History of nonbinary gender
This article on the history of nonbinary gender should focus on events directly or indirectly concerning people with nonbinary gender identities. It should not be about LGBT history in general. However, this history will likely need to give dates for a few events about things other than nonbinary gender, such as major events that increased visibility of transgender people in general, gender variant people from early history who may or may not have been what we think of as nonbinary, and laws that concern intersex people that can also have an effect on the legal rights of nonbinary people.
Tips[edit | edit source]
Here are some tips for writing respectfully about historical gender variant people whose actual preferred names, pronouns, and gender identities might not be known.
- Dead names. It is disrespectful to call a transgender person by their former name ("dead name") rather than the name that they chose for themself. Some consider their dead name a secret that shouldn't be put in public at all. For living transgender people in particular, this history should show only their chosen names, not their dead names. In this history, some deceased historical transgender persons may have their birth names shown in addition to their chosen names, in cases where it is not known which name they preferred, or where it is otherwise impossible to find information about that person, if one wants to research their history. This should be written in the form of "Chosen Name (née Birth Name)." If history isn't sure which name that person earnestly preferred, write it in the form of "Name, or Other Name."
- Pronouns. It is disrespectful to call a person by pronouns other than those that they ask for. Some historical persons whose preferred pronouns aren't known should be called here by no pronouns. If this isn't possible, they pronouns.
- Words for a person's gender, assigned and otherwise. It is disrespectful to label a person's gender otherwise than they ask for, but it's not always possible to do so. In the case of some historical people, history has recorded how they lived, and what gender they were assigned at birth, but not how they preferred to label their gender identity. For example, it's not known whether certain historical people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) lived as men because they identified as men (were transgender men), or because it was the only way to have a career in that time and place (and were gender non-conforming cisgender women). This should be mentioned in the more respectful form of, for example, "assigned male at birth (AMAB), lived as a woman," rather than "really a man, passed as a woman." For another example, writing "a military doctor discovered Smith was AFAB" is more respectful than saying "a military doctor discovered Smith was really a woman." For people who lived before the word "transgender" was created, it may be more suitable to call them "gender variant" rather than "transgender." On the other hand, if we have enough information about such a person, we may do best by such people by describing them with the terminology that they most likely would have used for their gender identity if they lived in the present day, with our language.
Wanted events in this time-line[edit | edit source]
Please help fill out this time-line if you can add information of these kinds:
- Events in the movement for keeping the genders of babies undisclosed.
- Events concerning nonbinary celebrities, and historical persons who clearly stated they were neither female nor male, or both, or androgynes, etc.
- Skim nonbinary blogs looking for past and current historical events.
- Events that show that transgender and especially nonbinary gender identities existed long before the twentieth century.
- Changes in the use of gendered versus gender-neutral language.
Antiquity[edit | edit source]
- In Mesopotamian mythology, among the earliest written records of humanity, there are references to types of people who are neither male nor female. Sumerian and Akkadian tablets from the 2nd millennium BCE and 1700 BCE describe how the gods created these people, their roles in society, and words for different kinds of them. These included eunuchs, women who couldn't or weren't allowed to have children, men who live as women, intersex people, gay people, and others.
- Writings from ancient Egypt (Middle Kingdom, 2000-1800 BCE) said there were three genders of humans: male (tie), sekhet (sht), and female (hemet), in that order. Sekhet is usually translated as "eunuch," but that's probably an oversimplification of what this gender category means. Since it was given that level of importance, it could potentially be an entire category of gender/sex variance that doesn't fit into male or female. The hieroglyphs for sekhet include a sitting figure that usually mean a man, but the word doesn't include hieroglyphs that refer to genitals in any way. The word for male did include a hieroglyph explicitly showing a penis. At the very least, sekhet is likely to mean cisgender gay men, in the sense of not having children, and not necessarily someone who was castrated. Archaeologists question whether ancient Egyptians castrated humans, because the evidence for it is lacking.
- Many cultures and ethnic groups have concepts of traditional gender-variant roles, with a history of them going back to antiquity. These gender identities and roles are often analogous to nonbinary identity, as they don't fit into the Western idea of the gender binary roles. The Hijra of South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh date back to 400 BCE or 300 CE, where they were mentioned in the Kama Sutra. The Hijra are feminine eunuchs who consider themselves neither male nor female. The Scythians, who were Eurasian nomadic horseriders, were well-known to other civilizations for honoring gender-variant people as priests and warriors. The Scythians invented the world's earliest known hormone therapy as far back as the 7th century BCE, using licorice root as an antiandrogen, and mare's urine as an oestrogen, much as is used in the modern oestrogen medication, Premarin. Hundreds of pre-colonial Native American cultures recognized various kinds of gender roles (today called by the umbrella term Two-Spirit) who did not fit into the Western gender binary. The māhū of Hawaii and Tahiti were also pre-colonial genders outside male and female. As far back as six centuries ago, the Bugis people of Indonesia have recognized five genders, one of which, called Bissu, is a combination of all the genders, even if they are not physically intersex. As far back as the 1st century CE, classical Judaism has recognized six genders/sexes, with distinct prohibitions for each.
Eleventh century[edit | edit source]
- The Anglo-Saxon word wæpen-wifestre, or wæpned-wifestre (Anglo-Saxon, wæpen "sword," "penis," "male" (or wæpned "weaponed," "with a penis," "male") + wif woman, + estre feminine suffix, thus "woman with a weapon," "woman with a penis," or "man woman") was defined in an eleventh-century glossary (Antwerp Plantin-Moretus 32) as meaning "hermaphrodite." The counterpart of this word, wæpned-mann, simply meant "a person armed with a sword" or "male person." Wæpen-wifestre is known to be a synonym for "scrat" (intersex). Another synonym given for wæpen-wifestre is bæddel, an which also means intersex, but also feminine men, from which the word "bad" is thought to be derived, due to its use as a slur. The related word bæddling was used in eleventh-century laws for men who had sex with men in a receptive role. Additional meanings of wæpen-wifestre are possible. When wæpen-wifestre is read as "woman with a penis," it could describe a feminine man, a man who has sex with men, or a transgender woman. When read as "woman with a sword," it could refer to a warrior woman. When read as "man woman," it could mean not only an intersex person, but also people who transgressed the gender binary that seems to have been the rule in Anglo-Saxon England, as far as is known from limited literature from that era. From this range of meanings that the word potentially covers, it's possible that wæpen-wifestre may have been a general category for intersex, queer, and gender-variant people in Britain, during the time that was contemporary to Beowulf.
Seventeenth century[edit | edit source]
- A blog post by the Merriam Webster dictionary editors says, "In the 17th century, English laws concerning inheritance sometimes referred to people who didn’t fit a gender binary using the pronoun it, which, while dehumanizing, was conceived of as being the most grammatically fit answer to gendered pronouns around then." This is an example of people being considered legally outside of male and female. Editors at this wiki would appreciate more information and sources about the laws in question, their dates, and what categories of people they referred to. (Unborn children? Intersex people? People who didn't conform to gender norms?)
- Thomas Hall, who apparently had an equal preference for the birth-name Thomasine (c.1603 – after 1629), was an English servant in colonial Virginia. Hall was raised as a girl, and then presented as a man in order to enter the military. After leaving the military, Hall freely alternated between feminine and masculine attire from one day to the next, until Hall was accused of having sex with both men and women. Whether someone was legally a man or a woman would result in different punishments for that. Several physical examinations disagreed on the details of Hall's sex, and concluded that Hall had been born intersex. Previously, common law required that if a court concluded that someone was intersex, this would result in an injunction that they must live the rest of their life as strictly either male or female, whichever their anatomy resembled the most closely. In this case, the court ruled that "hee is a man and a woeman," and gave the injunction that Hall must from then on wear both masculine and feminine clothing at the same time: "goe clothed in man's apparell, only his head to bee attired in a coyfe and croscloth with an apron before him" Intersex is not the same thing as nonbinary, and so an intersex person can identify as a man, woman, or some other gender. Hall was apparently an intersex person who did not identify strictly as a man or woman, preferred a fluid gender expression, and was then given a legal sex that was both.
Eighteenth century[edit | edit source]
- "Singular they" had already been the standard gender-neutral pronoun in English for hundreds of years. However, in 1745, prescriptive grammarians began to say that it was no longer acceptable. Their reasoning was that neutral pronouns don't exist in Latin, which was thought to be a better language, so English shouldn't use them, either. They instead began to recommend using "he" as a gender-neutral pronoun. This started the dispute over the problem of acceptable gender-neutral pronouns in English, which has carried on for centuries now.
- Māhū ("in the middle") in Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) and Maohi (Tahitian) cultures are third gender persons with traditional spiritual and social roles within the culture. The māhū gender category existed in their cultures during pre-contact times, and still exists today. In the pre-colonial history of Hawai'i, māhū were notable priests and healers, although much of this history was elided through the intervention of missionaries. The first written Western description of māhū occurs in 1789, in Captain William Bligh's logbook of the Bounty, which stopped in Tahiti where he was introduced to a member of a "class of people very common in Otaheitie called Mahoo... who although I was certain was a man, had great marks of effeminacy about him."
- The Public Universal Friend (1752 - 1819) was a genderless evangelist who traveled throughout the eastern United States to preach a theology based on that of the Quakers, which was actively against slavery. The Friend believed that God had reanimated them from a severe illness at age 24 with a new spirit, which was genderless. The Friend refused to be called by the birth name, even on legal documents, and insisted on being called by no pronouns. Followers respected these wishes, avoiding gender-specific pronouns even in private diaries, and referring only to "the Public Universal Friend" or short forms such as "the Friend" or "P.U.F." The Friend wore clothing that contemporaries described as androgynous, which were usually black robes. The Friend's followers came to be known as the Society of Universal Friends, and included people who were black, and many unmarried women who took on masculine roles in their communities.
- Jens Andersson was a nonbinary person in Norway, who married a woman in 1781. It was soon discovered that Andersson had a female body, and the marriage was annulled, while Andersson was accused of sodomy. In the trial, Andersson was asked: "Are you a man or a woman?" It was recorded that the answer was that "he thinks he may be both".
- Romaine-la-Prophétesse was a leader of a slave uprising in 1791-92, early in the Haitian Revolution, that for a time governed much of southern Haiti, including two major cities. Romaine identified as a prophetess, dressed like a woman, and spoke of being possessed by a female spirit, but also reportedly identified as a godson of the Virgin Mary and used masculine pronouns in self-references in dictated letters; Romaine has therefore been interpreted by modern scholars as perhaps genderfluid or transgender, or might have been bigender.
Nineteenth century[edit | edit source]
- We'wha (1849–1896) was a Zuni Native American from New Mexico, and the most famous lhamana on record. In traditional Zuni culture, the lhamana take on roles and duties associated with both men and women, and they wear a mixture of women's and men's clothing. They work as mediators. As a notable fiber artist, weaver, and potter, We'wha was a prominent cultural ambassador for Native Americans in general, and the Zuni in particular. In 1886, We'wha was part of the Zuni delegation to Washington D.C.. They were hosted by anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson and, during that visit, We'wha met President Grover Cleveland. Friends and relatives alternated masculine and feminine pronouns for We'Wha. We'wha was described as being highly intelligent, having a strong character, and always being kind to children.
- Simon Ganneau (1806 - 1851) was a sculptor and Parisian prophet. He wore a combination of feminine and masculine signifiers: a beard, a working man's blouse, and a woman's mantle. He called himself by the title "the Mapah," which was a combination of the words mater (mother) and pater (father). He created a mystical religion he called Evadaisme, meaning "Eve-Adam-ism." This taught that the next phase of human development would be androgyny, coming from the femininity of Mary-Eve marrying the masculinity of Christ-Adam. Evadaisme condemned sexist traditions, such as taking the surname of one's father and not one's mother. Though the Mapah was poor, he was well-educated, and spoke eloquently. He preached to working-class men and sex workers. The Mapah taught Éliphas Lévi (1810 – 1875), inspiring the latter to become interested in the occult. Lévi then become the best-known occultist of the nineteenth century. Through Lévi, the occult practice of Western ceremonial magic owes much of its origins to the Mapah.
1870s[edit | edit source]
- Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) developed a theory in which men who are attracted to men and women who are attracted to women are thus because they are members of a third sex, a mixture of both male and female, and with the psyche or essence of the "opposite" sex, even though their bodies look like cis-gender male and female bodies. The terms "homosexual," "bisexual," and "heterosexual" didn't exist yet, so he coined terms for them all. The overall phenomenon he called Uranismus (in the original German, Urningtum), gay men were uranians (German urnings), lesbians were uraniads (German urningin, as -in is the feminine suffix), whereas heterosexuals were Dionings, so bisexual men were uranodionings, and so on, all of which were distinct from zwitter (intersex). Ulrichs based this naming system on "Plato's Symposium, where two different kinds of love [...are] ruled by two different goddesses of love-- Aphrodite, daughter of Uranus, and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus and Dione. The second Aphrodite rules those who love the opposite sex."  Ulrichs argued that their condition was as natural and healthy as that of what we now call heterosexual people, and he started the movement fighting for their equal legal rights to express their love "between consenting adults, with the free consent of both parties," in his words from 1870, and that they should not be pathologized nor criminalized for doing so.. Although Uranismus was generally addressed in terms of orientation, Ulrichs specifically described various categories of uranians in terms of their gender nonconformity and gender variance. For example, in regard to feminine gay men or queens (who he called Weiblings), Ulrichs wrote in 1879,
"The Weibling is a total mixture of male and female, in which the female element is even predominant, a thoroughly hermaphroditically organized being. Despite his male sexual organs, he is more woman than man. He is a woman with male sexual organs. He is a neutral sex. He is a neuter. He is the hermaphrodite of the ancients."
- Ulrichs goes on to say the direct counterpart of the Weibling among those were were assigned female at birth is "the masculine-inspired, woman-loving Mannlingin," who is equally gender-variant. Ulrichs emphasizes that Uranismus includes gender-variant people, distinct from those who conform from their gender, and also distinct from people born with physical intersex characteristics. As such, Uranismus included people who might today identify as nonbinary.
1880s[edit | edit source]
- The earliest known true transsexual genital conversion surgery of any kind was performed in 1882 on a trans man named Herman Karl. However, "earliest transsexual genital conversion surgery" depends on one's definition. Eunuchs have been around for all of human history, and while many eunuchs consider themselves cisgender men, many others consider themselves another gender that isn't female or male, such as hijra. Some sources credit the first trans male genital conversion surgery as, instead, the one performed on a trans man named Michael Dillon in the 1930s, perhaps depending on how one defines that surgery.
1890s[edit | edit source]
- Based on Ulrich's work in the 1870s, which were the foundation of Western notions of LGBT people for the next several decades, clinical beliefs around the time of the 1890s "conflat[ed] sex, sexual orientation, and gender expression," thinking of (to use modern words for them) gay, lesbian, transgender, and gender non-conforming people as all having some kind of intersex condition. Such people were said to have "sexual inversion," and were called "inverts.". Another name used for the same category through the 1890s and 1910s was "the intermediate sex," or the "intermediates," which was not physically intersex, and was understood to be often (though not always) gender nonconforming.
- During the 1890s, Paresis Hall in New York City was a place with an active nightlife of LGBT people. In 1895, the autobiographer Jennie June formed an organization called the Cercle Hermaphroditos, along with other androgynes like June's self who frequented Paresis Hall. The purpose of the group was to "to unite for defense against the world's bitter persecution," and to show that it was natural to be an invert (an LGBT person). This is one of the earliest known organizations in the US for LGBT rights. 
Twentieth century[edit | edit source]
- In 1905, a 61-year-old person named Randolph Milbourne was arrested for publicly wearing women's clothing. Later, Milbourne stated that "While physically I am a man, yet spiritually and intellectually I am neither a man nor a woman".
- During the 1910s, German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld created the word "transvestite," which at the time meant many more kinds of transgender and even transsexual people. Hirschfeld opened the first clinic to regularly serve them. Hirschfeld's Institute of Sex Research had a library of literature about LGBT people, collected from all over Europe, that couldn't be found anywhere else. This started to bring about a revolution in how society understood and accepted LGBT people, and allowing children to be gender nonconforming. Then, in 1933, the Nazis destroyed it all. This set back LGBT rights for another 40 or so years. The progress wasn't matched again until at least 1990.
- Jennie June (aforementioned in the 1890s) wrote a trilogy of autobiographies focusing on inversion: The Autobiography of an Androgyne (published 1918), The Female-Impersonators (published 1922), and The Riddle of the Underworld (written 1921, lost, and rediscovered in 2010). June's goal in writing these books was to help create an accepting environment for young adults who do not adhere to gender and sexual norms, to prevent youth from committing suicide.
1940s[edit | edit source]
- During WWII, the Jewish surrealist artist Claude Cahun (who described their gender as "neutral") with their life-partner Marcel Moore (also a Jewish artist who chose a neutral name) engaged in resistance work and activism against the Nazis during the German occupation of France. In 1944, Cahun and Moore were arrested by the Nazis and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out as the island was liberated from German occupation in 1945.
1960s[edit | edit source]
- Although the earliest known recorded mention of the gender-neutral title Mx was in a magazine article in 1977, anecdotes say it was in use as far back as 1965.
1970s[edit | edit source]
- During the 1970s and 1980s, feminists Casey Miller and Kate Swift were significant influences on encouraging people to take up gender inclusive language, as an alternative to sexist language that excludes or dehumanizes women. Some of their books on this are Words and Women (1976) and The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing (1980). They also encoraged the use of gender neutral pronouns. Though their work doesn't directly acknowledge the existence of people outside the gender binary, it did help break down societal views of masculine-as-default, and even the extent of the gender binary in language.
- Up until the 1970s, LGBT people of all kinds largely had a sense of being on the same side together. A major rift started in 1979, when cisgender woman Janice Raymond wrote the book Transsexual Empire, which outlined her transphobic conspiracy theory which told cisgender women to fear trans women. This started the trans-exclusionary movement. As a result, many feminist, lesbian, and women-only spaces became hostile to trans women. This dividing issue made it difficult for feminism to develop an understanding of transgender issues in general. In response, the movement of transgender studies began with an essay by trans woman Sandy Stone in 1987. Today, the term TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) means supposed feminists who discriminate against trans women.
- A 1978 issue of Philadelphia Gay News contains an interview with someone who started a transfeminine transition, lived as a woman for a year and a a half, then ceased taking feminizing hormones. The person, going by the name D.J. Beck at the time, states in the interview that "[Our culture feels] that one must be male or one must be female. Our society demands that you cannot be both, you cannot be in between, you cannot be flexible." and "As much as I felt uncomfortable as a male, I felt unnatural as a female." The interview concludes with Beck saying, "I learned that I'm something that we haven't put a label on yet. I'm something that I think a lot of men and women will someday be able to accept and admit they are: people of a personal psyche that doesn't have to be male or female. [...] The time is coming when we will quit thinking in terms of he or she, and live in the shades of gray."  If Beck was alive today, they may have identified under the nonbinary/genderqueer umbrella.
1980s[edit | edit source]
- In the 1980s, the handbook of psychiatry, the DSM-III, included "Gender Identity Disorder" to diagnose people as transsexual. It frames being trans as a strictly pathological mental condition. Getting this diagnosis becomes a necessary step for many trans people to transition. Psychologists during this time believed that a legitimately trans person needed to conform very closely to the gender binary, and even needed to be heterosexual. The psychologists focused on trans women, and isolated them from one another, so they had little community. Meanwhile, trans men got less help from that system, and so they largely left it and formed their own communities.
- In the 1980s and 1990s, Michael Spivak used a set of gender-neutral "E, Emself" pronouns in his math books, in order to avoid indicating a person's gender. The same or similar pronoun had been coined independently by others in prior years. Due to how Spivak popularized these particular pronouns, these soon became known as "spivak pronouns" when they were built into a place where people talked together on the Internet.
1990s[edit | edit source]
- In 1990, the Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference chose Two-Spirit as a better English umbrella term for some gender identities unique to Native American cultures, many of which can be considered as outside of the Western gender binary.
- The 1990 Bisexual Manifesto published in bi zine "Anything That Moves" shows explicit support of nonbinary gender by stating "Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have 'two' sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders."
- The term "Gender Queer" was defined in a 1990 book titled The Welcoming Congregation Handbook as "A person whose understanding of her/hir/his gender identification transcends society's polarized gender system"; it can be surmised that the term "gender queer" was likely in use even before this publication recorded it.
- In 1994, Kate Bornstein, who currently identifies as nonbinary, published the book Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, about her experience as a transgender person identifying outside of the gender binary.
- In 1995, a neutrois person named H. A. Burnham created the word "neutrois," a name for a nonbinary gender identity.
- In 1998, an article from a transgender community on the Internet, Sphere, used the words "queergendered" and "polygendered" interchangeably as umbrella terms for everyone whose gender was outside the gender binary, specifying that these included people who were "bi-gendered, non-gendered, or third-gendered," explaining that some faced difficulty in seeking a gender-ambiguous physical transition.
- In the late 1990s, people in Japan who identified as neither male nor female began calling themselves X-gender.
Twenty-first century[edit | edit source]
2000s[edit | edit source]
- Intersex Australian Alex MacFarlane believed to be the first person in Australia to obtain a birth certificate recording sex as indeterminate, and the first Australian passport with an "X" sex marker. Australia began to let people mark their gender as "X" on their birth certificates and passports.
- In 2009, India began to allow voters outside the gender binary to "register their gender as 'other' on ballots submitted to the Election Commission."
2010s[edit | edit source]
2010[edit | edit source]
- In August, a user on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network forums took the "demi-" from "demiromantic" and came up with the term "demiguy". This concept would eventually catch on and broaden into an array of demigender labels.
- In December, the US state of Arkansas enacted a policy allowing gender on drivers' licenses and state ID cards to be changed to M, F, or X with "no questions asked, no documentation required". However, this policy received very little attention until 2018.
2011[edit | edit source]
2012[edit | edit source]
- On 14th July, the first annual International Nonbinary Day, created by Katje van Loon, was celebrated.
2013[edit | edit source]
- A newer version of the handbook of psychiatry, the DSM-5, replaces the "gender identity disorder" diagnosis with "gender dysphoria," to lessen the pathologization of transgender people.
- In September 2013, a nonbinary tumblr user by the handle "revolutionator" coins the term "enby" as a short for "nonbinary person" or "NB".
- On November 4, 2013 in the US, 18-year-old Sasha Fleischman was assaulted for wearing gender nonconforming clothing. Sasha identifies as genderqueer and agender, and goes by "they" pronouns. When they had fallen asleep on a public bus, a stranger lit Sasha's skirt on fire. Sasha survived, suffering second and third degree burns. In the following weeks, allies showed support by marching along that bus route, tying rainbow ribbons to poles, and writing letters. Several schools sponsored skirt-wearing days. The assailant was sentenced to seven years in juvenile detention. The nonfiction book The 57 Bus explores the incident in detail.
2014[edit | edit source]
- The Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of rights and legal recognition of "Indians who identify as neither male nor female, or those who identify as transgender women, known as hijra."
- The social networking site Facebook began to let users to choose from 50 gender options.
- The transgender community on the social networking site Tumblr created hundreds of nounself pronouns.
- More than 47,000 people sign a Whitehouse.gov petition asking for USA federal recognition of nonbinary genders.
2015[edit | edit source]
- Nepal began to allow X gender passports.
- Dictionary.com put in the nonbinary gender words agender, bigender, and genderfluid. Meanwhile, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that it might add the title Mx.
- One of Irish broadcaster RTE’s best-known journalists, Jonathan Rachel Clynch, came out as genderfluid.
- The Washington Post style guide was updated to allow use of singular they, with Post copy editor Bill Walsh saying:
|«||What finally pushed me from acceptance to action on gender-neutral pronouns was the increasing visibility of gender-neutral people. The Post has run at least one profile of a person who identifies as neither male nor female and specifically requests they and the like instead of he or she. Trans and genderqueer awareness will raise difficult questions down the road, with some people requesting newly invented or even individually made-up pronouns. [...] But simply allowing they for a gender-nonconforming person is a no-brainer. And once we've done that, why not allow it for the most awkward of those he or she situations that have troubled us for so many years?||»|
2016[edit | edit source]
- On January 8, the American Dialect Society voted singular they as Word of the Year for 2015, with ADS member Ben Zimmer stating "In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation. While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language." Singular "they" also won in the Most Useful category, beating out other contenders including "mic drop", "microaggression", and "shade" by a wide margin.
- In the USA, the states of Oregon and then California began to allow for a nonbinary legal gender, though getting this recognized on identity documents (driver's licenses and passports) is another matter. California began to allow nonbinary driver's licenses.
- In April, Merriam-Webster added cisgender, genderqueer, and Mx. to its unabridged dictionary.
- On the 2016 Australian Census, for the first time people could identify themselves as "male", "female", or "other". 1300 people selected "other".
2017[edit | edit source]
- In the USA, 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 June 2017, USA's District of Colombia began to offer nonbinary driver's licenses and identification cards. Activist Shige Sakurai was the first to receive one of these "X"-marked licenses. Soon after, the state of Oregon also began to issue gender-neutral IDs.
- The country of Malta began to offer "X" gender markers on passports and other documents.
- Popular musician Sam Smith came out stating in an interview that "I don't know what the title would be but I feel just as much woman as I am man." 
- In Germany, a person petitioned the registry office to change the gender on their birth record from "female" to "diverse". In regard to this case, the German Constitutional Court made a judgement suggesting "waiving the mandatory entry of gender in registries, or offering a different option besides male or female", reasoning that "denial of recognition of a non-binary gender identity does endanger the constitutionally protected free personality development."
2018[edit | edit source]
- In January, 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.||»|
- In July, well-known creator Rebecca Sugar came out as a nonbinary woman.
- In September, Merriam-Webster Dictionary added the gender-inclusive term "Latinx".
- In October, the first International Pronouns Day took place with participation in 25 countries.
- In October, New York City passed a law (taking effect January 1, 2019) allowing "X" gender markers on birth certificates, and allows the marker to be changed without medical documentation.
- In October, the Netherlands issued its first-ever passport with "X" gender designation. This was done for 57-year-old Leonne Zeegers.
- Washington, D.C. public schools began to offer "nonbinary" as a gender option on school enrollment forms.
2019[edit | edit source]
- In the USA in February, Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the many Democratic candidates for president, said she endorses the availability of "X" gender markers for nonbinary people.
- In March, nonbinary person Finley Norris became the first person in the state of Indiana, USA to receive a driver's license with an "X" gender marker.
- Google released 53 new emoji variations with specifically gender neutral appearance.
- In November, Massachusetts began allowing an X as a nonbinary gender marker on Driver's Licenses and State IDs. 
- Merriam-Webster declared "they" as the top Word of the Year.
- Collins Dictionary added the word "non-binary".
- "Genderqueer", "agender", "cisgender", "misgender", "transphobia", and "ze" are added to the international Scrabble dictionary.
- Canada's 2019 Census Test (in preparation for the 2021 Census) now includes separate questions about sex at birth and gender, and also allows nonbinary gender answers.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) Style Guide was updated to endorse the use of singular they: "Writers should use the singular 'they' in two main cases: (a) when referring to a generic person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant to the context and (b) when referring to a specific, known person who uses 'they' as their pronoun."
2020s[edit | edit source]
2020[edit | edit source]
- In January, American presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren promised that if she is elected, she will have "at least 50% of Cabinet positions filled by women and non binary people."
- In February, it was announced that Nepal's 2021 census would have a third gender option.
- On February 25, Ro Khanna, a Democratic member of the USA House of Representatives, proposed the Gender Inclusive Passport Act, which would add an "X" option to USA passports.
- Marvel Comics' series The New Warriors introduced a nonbinary superhero named "Snowflake", and received widespread backlash.
- In the USA, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Senate Bill 246 on March 31, allowing for driver's license applicants to mark “male,” “female” or “non-binary” when designating their sex. The bill went into effect July 1.
- In July, a nonbinary New Yorker sued the state in pursuit of an "X" gender marker on their driver's license. New York currently only allows "M" or "F" gender markers on licenses.
- The 2020 USA Census made headlines for lack of a nonbinary gender option.
- In August 2020, the well-known videogame journalist and internet personality Jim Sterling came out as nonbinary.
- In the November 3rd elections, Mauree Turner was elected to the Oklahoma state legislature, making them the first out nonbinary person elected to any USA state legislature.
- In the US state of North Carolina, December 6 was formally recognized by the legislature as Gender Expansive Parents' Day.
2021[edit | edit source]
- Early in January, in Iceland, private businesses and government offices alike began to offer "male, female, nonbinary, other, and the option to decline to answer" regarding gender registrations. This was the taking effect of a gender determination law that was passed in June 2019.
- In April, Dictionary.com officially added the word "enby" with the definition "a person whose gender identity is nonbinary, not fitting into the male/female division (often used attributively)."
- In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) made a public statement recommending that the sex marker should be removed from the public-facing part of birth certificates. Willie Underwood III, MD said that "Assigning sex using binary variables in the public portion of the birth certificate fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity."
- Also in June, the US Department of State announced that "The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons" for passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). A government employee stated that the new gender marker would be available by the end of 2021. In late October, an intersex and nonbinary person named Dana Zzyym was the first to receive one of these X-marked US passports.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Wikipedia: Timeline of transgender history
- Wikipedia: History of transgender people in the United Kingdom
- Wikipedia: History of transgender people in the United States
- Wikipedia: Timeline of intersex history
- Wikipedia: Intersex in history
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