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Non-binary, sometimes written as nonbinary, is a term referring to individuals whose gender identity does not exclusively fall into the binary gender classification of only "man" or "woman."[2] Those who are non-binary may appear either masculine or feminine in some capacity, both, or neither at all.[3][4] Although it is a gender identity on its own, it can also be used as an umbrella term to refer to many gender identities.[5] While non-binary is included in the transgender umbrella, not all non-binary people identify as transgender;[6] some identify as cisgender.[2]

Since identifying as non-binary can mean different things to different people, it is best to ask someone who uses the term what it means to them.[5]

Etymology

The name non-binary is a combination of the prefix non- (meaning "not, the lack of") and binary (meaning "consisting of two"), literally meaning "not consisting of two" and properly used as an adjective.[7]

The alternative name "enby" comes from the pronunciation of the abbreviation "NB". The best practice is to abbreviate non-binary as NBi rather than NB, as NB is sometimes used to mean "non-Black" when referring to non-Black people of color (POC).[1]

Community

International Non-Binary People's Day has been observed each year on July 14 since 2012. The date was chosen because it is in between International Women's Day (March 8) and International Men's Day (November 19), thus reflecting of gender identity that is outside the binary.[8] The week surrounding July 14 is known as the Non-Binary Awareness Week, which is a specific time by, for, and about non-binary people to celebrate themselves and the communities, and to spread awareness to other people to how they can be a better ally to non-binary people.[9]

Identities under the umbrella

Demigender

Part of the non-binary spectrum, demigender is an umbrella term of its own accord referring more specifically to people who feel a partial connection to a certain gender, such as demigirl, demiboy, or demifluid.[5]

Non-binary woman/girl and non-binary man/boy

Nonbinary Girl flag

A non-binary girl flag

There are specific microlabels of non-binary where a person feels close to a binary gender without actually being that gender fully, or otherwise that they align to one of the binary genders. These labels are non-binary woman and non-binary man, which are also sometimes referred to as non-binary girl and non-binary boy, respectively.[10][11][12][13][14]

Nonbinary Boy flag

A non-binary boy flag

In the 2021 Gender Census, 80 participants identified as non-binary woman, including alternative spellings and terms such as non-binary girl. This accounted for about 0.18% of participants of the survey.[15] The non-binary girl flag was created on January 17, 2017.[13]

Also in the 2021 Gender Census, 82 participants identified as non-binary men, including alternative spellings and terms such as non-binary boy. This accounted for about 0.19% of participants of the survey.[15] The non-binary boy flag was created on January 17, 2017.[14]

History

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Flag

Genderqueer Flag

Marilyn Roxie's genderqueer flag from 2011 was intended to represent all genderqueer and non-binary people.

In 2011, Marilyn Roxie designed a flag to give more visibility to all non-binary and genderqueer people consisting of three horizontal stripes, from top to bottom, of lavender (representing those relating someway to the gender binary), white (gender neutrality), and green (representing those outside of the gender binary). However, as the genderqueer community grew, the design became more representative of them specifically, and the feeling that it was not directly applicable to non-binary people anymore grew. The call to have their own representative flag was answered in 2014 by Kye Rowan, who designed the current non-binary flag to fly beside the genderqueer one rather than replace it.[16][17]

Non-binary Flag

Kye Rowan created the non-binary flag to compliment the genderqueer one.

The non-binary flag consists of 4 horizontal stripes: the yellow at the top represents those whose gender exists outside the gender binary, the purple indicates those who do relate to it, having genders that fall somewhere between "man" and "woman" or are considered a mix of them.[18] The white represents those who are multigender, with many or all genders, and the black refers to those who are agender, without a gender.[19]

Distinction

Since non-binary is also considered to be an umbrella term, there are multiple terms that are associated with it. While there is a certain overlap between them all, the common denominator often being "having a gender experience outside the binary," there are nuanced differences to each of them.[3] However, despite there being definitions for each of them, their meaning can vary depending on culture or even geographic regions.[5]

Agender

Agender is a term which refers to people who have no gender,[20][21][22] have a neutral gender, reject gender, or otherwise are genderless.[22] Not all non-binary people are agender or genderless. Non-binary people may have a partial connection to gender, experience multiple genders, experience gender fluidly, or have another experience with gender that doesn't necessarily cause one to be genderless.[23]

Genderqueer

Non-binary generally is used as the catchall term for those who do not identify with the gender binary, whereas genderqueer often refers more to a particular experience under that umbrella, referring to non-normative or queer gender.[24] The two terms are closely related and often used interchangeably, but that does not make them synonyms, and thus one should always defer to a person's preferred identifier.[5][25]

Intersex

Intersex is an umbrella term for various people who are born with or develop sex characteristics that differ from binary notions of a "male" or "female" body. These differences are called variations, and may involve one's hormones, chromosomes, external and internal reproductive organs, or secondary sex characteristics.

Being intersex and being non-binary both involve falling outside the notions held within the binary. However, this is in different ways. Being intersex mainly relates to one's sex characteristics,[26] whereas being non-binary mainly relates to one's gender. As such, intersex people are not inherently non-binary (and vice versa) but could be intersex and non-binary at the same time.[3]

Transgender

Non-binary identities are included under the transgender umbrella term as they are people whose gender differs from what they were assigned at birth. However, the two identities are distinct, and people can identify as both trans and non-binary. A binary transgender person differs from their birth assignment by identifying as a man or a woman rather than female or male. A non-binary person may never identify with either binary term, or they may partially identify with either or both terms, which can include their birth assignment. A trans non-binary person is thus someone who both does not identify with their birth assignment (trans) and has a gender identity that is neither exclusively man nor woman (non-binary). Not all non-binary people identify as trans and not all trans people identify as non-binary.[27]

Perceptions and discrimination

Non-binary erasure

Erasure in the context of gender refers to the practice of erasing, ignoring, or antagonizing of people whose genders are outside of the gender binary.[28] For non-binary people, this often refers to them being overlooked in legal matters, such as having to indicate a binary gender on passports and driver's licenses, and the use of gendered language. The extent of this differs from language to language, as some are better suited for gender-neutrality. Where identifying as non-binary is an internal process of acceptance, people are constantly forced to reaffirm their identity by that erasure in a binary society. This can make folks very uncomfortable.[29] While this constant challenging of their identity may not seem that noticeable by those who are not non-binary, being on the receiving end of continuous erasure and perception of not being accepted may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental issues. In a binary society, the extents of this are noticeable in every aspect of life, from linguistics to even buying clothes, using the bathroom, going to school, meeting new people, or receiving medical care.[28]

Misgendering

Misgendering is the act of attributing the wrong gender to a person, whether it be deliberate or not. While non-binary people identify outside the gender binary, they often prefer gender-neutral pronouns, though this too is a personal decision, and some non-binary individuals still use binary pronouns. To avoid assuming, one should always opt for gender-neutral language when in doubt and respect the pronouns that a person has asked you to use.[30] Languages such as English have been evolving, since not all language uses are suitable for gender neutrality. On September 17, 2019, the Merriam-Webster dictionary recognized that the words "they" and "them" have been established as gender-neutral singular personal pronouns—particularly for non-binary people—in the English language. "They" and "them" have also been used as gender-neutral singular pronouns to correspond with singular pronouns such as "everyone" and "someone" for over 600 years.[31][32]

Media

Literature

Fiction:

  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan[33]
  • Loveless by Alice Oseman[33]
  • Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee[33]
  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi[33]
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang[33]
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon[33]
  • I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver[33]
  • Outlawed by Anna North[33]
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden[33]
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld[33]
  • The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey[33]
  • Mordew by Alex Pheby[33]

Nonfiction:

  • Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe[33]
  • Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon[33]
  • A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson[33]
  • Gender Euphoria by Laura Kate Dale[33]
  • In Their Shoes by Jamie Windust[33]
  • Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker[33]
  • Whats the T? The No-nonsense Guide to All Things Trans And/or Non-binary for Teens by Juno Dawson[33]

Television

Music

Public figures

  • Amandla Stenberg[45]
  • Asia Kate Dillon[46]
  • Avi Roque[47]
  • Bex Taylor-Klaus[48]
  • Brigette Lundy-Paine[49]
  • Copter Panuwat[50]
  • Daniela Sea[51]
  • Dominique McLean, a.k.a SonicFox (identifies specifically as a non-binary man)[52]
  • Emma Corrin[53]
  • Elliot Page[54]
  • E.R. Fightmaster[55]
  • Gigi Goode[56]
  • Grant Morrison[57]
  • Hida Viloria[58]
  • Indya Moore, most well known for their role on the TV series POSE[44][59][60]
  • Jack Monroe, a British food writer and activist who identifies as a non-binary lesbian and genderqueer[61]
  • Joan Stokes[62]
  • Joey Soloway[63]
  • Jonathan Van Ness[64]
  • Lachlan Watson[65]
  • Leo Baker[66]
  • Rebecca Sugar (identifies specifically as a non-binary woman)[67][68]
  • Shea Couleé, who starred on the show Drag Race[44]

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "NB / NBi / Enby" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-10-31)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Glossary of Terms - Transgender" by GLAAD on GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 11th Edition(Archived on 2024-04-09)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Understanding Nonbinary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive" on National Center for Transgender Equality. Published 2023-01-12. (Archived on 2024-05-02)
  4. "What It Is to Be Nonbinary or Enby" by Tzeses, Jennifer on <psycom.net>. Published 2021-03-10. (Archived on 2024-02-29)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "What Does It Mean to Identify as Nonbinary?" by Abrams, Mere on Healthline(no backup information provided)
  6. "Understanding Gender Identities" by The Trevor Project on <thetrevorproject.org>. Published 2021-08-23. (Archived on 2021-11-21)
  7. "Nonbinary Definition & Meaning" on <dictionary.com>(no backup information provided)
  8. "When is International Non-Binary Day in 2020?" by Jake on The Gay UK. Published 2020-02-25. (no backup information provided)
  9. "Non-Binary Week 2020" on Activist Bookshelf. Published 2020-07-13. (no backup information provided)
  10. "Gender Identity And How Understanding It Can Ease Loneliness" on <rootsofloneliness.com>. Published by The Roots of Loneliness Project. (Archived on 2022-03-20)
  11. "Glossary of Terms | LGBTQ+ Resource Center" on <uwm.edu>. Published by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. (Archived on 2022-03-17)
  12. "LGBTI-SafeZone Terminology" on <edi.nih.gov>. Published by National Institute of Health, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. (Archived on 2021-11-10)
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Nonbinary Girl (2)" on <deviantart.com>. Published 2017-01-17. (Archived on 2022-01-27)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Nonbinary Boy (2)" on <deviantart.com>. Published 2017-01-17. (Archived on 2022-01-21)
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Gender Census 2021: Worldwide Report" on <gendercensus.com>. Published by Gender Census. (no backup information provided)
  16. "The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center - Pride flags" by University of Northern Colorado on University of Northern Colorado(no backup information provided)
  17. "The Nonbinary Pride Flag: What It Is and Why It Was Created" by Hildreth, Cade on Cade Hildreth. Published 2020-01-20. (no backup information provided)
  18. "Non-binary pride flag" by OutRight Action International on OutRight Action International(no backup information provided)
  19. "Non-binary" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-10-26)
  20. The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases by Davis, Chloe O.. Published 2021 by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. ISBN 9780593135013.
  21. 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)
  22. 22.0 22.1 The ABC's of LGBT+ by Ash Hardell. Published 2016 by Mango Media. ISBN 9781633534087.
  23. "What Does It Mean to Be Nonbinary?" by Elizabeth Boskey on <verywellmind.com>(no backup information provided)
  24. "What Does It Mean to Identify as Genderqueer?" by KC Clements on Healthline. Published 2018-09-18. (no backup information provided)
  25. "What's the Difference Between Non-Binary, Genderqueer, and Gender-Nonconforming?" by Retta, Mary on Vice(no backup information provided)
  26. "FAQ: What is intersex?" by interACT on interACT. Published 2018-09-18. (no backup information provided)
  27. Nonbinary Gender Identities: History, Culture, Resources by McNabb, Charlie. Published 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield.
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Non-Binary Erasure" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-02)
  29. "Nonbinary Gender: On Being Beyond, Both, and In-Between" by Hildreth, Cade on Cade Hildreth. Published 2021-06-16. (no backup information provided)
  30. "Misgendering" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-02)
  31. "Merriam Webster's Word of the Year 2019: Nonbinary Pronoun 'They'" by Hildreth, Cade on Cade Hildreth. Published 2019-12-11. (no backup information provided)
  32. "Word of the Year 2019 | They" on Merriam-Webster(Archived on 2024-03-26)
  33. 33.00 33.01 33.02 33.03 33.04 33.05 33.06 33.07 33.08 33.09 33.10 33.11 33.12 33.13 33.14 33.15 33.16 33.17 33.18 https://booksandbao.com/non-binary-books-fiction-nonfiction/
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 "16 TV Shows With Nonbinary Characters" by Rude, Mey on Out. Published 2021-08-30. (Archived on 2023-10-02)
  35. "The Owl House Is Introducing a New Nonbinary Character to the Show" by Rude, Mey on <out.com>. Published 2021-07-23. (Archived on 2024-01-16)
  36. "Disney’s The Owl House introduces first non-binary character" by Wakefield, Lily on <thepinknews.com>. Published 2021-07-25. (Archived on 2024-02-13)
  37. Season 3, Episode 1, "Thanks to Them". The episode shows the character with their nameplate, which includes specifying their pronouns as they/them. Their nails are also painted in the same colors as the non-binary pride flag. Note that these are the only references/hints to the character being non-binary, there has not be any explicit confirmation otherwise.
  38. "Can’t believe I missed this but there’s another non-binary character in The Owl House and it makes me happy!" on <reddit.com>. Published 2022-11-12. "Showing a screenshot of an Owl House episode where Masha appears, in particular to show the hints of Masha being nonbinary." (Archived on 2022-11-18)
  39. "How City of Ghosts Crafted an Inclusive Ode to Los Angeles’s Overlooked Past" by Aguilar, Carlos on <vulture.com>. Published 2021-03-31. (Archived on 2023-05-11)
  40. Demi Lovato on Twitter: "Every day we wake up, we are given another opportunity & chance to be who we want & wish to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life growing in front of all of you… you’ve seen the good, the bad, & everything in between. https://t.co/HSBcfmNruo" / Twitter
  41. "Sam Smith will now use gender-neutral 'they/them' pronouns" by Brooke Sopelsa and Gwen Aviles on <nbcnews.com>(no backup information provided)
  42. Utada Hikaru Comes Out As Non-Binary - TODAY (todayonline.com)
  43. KEHLANI: “People gave me a label I never gave myself and got mad when I didn’t fit into it” (divamag.co.uk)
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 "10 Gender Non-Conforming Entertainers Breaking The Mold Of The Binary" by Ruff, Rivea on <essence.com>. Published 2022-06-16 by Essence Magazine. (Archived on 2023-06-04)
  45. Amandla Stenberg Uses They/Them Gender Pronouns | Teen Vogue
  46. 'Billions' actor Asia Kate Dillon explains what it means to be non-binary - ABC News (go.com)
  47. "Twitter" on <twitter.com>(9, 2022/https://twitter.com/ok_roque Archived on 2022-06-09)
  48. Bex Taylor Klaus on ‘Deputy’ Nonbinary Reveal – The Hollywood Reporter
  49. "Atypical" Actor Brigette Lundy-Paine Comes Out as Nonbinary | them.
  50. "Thai BL Star Copter Panuwat is Proud to Be Nonbinary" by K-Ci Williams on <teenvogue.com>(no backup information provided)
  51. Daniel Sea On Playing Max on The L Word and Their Gender Identity (autostraddle.com)
  52. "Esports Player SonicFox Comes Out As Nonbinary" by Alex Dalbey on <dailydot.com>. Published 2019-09-04. (Archived on 2021-05-14)
  53. Emma Corrin: I Realized I'm Nonbinary While Playing Princess Diana in 'the Crown' (insider.com)
  54. Elliot Page on His Identity and Where He Goes From Here | Time
  55. "Who Is E.R. Fightmaster? Learn The Real Name And Dating Life Of The Non-Binary Actor" by Suraksha Guragain on <celebrityshine.com>(no backup information provided)
  56. ""Drag Race" Gigi Goode Comes Out as Trans, Nonbinary" by Joseph Longo on <them.us>(no backup information provided)
  57. "Grant Morrison Surveys the Situation In “The Age of Horus”" by Prop Anon on <mondo2000.com>(no backup information provided)
  58. "Intersex Activist and Writer Hida Viloria on Being ‘Born Both’" by Larissa Pham on <rollingstone.com>(no backup information provided)
  59. "I'm non binary, femme, Agender feels fitting too. My pronouns: they/them/theirs. I correct people often. At times they ignore me & I tolerate it to avoid conflict/irritation but it's upsetting to feel like i'm "too much" in a world that takes so much from trans people constantly" on <twitter.com> (Tweet)(13, 2019/https://twitter.com/IndyaMoore/status/1172525777188839424 Archived on 2019-09-13)
  60. "What Are Indya Moore's Pronouns?" by Row Light on <thelist.com>(no backup information provided)
  61. The Queeriodic Table: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Culture by Dyer, Harriet. Published 2019 by Summersdale Publishers Ltd. ISBN 9781786857521.
  62. "Biography" on <imdb.com>(no backup information provided)
  63. "Transparent’s Jill Soloway: ‘The words male and female describe who we used to be’" by Hadley Freeman on <theguardian.com>(no backup information provided)
  64. "'Queer Eyes Jonathan Van Ness: “I’m Nonbinary”" by Fran Tirado on <out.com>(no backup information provided)
  65. ""Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Star Lachlan Watson on Non-Binary Identity and Telling a Bit of Their Own Story Through Susie Putnam" by Adryan Corcione on <teenvogue.com>(no backup information provided)
  66. "Leo Baker is the trans non-binary skateboarder paving the way for queer, underrepresented communities" by Zoya Raza-Sheikh on <gaytimes.co.uk>(no backup information provided)
  67. "Rebecca Sugar Opens Up About Being Non-binary" by Terra Necessary on <pride.com>. Published 2018-04-18 by Pride Publishing Inc.. (Archived on 2021-11-26)
  68. "How This Nonbinary Woman Created the Queerest Cartoon on Television" by Mey Rude on <them.us>. Published 2018-08-02 by Them. (Archived on 2021-12-13)
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