Lived Experience Reflections: "Cameron"
As an agender non-binary person, my life experiences have been shaped by a gender most people do not understand, include, or even know about. Nobody ever expects to meet a non-binary person, and they are not looking for us even when they know we exist. Unless I say "I'm non-binary" people assign a binary gender based on appearance and assume binary pronouns, which are always wrong for me. It makes a big difference to my mental health when people use they/them pronouns for me, but the education and coming out process is tiring and never-ending.
The world is currently a very binary environment, with a historical and ongoing obsession with describing, organising, and categorising everything as male or female, masculine or feminine. So, when you don't fit into either of the categories, it can leave you feeling isolated and excluded. There's no need for it to be this way, but the systems are set up to perpetuate it, and taking part in society often means making a choice between female and male categories, which to me always feels like lying.
The working group is one of the biggest opportunities I've ever known to effect focused change for the better at government level and to feed back detailed and extremely important information about non-binary people's lived experiences to ministers. We have discussed many scores of issues at length and come up with realistic recommendations that would improve people's lives. It was a privilege to be part of that, and to represent a marginalised minority in a process that could reduce our marginalisation.
My biggest fears for the outcomes of the group's recommendations are that ministers pay them no more than lip service and effectively ignore us, or that our recommendations are deliberately misunderstood by those who either don't understand, or don't want to understand, the genuine barriers and exclusion faced by non-binary people, and all trans people, in Scotland. There's also the risk of well-meaning people starting 5-year studies into some of the recommendations that eventually result in no action.
However, the potential for real and meaningful change is huge. Our recommendations cover some of the most significant areas of government policy that affects non-binary lives, and every single one that results in change would be hugely beneficial. If all the working group's recommendations are taken forward in full, we would realise a step change in equality and inclusion for non-binary people, all trans people, and major gains for several other groups, and we could propel Scotland into a role as a world-leading force for equality for others to follow.
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