a daily basis, I lift my hat to you. You are stronger than I.


Projections and assumptions about your “exact” gender definition may happen, on a regular basis, with complete strangers. Highly feminine women may feel threatened by you. Highly masculine men may feel taunted by you. Or it might be the opposite. Either way, your sexuality is perceived on full display, and people invite themselves to make speculations about you – without even knowing you. I respect your strength in dealing with these people.

Being policed.

Butch women have reported that it feels like their gender identity is on trial – and I’m sure there are trans individuals who feel exactly the same way. It is not our responsibility to validate them, and it is not our right. You don’t get to decide who or what someone is, under any circumstances. Ladies and gentlemen who put up with this discrimination, you are valid, and you mean so much for not waiting for their acceptance.


To the women who watch how they act in the public restrooms in order to keep from making anyone else uncomfortable; To the transmen who wait until the bathroom is empty so no one sees you’re using a stall; To the butch women who avoid eye contact while waiting in line… I respect your struggle. You shouldn’t have to keep yourself in line with their expectations, but you do. You are strong and you are polite – even when the world doesn’t want you to be.

For more information…

This article was inspired by Butch Please: Butch in the Bathroom, which brought light to many of the daily struggles faced by those who don’t fit into the binary gender. All credit for the idea goes to Kate, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to see into your experience.

I have always held a fondness for those who existed somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and her narrative inspired a new, greater respect. If you’ve got the time, please go read it – whether you fall within the binary or not.

What Is Female Masculinity?

Buzzfeed’s new on-point video on female masculinity. In it they asks people along the masculine-presenting-female perspectives to discuss how they see themselves; from butch to masculine of centre to gender neutral.

Masculinity goes beyond aesthetics.”

What is female masculinity?

Sweden Adds Gender-Neutral Pronoun to Dictionary

Editors at the Swedish Academy have announced that the official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, .

“Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL.

The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because it is unknown, because the person is transgender, or the speaker or writer deems the gender to be superfluous information.

“For those who use the pronoun, it’s obviously a strength that it is now in the dictionary.”

Sture Berg, editor

The word “hen” was coined in the 1960s when the ubiquitous use of “han” (he) became politically incorrect, and was aimed at simplifying the language and avoiding the clumsy “han/hon” (s/he) construction. It is a combination of “han” and the female pronoun “hon”. However, it never gained widespread use until recently.

The Swedish trans community began using it, and pushing for its wider use, in the early 2000s. It now can be found in use in educational and legal documents.

It can now be found in official texts, court rulings, media texts and books, and has begun to lose some of its feminist-activist connotation.

The Swedish Academy’s dictionary is updated every 10 years. New entries are determined by their frequency and relevance.

The new edition goes on sale on 15 April.

Selfridges Launches New Era of Genderless Fashion with ‘He, She, Me’

The iconic store Selfridges, on London’s Oxford Street, announced earlier this year that it will be moving toward gender-neutral clothing ranges, and encouraging its shoppers to transcend traditional notions of male and female dress to find their perfect fit – ideal for an queer wardrobe.

The London-based store has done away with separate men’s and women’s fashion departments in favour of a gender-neutral shopping experience, featuring three floors of unisex fashion, accessories, and beauty products.


To go alongside this collection, the store a created a new gender-neutral promotional video. The video, which features the exclusive song ‘He She Me’ by Devonté Hynes and Neneh Cherry, shows the Agender campaign in all its glory.


A Selfridges spokesperson told the Daily Mail.

“For us, Agender is not about harnessing a ‘trend’ but rather tapping into a mind-set and acknowledging and responding a cultural shift that is happening now. We will explore the relationship between gender and retail physically, digitally and in all of our stores. The project will act as a test bed for experimentation around ideas of gender —both to allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions and for us as retailers to move the way we shop fashion forward.”

The unisex collection will be at Selfridges’ Manchester and Birmingham stores, as well as on its website. The designers whose gender-neutral fashions will be featured at Selfridge’s will include Belgian avant garde designer Ann Demeulemeester, English designer Gareth Pugh, and designer Nicola Formichetti – who is said to be Lady Gaga’s favourites designer.

Creative director Linda Hewson says they are “responding to a cultural shift that is happening right now” and will “allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions”.

In a world that is already blurring gender lines by featuring cosmetics modelled by drag queens (RuPaul for MAC) and sending transgender models down the runway, the Agender project could be described not as “fashion forward” but rather, of the moment.

“We want to take our customers on a journey where they can shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes. A space where clothing is no longer imbued with directive gender values, enabling fashion to exist as a purer expression of ‘self.”

Linda Hewson, Selfridges’ Creative director

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Selfridges Department Store Goes Gender Neutral

Iconic high-end retail store Selfridges based in the UK, has announced it is set to stock its shelves with unisex clothing.

The high-end store, which is known for revolutionizing fashion is ditching its separate men and women’s departments and will instead have three floors of unisex clothing. It is described as a “a fashion exploration of the masculine, the feminine and the interplay … found in between” that will “take … customers on a journey where they can choose to shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes”.


The unisex collection will be at Selfridges’ Manchester and Birmingham stores, as well as on its website. The designers whose gender-neutral fashions will be featured at Selfridge’s will include Belgian avant garde designer Ann Demeulemeester, English designer Gareth Pugh, and designer Nicola Formichetti – who is said to be Lady Gaga’s favorites designer.

Creative director Linda Hewson says they are “responding to a cultural shift that is happening right now” and will “allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions”.

In a world that is already blurring gender lines by featuring cosmetics modeled by drag queens (RuPaul for MAC) and sending transgender models down the runway, the Agender project could be described not as “fashion forward” but rather, of the moment.

“We want to take our customers on a journey where they can shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes. A space where clothing is no longer imbued with directive gender values, enabling fashion to exist as a purer expression of ‘self.”

Linda Hewson, Selfridges’ Creative director