TL;DR – the lowdown on Alex’s gender
Hi, I’m Alex Bayley. My gender is non-binary. That means I don’t identify as male or female – or at least not wholly or consistently. Some other words that apply include transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, and “it’s complicated” (if only Facebook actually had that as a gender option!)
My pronouns are “they/them/their,” which are gender neutral and widely supported in written and spoken English. I’m also cool with avoiding pronouns altogether, which you can do by just using my name instead.
I prefer not to use a title, but if you press me, “Mx.” (pronounced “mix” or “məx” – that’s a schwa sound, sort of like “muhx”) is okay. I’m also happy to be referred to by my surname, simply “Bayley”, where that is appropriate.
Alex Bayley lives in Ballarat with their collection of carnivorous plants. Alex/Bayley/Mx. Bayley claims the plants protect them against intruders.*
* not actually true
The Ballarat Courier did an excellent job of using my pronouns and title in this article from December 2017.
But don’t you identify as a woman in such-and-such a way?
Most of my life, people (including myself) have identified me as a woman. That’s part, but not all, of my gender identity, and it’s increasingly something I’m not comfortable with.
Since I was assigned female at birth and raised as such, I share a lot of history and experiences with cisgender women. Sometimes it makes sense to stand and be counted with them. Sometimes it’s the least worst choice available, and I grit my teeth and bear it.
Now that society is moving toward wider recognition of gender diversity, I prefer to be grouped, where appropriate, with “women and gender minorities” rather than simply with “women”.
What if I get it wrong?
If you’re trying to use “they” (thank you!) and slip up, just correct it and move on. Don’t make a big deal of it – that’ll just be more awkward.
If you keep forgetting, I might gently remind you. It’s no big deal. Just quickly apologise and try to do better next time. We don’t need to get into a whole song and dance about it.
If you aren’t used to using “they” and want to get more fluent with it, you can practice it to yourself when you’re alone, in front of a mirror or just under your breath.
What if someone else gets it wrong?
Living in a regional city which can sometimes be a bit conservative, not everyone knows about or supports my gender identity, so you might sometimes hear people calling me “she”.
Some people just aren’t aware, but would be supportive if they knew. Other people are opposed to non-binary genders and/or transgender people in general, and refuse to use “they” as a matter of principle. (These same people are also often bigoted or abusive toward trans people.)
If someone doesn’t use my pronouns, please use your best judgement. If you think they would be understanding, tip them off and point them to this FAQ. But if you think they would react negatively or abusively, feel free to let it slide. There’s no obligation for you, or me, to expose ourselves to that.
How can I support you?
- Educate yourself and others about gender diversity. The Gender Wiki is a good place to start. I’ve linked a number of terms throughout this FAQ to the relevant pages on that wiki.
- Use my preferred pronouns and forms of address as described above.
- Don’t use “lady/ies”, “girl/s”, “guy/s”, “miss”, “princess”, or other gendered terms to refer to me, whether individually or as part of a group. If you’re looking for a gender neutral way to address a group, try “people”, “folks”, “everyone”, or “youse lot“.
- Add more inclusive gender options to your forms, surveys, etc. Here are some guidelines. Or just leave it off entirely – why do you really need to know?
- If your event has name tags, or you give participants the opportunity to introduce themselves, ask people to mention their pronouns as well as their name. Yes, ask everyone to do it – let’s normalise this!
- Provide gender-neutral bathroom and/or change room facilities at events and venues.
- If you have a “women’s” group or event but you’d actually like non-binary people like me to be involved, consider being explicit about that in the language you use. This article on the design of women’s spaces may help you think through the issue.
Insert rude question here?
There are a bunch of questions that you might be tempted to ask, but which are kind of rude. I’d advise against asking them of any random trans or non-binary person you might know, and I’d rather you didn’t ask me to my face. The following answers are intended to forestall them.
- Yes, I legally changed my name in 2011 (through an amendment to my birth certificate, done through Births Deaths & Marriages), and I chose “Alex” because of its gender neutrality. My birth name makes me uncomfortable, and I’ve barely used it since primary school. Most people used to know me by various nicknames, but now I simply use “Alex”, which suits me much better.
- The Victorian and federal governments support non-binary gender on most forms of ID (Medicare, drivers’ license, and passport), and I’m in the process of changing over to this. In order to do this, I had to get a letter from my GP, and some other paperwork to change my passport to show an “X”.
- My sexuality is “queer”. I am not gay, lesbian, or bisexual. I don’t consider the term “queer” to be a slur when used within the LGBTQ+ community.
You might also like to read these tips for allies of transgender people which talks about other tactless or intrusive questions to avoid.