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Genderqueer (GQ), also termed non-binary, 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. Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:
- having an overlap of, or indefinite lines between, gender identity;
- 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); or
- being third gender or other-gendered, a category which includes those who do not place a name to their gender.
Definitions and identity
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. 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. Some references use the term transgender broadly, in such a way that it includes genderqueer/non-binary people.
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".
A person who is genderfluid prefers to remain flexible about their gender identity rather than committing to a single gender. They may fluctuate between genders or express multiple genders at the same time.
An agender person ('a−' meaning "without"), also called genderless, genderfree, non-gendered, or ungendered, is someone who identifies as having no gender or being without a gender identity. 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. Agender people have no specific set of pronouns; singular they is typically used, but it is not the default. Neutrois and agender were two of 50 available custom genders on Facebook, which were added on 13 February 2014. Agender is also available as a gender option on OkCupid since 17 November 2014.
Some genderqueer people are medically treated for gender dysphoria with surgery and/or hormones as trans men and women are. The World Health Organization considers sex and gender to be distinct concepts. Some genderqueer people identify as a male woman or a female man, or combine genderqueer with another gender option. Gender identity is separate from sexual or romantic orientation, and genderqueer people have a variety of sexual orientations, just like transgender and cisgender people do.
Pronouns and titles
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. Many genderqueer people prefer additional neutral language, such as the title "Mx." instead of Mr. or Ms.
Multiple countries legally recognize non-binary or third gender classifications. In some countries, such classifications may only be available to intersex people, born with sex characteristics that "do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies". In other countries, they may be only available to transgender people, people with gender identities that differ from sex assigned at birth.
Some non-western societies have long recognized transgender people as a third gender, though this may not (or may only recently) include formal legal recognition. In western societies, Australia may have been the first country to recognize third classifications, following recognition of Alex MacFarlane as having indeterminate sex, reported in 2003. Transgender advocate Norrie May-Welby was recognized as having unspecified status in 2014. In the United States, an Oregon circuit court ruled in 2016 that Jamie Shupe could legally change gender to non-binary.
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.
There have been various flags used in the genderqueer community to represent various identities. The genderqueer pride flag was designed in 2011. Lavender represents androgyny or simply queerness, white represents agender identity, and green represents those whose identities which are defined outside of the binary. Non-binary people, who fall under the genderqueer umbrella, also have their own pride flag, created in 2014. Yellow represents people whose gender exists outside of the binary, purple is those who feel their gender is a mixture or between male and female, and the black represents people who feel as if they have no gender. Genderfluid people, who also fall under the genderqueer umbrella, have their own flag as well. The pink stripe represents femininity, the white stripe represents lack of gender, the purple represents mixed gender or androgyny, the black represents all other genders, and the blue represents masculinity.
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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.
- 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.
- 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.
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