On Coming Out Day, embracing those who don't identify as 'he' or 'she'

"Having a supportive environment around you makes you more able to thrive and survive."

Kristen Johanson
October 11, 2018 - 8:39 am
LGBTQ pride flag

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Oct. 11 marks the 30th National Coming Out Day, a day to help and encourage those in the LGBTQ community to be open and honest about who they are. In recent years, an increasing number of young people have been coming out as non-binary in gender. 

Most people identify as male or female, but for some like law student Jasper Katz, it's not that simple.
"I think the hardest part of coming out as non-binary was coming out to my mom," Katz said. "I was worried about how to explain it in a way she could understand."

Katz does not identify as she or he. The conversation was long, but worth it.

"It was a difficult situation, but I think my mom has a better understanding of who I am now," Katz said.

Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs, has some advice.

"These are people who do not identify exclusively as male or female," Hikes said, adding that they can be in the middle or not identify with either gender.

"Folks like 14-24, we see a great rise in people identifying as non-binary," Hikes said.

Those within the LGBTQ community tend to have "higher instances of mental health and substance abuse issues," Hikes said. "It can truly be life or death, whether you accept and embrace who they are as people, so when you have the capacity to do that, please do."

Hikes says for anyone on the receiving end of news that a loved one may be gay, trans or non-binary, just listen to them, and be open.

"Let them know you love them because of who they are," she said. "Having a supportive environment around you makes you more able to thrive and survive."