Outside the Binary

by Linda Bournane Engelberth

The portrait project “Outside the Binary” explores the world of people that identify as non-binary. “Genderqueer people see gender not as binary with men or women, but as a spectrum that ranges from masculinity to femininity. Most genderqueer people identify somewhere between or outside of conventional masculinity or femininity.” Many non-binary people use the gender-neutral pronoun they/them. This portrait project shows the diversity of non-binary people.

Edea, 28, Norway

Edea, 28, Norway

At this time, I can’t see us all agreeing on what gender actually is. As such, I can’t define myself in terms of gender either, and I don’t feel the need to. There’s so much more exciting and interesting to a person than their gender or sexual orientation.

My sexual orientation means I’m attracted to a certain group of people, and that’s 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 didn’t 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’t 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’s all positive.

I’ve realized that I can be exactly who I am, in the body that I have. I don’t need any acknowledgment either way. It’s not so much that I’ve changed, but through living and learning, with time and experience, I’ve developed new views. And so, I see myself in a new light.

Luca, 25, England

Luca, 25, England

“I rather use genderqueer than non-binary. It’s 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 don’t want to conform to something that feels oppressive. To me, it’s very much about complicating gender to make space in between what most people see as male and female. 

Embracing genderqueer let’s 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.”

Falk, 21, Norway

Falk, 21, Norway

Identifies as Agender; often described as someone who identify and express their gender completely outside of the gender binary. Also identifies as a Non-binary transperson. Falk uses the pronouns «they/them».

To find myself outside of the gender binary gives me room to be exactly who I truly am. Through existing completely outside of these boxes of “boy” and “girl” I’m able to create something entirely different. Agender of my own – my own gender. I believe there are as many genders as there are stars in the universe – or people on this planet. I don’t believe we should erase binary gender identity all together. I believe we should create space for people who don’t want to be a part of it. I want to live in a world where everyone feel free to express their true authenticity – and not feel limited by what other people assume or expect based on outdated gender norms.

Fay, 20, England

Fay, 20, England

Identify as a Non-binary person. Fay uses the pronoun “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, one day androgynous, but internally I consistently feel like I’m neither. I feel like I couldn’t put myself into being male which is why I’m not a trans male and I could not identify myself as a cis gender female because I dont think I’m all female so its definitely something that is 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 dont know, I introduce myself as them because I think they get the idea that I’m non-binary faster then. And it makes it more consistent, I dont 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 of a underground almost like a thing people did to be different. Then I started realising that it actually a real thing I feel every day so its not like a trend. That people definitely have experiences that are valid when they are non-binary.

Ozi, 22, Indonesia

Ozi, 22, Indonesia

Identifies as non-binary, uses the pronoun “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’s 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 in being myself. I feel like I’m more woman 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, and 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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