Non-Binary Student Commits Suicide by Cop

Scout Schultz was a 21-year student at Georgia Tech and the leader of the Georgia Tech LGBT Alliance.

scout

Why?

I don’t know anything about Scout’s state of mind, but I have to say that this incident isn’t puzzling to me like some such incidents are, because Scout was non-binary, and non-binary people don’t fit anywhere. Not only don’t we fit into the usual categories in the world; we’re even out of place among LGBTQ groups. Even transgender people, who themselves are often on the margins of the already-marginalized LGBTQ community, are usually one gender or the other.

As a non-binary person, it’s hard not to feel like you’re misplaced, a permanent outsider. It’s also hard to believe sometimes that you will ever find a romantic partner, because you can’t be understood at a glance, and it’s usually impossible to know who might even have the capacity to be romantically interested in you just by looking. Straight and gay people generally have a huge pool of potential soulmates (or one-night stands, depending on what they’re looking for). Trans people and non-binary people, on the other hand, are often left wondering if there’s anyone at all for them.

None of these things forces a person to suicide, but they certainly don’t help.

Sorry, but a thing about words

According to a BBC article, Scout “identified as intersex,” but intersex means having been born with ambiguous sexual anatomy; it’s not a gender identity in the usual sense. Apparently Scout had described themself in a profile as “bisexual, nonbinary and intersex,” but I’m disappointed that the BBC didn’t check their terminology and stick with the adjective that appears to be most accurate, “nonbinary.” In reality, it seems as though Scout was not intersex–for instance, according to the Washington Post,

Both parents remembered well the time that Scout came out to them.

“It wasn’t a shock because we’re welcoming and loving parents,” Bill Schultz [Scout’s father] said. “It shouldn’t have been hard for Scout to come out but I think there were some issues involved there which is why they did a session in therapy.”

I don’t imagine Bill Schultz would have been that surprised at Scout coming out if Scout actually were intersex, so I can only conclude that Scout misunderstood what the word meant and that media outlets aren’t checking their terms to make sure they correct the mistake. That’s disappointing, because the words really do matter. Intersex people can be male, female, non-binary, or other, just like anyone else. It doesn’t help for media outlets to be sloppy about their word usage and suggest otherwise. That’s a good way to spread confusion.

3 thoughts on “Non-Binary Student Commits Suicide by Cop”

  1. I think it’s better to trust Scout’s word on whether they were intersex. A lot of intersex conditions don’t show up for years, and most intersex people are raised as a single binary gender from birth, and would still surprise their parents if they came out as trans.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kai. I worry about people misusing gender and gender identity terms, since it’s confusing enough already, but then, I have to agree there’s good reason to just take people at their word when they describe themselves! I appreciate you adding that perspective.

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