When a celebrity comes out, it always prompts a cultural conversation.
Most recently, that conversation centred around Demi Lovato, who came out as non-binary on May 19 and announced they use they/them pronouns. Lovato’s coming out is a huge deal for young millennials like me who watched them on the Disney channel in the mid-aughts, and for the millions of fans who’ve followed their music career since.
The multi-award-winning former child star and current pop star is now arguably the most high-profile non-binary person in the world. And Lovato is aware of the spotlight on them as they navigate their identity in the public eye.
They follow other celebrities, from Janelle Monáe to Sam Smith to Elliot Page, who have come out as non-binary and/or trans in recent years. But Mel, you may be asking, what does all of that have to do with TikTok?
Well, dear reader, TikTok is where the conversation about what it means to be non-binary is happening.
The swathes of celebrities opening up about their gender identity recently is highlighting the spectrum of what it means to be non-binary today: Some non-binary people get gender confirmation surgery, some don’t; some use they/them pronouns, while others use she/her, he/him, a combination or other gender markers entirely; some identify with being a man or a woman, and some don’t.
There is literally an infinite amount of ways to be non-binary, and TikTok can show us that. This week in Tik Talk, we’re looking at a slew of TikTokers who showcase the full spectrum of what it means to be non-binary.
How do you be non-binary on TikTok?
To start, non-binary folks on TikTok were REALLY hyped to see Lovato join their ranks.
And there are folks out there answering the questions you may be afraid to ask and clearing up misconceptions about being non-binary.
While some simply refuse to understand football.
Other folks are out here giving useful safety tips for chest binding.
Or talking about sex education in schools.
Some non-binary folks like the term “enby” (a shortform for non-binary) to describe themselves and some don’t—both are okay!
And others are working to dispel the myth that being non-binary is some sort of fad (it’s not).
TikTok is full of non-binary folks turning those reactionary “they/them isn’t a singular pronoun” takes on their head.
Some non-binary people use all of the pronouns!
Some non-binary people are parents!
And yes, you can be non-binary and have all types of body or presentation.
There are also non-binary folks on TikTok doing the good work of pointing out how absurd it is to say that being non-binary isn’t real.
And they’re also pointing out it’s not their fault if cis people are confused.
Many folks are explaining that being non-binary can apply to other aspects of your life too.
And they’re showing that popular songs can be for non-binary people too.
I could literally go on forever.
The point is, if you’re worried that you’re not queer enough or that you’re alone in your gender expression or identity, know you’ll probably be able to find someone you relate to on TikTok. And that’s pretty dang neat.
Queer TikToker of the week 🌈
In keeping with this week’s non-binary theme, our queer TikToker of the week is @thaddeusshafer, a.k.a. “your non-binary auncle.” Shafer, who used he/they pronouns, talks about the experiences of existing as a non-binary person who is often seen as being a cis man, and provides some truly wholesome affirmations on identity and living in this world.
“You are precious, loved and worthy.”
Amen to that!