GenderMapper recently published a blog post critical of nonbinary identities and the increasing trend of gender nullification surgeries. She describes the sales pitch to “fashion an altogether non human experience.” There are a number of surgeons willing to experiment on the human body, not as a life-saving measure after 3rd degree burns or after sex-based violence such as acid attacks, but to satiate their curiosity and make money doing it. For those who seek and perform these surgeries, the question we ask is “What does it mean to be human?”
Certainly, there are any number of medical advances that we can make snipping this and stitching onto that, but at what point will be realize that the concept of “nullifying” anyone is akin to a kind of death to the experience of being human. Books discussing the physical and psychological damage of the Vietnam War, such as The Things They Carried and Johnny Got His Gun, ask us to reflect on that question of what it means to be human and how much of the things that make us human are not only physical, but psychological and emotional. The human experience is one of connection between all those parts of us that cannot be separated and cannot be “nullified,” no matter how much our insurance is willing to pay.
This newly popular non-binary identity is a kind of non-human experience that is an extreme manifestation of people-pleasing, as described in this episode of Gender: A Wider Lens, but it is also a way to disappear, avoid conflict or distress, and detach from all the experiences that make us fully human. The extreme anxiety that drives someone to spend thousands of dollars to snip, stitch, stick, and scar in sensitive places, like genitals, that are prone to deadly infections is the opposite of being your “authentic self.” GenderMapper notes that this is touted as “gender expansive,” but it is actually an expanding set of patients for the medical establishment and a multiplicity of problems that will last one’s entire lifetime. We wish for no person to "nullify" any part of themselves—not their body parts, not their feelings, not their names—and we want surgeons to stop participating in this medical experimentation.