Ode to Joy
(A traditional Ode)
When kindness flows through me to others,
I see only light and feel only the celestial glow.
It pierces the darkness that stifles and smothers
with a brilliance that eliminates every shadow.
This feeling breaches the defenses of my mind,
creating a rhythm of sympathy and empathy.
It wraps up my brain with cords that bind.
It overpowers doubt and designs a new reality.
My heart whispers words of love to quietly tell
my feet to embrace and dance with uncertainty.
My brain touches, heals, and rebuilds every cell.
My heart transcends joy and enters ecstasy.
I take hold of life itself as it begins to ebb and flow.
The rhythm carries me into a world of divine energy.
My mind and heart begin to blossom and grow.
Thoughts on life and death exist in perfect harmony.
Then I sing a song of devotion to life,
to me, and to you, spirit of life and love,
my guide and my dearest and forever friend.
Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. This is sometimes referred to as gender binary. Typically, what we mean by masculinity is that we hold our own space and we respect the space of other men; we take pride in taking care of ourselves and those we love, and we demonstrate strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness. If we are female we have a basic drive for cohesiveness in the family and in the community at large. We exhibit a long list of what may be considered passive traits such as nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, supportiveness, gentleness, warmth, cooperativeness, modesty, humility, empathy, affection, and tenderness.
Non-binary is one term we use to describe people that don’t fall into male or female gender categories. Let’s first deal with the differences between sexuality and gender. Nonbinary is not the same as gay or lesbian; however sexually effeminate gay men and masculine lesbian women may also be nonbinary. Non-Binary is not the same as bisexual. Bisexual describes individuals who engage in sexual practices where there are no mental or physical blocks to contact with either males of females. However, bisexual men and women can also be nonbinary in gender. Transgender people are not usually nonbinary. They typically strongly identify with the opposite gender than their biological bodies. Transvestites and crossdressers may or may not be nonbinary, just because they choose to dress like people of the opposite sex from time to time does not mean they forsake their biological gender. Transgender people may or may not be transexual and may or may not seek medical solutions to trans their sexual identity.
So when we strip off all the other definitions, what is left? What makes us nonbinary? Some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of ‘man’ or ‘woman,’ or ‘male’ or ‘female’ or any of the other definitions. For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is typically different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender restrictions. People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, including queer or bigender, but none of these terms mean exactly the same thing.
I suggest that the terms binary or nonbinary are not rigid categories. Let me explain. It is not changing our physical appearance or our generic manerisms. It is not just what we show on the outside but what is real on the inside. It is a way of thinking and living. We are all in a continuum from what is viewed as either male of female gender traits. Our goal should be to not conform to society’s labels but to evolve to the point where we possess all the qualities listed above. We can be passive at times and at other times be assertive. We can be strong in defense of ourselves and our families, but we can also be sensitive, gentle, and supportive. We can be conscious and protective of our own space and at the same time be cooperative and sensitive to the needs of others. Being binary is not just being too feminine if you are a man or too masculine if you are a woman. We can be both at different times, but more importantly, we can be both all the time. We can be compassionate with strength and power.