Sam Smith is one of the many celebrities who spent their end of year vacation in Costa Rica. Smith is known for being friendly enough to take a picture with anyone who asks and also stands out because of recently identifying as a non-binary person.
It was about four months ago when this was revealed to the public. Some still wonder what exactly non-binary gender means. In short, it means that someone does not identify exactly as male or female but experiences both masculine and feminine aspects. It is one of many alternative genders. Others include transgender and gender fluid.
This is nothing new. Many cultures have long seen and incorporated people of more than two genders. In Samoa, South Asia, and Mexico there have been people identified as third gender. These people are recognized and included. They do not usually suffer discrimination. Our culture has a long way to go in this regard.
You don’t have to fully understand someone’s gender experience in order to respect it. Most people are open to sharing more information with you if you ask out of genuine curiosity and not judgement.
Basic rules to follow to ensure you respect all genders include use the name and pronouns the person asks you to use, do not assume you know someone’s gender, and support policies that seek to protect and include people of all genders. Some gender pronouns non-binary people may choose to use include they-them and, in Spanish, elle-elles.