Coming out as non-binary means coming out all the time, in subtle ways. It starts with the big coming out. I already did that before when I came out as a lesbian at 16 and 21 (long story.) Now I’m doing it again at 35 with my family, friends, and everyone who reads my writing.
That post was more than a little scary for me. I spent so much time telling myself to be brave. When I hit send, I couldn’t even believe I was telling all of you my secret. I kept going back and forth, trying to find a fine line between letting people in and protecting my heart. I didn’t want to tell you.
The fact is that it’s not always warmly received when I share parts of who I am with people. All of you see the positive messages on LinkedIn and Twitter, but you’re not privy to the private messages telling me to go to hell. Every time I write about who I am – not a writer for recruiting, but a non-binary human who wants to be treated equally – a higher percentage of people unsubscribe.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sting. I don’t even know how to describe how that feels. It makes me never want to write again. It’s just not right that people will use my resources and expertise to better their lives while simultaneously rejecting my identity or any hope I have of improving life for the LGBTQ+ community.
Finding My Pronoun Place: You Just Know
Some people think it’s some fad. The cool kids are trying to be queer, but it’s so much more than that. For me, it’s a lot of thoughts clicking in a way I’ve never quite felt before. When I came out as non-binary, I felt euphoria for being alive for the first time in my life. I could look into a mirror and see a human that I liked instead of one that just didn’t fit into the boxes.
I didn’t know another human who was non-binary at the time, but I knew I was one of them. For most of my life, I’ve felt like I wasn’t enough of anything. I was a masculine girl or a feminine guy depending on the angle you looked at me. In the book Untamed, Glennon Doyle describes it as cups – the boy cup, the girl cup, the gay cup, the straight cup. I spent so much time trying to figure out which cup I belonged in.
What she wrote next was a life-changing moment for me last summer. She said, “why are we making cups when we are the water?”
Why was I trying to fit into cups when I can be me?
Online Allyship: How To Add Pronouns To Your Social Media Profiles
While that line is poetic and beautiful, it was also scary. When I realized I was non-binary, it meant I had to come out all over again: on Zoom, my email signature, everywhere.
The weird part? People who called themselves allies just ignored it. They never put pronouns on their profile or led the conversation with gender-neutral introductions. No, they bounced right into expertise, and she-she-she’d me through the exchange.
I’m not mad at them. I understand most of us have grown up in cultures where this language and non-binary pronouns haven’t been popular. So now it’s time for education. That means people need to see and hear pronouns more. That means cis-gendered, gender-conforming pronouns on profiles – not just featuring non-conforming pronouns.
Recently, Instagram and LinkedIn have added a pronoun line to their profiles, and it’s easy to add yours. Watch this video to learn how to update your pronouns now.
Pssst If you’re interested in a speaker who can break down pronouns for your people team (or the entire company), let’s talk. LINK: https://katrinakibben.com/keynote-speaker-katrina-kibben/
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.