What is Non-Binary? A Profile of My RA

Alexandra Gordon is a current second-year nursing major, here at Drexel University. One of Alexandra's main roles is being a resident assistant (RA), where they enforce housing policies and encourage community building. As an RA, Alexandra is in charge of creating programs, both across the building and across the campus. In their free time, Alexandra enjoys playing music, publishing it online for others to listen. Alexandra is a freelance artist as well, mainly focusing on painting and sketching. Fashion, cosmetics, astrology, and taro are also interests of Alexandra. Another important aspect in Alexandra's life is that they identify as non-binary. 

Image courtesy of Alexandra Gordon

You're probably thinking, what does "non-binary" mean? Non-binary, according to Alexandra, is a gender preference that means not associating with a specific gender. Personally, it means, as Alexandra said, "not existing on the binary that's given in general, whether that's boy or girl, or male or female." Alexandra continues to explain this gender preference as, "... a combination of the two for me. Other times it's just something that's completely off the binary, and I don't know how to describe it in terms that aren't binary. But it's existing somewhere on the spectrum of male or female or existing beyond it." For this reason, Alexandra's preferred pronouns are "they/them". 

Alexandra started to identify as non-binary around their junior year of high school after a friend of their's discovered they also identified as non-binary. "Everyone has a personal journey," Alexandra said, "and mine was just basically seeing other people realize 'oh I don't have to say I'm a girl.' I can realize that I can exist either as neither or both." After discovering they were non-binary, Alexandra looked towards other friends who felt the same way to talk about it. Alexandra did not always know they were non-binary. After trying out different terms, such as "gender queer", Alexandra found "non-binary" fit the best for their identity. 

"It's kind of freeing," Alexandra said, reflecting on their initial reaction to discovering their identity. Identifying as "non-binary" has allowed Alexandra to support all people. "It breaks me from the barriers of identifying with only women's issues. It gives me that personal freedom to talk about what gender is and why is this the social construct of gender an institution in the first place." 

Looking at Drexel University, Alexandra feels that the campus has a strong LGBTQ+ community, mainly because Philadelphia offers it as well. Alexandra, however, feels that improvements can be made. The assumption is made that everyone is open-minded and understanding of non-binary identities, but they have come across situations where students and staff have misgendered them. "I feel like Drexel could be doing more that is less performative..." Alexandra suggested online modules for incoming students, in addition to normalizing preferred pronouns. 

For individuals who might also identify as non-binary, or something similar, Alexandra emphasizes the importance of time. "Give yourself time to figure out what exactly works for you because not every label or not every identity you try out will fit." Finding a support group is also incredibly important, in addition to finding resources that will help you find your identity.