Gender expression is how someone chooses to outwardly express their gender in public.[1] Gender expression is external manifestations of gender,[2][3] while gender identity is internal. Expression includes a person's name, pronouns, body characteristics, voice, behavior, and aesthetic choices such as hair, clothing, and cosmetics. Various forms of expression are regarded as "masculine" or "feminine" within different cultures. Some transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the cues associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.[2]


The title one wishes to be referred to as is a part of one's gender expression. Common formal titles include "miss", "Mrs.", "Mr.", "Ms.", "sir", and "ma'am". As all of these titles hold gendered connotations, several neutral titles have been proposed in addition to professional neutral titles (such as "doctor" or "professor").

The title "Pn.", short for "person", was proposed as early as 1970, being published in Everywoman.[4]

The title "Mx.", pronounced "mix" or "mux", was proposed as early as 1982, for use by individuals who did not want to disclose their gender through their title due to sexism.[5] In 2013, "Mx." was approved for use on council forms in Sussex, England,[6] and by 2015 the title was widely accepted by government agencies, charities, and public services in the UK.[7][8] It was added to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary in 2016.[9]

Examples of gender expressions[]


Androgynous Flag

A proposed androgynous pride flag

Androgynous is a term used to describe individuals whose outward gender expression cannot be distinguished as feminine or masculine,[10][11] or combine traits that are considered masculine and feminine. It is sometimes a term related to gender identity.[10][12]


The Butch Flag

The butch flag

Butch is an identity within the LGBTQIA+ community of some people whose outward gender expression matches their culture's understanding of masculinity.[13][14] Most often, butches take on masculine roles and careers that are typically designated to men within their culture and time period.[14] Butch originally referred to a style and gender role performed by masculine lesbians,[15][16][17] and is still often associated with the lesbian community, but its usage and meaning have expanded and are not exclusive to lesbians.[13][12] In current usage, butch sometimes refers to a particular non-binary gender identity.[15]

Butch has similarities with boi, transmasculine, and other masculine of center identities. It is often understood on a spectrum of butch to femme.[12] One variation is "soft butch," a masculine expression that is closer to neutrality than extreme masculinity.[13]


The Femme Flag

A proposed femme flag

Femme has many different meanings and often refers to a person who embraces, reclaims, or subverts their culture's understanding of what it means to be feminine, especially in their gender expression.[12][18] While femme is often associated with the lesbian community due to its origin,[19][20][21] it is also used by queer people of various gender identities and sexual orientations, such as bisexual women,[21] gay men,[22] and transfeminine people.[23] It can also describe or label a person's gender identity.[18][19] Some variations are "hard femme," an edgy or hard-rock expression of femininity, and "high femme", usually an extreme expression of the aesthetic aspects of femininity.[19] Femme is often understood on a spectrum of butch to femme[12][18] or stud to femme,[12] or as a binary pair of butch and femme.[20][18]

Gender non-conforming[]


A proposed gender non-conforming pride flag

Gender non-conforming (GNC) is a term describing people who do not follow gender stereotypes[12] and differ from their society's conventional binary expectations of masculine men and feminine women.[24][2] Gender non-conformity can encompass many things, such as gender expression, gender roles, or another aspect of gender. It is typically apparent in people whose gender identity is a binary gender (male or female), whether they are cisgender or transgender; for instance, a feminine trans man and a feminine cis man are both non-conforming with expectations of masculinity.[24]

The term is not equivalent to non-binary or trans,[24][2] but despite this, it is seen as an umbrella term for people who are not cisgender when used in the initialism "TGNC" (trans and gender non-conforming). Other terms include gender diverse, gender expansive, and gender variant.[12] Some trans or non-binary people identify as gender non-conforming.[24][2]


  1. "Understanding Gender Identities" by The Trevor Project on <>. Published 2021-08-23. (Archived on 2021-11-21)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Glossary of Terms - Transgender" by GLAAD on GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 11th Edition(Archived on 2024-04-09)
  3. "Gender Expression" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-02)
  4. "Everywoman" on <>. Published 1970-05-29. "Why not use Pn. for person as in Pn. Richard Nixon and Pn. Pat Nixon. The title could also be extended to children [...] I see no reason why everyone, child and adult, male and female, can't use Pn. [...]" (no backup information provided)
  10. 10.0 10.1 "androgynous" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-04)
  11. "LGBTQ definitions" by Pride Office on University of Colorado Boulder(Archived on 2021-11-05)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 "National Glossary of Terms" by PFLAG on <>(Archived on 2024-02-20)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Butch" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-04)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "It's #ButchAppreciationDay, and this is what butch means to me" by Yassine Senghor on Stonewall UK. Published 2020-08-19. (Archived on 2022-01-25)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Nonbinary Gender Identities: History, Culture, Resources by McNabb, Charlie. Published 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442275522.
  16. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze by Morgan Lev Edward Holleb. Published 2019 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 9781785923425 (paperback), ISBN 9781784506636 (eBook)
  17. The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases by Davis, Chloe O.. Published 2021 by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. ISBN 9780593135013.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 "The Misunderstood Gender: A Model of Modern Femme Identity" by Heidi M. Levitt, Elizabeth A. Gerrish, and Katherine R. Hiestand in Sex Roles, volume 48, numbers 3/4. Published February 2003. (web archive)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Femme" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-12-09)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community [20th anniversary edition] by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis. Published 2014 by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Femme Mystique, with Lesléa Newman (editor). Published 1995 by Alyson Publications. Multiple essays by multiple authors
  22. "Marilyn, Mayhem, and the Mantrap: Some Particularities of Male Femme" by Alex Robertson Textor in Femme: Feminists, Lesbians, and Bad Girls, with Laura Harris and Elizabeth Crocker (editors). Published 1997 by Routledge.
  23. "What We Mean When We Say 'Femme': A Roundtable" on Autostraddle. Published 2016-07-18. (Archived on 2023-09-03)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 "Gender Non-Conforming (GNC)" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-04)