Understanding Our Fellow Humans

By Caleilia Avery

Reprinted with permission from save.lgbt. This image covers the broad concepts of gender identity and gender expression. While it doesn’t include all the different options, it shows a spectrum.

The world is a place full of spectrums, and gender is no exception, though some like to think so. The notion that gender is only two distinctly separate categories brings those in the LGBTQ+ community who fall outside the two categories into a dangerous place, where many fear for their lives and well-being. Currently, gender binarism, the belief that one can only be a man or a woman, is the way that most people think they can be. For most of my life, I thought binarism was the only choice available, so I was mostly content with being a man. However, I always felt an itch that the way I was living wasn’t quite right. I started questioning myself around my Sophomore year of high school in Phoenix, Arizona, but being in a conservative state, I never felt comfortable bringing it up with anyone, even with the other queer people I knew. I couldn’t understand the way I was feeling because I had never been exposed to a non-binary person before. I ended up in a hospital for suicidality and depression, because at the time, it made me feel wrong inside. It wasn’t until I moved to Oakland that I saw people who were non-binary and began to realize how I felt was acceptable. Even with that in mind, I had to process it for the next two years. In March of 2015, I finally came out as genderfluid. and it wasn’t until the end of May that I changed my name from Peter to Caleilia.

It’s surprising to find out how many are unaware of the expansiveness of the gender spectrum and take offense when their views are challenged. Violence against transgender people is pervasive in our society. “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives,” according to the US Department of Justice. This isn’t some rare occurrence that has no relevance, it is 50% of all transgender individuals. In a report done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs or NCVAP, it was found that among the LGBTQ+ community, people of color are at a much higher risk than any other group as in most cases of hate crimes. 80% of all 20 LGBTQ+ homicide victims were people of color with 11 of the 20 being transgender women. Even the police have been found to be more violent towards transgender survivors of attacks by 6.1 times. The NCVAP has a clear goal to “prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within LGBTQ+ communities.”

People are afraid of what they do not understand, and gender identity is not something that very many people outside the community understand. The only way to lessen the prevalence of these attacks and have a more peaceful environment in general is to become more informed about the various ways people are. The LGBTQ+ community isn’t something to be afraid of, and those in it certainly don’t want everyone to conform to their views, just as they won’t conform to anyone else’s. All we, the LGBTQ+, ask is that those who don’t know about the wide spectrum to educate themselves and get to know a little bit more about us instead of assuming we are wrong or bad for society. There is nothing wrong with being different. To all those who are questioning themselves or have already answered their questions, know that you are not alone and there are many sources available to you.

For more info on the gender spectrum, go to:


For more figures on NCVAP report, go to:


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