Yellow: gender without reference to the binary; White: many or all genders; Purple: gender between or a mix of female and male; Black: lack of gender.
|Under the umbrella term||Transgender|
Nonbinary (also spelled non-binary) means any gender identity that is not strictly male or female all the time, and so does not fit within the gender binary. For some people, "nonbinary" is as specific as they want to get about labeling their gender. For others, they call themselves a more specific gender identity under the nonbinary umbrella. Many people who call themselves nonbinary also consider themselves genderqueer. However, the terms have different meanings and connotations: genderqueer means any gender identity or expression which is, itself, queer.
Nonbinary falls under the umbrella term of transgender (meaning a gender identity different than one's sex assigned at birth). However, for various reasons, individual nonbinary people may or may not consider themselves transgender.
History[edit | edit source]
There is more information about this topic here: history of nonbinary gender
There are many other historical events about genders outside the binary, which have existed for all of written history, going back to Sumerian and Akkadian tablets from 2nd millennium BCE and 1700 BCE, and ancient Egyptian writings from 2000-1800 BCE. This section focuses only on historical events about people who call themselves by the word "nonbinary."
The editors of this wiki have not yet found the earliest recorded use of "nonbinary" as a self-identity label. It appears to have been in use during the first decade of the 2000s.
Since 2012, the International Nonbinary Day has been celebrated each 14th of July, with the aim to celebrate and focus on nonbinary people, their successes and contributions to the world and their issues. Katje of "Fierce Femme's Black Market," the person who proposed it, chose that date because it is exactly between International Men's Day and International Women's Day.
In 2014, Kye Rowan designed the nonbinary flag in response to a call put out for a nonbinary flag that was separate from the genderqueer flag, the final design is shown at the top of this article. This flag is meant to "represent nonbinary folk who did not feel that the genderqueer flag represented them. This flag was intended to go alongside Marilyn Roxie's genderqueer flag rather than replace it. The flag consists of four stripes. From top to bottom: yellow represents those whose gender exists outside of and without reference to the binary as yellow is often used to distinguish something as its own. White represents those who have many or all genders, as white is the photological presence of color and/or light. The purple stripe represents those who feel their gender is between or a mix of female and male as purple is the mix of traditional boy and girl colors. The purple also could be seen as representing the fluidity and uniqueness of nonbinary people. The final black stripe represents those who feel they are without gender, as black is the photological absence of color and/or light." The nonbinary flag and the genderqueer flag are both options for nonbinary people to use to symbolize themselves, and take different approaches to how to symbolize nonbinary genders.
In 2014, the social media site Facebook began to allow users to set their profiles as any of 56 genders, one of which was called "nonbinary."
In 2017, in the USA, the state of California passed the 2017 Gender Recognition Act "to ensure that intersex, transgender, and nonbinary people have state-issued identification documents that provide full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity."
In 2018, in the USA, Washington state began to allow "X" gender markers on official documents, with the law stating that
|«||"X" means a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to, intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.||»|
Also in 2018, well-known cartoonist and songwriter Rebecca Sugar came out as a nonbinary woman.
In 2019, Collins Dictionary added the word "non-binary".
Enby[edit | edit source]
The word enby (plural enbies, derived from "N.B.," the initialism of "non-binary") is a common noun meaning "nonbinary person." It was coined by Tumblr user vector (revolutionator) in 2013 as the nonbinary common noun equivalent of "boy" or "girl." Due to that wording, some nonbinary people question whether it can also be used as a nonbinary common noun equivalent of "man" or "woman." The 2020 Gender Census shows that older nonbinary people less often call themselves enbies.
Nonbinary identities[edit | edit source]
There is more information about this topic here: list of nonbinary identities
Some of the more common identities under the nonbinary umbrella include:
- Androgyne (from Greek, meaning "man-woman") and has been used for many kinds of people who don't fit into the gender binary. Even a century ago, some people who called themselves androgynes saw themselves as a mix of male and female.
- Bigender people feel they have two genders at the same time, or moving back and forth between them at different times.
- Genderfluid people move between different gender identities, and sometimes expressions, at different times.
- Gender neutral or neutrois can mean being genderless, or it can mean having a gender identity that is not female, not male, and not a mix, but simply neutral.
- Genderqueer: Any gender identity or expression which is queer, in and of itself. That is, a gender which is transgressive and non-normative. This can be an umbrella term, or a specific identity. The word comes from 1995.
- Nonbinary means any gender outside the gender binary. That is, any identity which is not solely male or female all the time. Though there are many kinds of nonbinary identities, many people use this as the only name for their gender.
Nonbinary expression[edit | edit source]
There is not one right way to perform a nonbinary gender. Most nonbinary people are primarily motivated to do what feels comfortable and true to themselves, rather than attempting to follow any particular gender role. Whichever way any particular nonbinary person needs or chooses to present, express, or perform their gender is as valid as any other.
Nonbinary people may or may not experience gender dysphoria, or may experience only bodily or social dysphoria. Some nonbinary people choose to transition by making social and physical changes that suit them better. Other nonbinary people do not make life changes that they see as part of the transition narrative. Some feel that there is no social role or body to "transition" to, and so simply focus on being themselves. Some nonbinary people choose or need to present an androgynous or gender neutral gender expression, and others do not. Some nonbinary people wear clothing that could be seen as crossdressing, and some nonbinary people do not. Some nonbinary people prefer to be referred to using gender neutral language, titles, and pronouns. Other nonbinary people are comfortable with being called by gendered language.
All of these are completely individual choices based on what any one nonbinary person personally feels they want to, need to, or must do in order to feel more comfortable and more like themselves.
Notable nonbinary people[edit | edit source]
See main article: Notable nonbinary people
There are many more notable people who have a gender identity outside of the binary. The following are only some of those notable people who specifically use the word "nonbinary" for themselves.
- Olly Alexander, the lead singer and songwriter for electropop band Years and Years.
- Kate Bornstein, an influential writer on gender theory, publishing books on the subject from the 1990s to the present.
- Amandla Stenberg, a singer and actor who has won the BET Awards for YoungStar Award.
- Rebecca Sugar (a nonbinary woman) is a writer, songwriter, and artist whose work on the cartoon series Adventure Time and Steven Universe has earned her six Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
- Sam Smith, a renowned English singer, Grammy winner and nominee. They came out as non-binary and changed their pronouns to they/them in September of 2019.
- Demi Lovato, an American singer, songwriter, and actor, came out as non-binary and changed their pronouns to they/them in May of 2021.
Nonbinary characters in fiction[edit | edit source]
See main article: Nonbinary gender in fiction
There are many more characters in fiction who have a gender identity outside of the binary. The following are only some of those characters who are specifically called by the word "nonbinary," either in their canon, or by their creators.
- Ben De Backer in I Wish You All The Best is nonbinary. (Their sister is accepting but the rest of the family isn't.) The author, Mason Deaver, is also nonbinary.
- Several characters in Crooked Words, an anthology by K.A. Cook.
- The character Lark in Divided Worlds and The Ascension of Lark, by Jennifer Ridge
- An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon. The author has said of a character in the book, "Theo is a nonbinary trans woman. These are my interpretations, but arguments could certainly be made for other classifiers."
- First Spring Grass Fire, by Rae Spoon, tells the story of a nonbinary child growing up.
- Lelia in The Lost Coast, by Amy Rose Capetta, is a nonbinary gray-asexual, and described as such in the text.
- The 2019 YA book In the Silences has many characters who self-define as nonbinary, including the protagonist.
- Robot Hugs - semi-autobiographical webcomic by an author of nonbinary gender, which frequently addresses nonbinary issues and other aspects of gender politics. Also frequently covers the subject of mental health. Updates twice weekly.
- Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson has a nonbinary character named Infernus, the Unicorn of Death. Phoebe uses the pronoun "neigh" for Infernus.
- In John Wick 3, the Adjudicator is nonbinary and played by Asia Kate Dillon, who is also nonbinary.
- Bishop in the Fox drama series Deputy is nonbinary canonically, thanks to a suggestion by the character's actor Bex Taylor-Klaus who is also nonbinary.
- Couple-ish, a light-hearted rom-com webseries, features a nonbinary main character (Dee). Dee goes by they/them/their pronouns, and explicitly describes themselves as nonbinary in one episode.
- Invader Zim, Jhonen Vasquez confirmed all irkens are neither male or female, stating "the only IRKEN gender is A55H0LE. all caps." 
- Ana On The Edge, by a nonbinary author, tells the story of a teen named Ana who is navigating their gender.
- “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers has a non-binary main character named Dex
- The video game Outer Wilds primarily features a species called Hearthians, all members of which use they/them pronouns and present outside of strictly male or female. Physiologically, they are unisex.
- In the Disney show "The Owl House" two characters are confirmed to be non-binary. A character called Masha, who clearly demonstrates that their pronouns are they/them and has their finger nails painted the non-binary colours, and a character called Raine Whispers who is always referred to as they/them.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Gender-variant identities worldwide
- Gender designation in different cultures
- Gender neutral language
- Glossary of English gender and sex terminology
References[edit | edit source]
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