Genderfluid or simply fluid, refers to someone whose gender identity changes over time. A genderfluid individual can identify as any gender, or combination of genders, at any given time. Their gender can change at random, or it may vary in response to different circumstances. At times, these individuals may identify as male, female, both, or neither. Their pronouns may vary at different times. The term genderfluid can be used as a specific identity in itself or as a descriptive term. They are generally considered under the non-binary and transgender umbrellas, but not all genderfluid individuals identify with those terms. Some genderfluid people transition socially, physically, and/or legally.
The word "genderfluid" has been in use since at least the 1990s, although with a different meaning. The earliest known definition appears in Kate Bornstein's book Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, which defines genderfluidity as the "ability to freely and knowingly become one of many of a limitless number of genders, for any length of time, at any rate of change. Gender fluidity recognizes no borders or rules of gender." This sentiment is echoed, though not repeated, by transgender advocate Michael M. Hernandez, who wrote 1996:
Gender-fluid means that their gender identity and/or expression encompass both masculine and feminine. Gender fluidity is becoming commonly known as transgenderism: the ability to transcend gender, whether biological, emotional, political, or otherwise; truly mixing male and female.Michael M. Hernandez, "Boundaries: Gender and Transgenderism"
These definitions are less applicable to genderfluidity as it has become known in the 21st century. A definition of the term appears in Kirstin Cronn-Mills' book Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices, which simply states that individuals prefer to be flexible regarding their gender. Other modern definitions are included in the Urban Dictionary, with the earliest example being added in 2007.
Identities under the umbrella
There are some genderfluid microlabels that specify what genders a person can feel. The following are just a few examples of such specificity.
Genderfae is a genderfluid identity experienced by a person who is fluid among multiple gender identities, but never man-aligned nor masculine genders. Hence, genderfae can include woman-aligned, feminine genders, and non-binary genders such as aporagender. The "fae" suffix of genderfae is a shortened form of the word "faerie", which in turn is an alternative spelling of "fairy". In the 2021 Gender Census, 145 participants identified as genderfae. This was roughly 0.33% of the total participants of that survey.
The genderfae flag was made using a range of colors without using blue, in order to aesthetically represent how genderfae does not include man and masculine genders.
Genderfaun is a genderfluid identity experienced by a person who is fluid among multiple gender identities, but never woman-aligned nor feminine genders. As a result, genderfaun is often seen as a complimentary identity to genderfae. In the 2021 Gender Census, 110 participants identified as genderfaun. This was roughly 0.25% of the total participants of that survey.
The genderfaun flag was made using a range of colors without using pinks or red, in order to aesthetically represent how genderfaun does not include woman-aligned and feminine genders.
Genderflor is a genderfluid identity experienced by a person who is fluid among multiple gender identities, but never man-aligned, woman-aligned, masculine genders, nor feminine genders. It is sometimes referred to as a counterpart to genderfae and genderfaun. In the 2021 Gender Census, 30 participants identified as genderflor or otherwise some variation of it, such as "genderfloren" and "genderfloret". This was roughly 0.07% of the total participants of that survey.
Fluidflux, also known as genderfluidflux, is an identity that is a combination of genderfluid and genderflux. It is essentially both fluid in what gender it is, as well as fluctuating in intensity. The term itself was coined sometime in 2014 by two Tumblr users, genderabbit and trigenby.
A flag design for this identity was available online as early as August 17, 2015. The creator of the flag is unknown, but the assumed flag meaning is as follows: The multitude of colors represent how a fluidflux person can be fluid between multiple genders, with the paler colors at the bottom of the flag representing fluctuations in those genders, and the black line representing agender.
In the 18th century, French diplomat Chevalier d'Éon worked as a spy in London before political exile. They presented as both a man and a woman at various points in life, having been assigned male at birth and choosing to live as a woman in the latter years of their life. Some regard d'Éon as a figure of the genderfluid community, while others believe they merely changed genders to gain a political or societal strategy.
The genderfluid flag was created by thoughtstoberemembered Tumblr, on August 3, 2012. Pink represents femininity, blue represents masculinity, purple represents both femininity and masculinity, black represents a lack of gender, and white represents all genders. This flag is widely considered to be the "chosen" flag of the community, with replicas selling on popular online services such as Amazon.
In one iteration of the genderfluid flag, created by Wikipedia user MarijnFlorence, the colored lines were waves as a visual pun in reference to the fluidity of the gender identity.
Genderfluid is often compared to or confused with non-binary people. Non-binary people do not classify themselves as either binary gender, male or female, while a genderfluid individual's gender is not fixed, allowing them to identify as male, female, or both at any given moment.
Genderqueer is also used in conjunction with genderfluid due to their similarities. Genderqueer people do not fit into any gender binary, while genderfluid people may simply "switch" between the binaries or along the gender spectrum.
Agender can also be confused for genderfluid; however, they are vastly different gender identities. Agender individuals do not identify as any gender, while genderfluid people almost always identify with one binary or another.
If there has been a specific variety of this identity-phobic discourse that has led to discrediting it, please detail that here. If there have been similar -phobic discourses around popular flags, it can also be documented in this section.
Perceptions and discrimination
A common misconception regarding genderfluidity is that it is "just a phase". According to WebMD, "The very nature of being gender fluid means you may change the way you identify. If this happens, it doesn't mean the person is no longer gender fluid." Furthermore, when speaking on children exhibiting genderfluidity, "cross-gender preferences and play are part of their normal exploration process and do not necessarily affect their future gender identity. However, if a child continues to identify as gender diverse over the years, then it's more likely not a phase." Contrary to popular beliefs, gender fluidity is not linked to any sort of mental illness or developmental disorder. Rather, it is an identity.
A study done by GLAAD in 2017-2018 found there were a total of 17 transgender characters on screen, of which only 4 of them identified as non-binary, though none as specifically genderfluid. Similarly, in 2019, GLAAD did another study and found there were no genderfluid characters in major films. GLAAD had looked over 118 films from major studios, and of the 18.6% of characters that were part of the LGBTQ community, none were non-binary or genderfluid.
- Alex Fierro - Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard[nb 1]
- Riley Cavanaugh - Symptoms of Being Human[nb 2]
- Erika Ishii
- Ruby Rose
- Miley Cyrus
- Though this character's experience is not considered entirely accurate to most genderfluid individuals, it is considered a positive representation. A Quora Thread discussed these controversies
- This character is explicitly stated to be genderfluid, both in the narrative, and on the author's personal website.