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Being Non-Binary

Nonbinary gender identity is just one term used to describe individuals who may experience a gender identity that is neither exclusively woman or man or is in between or beyond both genders.1 Nonbinary individuals may identify as genderfluid, agender (without gender), genderqueer, or something else entirely.

More about being Non-Binary

A simple way to think about non-binary gender is with a scale that goes from man-to-woman, where folks could plot how they identify somewhere along the line. Perhaps close to the “man” end if they strongly identify as “man,” close to the “woman” end if they strongly identify as “woman,” or somewhere in-between if they identify as genderqueer, bigender, or another one of the non-binary gender identity labels we have. 


The problem with this depiction of gender is that it implies that the more “man” someone is, the less “woman” they are. Our gut reaction is that this is accurate, but when you dissect gender into its component parts, you’ll see this isn’t necessarily true. Gender is best understood when broken up into three parts: gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex.


Gender identity can be thought of as one's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Some folks identify with neither “man-ness” or “woman-ness,” but a third gender altogether. Some folks identify with aspects of both, and might use the label “genderqueer” to describe their identity. 


Gender expression can be thought of as the aspects of masculinity and femininity you display in your clothing, grooming, speech, actions, demeanor, and more. As examples, masculine dress might be considered baggy, unprimed, or functional. Feminine dress is form-fitting, colorful, and frivolous. The term “androgynous” is used to describe gender expression that is both masculine and feminine.


Biological sex can be thought of as the aspects of “male-ness” or “female-ness” you embody in your physical self. Some folks are predominantly male or female, while others are intersex. There are multiple reasons and ways that our bodies look the way they do or are the way they are. 



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