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Non-binary author Alok Vaid-Menon expertly deconstructs gender in powerful clip

Michele Theil August 2, 2021
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Alok Vaid-Menon talking into a microphone

Alok Vaid-Menon. (Instagram/Man Enough)

Non-binary author and poet Alok Vaid-Menon brilliantly deconstructed gender in a viral Instagram video, catching the attention of thousands. 

As an internationally acclaimed writer, performer, and public speaker, Vaid-Menon is no stranger to conversations about deconstructing gender. 

Appearing on the Man Enough podcast, they shared their thoughts in response to one of the co-hosts asking what he could unlearn in order to better support gender non-conforming people.

“I’m non-binary, which means it’s not just that I’m challenging the binary between male/female, man/woman, but between us and them,” Vaid-Menon said.

“And in your statement you said, ‘Why don’t I help them’, as if this struggle is not your struggle too. The reason don’t fight for me is because you’re not fighting for yourself fully.

“Any movement that’s trying to emancipate men from the shackles of hetero-patriarchy, or emancipate women from traditional gender ideology, has to have trans and non-binary people at the forefront, because we are actually the most honest.”

“We’re tracing the root: where do these ideas of manhood and womanhood come from? They come from a binary structure.

“That’s why people like me who are visibly gender non-conforming, who are both feminine and masculine and none of the above, we experience the brunt of all of these collective fantasies that were created, that are killing other people, that are also killing us – it just looks different.”

The clip has received over 300,000 likes, and over 2,000 comments, the majority of which were both supportive and amazed by Vaid-Menon’s monologue.

Among the commenters were former Nickelodeon star Avan Jogia, who commented “love you friend”, while Valentina from RuPaul’s Drag Race posted heart emojis in support.

Vaid-Menon went on to explore the history of colonialism and its connection to the gender binary, stating: “I come from people who were exterminated and targeted by colonists because the gender binary – and we can get into this – was superimposed on Black people and Indigenous people and people of colour by European colonists.”

“The reason they targeted us was because they knew our power. The reason that there’s so much animus against me is because of my power.”

Vaid-Menon explained that one of the key components of their work is to say: “Don’t show up for me because you want to protect me, or you want to help me.”

“I don’t need your help. I have an unshakeable and irrevocable sense of who I am because I am divine.”

They asked to rephrase the question, asking “are you ready to heal?” and “can you help me get free?” instead of the hosts’ original question of helping trans and non-binary people.

Vaid-Menon said: “I don’t think the majority of people are ready to heal and that’s why they repress us as trans and gender-variant people because they’ve done this violence to themselves first.”

Related topics: non-binary

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