Guys, gals and non-binary pals

SHS students overcome obstacles regarding gender while being themselves


December Tling

Freshman Kota Duhamell and sophomores Regina Arnett and Jaz Surface are non-binary.

Freshman Kota Duhamell has always had a feeling of being “out of place.” They tried using different pronouns in an effort to help ease this feeling. In that process, they realized that they were non-binary. 

“For a while I was gender fluid,” Duhamell said. “And then, I realized this doesn’t feel right.”

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, an organization devoted to helping transgender people, “non-binary” is one of many umbrella terms used to describe genders that don’t fall into the categories of male and female. Under this classification are labels such as agender, genderfluid, bi-gender and many more. 

Duhamell identifies as non-binary and uses singular “they/them” pronouns. Throughout their journey of realization, Duhamell has had some changes. 

They came out as non-binary at the beginning of this school year. With that, there have been supportive and discouraging people.

Duhamell’s friends accepted this transition with ease. But, they are often still misgendered. Teachers, peers and their parents often use the wrong pronouns for Duhamell.

Another student at SHS, sophomore Regina Arnett realized that they were non-binary after leaving a toxic relationship their freshman year. 

“I went finding myself and realizing that I can be so many more things that I want to be,” Arnett said. 

Arnett uses all pronouns, but prefers to be called by their name. Since they were already out as pansexual to friends and family before this realization, coming out as non-binary was a smooth process.

Labels for the different gender identities under the umbrella term, “non-binary.” (Kayla Brown)

They first experienced strong feelings of gender validation when someone used the pronouns “he/him” when referring to Arnett. Previous to this, they had only known what it was like to be referred to with “she/her” and “they/them” pronouns.

For sophomore Jaz Surface, they came to the realization in a different way, through some research. 

“I’ve never really felt like a girl and I’ve never really felt like a boy,” Surface said. “When I was finally doing my research on it, I was like ‘Oh!’ that’s an option.’” 

But, they still experience resistance about their gender from their parents, and their friends have to use incorrect pronouns when in spaces where their parents could be present. 

Along with misgendering, Surfaces feels that people still see them as a girl, which is the gender they previously identified with.

Still, being non-binary isn’t out of the ordinary. For Surface, it means they can be themself.