Breaking the Binary: Gender Diversity in Defence

DEFGLIS celebrates International Non-binary People’s Day on 14 July 2020

International Non-Binary People’s day is held every year on 14 July, at the midpoint between International Women’s and International Men’s days. It is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and resilience of non-binary people worldwide and increase awareness about the spectrum of non-binary identities.

‘Non-binary’ is an umbrella term that encompasses those whose gender does not conform with the binary dichotomy of male or female. It includes a wide range of gender identities, such as agender, bigender, pangender, genderqueer and genderfluid. Non-binary individuals may align with varying degrees of masculinity and femininity. They may experience gender neutrally, or experience absence of gender whatsoever. The spectrum is very broad and encompasses a large group people from diverse backgrounds and identities.

Research in The Conversation reports half of transgender and non-binary people hide their identity at work. Since the ban on transgender personnel serving within the ADF was removed in 2010, non-binary people are slowly coming out and expressing their identity in the workplace. Today, there are non-binary personnel serving across Defence, including within all three services and as Defence civilians.

Non-binary personnel continue to face a lot of barriers in the Defence workplace, due to policy ambiguity to support their health and administration. For many serving non-binary personnel, being able to bring one’s full self to work is a powerful way to make them feel valued and accepted in the workplace. Understanding the use of pronouns is an important element of supporting the inclusion of gender diverse people.

For one DEFGLIS member currently providing public service within the Department, being non-binary is about “smashing the boxes”. Instead of focusing on “the label in the box I ticked”, being non-binary allows them to confidently say “I am me”.