I’ve got it pretty good for a genderdiverse person. But I can’t live with that unless the circumstances of people at the bottom are lifted.
Aych McArdle has had to take on the role of teaching people to use plurals instead of the binary ‘he, she, him, her, his and hers’ when discussing gender fluid people, or any number of categories on the sexual identity spectrum.
The 28-year-old identifies as ‘gender queer’ which means Aych doesn’t relate to any gender, hence there is no ‘he’ or ‘she’ to be used, but instead the pronoun ‘they’. They are well up to any lobbying task.
Aych was this year selected as the first New Zealander accepted for the Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme run by the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, held in June. “I saw that applications had opened and thought YOLO (you only live once).”
Aych has form. A former full-time staffer at Rainbow Youth (RY), then board member, Aych has had practice advising governmental bodies, including the Ministries of Health, Social Development and Youth Affairs. As education director at RY they oversaw strategic development and ran professional workshops for educators going out to Auckland schools.
The programme in Geneva enables participants to directly engage in lobbying and advocacy at the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, with the aim of effecting change back home. Before leaving for Geneva, Aych said, “I’ll learn about international treaties as well as being informed on the protections for human rights defenders around the world.”
Aych graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts but ramped up their already politicised activity when coming out firstly as lesbian and now gender fluid.
“I was raised on social justice values, courtesy of my Scottish, working-class parents and my Catholic education. I joined Amnesty International when I was 11.
“I’ve got it pretty good for a genderdiverse person. But I can’t live with that unless the circumstances of people at the bottom are lifted. Adapting the language from the binary gender vocabulary to non-gender wording is a powerful and logical learning tool for everyone.
“Using inappropriate terms is micro oppression that adds to already high minority stress.”