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Genderqueer (GQ), also termed non-binary or gender-expansive, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍—‌identities which are thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.[1] Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:

  • having an overlap of, or indefinite lines between, gender identity;[2]
  • having two or more genders (being bigender, trigender, or pangender);
  • having no gender (being agender, nongendered, genderless, genderfree or neutrois);
  • moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid);[3] or
  • being third gender or other-gendered, a category which includes those who do not place a name to their gender.[4]

Definitions and identity[edit]

A flag with lavender on top, white in the middle and dark chartreuse green on the bottom.
Genderqueer pride flag

In addition to being an umbrella term, genderqueer has been used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress distinctions of gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity, i.e., those who "queer" gender, expressing it non-normatively, or overall not conforming into the binary genders, man and woman.[5] Androgynous (also androgyne) is frequently used as a descriptive term for people in this category, though genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression, and not all identify as androgynous. However, the term has been applied by those describing what they see as a gender ambiguity.[6] Some references use the term transgender broadly, in such a way that it includes genderqueer/non-binary people.[7][8][9]

A flag that consists of four stripes coloured (from top to bottom) yellow, white, purple and black.
Non-binary pride flag

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Gender Spectrum use the term gender-expansive to convey "a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system".[10]

A flag that consists of five horizontal stripes coloured (top to bottom) pink, white, purple, black and blue.
Genderfluid pride flag

A person who is genderfluid prefers to remain flexible about their gender identity rather than committing to a single gender.[11] They may fluctuate between genders or express multiple genders at the same time.[11][12]

An agender person ('a−' meaning "without"), also called genderless, genderfree, non-gendered, or ungendered,[13][14] is someone who identifies as having no gender or being without a gender identity.[15][16][17] Although this category includes a broad range of identities which do not conform to traditional gender norms, scholar Finn Enke states that people who identify with any of these positions may not necessarily self-identify as transgender.[18] Agender people have no specific set of pronouns; singular they is typically used, but it is not the default.[19] Neutrois and agender were two of 50 available custom genders on Facebook, which were added on 13 February 2014.[20] Agender is also available as a gender option on OkCupid since 17 November 2014.[21]

A flag that consists of seven horizontal stripes coloured (top to bottom) black, grey, white, green, white, grey, black.
Agender pride flag

Some genderqueer people[22][23] also desire physical modification or hormones to suit their preferred expression. The World Health Organization considers sex and gender to be distinct concepts.[24] Some genderqueer people identify as a male woman or a female man, or combine genderqueer with another gender option.[25] Gender identity is separate from sexual or romantic orientation,[23] and genderqueer people have a variety of sexual orientations, just like transgender and cisgender people do.[26]

Gender neutrality[edit]

Main article: Gender neutrality

Gender neutrality is the movement to end discrimination of gender altogether in society through means of gender-neutral language, the end of sex segregation, and other means.

Pronouns and titles[edit]

Some genderqueer people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns such as one, ze, sie, hir, co, ey or singular "they", "their" and "them", while others prefer the conventional gender-specific pronouns "her" or "him". Some genderqueer people prefer to be referred to alternately as he and she, and some prefer to use only their name and not use pronouns at all.[27] Many genderqueer people prefer additional neutral language, such as the title "Mx." instead of Mr. or Ms.[28]

Legal recognition of non-binary gender[edit]

Asia's first Genderqueer Pride Parade at Madurai with Anjali Gopalan[29]


In Australia, sex/gender can be listed on passports as male, female, or X (for indeterminate/intersex/unspecified).[30] An alliance of organizations including the National LGBTI Health Alliance, Organisation Intersex International Australia and Transgender Victoria has called for X to be redefined as non-binary.[31] Australian sociological research published in 2016 shows that 19% of people born with atypical sex characteristics selected an "X" or "other" option, while 52% are women, 23% men and 6% unsure.[32][33]

United Kingdom[edit]

The title "Mx.", is widely accepted in the United Kingdom by government organisations and businesses as an alternative for non-binary people[34] while HESA allows the use of non-binary gender markers for students in higher education.[35] In 2015 early day motion EDM660 was registered with Parliament.[36] EDM660 calls for citizens to be permitted access to the X marker on passports. When the text of EDM660 came to light in 2016 a formal petition was launched through the Parliamentary Petitions Service calling for EDM660 to be passed into law. The government has not responded as of June 2016.[37][38]

United States[edit]

On June 10, 2016, an Oregon circuit court ruled that a resident, Jamie Shupe, could legally change Shupe's gender to non-binary. The Transgender Law Center believes this to be "the first ruling of its kind in the U.S."[39]

Transgender activist Jamie Shupe celebrating being declared the first non-binary person in the United States with the transgender flag.

On September 26, 2016, intersex California resident Sara Kelly Keenan became the second person in the United States to legally change her gender to non-binary. Keenan, who uses she/her pronouns and identifies as intersex "both as my medical reality and as my gender identification", cited Shupe's case as inspiration for her petition.[40]


In the United States, the majority of respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey chose "A gender not listed here". The 'Not Listed Here' respondents were 9 percentage-points (33 percent) more likely to report forgoing healthcare due to fear of discrimination than the general sample (36 percent compared to 27 percent). 90 percent reported experiencing anti-trans bias at work and 43 percent reported having attempted suicide.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Usher, Raven, ed. (2006). North American Lexicon of Transgender Terms. San Francisco. ISBN 978-1-879194-62-5. OCLC 184841392. 
  2. ^ Brill, Stephanie A.; Pepper, Rachel (28 June 2008). The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals. San Francisco: Cleis Press. ISBN 978-1-57344-318-0. OCLC 227570066. 
  3. ^ Winter, Claire Ruth (2010). Understanding Transgender Diversity: A Sensible Explanation of Sexual and Gender Identities. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-4563-1490-3. OCLC 703235508. 
  4. ^ Beemyn, Brett Genny (2008). "Genderqueer". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Chicago: glbtq, Inc. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Dahir, Mubarak (25 May 1999). "Whose Movement Is It?". The Advocate. Here Media: 52. 
  6. ^ Girshick, Lori B. (2008). Transgender Voices: Beyond Women and Men. Hanover: University Press of New England. ISBN 978-1-58465-645-6. OCLC 183162406. 
  7. ^ Johanna Schorn. "Taking the "Sex" out of Transsexual: Representations of Trans Identities in Popular Media" (PDF). Inter-Disciplinary.Net. Universität zu Köln. p. 1. Retrieved 23 October 2014. The term transgender is an umbrella term "and generally refers to any and all kinds of variation from gender norms and expectations" (Stryker 19). Most often, the term transgender is used for someone who feels that the sex assigned to them at birth does not reflect their own gender identity. They may identify as the gender ‘opposite’ to their assigned gender, or they may feel that their gender identity is fluid, or they may reject all gender categorizations and identify as agender or genderqueer. 
  8. ^ Marc E. Vargo (30 November 2011). "A Review of " Please select your gender: From the invention of hysteria to the democratizing of transgenderism "" (PDF). Journal of GLBT Family Studies. New York/London: Routledge. 7 (5): 2 (493). doi:10.1080/1550428X.2011.623982. ISSN 1550-4298. Retrieved 23 October 2014. up to three million U. S. citizens regard themselves as transgender, a term referring to those whose gender identities are at odds with their biological sex. The term is an expansive one, however, and may apply to other individuals as well, from the person whose behavior purposely and dramatically diverges from society's traditional male/female roles to the "agender", "bigender" or "third gender" person whose self-definition lies outside of the male/female binary altogether. In short, those counted under this term constitute a wide array of people who do not conform to, and may actively challenge, conventional gender norms. 
  9. ^ Kirstin Cronn-Mills (2014). "IV. Trans*spectrum. Identities". Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4677-4796-7. Retrieved 23 October 2014. Many different individuals fall under what experts call the trans* spectrum, or the trans* umbrella."I'm trans*" and "I'm transgender" are ways these individuals might refer to themselves. But there are distinctions among different trans* identities. […] Androgynous individuals may not identify with either side of the gender binary. Other individuals consider themselves agender, and they may feel they have no gender at all. 
  10. ^ Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Gender Spectrum, Supporting and Caring for our Gender-Expansive Youth, accessed 21 January 2016
  11. ^ a b Cronn-Mills, Kirstin (2015). Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books. p. 24. ISBN 0-7613-9022-7. 
  12. ^ McGuire, Peter (9 November 2015). "Beyond the binary: what does it mean to be genderfluid?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "LGBTQ Needs Assessment" (PDF). Encompass Network. April 2013. pp. 52–53. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Gender alphabet" (PDF). Safe Homes. p. 1. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Vargo, Marc E. (2011). "A Review of "Please select your gender: From the invention of hysteria to the democratizing of transgenderism"". Journal of GLBT Family Studies. 7 (5): 493–494. doi:10.1080/1550428x.2011.623982. 
  16. ^ Cronn-Mills, Kirstin (1 September 2014). Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-1-4677-4796-7. 
  17. ^ Schorn, Johanna (22 February 2016). "Taking the "Sex" out of Transsexual: Representations of Trans Identities in Popular Media". 
  18. ^ Anne Enke, ed. (2012). "Note on terms and concepts". Transfeminist Perspectives In and Beyond Transgender and Gender Studies. Temple University Press. pp. 16–20, see pp. 18–9. ISBN 978-1-4399-0748-1. 
  19. ^ Sojwal, Senti (16 September 2015). "What Does "Agender" Mean? 6 Things To Know About People With Non-Binary Identities". Bustle. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  20. ^ Facebook sex changes: which one of 50 genders are you?. The Daily Telegraph. 14 February 2014.
  21. ^ "OkCupid expands gender and sexuality options". PBS NewsHour. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Transgender (adj.)". Stylebook Supplement on LGBT Terminology. National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Archived from the original on 8 April 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Transgender Glossary of Terms". GLAAD Media Reference Guide. Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  24. ^ "WHO – World Health Organization". 
  25. ^ Walsh, Reuben (December 2010). "More T, vicar? My experiences as a genderqueer person of faith". All God's Children. Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. 2 (3). 
  26. ^ Stryker, Susan (2008). Transgender History. Berkeley: Seal Press. ISBN 978-1-58005-224-5. OCLC 183914566. 
  27. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (1996). Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-7940-9. OCLC 33014093. 
  28. ^ Ruth Pearce (21 July 2011). "Non-gendered titles see increased recognition". Lesbilicious. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  29. ^ "One Who Fights For an Other". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  30. ^ "Australian passports to have third gender option". the Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  31. ^ "Submission Re Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department Review of the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender". National LGBTI Health Alliance. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  32. ^ Jones, Tiffany; Hart, Bonnie; Carpenter, Morgan; Ansara, Gavi; Leonard, William; Lucke, Jayne (February 2016). Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia (PDF). Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers. ISBN 978-1-78374-208-0. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  33. ^ Organisation Intersex International Australia (July 28, 2016), Demographics, retrieved 2016-09-30 
  34. ^ Paton, Callum (3 May 2015). "Mr, Mrs, Miss... and Mx: Transgender people will be able to use new title on official documents". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  35. ^ "HESA parameters for SEXID". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  36. ^ "Legal Recognition For People Who Do Not Associate With A Particular Gender". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  37. ^ Jo McKillop. "Consider taking EDM660 forward into law". Petitions. UK Government and Parliament. 
  38. ^ "Community Post: UK Govt Asked To Recognise Non-Binary Gender". BuzzFeed Community. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  39. ^ O'Hara, Mary Emily (June 10, 2016). "'Nonbinary' is now a legal gender, Oregon court rules". The Daily Dot. Retrieved June 10, 2016. 
  40. ^ O'Hara, Mary Emily (September 26, 2016). "Californian Becomes Second US Citizen Granted 'Non-Binary' Gender Status". NBC News. Retrieved September 26, 2016. 
  41. ^ Harrison, Jack; Grant, Jaime; Herman, Jody L. "A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). 

Further reading[edit]