Aiming to be Obsolete: NGNCA Breaks Down the Barriers of ‘Norms’

It was in the midst of the pandemic that Jay Conrad, a third-year law student, decided to form an association with the purpose of addressing the specific needs of non-binary students. The Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming and Allies Student Assocation (NGNCA) works towards achieving institutional change surrounding the inclusion of non-binary perspectives, gender-neutral bathrooms and pronoun roster changes, while creating a space for non-binary students seeking community. 

Third-year Law Student Emma Daniels, the disabilities intersectionality officer and a founding member, explained how NGNCA provides non-binary folks with a supportive environment in an academic institution.

“[Our goal] is to be obsolete. We’re trying to foster this environment where non-binary and gender non-conforming students are able to flourish and essentially don’t have any barriers of administrative systems and cultural norms. We’d like it to be for people to look at this group and eventually be like, ‘Why does this group exist? Non-binary people don’t need anything anymore,’” Daniels said.

The NGNCA association also welcomes those wishing to explore more of their identity and allies that are looking to become better at understanding the needs of others that are different from their own. 

Third-year Seattle U Law student Bisma Shoaib, treasurer and founding member, shared her observations regarding a lack of safe spaces for non-binary students from the perspective of an ally.  

“[I’ve been in an environment] where there were no safe spaces for non-binary and queer people to openly talk or have a space to expres concerns that they had, especially in an academic setting. I’ve seen how taxing it is on them rather than focusing on school. It takes a huge toll on their identity, but also their learning experience in school. I wanted to make sure that our law school doesn’t eradicate our attempts for change,” Shoaib said. 

The NGNCA association coordinates with the Womxn of Color Coalition, the Black Law Student Assocation and the Undocumented Law Student Assocation to keep other minority voices involved in overcoming institutional barriers. Conrad highlighted the existing intersections between marginalized groups.

“The other function we serve is the education of decolonization of gender because so much of gender-policing is rooted in racial inequality, specifically for Black bodies and how they should appear. Highlighting diverse experiences [and] the idea of a binary gender being a western construct. It is a part of colonization and making sure that is part of our message is really important,” Conrad said. 

Beyond that, the NGNCA association worked with the legal writing department to increase the representation of non-binary people in fictional memos that are used in class assignments. The club also actively coordinates with the newly formed Names and Pronouns Task Force. The task force is pushing for logistical change around rosters to ensure that names are appearing correctly with the participation of the Seattle U School of Law administration. 

Even though the NGNCA association is primarily based in the law school, the group is seeking to increase visibility across campus and to the population of undergraduate students. 

“Once we realized that we can connect with the undergrads more easily, that is something we’re really interested in cultivating. There is less support for non-binary, gender non-conforming students at the university at large than there is at the law school. We would like to leverage some of the privileges that we have here and the administrative connections that we’ve made,” Conrad said. 

The NGNCA will be hosting an event called Transgiving to provide a safe space for people to celebrate.

“Holidays can be a really taxing time for a lot of people and we wanted to make sure that it goes back to the idea of [establishing] a safe space and that we’re building community. No matter what is happening in the outside world, they have a space to celebrate holidays so instead of Thanksgiving we have Transgiving,” Shoaib said. 

Aside from Transgiving, there are a few other dates throughout the month of November that members of the NGNCA association brought to light; Nov. 12 is Trans Day of Remembrance and Nov. 28 is Social Justice Monday. Trans Awareness Week is held Nov. 14-18. 

NGNCA is already making institutional impacts and invites others to join them in the process. Eager to further institutionalized change at the university, they are seeking to enhance non-binary inclusivity at Seattle U.