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We are in an age where there is a lot more gray and a lot less binary. Binary refers to being two separate things with nothing in the middle. They are always exact opposites. Some common things that work in the binary are jobs, qualities, adjectives, and most commonly: gender. 

For as long as people have existed, so has the concept of rigid binary gender that we created. There were always men and women. Anyone who didn’t fit into either of these categories was ostracized from society. 

The stigma against breaking the binary is lessening because we have finally named concepts like genderfluid, non-binary, and genderqueer. All of these mean that a person’s gender floats somewhere in that gray area between male and female. 

The reason this is so hard for people to understand is because most people believe that gender and sex are the same thing. Sex only exists in the binary. Meaning when you are born, your sex can only be male or female. However, gender is the expression of how someone feels they are inside. Gender can align or not align with someone’s birth sex. If it aligns, then they are a binary gender but considered cisgender. If their expression is the opposite of their birth sex then they are still in the binary, but they are transgender. If someone’s expression does not entirely align with either sex consistently then they are outside of the binary in that grey area. 

These concepts have recently been given names but they have always existed. There have always been people who have lived outside of the binary or did not follow their assigned birth sex, but they often hid. They knew they would not be accepted by society so they did not express themselves in public, and if they did, sadly they were often tortured or killed. 

Now it is becoming more commonplace to be non-binary, gender fluid, or gender queer. Even though it’s becoming normal it still isn’t easy. There are still so many people who can’t or won’t accept or understand this. People who didn’t grow up with these concepts have more difficulty understanding them. 

It is important that we start to educate everyone about breaking binary genders. People who grew up without learning these concepts need to be educated on what they mean and how they can better understand them. Young children should also learn about these concepts so that they can grow up being accepting to everyone regardless of their gender expression. 

Julianne is a Senior at Adelphi University. She is a mathematics major in the STEP education program. She is apart of the Active Minds, Her Campus, GSA, and Future Teacher's Association clubs at her university. She likes everything Disney and in her free time likes to write and do photography.