This week's Bloc Feature has been shared by the electric zine #EnbyLife. #EnbyLife is a zine about non-binary experiences and stories featuring writers, artists and creatives from Australia and overseas. Non-binary (enby) people don't fit within western society's gender binary of male and female, for example genderqueer and agender people, and are often silenced or misunderstood. #EnbyLife aims to elevate and exhibit writing and art by non-binary people to give them a space for their voices to be heard. You can buy #EnbyLife on Etsy, and from stockists at Junky Comics (Brisbane) and Sticky Institute (Melbourne).
Deconstructed Gender: A Tried-And-True Recipe For Unwinding The Binary
Step one: Be born. Have the seeds of a particular gender assigned to you. Pay no regard to this, since you are an infant, and learning how to breathe air is much more important to you right now.
Step two: Figure out, in increments, how the world works. Stir the mass of religious upbringing, learned bigotry, and yet-unquestioned ideals until smooth.
Step three: Around age 11, remark to your mother that you don't think you have the part in your head that tells you you're a girl. Do not be alarmed if she looks at you, puzzled, for a few seconds.
Step four: After puberty has caused you to rise, discover David Bowie. This step can be altered by replacing him with other famous gender non-conforming stars, depending on your tastes. Spend hours getting lost in Wikipedia, clicking deeper down the rabbit hole of "androgyny" and "non-binary" and "bigender". The longer you spend on this step, the better.
Step five: Try a certain type of gender. Decide that you don't like the taste.
Step six: After about 17 years, come to the conclusion that genders aren't really your thing. Put your dish of gender away until such time as you wish to reheat it. Forget about it. Let it grow mouldy and rancid until you forget what it was in the first place. So many people love genders, and for good reason, you're sure - but your palette is simply not refined enough for the taste.
Step seven: Feel full and satisfied anyway.
When I put the call out for #EnbyLife submissions, I received such an incredible response. The submissions showcased the diversity and talent within the non-binary community. When Nikki Nicnevin sent me their piece, I instantly knew I had to include it in the zine. I wanted to make sure #EnbyLife included stories of exploration and Nikki's piece, weaved with a witty and confessional voice, does this really well.
I also knew it was important to include stories from people who didn't adhere to gender labels. There is often a push for non-binary and gender nonconforming people to name their identity, so people can better understand them. To disregard the gender binary is one thing, but to not use a gender label is often viewed negatively as flippant or indecisive. Nikki's piece busts this myth wide open and starts an important conversation – one where we look at identity as something that doesn't have to be labeled or even fully understood.
Rae White, Editor
Nikki Nicnevin (they/them pronouns) is a Brisbane artist who doesn't understand most things, including gender. They can be reached at nikki.nicnevin[at]gmail, or on Instagram @caointeach.