In this world, we strive to find a place for ourselves. To make sense of our experiences and explain our thoughts and feelings, physical or mental. And in the LGBTQ+ community, it is common for us to use labels and even newer ones, to describe our sexual orientation or gender experience. Now, many of these labels are made fun of as being not inclusive enough, or too inclusive, too vague, or even “made up” perpetuating the ultimate myth that Nonbinary folks are “transtrenders” that just want to feel “special”. But this is not the case. Being nonbinary can be a multitude of terms or in between terms that society has used before. I’ve talked about the gender-neutral pronoun “They”, and now I want to talk about terms to describe yourself and what they mean to me, as well as give you the chance to interpret what they could mean to you.
To keep this blog post from being crazy long, I am only going to go over the terms that I myself have felt or considered. I am someone who has considered about nine different terms, however, I do not represent all Nonbinary folks!
I experience the term Nonbinary as an umbrella term for not feeling like a man, and not feeling like a woman. I use this term almost exclusively now, because to me it is very informal and broad, and that’s kind of what my gender is like. Nonbinary is considered to be under the Trans umbrella by many, although if you identify as Non-binary you do not have to identify also as Trans.
Non-binary I think is a good label that is often used instead of other phrases like “Third gender” because that phrase is common in other cultures. Also noting the graphic picture above, those that identify with terms under the Nonbinary umbrella are not at all required to use the term Nonbinary as well, if that term does not feel right to them. For myself, it took me a while to find my niche term, and it might take others a while too!
Enby, as it took me a long time to figure out for some reason, is simply a shorter version of Nonbinary! Many Nonbinary folks shorten the long term to Enby, because online the initials NB is reserved for non-black people of color, and we try to respect that! So, Enby is a fun internet way to say the above term! I also see its use more in the younger generation (even younger than me), rather than the older Nonbinary generation.
Agender to me, is the absence of gender. It is having no gender. And while I have definitely sensed an absence of gender at times, I haven’t often connected or used this term. To me, the term as well as the flag, just seems bland. And maybe I just have too much gender in me to completely identify as lacking gender. This term I think would be the best for someone who feels that they feel absent from gender often, or those that don’t care or have a sort of apathy to gender as well.
This term is often synonymous with genderfluid, however they are different in their own ways. Folks that feel they are both binary genders or more, often use this term instead of genderfluid because it is broader and gives them a bigger sense of freedom in their gender, because as Chase Ross from Youtube says, “I am a squiggle”. This is what I imagine when I think of genderqueer is someone who’s a squiggly line and could go anywhere with their gender. I love this term and wish I connected with it more often. And while I do connect with queer as a sexuality term, my top label is still Non-binary. Mostly because if I was to take on genderqueer, I would feel like that includes feminine gender (even though it doesn’t have to) and I’m just not about that.
I probably should’ve mentioned genderfluid before genderqueer since I mentioned it in my definition, so sorry about that. Anyway, Genderfluid to me is fluctuating gender. It’s gender that you could be a woman one day, a man the next, or even nonbinary the third day. Your identity can fluctuate by just waking up everyday, and I think that’s crazy cool. Again, I don’t feel a strong connection to this one. But when I was questioning I did identify with it more, because I was trying to see if I still had some woman inside me. I didn’t, but it was nice to have the label anyway. I would recommend this label to those questioning as well as those who solidly change every day or every few hours! You do what you do and you are valid!
For those that identify under the Nonbinary and Trans umbrella, these terms are also used or placed next to the Nonbinary term, to represent a kind of leaning slant towards masculine or feminine Transgender. Think back to the Gneder Identity Diamond that I posted when I first started this blog. Some Nonbinary Trans folks are on a spectrum such as myself. I identify as Nonbinary Transmasculine, meaning I prefer my identity to be in the middle but also closer to masculinity than femininity. And some folks are the opposite than myself and leans more towards femininity. Identifying as Transmasculine or Transfeminine does not invalidate their Nonbinary label, it only strengthens their definition of their personal identity!
Now I will be going into terms that are commonly used with the terms above to describe how one explores and expresses their gender and themselves. I have not used these terms as exlusively identifying terms, more expression terms, however there are some that do use these as their identitfying terms. (hint: and they are valid).
Gender Neutral is one I’ll start with because it is a phrase commonly used in our society right now. Everywhere you go you have gender neutral bathrooms (though we could have more), dressing rooms, kids clothes, toys, clothing, and pet supplies (who am I kidding everything for pets is gendered for no reason). Around us in society are “gender neutral” or “I don’t care what you are, just buy or use this” things. Just like a size fits all that should be everywhere, gender neutral is commonly inclusive, which is why I like the term. Those in the LGBTQ+ community tend to see the phrase gender neutral as it’s applied to either their identity, their gender expression, or their gender role in society. My only other thoughts on the subject is that all bathrooms and dressing rooms should be gender neutral, because who cares we’re all human!
I’m guessing I don’t have to explain to you that we have some pretty rigid gender roles in this western world. We assume those with breasts are she/her, and those with facial hair are he/him. And Non-binary people well, we’re robots hellbent on destroying the world! (No seriously now I’ve told you my plans). However gender is a lot more nuanced than that, and is not always or even most of the time based on what you look like or express. For example it is totally valid to have a beard, long hair, wearing a dress and thigh highs, while also sporting some hunter’s boots, and using pronouns he/she/or they! Anyone can choose any pronouns that fit them, as well as any expression that fits them. The way gender non-conformists want to show the world, is crushing the status quo, in the best way possible, connected to your gender identity. And frankly I think that’s an amazing superpower.
Androgyny is simple, but also complicated. Simply, Andro derives from man, and gyne derives from woman, and together they make super man-woman! Although many see it as a term to describe in between or even completely lacking from the traditional expressions of the binary. To me, I look at the term Androgyne when describing my gender expression as I wear (mens section) most other clothing, but (womens section) jeans and pjs, and I have my hair short on one side and long on the other, so I am expressing a little bit of both gender binary expressions.
Androgyne fashion and expression is popular in the Nonbinary community because it helps those that feel in between the binary or completely seperate from it, a way to express that to the world. An Androgyne person could have luxurious long hair but wear a traditionally “mens” suit for example. Androgyne is also used by some as their gender identity because it feels right to them as a both or in between identity. And that makes sense to me, even though I think of Androgyne mostly as expression. Another reason to love Androgyny is that it has no set expectations from society as well. No strict gender roles that you have to fulfill. And to a nonbinary person who also identifies with Androgyny, having that pressure to perform off of you can be really freeing!
I hope you enjoyed these personal definitions of some labels that describe some genders outside of the binaries! Lemme know If you wanna hear my take on some different terms in the comments below! Also subscribe to my email list! The sign up is down below!
Thank you. Love,