Beyond Binary

Beyond Binary

The gender binary just doesn't cut it anymore.
Xan M
Xan M

I never know how to tell people that my favorite color is magenta. I worry about how they will react once I tell them - wonder if they will treat me any differently because of it. I hate when I have to fill out paperwork and magenta is never an option so I have to circle pink because that is what everyone expects from me. I hate when my class gets separated into favorite colors and everyone who loves blue goes to one side and those who love pink go to another but when I get thrown into a group it feels like I don’t quite belong there. And if I feel this way about magenta then how must others feel when their favorite colors are orange or green or even black?

I wish we were only talking about colors here because if we were, then this simple situation would sound ridiculous. In what world would people ever be afraid to say ‘my favorite color isn’t pink, it’s blue’ or ‘my favorite color isn’t pink or blue, it’s actually yellow’? The answer to that question would be this one if you simply replace colors with gender instead.

Gender isn’t binary - not always. No matter how much we want things to be black and white, or in this case blue and pink, it just doesn’t work out that way. The same way that there are hundreds of colors that we can see, there are hundreds of different gender identities and expressions.

It took me a long time to figure this out for myself. My whole life I was given pink clothing, dresses, dolls, told that I needed to know how to cook and clean, that I had to be pretty and skinny, and get boys to like me. There is nothing wrong with any of those things. There is nothing wrong with me for enjoying some of them and rejecting others and continuing to develop myself with or without them. But what is wrong is being limited. What is wrong is being told that since I am a girl, I must not talk or dress or like the things I do. And then when I tried to find solace in the other side of the spectrum, being male, I felt like I was not masculine enough, that I wouldn’t be able to pass as a boy and I was too afraid to try transitioning medically because I wasn’t sure if I was making the right choice. I wasn’t fully able to commit to either gender because neither of them fully expressed how I felt.

The gender binary works for a lot of people so I can’t knock it. What I can say is that it doesn’t work for everyone, including myself. When I first started questioning my gender, I realized that I didn’t want to. I wanted to be binary. I wanted to be normal. When asked the question ‘what is your gender,’ all of my friends could answer it with no hesitation and I was the only one who had to pause and steel myself before saying ‘female’. We look online or turn on our televisions or even just go outside and all we see are binary people.

So it took me a long time to finally be at this point. It has taken me years to be able to admit that I am neither male nor female. It took me years to find a word that describes me and right now that word is genderqueer. I cannot speak for everyone who identifies how I do. There is no way for me to possibly know the experiences of every non-binary person on this planet. But as for myself, I love blue and I love pink. I love to mix them together in different ways and create the most magnificent shades of magenta.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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​'When They See Us' Is The Tough Show Nobody Wants To Watch But Everyone Needs To

Justice was not served.


Netflix just released a limited series called "When They See Us." The series is based on the Central Park Five. The Central Park Five were five young boys who were convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park on April 19, 1989. These young boys did not commit the crime they were convicted of though, they were set up by the prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein, along with her fellow detectives.

On April 19, 1989, a huge group of boys went out to Central Park one night "wilding." Cops came and arrested a bunch of the boys who were out. Linda Fairstein came to the scene where the rape happened, with the women attacked hanging on for her life. When Fairstein got to the precinct, immediately she said the boys in the park were the perpetrators. She had the police go out into the neighborhoods and find every young, black/Hispanic male who fit a description they drew up and brought them in for questioning.

What the detectives then did was extremely illegal.

They questioned these 14, 15 and 16-year-old boys without their parents. These boys were minors. These detectives took these boys in the rooms for questioning and started to plot a story in their head, making them say they committed the horrific crime. The boys were saying it wasn't them but the detectives would not let down. They started beating the kids until they "admitted" to this act of rape. One of the boys, Antron McCray, was with his mom and dad when they started to question him. Kevin Richardson was questioned without his mom until his sister came and was basically forced to sign the statement the detectives wrote for him so he could go home.

Yusef Salaam's mother came and got her son just before he signed his Miranda rights away. Raymond Santana was coerced by detectives for hours and hours, along with the others. Korey Wise, who was not in the police's interest at first, was taken and beaten by a detective until he agreed to the story they drew up. These boys didn't even know each other, except Yusef and Korey, and were pinning the crimes on one another because they were forced.

Donald Trump was even supportive of bringing back the death penalty for this case. He wanted the death penalty for five teenage boys. Teenagers. The boys were barely in high school and were being attacked with the death penalty.

At the trial, the lead prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, called in the victim of the attack, Trisha Meili. Meili had no recollection of the night after being in a coma for several days. The DNA evidence that was presented at trial did not match any of the defendants. There were no eyewitnesses. They showed the recordings of the interviews of the boys, but they were forced into telling false stories, which none of were merely similar. The case had no supporting evidence whatsoever. But the jury still convicted all five boys, who had to serve out their sentences.

The charges were exonerated in 2002 after the real rapist confessed. But exoneration does not make up for what these young boys had to go through. They were tried as adults at the ages of 14, 15 and 16. Korey Wise was in a maximum security prison at the age of 16. These boys went through something they should have never gone through at such a young age. There was no justice served for the boys or the victim. The detectives pinned a crime on five innocent young boys. These boys had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of actually working to find the real rapist, Linda Fairstein pinned it on five boys and did not do anything by the book while the boys were in question.

The show has brought back outcries about the case, even causing Linda Fairstein to step down from her charity boards. Our justice system still isn't what it should be today, and this show helps with showing us that.

The Netflix series shines a light on the racism of these detectives and the injustice that was served. Ava DuVernay did a tremendous job with this show. It is moving. The four episodes are very hard to watch, but it is so important that you do.

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