Nonbinary gender is an umbrella term covering any gender identity that doesn't fit within the gender binary. The label may also be used by individuals wishing to identify as falling outside of the gender binary without being any more specific about the nature of their gender. This has some overlap with gender nonconforming, a label for individuals whose gender expression doesn't fit within the gender binary, without being any more specific about how their expression varies from it.
As an umbrella term, nonbinary has similar scope to genderqueer, with most nonbinary-identifying individuals also considering themselves genderqueer. However the terms have different meanings and connotations. The word genderqueer came into use at least ten years before the word nonbinary, so earlier sources use one word in place of the other.
There are many kinds of nonbinary gender identities. Just a few of these identities are:
- Transgender is an umbrella term for all genders that go beyond society’s ideas of gender, which includes some kinds of binary gender people. However, some call their gender identity simply "transgender," as a nonbinary identity itself.
- Nonbinary is an umbrella term for all who don't identify as just female or male. Though there are many kinds of nonbinary identities, some people identify as "nonbinary" only.
- Intergender people have a nonbinary gender identity and were born with intersex bodies. Androgyne has a related meaning.
- Genderqueer is a non-normative gender identity or expression. This can be an umbrella term, or a specific identity.
- Agender people find that they have no inner sense of their gender identity. That is, they have no gender.
- Neutrois is often a transsexual identity, and usually means a gender neither female nor male, but neutral.
- Genderfluid people feel they have different gender identities at different times. Bigender people have two, changing between them, or at the same time.
For many more, see category:nonbinary. In addition to those in the above list, many cultures have traditions that give recognition to more genders than in the Western gender binary: see gender-variant identities worldwide.
In 2014, Kye Rowan designed the nonbinary flag, shown at right. This flag is meant to "represent nonbinary folk who did not feel that the genderqueer flag represented them. This flag was intended to go alongside Marilyn Roxie's genderqueer flag rather than replace it. The flag consists of four stripes. From top to bottom: yellow represents those whose gender exists outside of and without reference to the binary as yellow is often used to distinguish something as its own. White represents those who have many or all genders as white is the photological presence of color and/or light. The purple stripe represents those who feel their gender is between or a mix of female and male as purple is the mix of traditional boy and girl colors. The purple also could be seen as representing the fluidity and uniqueness of nonbinary people. The final black stripe represents those who feel they are without gender, as black is the photological absence of color and/or light." The nonbinary flag and the genderqueer flag are both options for nonbinary people to use to symbolize themselves, and take different approaches to how to symbolize nonbinary genders.
In 2014, "Nonbinary" was one of the 56 genders made available on Facebook.
Nonbinary presentation and expression
There is no single or 'correct' way to perform a nonbinary gender. Most nonbinary people are primarily motivated by the desire to be comfortable and true to themselves rather than attempting to follow any particular gender role. Nonbinary people may or may not experience gender dysphoria or may experience only bodily or social dysphoria. Nonbinary is a wide umbrella term covering a large number of gender identities and expressions. Whichever way any particular nonbinary person needs or chooses to present, express or perform their gender is as valid as any other.
Not all nonbinary people experience gender dysphoria or follow the 'transition' narrative. Some feel that there is no social role or body to 'transition' to and so simply focus on being themselves.
Androgynous or gender neutral presentation
Some nonbinary people may choose or need to present an androgynous or gender neutral gender expression; perhaps choosing to hide, remove or blend gender cues. This is personal to each individual and is not any more nonbinary than any other way of expressing a nonbinary gender.
Some nonbinary people experience bodily dysphoria relating to certain primary or secondary sexual characteristics. The act of obscuring, removing or replacing these sexual characteristics in order to reduce gender dysphoria may result in physical androgyny without the individual having set out to specifically obtain an androgynous presentation.
Some nonbinary people may choose or need to present a 'clashing' combination of gender cues that are incongruous, challenging or shocking to those who expect others to fit the gender binary. For example, combining a beard with makeup and a padded bra. This practice of transgressively breaking the rules of gender presentation is known as genderfuck, genderfucking or sometimes genderpunk.
Gender neutral language
Some nonbinary people prefer to be referred to using gender neutral language and pronouns. Some choose a gender neutral title such as Mx or Misc for formal communications. Others may opt for no title.
Expanding or subverting binary gender roles and language
Some nonbinary people prefer to expand on or subvert what is considered socially acceptable for their assigned gender. This may involve preferring binary pronouns while crossdressing, blending or mixing gender cues or otherwise subverting the expectations society places on that gender role. Some may consider this to be a political act, for others this is simply an expression of self identity or personality.
Some nonbinary people have no preference for gender neutral language, but instead have a preference against the language and pronouns associated with the gender they were assigned at birth.
- Nonbinary gender outside of the transgender community
- "Pride Flags." Gender Wikia. http://gender.wikia.com/wiki/Pride_Flags
- Eve Shapiro, Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. Unpaged.