This is a restored post from my WordPress, originally posted on June 28, 2022. I still agree with everything I said here.
As most of you know, I co-admin a social media site, called nnia.space. NNIA stands for “Non-Normative Identities Alliance”, and it is an ideological moment, started by me and Kamil Beylant in 2019 on Twitter.
I already wrote before that I believe the norm to be one of the most oppressive social institutions. What is seen as the norm is rarely objectively better, rarely practically achievable – autism cannot be cured, homosexuality cannot be converted into heterosexuality, and gay and autistic people can thrive as themselves when their needs are met to the same degree as the needs of their normative peers. Instead of encouraging and promoting “becoming normal”, I propose supporting people’s self determination, autonomy, and meeting their individual needs (including providing medical assistance to the ones that seek it, because wanting to be normal and wanting to not be in pain are different things).
But many social groups, hurt by the norm, lack solidarity with each other and instead try to gain favors from their oppressors by joining in to the oppression of other minorities. Non-Normative Identities Alliance is meant to counter this phenomenon. Not surprisingly, myself and most other activists who initially joined this movement belong to several non-normative identities at once.
So, what are the non-normative identities?
1. LGBT/queer/MOGAI people.
LGBT, queer, and MOGAI are three largely overlapping groups of people. LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender”, “queer” is an old common identity for these categories of people (currently some find this term offensive), “MOGAI” means “marginalized orientations, genders, and intersex” and was initially proposed as a more inclusive term. These three words describe roughly the same phenomenon – deviating from what the society expects of men and women in terms of gender presentation, sexual development, search for a partner. The most well-discussed facets of this are falling in love with someone of your own gender, undergoing a gender transition/sex change. Others may include having ambiguous biological sex, not experiencing sexual or romantic attractions to anyone at all, not having a gender identity, accepting inanimate objects or abstract concepts as parts of one’s gender identity, and much more.
2. Neurodivergent people
Neurodivergence, or neuro diversity, is a term that describes any brain configuration that makes it different from the “standard”. This group includes mental disorders and disabilities and some brain features that, even though atypical, do not cause problems for the person. Neurodivergent activism is often done by a movement called MAD Pride.
3. People with physical body variations
I am unaware whether any proper umbrella term exists here. Please, tell me if you know one. This group includes physically disabled people and people who have non-disabling atypical body features. Disabled activists have developed an ideological framework for discussing their oppression, called “crip theory”. The body positivity movement, before it suffered the influence of marketing, focused on both.
Paraphiliacs are people who are attracted to actions that are not sex acts, inanimate objects, body parts that are not sex characteristics, or beings that are not consenting adult (or peer in age) human partners. Sadomasochism, shoe fetishism, pedophilia are examples of paraphilias. Paraphiliac groups are sometimes disconnected from one another, because less stigmatized paraphiliacs focus more on sex, and more stigmatized ones are preoccupied with social activism (and some do not seek to act on their attractions, like anti contact maps).
5. Everyone who relates the idea of being non-normative
When I was helping design the NNIA flag, the black space around the symbols was supposed to mean a place for more people. The society changes, some old groups lose relevance, new ones emerge.
One example of a group that emerged already after NNIA is transitional identities (transX, transid). These are identities that work by the same principle as transgender, but focus on some parameter other than gender – for example, transage, transspecies.
Members of different non-normative groups sometimes respond to each other with violence. They’re worried that association will make the oppressors to double down on the mistreatment, they don’t think the problems the other group faces are as real and important, they suspect others of being trolls, in some causes they even believe oppression of the other to be justified. This gets us nowhere. We can advance and create a more humane future only by seeing an equal person in each other, and in other marginalized groups that are not inherently non-normative.