“Be aggressively you. Do not be afraid to be yourself; to trust your instincts,” emphasises  Mon Schafter, Content Lead for ABCQueer, an experimental channel for LGBTQI young Australians by the Australian public broadcaster ABC.

To commemorate International Non-Binary Peoples Day, Star Observer talked with Schafter about life, LGBTQI communities, and pronouns.

According to Schafter, non-binary basically means “someone who doesn’t identify exclusively as male or female.”

They continued, “On a personal level, I agree with [Australian musician] G Flip’s description of it being a bit of a gender smoothie. So for me, it sort of captures my feminine traits, my masculine traits, how my gender expression can change from day to day. It’s a nice inclusive term that captures the diversity of who I am.”

There’s No Right Answer

When it comes to the complexities of how a person identifies, Schafter says there is no “right” answer.

“With language and identity, it really just comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what feels most right to you at any point in time. 

“Knowing that language will evolve, your identity might evolve, you might change the language that you use to describe yourself. 

“I feel like that’s why a lot of people are using the word queer because it captures some of the spectrum that exists out there.”

Explaining why it is important to use people’s correct pronouns, Schafter says, “I think it shows that you see people for who they are and that you respect them for who they are.” 

When asked what a person should do if you get someone’s pronouns wrong, they say, “If you realize that you’ve made a mistake, just apologize and move on quickly and don’t make a big deal of it. 

“But again, it comes down to the individual and some people really don’t like it if you don’t get the pronouns right. And that’s completely understandable. But again, it’s sort of each to their own.”

ABC Queer

Schafter started their career at the ABC in 2009, working on a comedy current affairs show called Hungry Beast

After Hungry Beast, Schafter spent several years as a reporter on 7.30 before being asked by ABC to consult on a new project catering to the queer communities.

“I just spilled everything and said, Yep, that’s great, but you need to consider this and this and we’re not just a big homogenous mess that agrees with each other. 

“There’s so much diversity within all those letters in the acronym and make sure you consult with this organization. And this person kind of said a lot. And then they came back to me the next week and just said, Oh, can you like lead this project? I was like, oh, okay, cool.”

Mon Schafter and Blanche

Schafter lives with their partner and their two Chinese Crested dogs in Maroubra, a beachside suburb in Sydney’s east. 

Moving forward, Schafter says they would love to visit the Great Barrier Reef. “I still haven’t seen the Great Barrier Reef, and I want to see it before, you know, we stuff our environment and the coral is no longer there,” they said with a nervous chuckle. So I’d love to go snorkelling and diving the Great Barrier Reef.”

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