Non-Binary People’s Day: The things that give me hope

by Mara Harris
July 2022

Mara Harris and a non-binary flag

Non-Binary People’s Day is a chance for us to reflect on what makes us hopeful. When there’s often very negative media headlines about us, we can turn to what gives us hope.

Coming out as non-binary early last year was incredibly nerve wracking. I was scared, and felt a lot of shame surrounding who I was.

I wasn’t sure how people would react to me changing my pronouns, and using gender neutral language for me. 

Sharing how I felt and talking to people properly about my gender was something I really felt comfortable doing yet. 

Most of the people around me didn’t feel comfortable to ask questions either. It was a new topic for them, so a lot of important conversations I probably needed to have simply did not happen. 

How everything changed for me

I happened to join Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme later the same year. It’s a volunteering opportunity for LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds to use their voice, develop skills and find community.

Mara smiling with a Pride flag in the background
Happy Non-Binary People’s Day!

While volunteering as an ambassador, I’ve been lucky enough to write about my experiences in the media. I’ve been able to express what it feels like for me to be both a lesbian and non-binary.

When I find out that an article I’ve written has been published, I am always over the moon. As proud as I am to have written for publications like Glamour and Gay Times, as someone whose identity exists on the ‘sidelines’, I never expect many people to be interested in what I’ve written. 

Much to my surprise, I’ve had so many positive interactions from a range of different people. I’ve had kind messages from people saying they liked what I’ve written, which I’m very grateful for. I’ve also had the most wonderful reactions from people in person. They ask me how my writing and volunteering is going, and say how cool the stuff I’ve written about is.

Hearing that people have read about my experiences as a non-binary person fills me with so much hope. People are willing to take the time to read about LGBT+ young people’s lives, which means they are learning and will be more conscious of what’s going on for us. 

Non-binary representation in the media

As a trans person, the current climate is often quite hostile to us – especially the media. So, it feels even more amazing to know that I’m helping more people to hear from actual trans people. And knowing people around me are taking the time to read and learn makes me feel so much safer. 

Writing about being non-binary in the media isn’t just important for representation. It also helps people understand us better and changes everyday interactions.

People have been more aware of using the right pronouns for me, and tell new people they introduce me to about my pronouns (as they know that is something I am OK with). 

They have asked about how I feel about certain words they might use to refer to me, and how to use both sets of my pronouns. Some people have also asked to share a bit more about some of the things I’ve written about, just to understand my identity more.

Mara at university
Non-Binary People’s Day gives me hope

When I first joined Just Like Us, one of the first things I had to do was take part in their ambassador training. Part of the training was how to have constructive conversations with people surrounding LGBT+ identities and issues. 

This training has really helped me feel more comfortable in answering questions, and having those conversations with those around me. It has helped me figure out how best to explain things to people who are new to topics like being non-binary, and ensure everyone is comfortable and happy in the conversation. 

I have also had very touching conversations with people who have said that my writing has helped them understand transness and trans experiences more. 

A few people have even said reading some of my articles helped them better navigate friends and family coming out to them.

Non-Binary People’s Day is a chance for hope

Looking back – on Non-Binary People’s Day – to the person I was when I first came out, I can see I have changed so much. I have both Just Like Us and the wonderful people around me to thank for that.

Just Like Us has given me the confidence, skills and space to talk about my identity as an LGBT+ person. Volunteering with the charity has allowed me to flourish and helped me shed the shame I felt surrounding my identity. 

Mara with short hair
Proud to be non-binary

By taking the time to learn, those around me have made me feel so much more comfortable both in myself. And in social spaces, I so appreciate when people have taken the time to ensure I feel fully included as who I am.

This Non-Binary People’s Day, I encourage you to read and learn about our experiences. Your allyship and positive environments you create are so important, as it will help to bring the best change possible, and make the world the best place it can be for everyone.

And if you are LGBT+, why not volunteer as a Just Like Us ambassador too?