Outside the Binary - PhMuseum

Outside the Binary

Linda Bournane Engelberth

2018 - Ongoing

The portrait project “Outside the Binary” explores the world of people that identify outside the binary. The gender binary is the idea that there are only two possible genders-male and female. Anyone who identifies as non-binary, gender fluid, agender or genderqueer views their gender as being beyond these confinements

It is still ongoing and I hope to photograph in Russia, Latin America and more countries in Africa. The aim of this project is to photograph people in as many countries as possible, to normalize and show people that this way of feeling gender exists in every country and it is all-natural.

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  • Ana, 22
    Yogyakarta, Indonesia

    Identifies a non-binary person. Uses the pronouns she/her.

    - I do not want to be categorized as male or female, because being genderfluid is being borderless. It means that I can be anything.
    I have felt this way for a long time - since I was a child. But, I do not mind being called a girl, in my daily life. In Indonesia, one has to be referred to by one of two pronouns; mas (brother) or mbak (sister). If I lived in Europe, I would use ‘they/them’ pronouns. But, the term with which I am called by, does not matter. Being genderfluid is very complex, especially when I start dating or having feelings for someone else. People always require an explanation as to what gender I am, and I never felt comfortable explaining. Guys just want to date me because they assume I am lesbian, and they want to try and date a lesbian; this despite the fact that I am not. I feel that I am unable to explain my gender and identity to them. I just want to be myself and be accepted for who I am.

  • Luca, 25
    London, UK

    Identifies as genderqueer.

    - I rather use genderqueer than non-binary. It is a political term not only describing my individual positioning but my rejection of the binarism as a whole. I think gender is something fluid and the world is non-binary in itself. I always struggled with narrow expectations of gender. The gender binarism that surrounded me felt really oppressive. And I do not want to conform to something that feels oppressive. To me, it is very much about complicating gender to make space in between what most
    people see as male and female. Embracing genderqueer lets me explore different ways of living with gender, queering gender and breaking free from gender. I want to confuse people with my gender expression, play with their assumptions. This is how
    I feel that there is some space in between all these rigid ideas and images of how women and men look, move and sound like.

  • Fay, 20
    London, UK

    Identifies as a non-binary person. Uses the pronouns they/them.

    - For me, being non-binary is more of an internal thing. The way I dress, the way I present myself to others, has always been quite back and forth. One day I look more stereotypically masculine, the next day more female, and another day androgynous. But internally, I consistently feel like I am neither. I feel like I could not put myself into being male, which is why I am not a trans male, and I could not identify myself as a cisgender female, because I do not think I am all female. So, it is definitely something that is a bit more of an internal thing for me. With friends and family,
    I use any pronoun, as long as they know I am non-binary. With people I don not know, I introduce myself as ‘them’, because I think they get the idea that I am
    non-binary faster then. It also makes it more consistent; I do not have to explain myself, which takes a very long time. I started feeling like this when I was about 13 or 14, but then it was much more underground - almost like a thing people did to be different. Then I started realizing that it is actually a real thing I feel every day, so it is not like a trend. People definitely have experiences that are valid when they are
    non-binary.

  • Edea, 28
    Hamar, Norway

    - At this time, I can not see us all agreeing on what gender actually is. As such, I can not define myself in terms of gender either, and I do not feel the need to. There is so much more exciting and interesting to a person than their gender or sexual orientation.
    My sexual orientation means I am attracted to a certain group of people, and that is all; it does not say anything about who I am. Who I am is about the qualities I have, my values and personality. So, to me, what gender you assign me is not so important.
    At 16 I concluded that I was actually a woman. And so, I lived as a woman for six years. Even before then I was mostly feminine all my life. However, at 22 I did not want to live that way anymore. I tried putting on a more masculine expression, and that was entirely new to me. I viewed it as entering a third phase, not going back in any way. I don not identify through gender at all anymore. When people call me ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’, I just feel like they highlight different traits of mine, and it is all positive. I have realized that I can be exactly who I am, in the body that I have. I do not need any acknowledgment either way. It is not so much that I have changed, but through living and learning, with time and experience, I have developed new views. And so, I see myself in a new light.

  • Emma, 27
    Born in Osaka lives in Tokyo, Japan

    Identifies as gender fluid. Uses pronouns she/her.
    - I have a more masculine day, a more feminine day, and a somewhere in between day. These moods reflect on my everyday fashion and behavior. Gender emerges from within, like emotions. As a child, I was aware of my gender fluidity. I felt comfortable when my friends acknowledged my position between girl groups and boy groups. When my body grew into a female, I cried because of the uncomfortableness; but transitioning did not feel right either. Back then, I was confused being Japanese, British, heterosexual, homosexual, feminine and masculine all at the same time; and I always felt like I was not enough of anything. As my personality grew, I started to realize that I just need to be Emma. That is when I began to fully embrace the pleasure of feeling my identities.

  • Goken, 23
    Born in Shanghai, China. living in Tokyo, Japan

    Identifies as non-binary, genderqueer and x-gender. Uses the pronoun he/him.

    - A person is just who they are, even if they are born genetically male or female, that does not mean that they have to act that way, there is no need for separation between genders. I do not like all the labeling. There should not be any borders between what men should do or what women should do, neither masculinity and femininity. I felt like transgender from birth, but last year they realized that they are not transgender but non-binary instead. When I was trans, I had a lot of anxiety and emotional issues because of the decision of getting surgery. Lots of trans people either get surgery,
    and they are still unsatisfied and wind up committing suicide. Other people can not get the surgery for some reason and wind up committing suicide. I hope that the concept of non-binary gender catches up in Japan and Asia more so that more people can be freed like I was saved. When I realized that I could be both genders in the same body, I felt utterly released. After thinking about it, I can not understand why this was ever a problem, to begin with. Even everyday small things like filling out your gender on a form would cause me so much emotional trauma, all of that just disappeared. It was so many limits that I was imposing on myself, that I realized was such a waste.

  • Gabriel, 19
    Born in Chicago. Lives in Denver, Colorado, US

    Identifies as non-binary. Uses the pronouns they/them.

    - Last year, at my work, they were referring to people as 'they, them, theirs' instead of assuming people's genders, that really made me think about who I was as a person. For me, being non-binary means that I do not want to be categorized with one group; I want to be whoever I want to be. I do not want to be pulled into one gender. I want to embrace both, but also be in between and not be either, because I feel that gender is a social construct, and that we have created them to separate people. I am feminine but also masculine, but I do not want to be referred to as either. I would want to tell people to be more open-minded - educate yourself on certain things that you might not be aware of - because at one point in my life, I was not aware of it, and now I am here. Me educating myself have changed my life completely.

  • Angie, 43
    Born in Trinidad & Tobago, lives in London, UK

    Identifies as a non-binary person. Angie uses the pronouns they/them.

    - I do define myself as a non-binary person. I was originally assigned female at birth, and that never really felt right, but I also did not identify as male. It kind of took me a long time to work out what I was. And then, at some point, I came across the concept of non-binary, and that just felt right. To me, it is about being able to accept myself in any way, and not feel bad, or that I am doing it wrong or that I am not being enough of a woman or enough of a man. I can kind of create my gender without feeling that I am not authentic.

  • Ozi, 22
    Born in East Java, lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Identifies as non-binary. Uses the pronouns she/her.

    - I lean more towards being non-binary, because I love my feminine side. I explore myself through art, fashion, I wear women’s clothing, heels and so on. It has been a long journey for me. I came out as LGBT in junior high school, to my close friend. After being in Milan and working in fashion, I started to feel more like myself. I realized it was ok to be me, and after moving back to Indonesia, I felt more comfortable with being myself. I feel like I am more women now, but it has been changing, like this is a male body but a woman’s soul. But, I have experimented a lot with my gender. My parents are still close-minded about this. I want to help them become more open-minded. I told them times are changing, and they have come to be more accepting once they understood that I am capable of supporting myself and living independently. I have felt this way since I was very young. Non-binary to me is a person that is either male or female, but actively takes on the role of the opposite gender. Transsexuals would want to change their whole identity to female or male. Transsexual is more like the next level after non-binary. For me the name is not so important, the self is more important.


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