A norm is an expected standard for proper, acceptable behavior as defined by a social group.[1] Norms include things like greetings, vocabulary, and how people are represented. The concept of a norm is not inherently negative or positive, but individuals' norms can be.[2] Something that is normative conforms to the norms[3] of a dominant social group that regards it as "normal" since it reproduces that group's expectations. However, what a culture defines a normative is not necessarily what is the most common, just what is privileged as the default and supposedly "natural" state; norms are still socially constructed. The concept of what is and is not normative is used to shame and punish what is deemed "abnormal" and "non-conforming".[4] Normalization is the social process of an idea or action becoming a norm.[2]

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Examples of norms

Gender role

Gender roles, or gender norms, are the cultural expectations for how people of different genders—presumed to be only cisgender men or women—should or should not think and behave, and how other people should treat them. These roles are part of the gender binary and reflect gender essentialist beliefs. What people consider to be a "man's role" and a "woman's role" varies by culture.[5]

Types of normativity


Cisnormativity is an assumption that everyone is cisgender, often with the implicit belief that being cisgender is "normal" while being another gender[6] or being transgender is "abnormal" or "different". Cisnormative beliefs encompass behaviors and bodies; for instance, variations in anatomy may be regarded as too different from what is cisnormative. Some trans people who choose to medically transition may base their decisions on whether or not the results are cisnormative.[7]


Heteronormativity is a belief that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural form of sexuality,[8] while other sexualities are seen as "abnormal" or "different" compared to heterosexuality.[6] Heteronormative norms include the belief in specific gender roles based on the gender binary.[9] Heterosexism, the discrimination against anyone who is not heterosexual, both produces and is produced by heteronormativty.[4]


Cisheteronormativity is the combination of cisnormativity and heteronormativity, treating cisgender heterosexuals as the default. This has repercussions throughout society (such as media representation and sex education), law (such as marriage legislation), and medicine (such as reproductive healthcare and "normalcy" of bodies). It punishes any deviation from what is cisheteronormative.[4]


Homonormativity is the assimilation of homosexual people into heteronormativity to achieve "respectability" and "inclusion" instead of disrupting the homophobic status quo.[4] It is related to privilege and erasure within the LGBTQIA+ community of members who are further marginalized. For instance, media depictions of queer people focus on white, middle-class, gay, cisgender men.[9] Homonormativity was articulated by trans activists in the 1990s.[4]


Allonormativity (also referred to as "acephobia", "acemisia" and "allosexism") is the belief that everyone experiences sexual attraction, has a libido, and desires sexual relationships, and that people who deviate from this are mentally ill, traumatized, suffering from a medical issue, or simply confused.[10] Allonormativity can manifest in a number of ways. Doctors stopping or denying treatment to an asexual patient to "save their sex lives", or recommending them into treatments or therapy to "fix" their asexuality (often leading to misdiagnoses of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder[11]), sexual assault or harassment under the guise of "fixing" asexuality, dismissal, erasure, and dehumanization as an identity altogether due to views of sexuality as being innately human are all manifestations of allonormativity.[12][13] Allonormativity occurs within both wider society and LGBTQIA+ circles.[14]


Amatonormativity is the belief that romantic, sexual relationships between monogamous married couples are inherently more valuable than other kinds of relationships, and that everyone wants those kinds of relationships, as well as affording special protections and benefits to people in these relationships.[15] This is harmful to more than just one group, as it often harms aromantic, asexual, polyamorous, and single people.[16] The term was coined by philosopher Elizabeth Brake to describe the pressure to get married, and as a play on the term "heteronormativity". Heteronormativity and amatonormativity often intersect.[15]


Mononormativity is a term coined by Pieper and Bauer (2005) and refers to society's standard of monogamy, the practice of emotional and sexual commitment to one individual as the norm for engaging in romantic relationships.[17] Similarly, monosexism refers the reinforcement of monosexuality as a norm.[18]

See also


  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "Definition of norm".
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Trans Language Primer: "Normalization". The Trans Language Primer. (Archived on October 29, 2021).
  3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "Definition of normative".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Holleb, Morgan Lev Edward. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019. ISBN 9781784506636.
  5. The Trans Language Primer: "Gender Roles". The Trans Language Primer. (Archived on October 30, 2021).
  6. 6.0 6.1 PFLAG: "National Glossary of Terms". (Archived on January 25, 2022).
  7. The Trans Language Primer: "Cisnormativity". The Trans Language Primer. (Archived on November 7, 2021).
  8. Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "Definition of heteronormativity".
  9. 9.0 9.1 Davis, Chloe O.. The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2021. ISBN 9780593135013.
  10. Emens, Elizabeth. Compulsory Sexuality. Columbia Law School, 2016. (web archive)
  11. Murray, F.: "Ace Week: Asexuality Was Considered A Disorder?!" (2020-10-29). Ace Week.
  12. Flanagan, Shelby, & Peters, Heather. Asexual-Identified Adults: Interactions with Health-Care Practitioners. Springer, 2020-03-28. (web archive)
  13. "Acephobia and Anti-asexual Hate Crime" (2021-06-10). Galop.
  14. MacInnis, Cara, & Hodson, Gordon. Intergroup bias toward "Group X": Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals. Sage Journals, 2012-04-24. English. (web archive)
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Amatonormativity 101" (2020-07-24). Aurea.
  16. Bonos, Lisa: "Washington Post: Bugging your friend to get into a relationship? How Amatonormative of you" (2017-07-06). The Washington Post.
  17. Cassidy, Taya, & Wong, Gina. Consensually Nonmonogamous Clients and the Impact of Mononormativity in Therapy. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 2018. English and French. (web archive)
  18. Tatum, Erin: "Monosexism: Battling the Biases of Bi/Panphobia" (2013-11-27). Everyday Feminism.