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." Those who are non-binary may identify with either masculinity or femininity in some capacity, both, or neither at all. Although it is a gender identity on its own, it can also be used as an umbrella term to refer to many gender identities. While non-binary is included in the transgender umbrella, not all non-binary people identify as transgender.
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.
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.
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).
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 (September 18), thus reflecting of gender identity that is outside the binary. 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.
Identities under the umbrella
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.
Non-binary woman/girl and non-binary man/boy
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.
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. The non-binary girl flag was created on January 17, 2017.
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. The non-binary boy flag was created on January 17, 2017.
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Document the community's most important history, including facts such as key events, breakthroughs in improving the community's wellbeing and rights, or historical figures known to belong to the community.
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.
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. The white represents those who are multigender, with many or all genders, and the black refers to those who are agender, without a gender.
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. However, despite there being definitions for each of them, their meaning can vary depending on culture or even geographic regions.
Agender is a term which refers to people who have no gender, have a neutral gender, reject gender, or otherwise are genderless. While it is commonly assumed that non-binary people have no gender,[source?] this is not always the case. 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.
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. 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.
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, 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.
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.
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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
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. 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. 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.
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 ask which pronouns someone prefers and when in doubt, opt for gender-neutral language. Since not all language, especially not English, is suitable for gender neutrality, language has to evolve. On September 17, 2019, the Merriam-Webster dictionary updated its definition of the word "they" and included that it could be used as a way to refer to individuals in a neutral way.
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
- Loveless by Alice Oseman
- Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
- Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
- The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang
- An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
- I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
- Outlawed by Anna North
- On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
- The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
- The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
- Mordew by Alex Pheby
- Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
- Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
- A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
- Gender Euphoria by Laura Kate Dale
- In Their Shoes by Jamie Windust
- Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker
- Whats the T? The No-nonsense Guide to All Things Trans And/or Non-binary for Teens by Juno Dawson
- Skate for Your Life by Leo Baker
- Adira Tal from Star Trek: Discovery.
- Angel José from Craig of the Creek.
- Cal Bowman and Layla from Sex Education.
- Double Trouble from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
- Gregg from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.
- Kai Bartley from the eighteenth season of Grey's Anatomy, portrayed by non-binary performer E.R. Fightmaster.
- Lindsay Brady from Good Trouble.
- Mae Martin from Feel Good.
- Milo from Danger & Eggs.
- Shep, Smoky Quartz, and Stevonnie from Steven Universe.
- Syd from One Day at a Time.
- Taylor Mason from Billions - the first non-binary main character in a major television series in North American TV history.
- Theo Putnam from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - watch What I Wish You Knew: About Being Nonbinary on YouTube, where non-binary actor Lachlan Watson is joined by other non-binary performers Liv Hewson, Jacob Tobia, and Shiva Raichandani and discuss and dismantle misconceptions about being non-binary.
- Yael Baron from Degrassi: Next Class.
- 21 from Numberblocks but she is female but she's is a 19yo Demigender
- Ananas Dragon Cookie, Angel Cookie, Cinnamon Cookie, Devil Cookie, Peppermint Cookie, Poison Mushroom Cookie, Snow Sugar Cookie, Squid Ink Cookie, and Zombie Cookie from the Cookie Run franchise.
- Abby, Hex, Milo Belladonna, Moss Mann, Oz, and Sawyer from the Monster Prom franchise.
- Anoki Ohetikah and Inaya Saifi from Validate: Struggling Singles In Your Area.
- Bloodhound from Apex Legends.
- Chaos from Hades.
- Napstablook from Undertale.
- Chara and Frisk from Undertale.
- Kris from Deltarune.
- The Bard and Ash from Wandersong.
- FL4K from Borderlands 3.
- Amandla Stenberg
- Asia Kate Dillon
- Bex Taylor-Klaus
- Brigette Lundy-Paine
- Copter Panuwat
- Daniela Sea
- Emma Corrin
- Elliot Page
- E.R. Fightmaster
- Gigi Goode
- Hida Viloria
- Indya Moore
- Joan Stokes
- Joey Soloway
- Jonathan Van Ness
- Lachlan Watson
- Leo Baker
- Sam Smith
- Avi Roque
- Rebecca Sugar (identifies specifically as a non-binary woman)
- Dominique McLean, a.k.a SonicFox (identifies specifically as a non-binary man)
- Grant Morrison
- Ian Alexander
- Iris/Ezra Menas
- Trans Lifeline — Peer support by trans people, for trans people (US and Canada)
- National Center for Transgender Equality — Know Your Rights guides to legal rights in various situations, other self-help guides, information about various topics