I may have missed some aspects of it, but the primary thrust was such: She never fit in with other girls/women. The things they were interested in bored her. The things she was interested in made them look askance at her. She doesn’t care to talk about make-up and girly stuff. She’s not a barbie doll. She hated their social dynamics. She felt far more comfortable in groups of boys, and would seek those out. She basically always felt like an outcast, and hated when other people pushed her to go play with girls, or denied her things because she was a girl. The female world didn’t fit her. And she was denied access to the male world. To this day she gets anxiety when thinking about joining any groups marketed as “for women,” and strongly avoids them.
I was a bit taken aback, not by the experience, but by that idea that this means she’s not a woman. In my view, thinking that this makes you not a woman is really sexist (and by extention, NB’s now seem even more sexist to me). We don’t need to make this about sex! We’ve had a word for this type of person for decades. It’s “Nerd.” (Or “Geek,” depending on your dialect.) The first thing I wanted to say was “That’s it? Try being a nerd growing up.” I didn’t, because I’m not an asshole. And also because I already know she was ALSO nerd growing up, and still is. It’s one of the things that binds us together. :)
The thing she described is, IMO, the experience of being a social outcast because you’re weird and different. That… can be looked at in a gendered way, I guess, if you want to force it. Especially if that’s how the people around you are pushing you to see it. But it’s not about gender, directly, is it? It’s not about feeling disgusted by your body. Not about feeling horrified when you look at yourself in a mirror. Not about feeling like something went terribly wrong and you’ve been forced into the wrong skin and can’t get it off, and no one can see that, and if only they could see that things would be better. It’s not gender dysphoria. It’s a more basic not-fitting-in with society, or the world at large. It’s existence dysphoria.
Existence dysphoria is feeling aliented from the world around you. Something went terribly wrong, and you’re living the wrong existence. The world doesn’t fit. It doesn’t have room for you, you don’t interface well with it. All your instincts and feelings are wrong, either subtely or blatently, and you are constantly being reminded of it. And no one else realizes how wrong everything is. No one can see this. If only they could see it, things would be better.
Sex and gender roles are a part of that, sure. But they aren’t the cause. Implementing gender dysphoria treatments won’t fix existential dysphoria.
I don’t dislike any given non-binary person, but I find the movement as a whole to be a bit obnoxious. First, because it does seem rather sexist, as commented on above. But also, because it appropriates the extistential dysphoria experience and tries to make it about gender.
If you swap the genders in the first paragraph of Section I, you’d have a perfect description of me (and my nerd friends, of both sexes.) I was bored to death of sports and “masculine” stuff. I’m not manly. I hated the social dynamics of all the normal kids. I felt (and feel) far more comfortable around girls/women. I was always an outcast from the regular people. I will never join anything marketed as “for men” and even thinking about the type of people who would join such a group gives me the willies.
But that doesn’t make me not a man. Anyone who tries to belittle me or impy otherwise can kiss my ass. This was one of the pillars of the gender-equality movement. It was one of the reasons we fought for gender equality. It doesn’t matter what’s between your legs. You are allowed to dress how you want, talk how you want, wear make-up or not as you want. You can be interested in whatever interests you, and stereotypes be damned. It will never, ever make you less of a man/woman to have different interests. Those trying to control you like that are barbarians living in benighted intellectual squalor.
To cede that ground now seems like giving up after we’ve already won. It is saying that not only were the sexist assholes right, they were so right that we can’t even consider ourselves sexual humans any more. We aren’t men or women. We are a non-gendered other.
To make matters worse, it strengthens the stereotypes of those who don’t alienate themselves from their sex. It buys into and reinforces the idea that to be a real man you have to like sports and beer. To be a real woman you have to love make-up and gossip. In both cases, you have to dress a certain way, and talk a certain way.
And what for? The existential dysphoria mostly remains.
The best outcome is that geeks suffering from existential dysphoria find each other through these non-binary channels, connect with each other, and form their own social support networks. This is certainly a benefit. But it does not need to come at the expense of surrendering to the claims that we aren’t really men/women. Geeks have been finding each other long before non-binaryism was created.
The worst outcome is that those suffering from existential dysphoria will expect the implementation of gender dysphoria relief measures to help them, and when they don’t, sinking further into x-dysphoria. One of the major negative impacts of homeopathy is displacing actual real medicine that would have otherwise helped a patient. Non-binaryism has the same problem. Telling people to they/them you doesn’t make the world not broken. It addresses literally nothing.
I also find it distasteful the way non-binaryism appropriates the experience of trans people, and tries to legitimize itself off of their suffering and struggles. But I’m not trans myself, so I have very little to say about this other than what I just did.
In summary, non-binaryism is yet another way for people to try to take the lives and experiences of neuro-divergents (“nerds/geeks”) and redirect them to their pet political causes (“wokeism”) while giving the neuro-divergents little of value, and harming a great many of them in the process. Same as it ever was.
*if you’re reading this, hi! I hope you don’t mind me using this as a jumping-off point for my public thoughts.