Non-Binary Angst, and the Urge to Retaliate – A. Khaled

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Paranoia of rejection envelops our every action, and it’s consuming our community from within.

Non-binary existence is mired in seclusion. It’s laced in thick coats of bigotry and marginalization from nearly every flank of social life. The defining trait of being non-binary is not a choice of clothing, whom to mingle with, or what resides in-between your legs — it’s the trauma. It’s always been the trauma. And that trauma, has colored the way I, and the sum of non-binary people see the world, inundating our ability to duly judge, making us hesitant to dispense of our trust, putting us at the edge of a violent reaction whenever a cursory semblance of retaliation rears its head.

Very recently, there’s been a community-wide controversy surrounding the role of political messengers on YouTube, and whether they’ve taken advantage of our existence as but a mere tool to ratify their self-ascribed activism credentials — it’s hard to believe anyone wishes you good when the only message to have been repeated within your vicinity is one of self-disgust. So when it happened, we all collectively lashed out in anger, heedless of what collateral harm it might cause in the way.

Too often, that paranoia of never being truly loved can seep into a self-fulfilling prophecy. One where an instance of reproach takes on proportions much larger than its actual size, and non-binary people convince themselves they’re being hated to a much greater degree than they actually are. This has been the defining voice in discussion circles online as the community wrestles with its fraught position within BreadTube, even as the collective of progressive political commentators never made explicit mention to their disdain or admiration either way. The default for most is to assume they’re loved unless proven otherwise, but non-binary existence conditions itself on a lingering suspicion of betrayal, so much so that it can cause it to create the conditions for feeling such betrayal without it being materially present at all.

A hint of the lengths some of us had to go through to justify our own identity.

Internalized self-hatred has become so deeply etched in non-binary identity that living without it seems impossible. Projected on those who’ve broken away from that cycle, the theory goes that if you’re unfazed by whatever a cluster of vocal non-binary people are currently bothered by, you must be on a certain level more privileged, or have a vested interest in swimming against the current. I’ve been accused of everything from selling out, down right to faking my own identity, as a result of voicing my support for ContraPoints in the face of ruthless harassment. Friends of mine have also been referred to as Uncle Tom’s (a term to denote class betrayal) with no prior knowledge of their convictions and beliefs. It seems as though non-binary identity has graduated from a state of being, into the volatile lands of group identity wherein the politics of performing like a non-binary person have become more important than being one — which serves to explain why my support for a contentious figure within non-binary circles had become equated to treason.

To say that this tendency to assign individuals sides in an ideological battle without their explicit consent is troubling, is an understatement. Moreover, the reactionary block of non-binary individuals seems to think that by forcing their own notion of what a non-binary person is supposed to perform, they can dictate their own consensus upon the community in a way that makes their demands quasi-monolithic and immune to scrutiny — the problem is that those efforts mostly reside online, and there’s no real way to gauge their impact outside the walled gardens of conflict-emphasizing social media platforms. Twitter and Facebook especially have been designed to lift up and amplify controversy, so there’s no real way to know if the resolution to our concerns is something we’ve truly banded over, or if prolonged exposure to statements of the same nature conjures up the illusion of consensus when there’s actually none.

BreadTube personality Thought Slime on the difficulty of being non-binary online.

This veers into problematic territory where it posits the concerns of all non-binary people as one. And as non-binary myself, who’s experienced an own brand of bigotry that are unique to my experiences as both also bisexual and Muslim, I can’t say that the community of non-binary people online has been fairly representative of my concerns as of late — it lacks intersectionality just by mere virtue of claiming virtuousness. If anything, they’ve been the source of much-dreaded harassment to other non-binary people who want to plot a different course for the same ends to get accomplished.

It’s at this stage that what had mostly been an innocuous feeling of self-inadequacy turns into a conduit for toxicity that is very much to the non-binary community’s detriment. Insecurities are projected into the entire rest of the world as a natural desire for held contempt, and this dissuades non-binary people from deeming anyone trustworthy, all-the-while exerting pressure on outsiders to reciprocate their distrust. They’ve already thought the worst of themselves, so it’s not improper to say they wouldn’t think the best of everyone else. It’s what happens when feelings of loneliness and isolation are used to justify an appeal to toxicity, something the Redpill community and Incels for instance have been historically good at — turn what is an existential crisis midst their ranks into a rallying cry for an end goal that is markedly so much more nefarious.

Redpillers thought their own feelings of emotional inadequacy were a valid pretext for assuming all women must hate them, and that they’re prizes to be won and owned. The reactionary block of the non-binary community similarly views those who champion their rights as mere tools to achieve their own political goals, and any deviation from that is viewed as an affront to their rights. This was what happened when BreadTube personality ContraPoints featured controversial trans activist Buck Angel in her video, and this will continue to happen in the future if hopes keep getting hung high, and the community’s expectations from those upon which it ordained the quest for non-binary liberation are not kept in check.

That non-binary people feel distrust towards almost everybody isn’t in and of itself reprehensible — it’s when it turns into a vehicle for concentrated vitriol and harassment that it starts to take on the character of problematic issue-focused movements before it. If taking the Redpill meant coming to terms with women’s refusal to assume traditional family values, taking the pill of reactionary non-binary people means surrendering to the false premise that, unless greeted with unanimous approval based on a prescriptive set of virtues, one should revoke their right to assume non-binary identity. Seeing how the alleged “enemies” of the non-binary community have been forced to reiterate their support for a community they’ve never antagonized in the first place is proof enough something has gone awry, and it’s about time for self-reflection to settle in before all is lost.



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