Ford is non-binary: "I just feel like me"

12 Apr 2022 10:08

People who do not belong in the category ''man'' or ''woman'' are often confronted with resistance and a lack of understanding. Ford Curlingford (they/them) is a non-binary student of Communication & Multimedia Design at the AUAS. Ford is also a photographer and makes films about queer stories and people who are not often heard in society. Ford hopes to increase visibility and understanding at the AUAS about being non-binary.

A quest to find myself

"For me, being non-binary means that I don't feel comfortable with the gender norms of male and female. I just feel like me, with masculine but also feminine sides. I don't want to choose between them. I used to play only with boys and practised what you might call 'masculine' sports such as mountain biking and climbing. However, as a result of the expectations from my peers, I started to behave more and more like a female. I became a stewardess and forgot my masculine side a bit. Frequent travelling and being on my own triggered a search for myself. I read many articles on gender identity and discovered that how I felt corresponded to being non-binary. Hormone treatments allowed me to finally have a lower voice. That did so much for my self-confidence. Hard to believe that your voice can give you so much power."

All-gender toilets

Since October 2021, every AUAS building has an all-gender toilet group that can be used by anyone who does not feel comfortable in a male or female toilet. Ford is delighted. "In the beginning I would just go to the men's or women's toilet. But as I became more comfortable with my gender identity, I felt pressure every time I had to make a choice between male and female. When I go to the women's toilet it feels like I'm denying myself, and when I go to the men's toilet I exaggerate my masculinity to get in."

Out of your safety bubble

"When I came out as non-binary, my friends’ reactions were positive, but some teachers and fellow students find it difficult to understand. Some teachers still address me as 'she' or call me by my girl name. That really sets me off." Ford hopes that awareness of being non-binary will increase at the AUAS. "If we make space for dialogue, people could step out of their safety bubble and discover other narratives. This can create more understanding." Ford would encourage other non-binary youth to seek out groups that listen to them. "Find your own people, people who make you feel connected and loved."

A lot of people still have to adapt to gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them/theirs. AUAS student Beate van Garderen designed a prototype for a speech app to practise this. Do you have a question about diversity and inclusion at the AUAS? Or do you have an idea or suggestion? Mail us at Do you want to meet fellow students or colleagues who are involved with the LGBTQI+ community? Please send an e-mail to