From Nonbinary Wiki
This page contains changes which are not marked for translation.
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.
Related identities Genderqueer
Under the umbrella term Transgender
Frequency 63.1%
Click here to see alternative flags!
« I'm still facing doubts and questions on this journey but despite the hardships that come with being under the trans umbrella, I have no regrets and have immense hope for the future. I am learning to love myself and live beyond the binary. »
Jay, 19 (Nonbinary)[1]

Nonbinary (also spelled non-binary)[2] 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.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

Photograph taken during the Paris Gay Pride March in 2016. The banner is printed with the colors of the nonbinary flag. The big letters say "My gender is nonbinary," with dozens of names of specific nonbinary identities listed in smaller letters in the background.

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,[4][5][6] and ancient Egyptian writings from 2000-1800 BCE.[7][8] 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.[9][10]

In 2013, a user of the social media site Tumblr coined an abbreviation of nonbinary or N.B., "enby." This word and how people have come to use it is discussed below.[11][12][13]

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.[14][15][16] 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."[17]

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."[18][19]

In 2018, in the USA, Washington state began to allow "X" gender markers on official documents[20], 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.[21] »

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".[22]

Enby[edit | edit source]

Table displaying the percentages of respondents sorted by their preferred word.[23]

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."[11][12][13] 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.[23]

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")[27] 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.[24][28]
  • Bigender people feel they have two genders at the same time, or moving back and forth between them at different times.[24][29][25]
  • Genderfluid people move between different gender identities, and sometimes expressions, at different times.[30][25]
  • 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.[30][25]
  • 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.[31][30][25]
  • 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.[25]

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]

Cartoonist Rebecca Sugar at the Peabody Awards in 2019.

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.[32]
  • Kate Bornstein, an influential writer on gender theory, publishing books on the subject from the 1990s to the present.[33]
  • Amandla Stenberg, a singer and actor who has won the BET Awards for YoungStar Award.[34][35]
  • 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.[36]
  • 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.[37]

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.)[38] 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."[39]
  • 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.[40]
  • 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.[41]
  • In John Wick 3, the Adjudicator is nonbinary and played by Asia Kate Dillon, who is also nonbinary.[42]
  • 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.[43]
  • 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." [44]
  • 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]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. This quote is a snippet from an answer to the survey conducted in the year 2018. Note for editors: the text of the quote, as well as the name, age and gender identity of its author shouldn't be changed.
  2. "Gender Census 2018 - the spelling question." Gender Census. April 22, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2020. Archived on 17 July 2023
  3. Darwin, Helana (2020). "Challenging the Cisgender/Transgender Binary: Nonbinary People and the Transgender Label". Gender & Society. 34 (3): 357–380. doi:10.1177/0891243220912256. ISSN 0891-2432.
  4. Murray, Stephen O., and Roscoe, Will (1997). Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature. New York: New York University Press.
  5. Nissinen, Martti (1998). Homoeroticism in the Biblical World, Translated by Kirsi Stjedna. Fortress Press (November 1998) p. 30. ISBN|0-8006-2985-X
    See also: Maul, S. M. (1992). Kurgarrû und assinnu und ihr Stand in der babylonischen Gesellschaft. Pp. 159–71 in Aussenseiter und Randgruppen. Konstanze Althistorische Vorträge und Forschungern 32. Edited by V. Haas. Konstanz: Universitätsverlag.
  6. Leick, Gwendolyn (1994). Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. Routledge. New York.
  7. Sethe, Kurt, (1926), Die Aechtung feindlicher Fürsten, Völker und Dinge auf altägyptischen Tongefäßscherben des mittleren Reiches, in: Abhandlungen der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 1926, p. 61.
  8. Sandra Stewart. "Egyptian third gender." Archived on 17 July 2023
  9. Katje (8 March 2012). "Calling for an International Non-Binary Gender Day". Fierce Femme's Black Market. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  10. Mathers, Charlie (13 July 2018). "Prepare for International Non-binary Day by learning how to be a better ally". Gay Star News. Archived from the original on 13 February 2023. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 @cassolotl on Tumblr (September 2013) Archived on 17 July 2023
  12. 12.0 12.1 vector (revolutionator). Untitled post, September 2013. revolutionator's blog is password-protected, but the post has been reblogged many times, eg: here, date unknown, captured April 2016.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Queer Etymology: Enby". Androgyne of the Archeart. 16 December 2019. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  14. "genderweird". 2019-12-27. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  15. "genderweird". 2019-06-04. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  16. "genderweird". 2019-06-04. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  17. Eve Shapiro, Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. Unpaged.
  18. Bermudez, Nadia P. (November 8, 2017). "California's Gender Recognition Act and Impact on Employers - Klinedinst". Klinedinst Attorneys. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  19. Transgender Law Center (2018). "Fact Sheet: California's Gender Recognition Act (SB 179)". Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  20. Jackman, Josh (5 January 2018). "Washington to recognise third gender in groundbreaking move". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  21. "WAC 246-490-075: Changing sex designation on a birth certificate". Washington State Legislature. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  22. McGee, Sarah (7 November 2019). "Collins Dictionary recognise the word 'non-binary'". WalesOnline. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Cassolotl (15 June 2020). "On "enby" and age". Gender Census. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Laura Erickson-Schroth, ed. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press, 2014. P. 611.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 "Gender Census 2019 - The Worldwide tl;dr." Gender Census (blog). March 31, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2020. Archive:
  26. Laura Erickson-Schroth, ed. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press, 2014. P. 617.
  27. "Androgyne." Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved July 5, 2020. Archived on 17 July 2023
  28. Katz, Jonathan Ned. "Transgender Memoir of 1921 Found". Humanities and Social Sciences Online. N.p., 10 October 2010. Web. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  29. Schneider, M., et al, American Psychological Association, APA Task Force on Gender Identity, Gender Variance, and Intersex Conditions, 2008 Answers to Your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity, And Gender Expression (PDF), date unknown, captured April 2016. Archived on 17 July 2023
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Laura Erickson-Schroth, ed. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. Oxford University Press, 2014. P. 614.
  31. "Answering gender questions concerning genderqueer." Genderqueer ID. Archived on 17 July 2023
  32. Years & Years: Inspiring - #PlessPlayForPride Spotify, June 7 2016 Archived on 17 July 2023
  33. Retrieved November 11, 2019. Archived on 17 July 2023
  34. hi folks, @dazedfields and I are organizing a workshop on feminism,, March 2, 2016 Archived on 17 July 2023
  35. Hunger Games actress says she 'doesn't feel like a woman all the time', Gay Star News, March 4, 2016 Archived on 17 July 2023
  36. Archived on 17 July 2023
  37. Archived on 17 July 2023
  38. Kontis, Alethea (1 June 2019). "A Nonbinary Teen Makes Their Way In The World In 'I Wish You All The Best'". Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  39. Falck, Alex (10 October 2018). "An Interview with Author Rivers Solomon". Archived from the original on 25 June 2019.
  40. Roberts, Ann (2019). In the Silences. Bella Books. ISBN 9781642471267.
  41. Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson for February 09, 2019 Archived on 17 July 2023
  42. "Asia Kate Dillon suggested their John Wick 3 character be non-binary", Pink News, 27 May 2019. Archived on 17 July 2023
  43. Bentley, Jean (14 February 2020). "Bex Taylor-Klaus Hopes Their Nonbinary 'Deputy' Character Will Save Lives". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 17 July 2023. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  44. "Tweet from Jhonen Vasquez". Archived from the original on 20 July 2023. Retrieved 12 June 2021.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)