Research

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This page will be a list of academic articles concerning nonbinary gender.

Feminism/Queer Theory[edit | edit source]

Summary

The authors discuss genderqueer and trans* invisibility in traditional historical narratives. This invisibility is then contrasted with the 'hypervisibility' thrust upon trans* and genderqueer people when they are subjected to security searches based on a system of binary gender.

Key Points
  • Various historical figures have expressed signs of gender fluidity, including Edward Hyde, the first Colonial Governor of New York, who "frequently appeared in public wearing women's clothing", and Captain John Robbins, a British military officer in colonial Maine, who "had both a brilliant war record and a desire to dress in fine dresses and gowns".
  • Despite this, genderqueer and trans* people have historically been assumed to make up a minority, and have typically only been mentioned in the context of deceiving others (for example, female-bodied people who 'pretended to be men' in order to join the military in various wars).
  • This historical invisibility is a major factor in perpetuating cisgender privilege. As a result of this privilege, genderqueer bodies are rarely taken into account in studies of security.
  • The use of full-body scanners at airports, along with passports that assume binary gender, leads to a "hypervisibility" of genderqueer and trans* bodies in which they are scrutinised in a negative manner. Security systems based on binary gender further feed into the societal perception of trans* people as 'dishonest', or 'pretending' to be of different sex, as well as leading to increased with of transphobic harassment and suspicion.
  • The authors emphasise the importance of discussing these issues as part of a wider deconstruction of cisgender privilege:

"If it is analytically and conceptually productive to see transphobic violence as the violent reproduction of a stable sex/gender system that ‘naturally’ privileges cisgender performances because such performances are associated with normality and safety and trans- performances are associated with danger and discomfort, it then becomes possible to ask questions about the ways that trans-in(/hyper)visibility, cisprivilege and a regulative, exclusionary ontopolitical social order are violently reproduced in inter/transnational relations."

Published In: Feminist Review
Access: Institutional login available
Summary

Discussion of the ways in which awareness of genderqueer and trans* people cause others to question their own gender identities. Also highlights various archetypes and misconceptions that tend to be used in discourse about trans* and genderqueer issues, and discusses points for and against the use of the word 'cisgender' to describe non-trans* people.

Key Points
  • Awareness of trans* and genderqueer people affects the development of other people's gender identities.
  • Feminist discussions, as well as those in other academic and activist spaces, tend to focus on trans* and genderqueer people as either a generalised 'gender menace' or the opposite - a 'gender salvation'.
  • Discussion of trans* people often use a narrow understanding of gender that prioritises dominant social identities, and objectifies trans* individuals as abstract representations of how to think about gender relations:
  • Trans* identities are frequently medicalised, and lived experiences are overlooked.
  • Anti-trans* narratives often include implications of delusion (e.g. the "fifty-year-old man in a dress"; the "teen who thinks she's trans*").
  • Genderqueers and trans* men tend to be portrayed as a form of 'masculinist' "social climbing"; a symptom of 'patriarchy-induced false consciousness'.
  • Trans* women are often framed as men attempting to infiltrate women's spaces.
  • There is a tendency to treat trans* people as a 'threat', which centres the discussion on how to police gender boundaries, rather than on how to oppose gendered violence. Gendered oppression is made the only thing that matters, making white cis women more comfortable, whilst pushing out women who are 'othered'.
  • Eli Clare (2007) argues that "transness" is not an individual, curable medical problem, but a broader societal issue stemming from society's refusal to accept a diverse range of body types and expressions of gender.
  • Certain feminists (e.g. Uppity Biscuit, 2007) have expressed anger about the use of the word 'cisgender' to 'oppress' non-trans women - the authors cite this as an example of policing of gender boundaries, as well as an example of how gender transgression motivates non-trans* people to examine their own gender identities.
  • Uppity Biscuit (2007) argues that since 'cisgender' is not a name women have taken on for themselves, trans* people are forcibly renaming women in a way that she claims is homologous to the way in which women are oppressed by the patriarchy.
  • Proponents of the term argue that 'cisgender' as a concept is a useful tool to point out that gender is experienced differently by non-trans* women than by trans* women.
  • The idea is discussed that the existence of trans* people "creates non-trans people as something new". Non-trans* women have been placed in relationship to trans* women, causing them to question what it means to identify and be identified, as a woman.
  • The authors propose that feminists could instead take a relational view of gender, in terms of how trans* people can affect and change the meaning of gender for non-trans* people.
  • Gender is formed partially through interactions with others.
  • The anxieties and desires projected onto trans* identity by non-trans* people should be examined in terms of the *projector's* identity.
  • Self-identification is, at its heart, a kind of relationality that is constantly in flux; it begins with the identity a person chooses, but this choice is never separate from the various other factors that influence self-formation.
  • Idea of self-identification as a narrative which allows, for example, a woman to still identify as a lesbian if their FAAB partner transitions, because of narrative context.
Published In: Hypatia-a Journal of Feminist Philosophy
Access: Institutional login available

Psychology[edit | edit source]

Summary

An online survey was carried out to assess gender identity, gender dysphoria, and gender performance in both 'normative' men and women and "queers" (people who self-described as either transgender or "other") in Israel. The questionnaire used - the Multi-Gender Identity Questionnaire, or Multi-GIQ - was newly constructed (although it was based on existing measures), and was designed to measure different degrees of multiple genders ('man', 'woman', 'both' and 'neither') existing within the same individual. The findings were compared to a student sample, also in Israel, in order to discern whether findings might generalise to the rest of the country's population. Sexual orientation was also assessed in both samples.

Key Findings
  • "Feeling as a man" and "Feeling as a woman" were negatively correlated. Self-described men felt more like men than women did, and vice versa; "queers" scored in-between.
  • Some men felt more like a woman than some women, and vice versa.
  • 33% of men, 33% of women, and 76% of "queers" felt both like a man and a woman to some degree. Many "queers" felt an equal degree of identification with 'man' and 'woman', whereas most women felt more like a woman than a man (and vice versa).
  • On average, "queers" were more likely to "experience themselves as two genders" (either feeling more like a man some days and more like a woman on others, or feeling somewhere in-between, or a combination of the two) than men and women.
  • No differences were found between heterosexual men and women.
  • Homosexual and bisexual people felt more like the 'other' gender, more like 'two genders', and more like 'belonging to neither gender' than heterosexual people (though "queers" were not included in this comparison, due to a lack of heterosexual "queer" participants).
  • Homosexual and bisexual women felt less like their affirmed gender than heterosexual women. This difference was not found in men.
  • The more a participant "felt as" one gender, the more they felt affirmed in that gender or wished to be that gender, and the less they felt content as or wished to be the 'other' gender.
  • "Feeling as two genders" and "Feeling as no gender" was positively correlated with the wish to be the 'other' gender, and negatively correlated with being content with the affirmed gender.
  • "Queers" disliked their bodies (Assessed using statements such as: "I disliked my male body"/"I dislike my female body") more than men and women did. No relationship was found between sexual orientation and discomfort with one's body.
  • "Queers" saw gender as performative more than men and women did; women saw gender as performative more than men did. Homosexual and bisexual people saw gender as performative more than heterosexual people did.
  • Men were more compliant with gender expectations relating to language and dress than women; both were more compliant than "queers". Heterosexual people were also more compliant than homosexual and bisexual people. For dress, this difference was larger for women, and for language, the difference was larger for men.
  • "Normative" participants also scored more highly than expected on items relating to gender dysphoria: 36.6% of "non-queers" said they sometimes feel like the 'other' gender (with 24% giving scores above 1), 63.7% sometimes wished to be the 'other' gender (and 34% above 1), 49% did not always wear clothes 'appropriate' to their sex (26% below 3) and 41.9% were sometimes discontent with their sexed body (52% above 1).
  • Analysis of the student sample found similar results to the online sample (but there are some caveats - see 'Limitations').
Limitations
  • Neither sample was random. The similar findings between the two samples indicate that the findings may be generalisable, but the student sample was itself not very representative, containing too few men, "queers", homosexual people and bisexual people for comparisons to be made with the main sample regarding those groups. Therefore, the only comparisons made between the two samples were those concerning heterosexual women.
  • Bisexual and homosexual participants were grouped together, as were transgender and "other" participants; future research should use larger sample sizes to examine the gender identities of these groups separately.
  • All participants were Israeli, and most were Jewish; findings may therefore not generalise to other ethnicities and cultures.
  • The questionnaire, though it did try to assess non-binary experience, did so by asking questions about 'feeling as a man' and 'feeling as a woman', and did not assess "quality or content" of experiences of gender. Therefore, they could only assess aspects of gender identity that are defined by degrees of 'maleness' and 'femaleness'. However, this did enable the researchers to reach out to normative individuals who might not have engaged with the survey had it used more "queer" phrasing.
  • Since the questionnaire, and this study of gender identity as both man and woman in 'normative' individuals is novel, the convergent and predictive validity of the Multi-GIQ could not be demonstrated. However, comparing results with studies that contained some, though not all, relevant measures showed similar results. Also, the Multi-GIQ should have content validity, as it was heavily based on questionnaires used commonly to assess gender identity and dysphoria regarding a single gender identity. Furthermore, the study found predicted differences in gender identity between men and women, and between self-identified trans people and self-identified men and women.
Implications for Future Research
  • The negative correlation between 'feeling as a man' and 'feeling as a woman' was not as high as would be expected if 'man' and 'woman' are opposing poles. The results instead support theories which view masculinity and femininity as separate, independent attributes.
  • Sexual orientation was more related to feelings of the 'other' gender than as one's affirmed gender. This supports a non-binary model of gender, in which an individual can have feelings of the 'other' gender without reducing their feelings of being their affirmed gender.
  • Since a large proportion of "normative" participants experienced gender in a more complex way than the binary model would suggest, the authors "call for a new conceptualisation of gender identity, which emphasises and celebrates multiplicity and fluidity in the experience of gender identity."
  • Since even "normative" individuals scored highly on items that had previously been used to measure gender dysphoria, the authors concluded that only discontent with one's sexed body, "which is by its very definition dysphoric", should be considered a sign of gender dysphoria - the rest are part of a normal and complex gender experience.
  • Correlations between sexual orientation and gender identity, where they were found, were small, and do not support the idea that "the heterosexual-homosexual binary constitutes, stabilises and naturalises the male-female binary".


Published in: Psychology and Sexuality
Access: Institutional login required.
Summary

An online survey of trans* and nonbinary adults was conducted. Participants were given a battery of questionnaires to assess Optimism, Perceived Social Support, Suicide Resilience, Reasons for Living, and Suicidal Behaviour. Regression analysis was used to determine which factors were predictive of lower suicidal behaviour.

Key Findings
  • When asked about gender identity, 11.3% of participants answered under 'other' (identifying variously as: 'on the MTF/FTM spectrum'; 'genderqueer'; 'two-spirit'; 'androgyne'; 'gender blender'; 'bigender'; 'polygender/pangender'; 'Ft other'; 'gender bent'; 'third gender'; or 'gender fucker').
  • Perceived social support from family, emotional stability, and child-related concerns as a reason for living were all found to be suicide protective factors. These have previously been found to function as protective factors in cisgender individuals.
Limitations
  • Causal relationships cannot be assumed since cross-sectional data were used.
  • No comparison group was used.
  • The sample size was relatively small (133 participants).
  • Participation was limited to users of the LISTSERVs through which the survey was distributed.
  • Since risk factors were not assessed, the mediating effects of the protective factors could not be analysed.
  • This was the first time these measures had been used in a trans*-only population; reliability and validity have yet to be assessed for this population.
Implications for Future Research
  • Future models should take both risk factors and protective factors into account.
  • Longitudinal designs should be considered, although these may be unethical in practice.
  • Within-group differences need to be assessed; protective factors may differ between binary and nonbinary trans* people, between FAAB and MAAB individuals, and/or between trans* people of different racial backgrounds.
  • Protective factors that were not included in this study should also be explored.
Published In: Archives of Sexual Behaviour
Access: Open Access
Content Note: Suicide.

Neuroscience[edit | edit source]

Summary

An online survey of 32 bigender individuals was conducted. Questions concerned whether they had ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, whether or not they could predict their cycles in gender, how often they switched between genders, and whether or not they experienced the sensation of 'phantom' breasts or genitalia that cycled along with gender.

Key Findings
  • A higher than expected rate of bipolar disorder was found among participants; however, this was not sufficient to explain experiences of cycling gender, nor was any other psychiatric disorder.
  • 10 of 32 participants reported that their switches were predictable.
  • Of those surveyed, 14 switched daily, or multiple times a day; 9 switched weekly or several times a week; 6 switched monthly or several times a month; and 3 switched several times a year.
  • 21 of 32 participants reported experiencing phantom body parts that matched their current gender state.
Limitations
  • There is currently no evidence for or against the theories proposed here; this paper appears to be the first formal scientific investigation of bigender identity, and as a result, the discussion section is highly speculative.
Implications for Future Research
  • The authors propose several speculative theories of a neurological basis for bigender identity (or 'alternating gender incongruity', as they refer to it):
  • Bigender people may have unusually amplified functional hemispheric dominance patterns; cycling of dominance between hemispheres may lead to the alternate expression of cognitions and emotions that are traditionally considered to be 'male' or 'female'.
  • Alternatively, these alternating patterns of hemispheric dominance may lead to different patterns of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system control, which in turn could result in different patterns of emotional reactivity.
  • Bigender people may have atypical somatosensory body maps, resulting in two or more differently gendered body maps that vie for sensory input.
  • Bigender identity could also be a result of a combination of these causes.
  • More broadly speaking, they acknowledge that there are many levels at which gender and sex can differ - including chromosomes, physical morphology, body image, and "sense of being a man or woman in society" - and that differences in any one of these could underlie a trans* or nonbinary gender identity.
  • The authors also wonder whether alternation of gender states might reflect changes in hormone profiles.
Published In: Medical Hypotheses
Access: Institutional login available
Content Note: Contains some problematic language (medicalisation of bigender indentity).
Summary

A very brief review of the evidence for a neurological basis for gender dysphoria, and some informed but speculative discussion of how this neurological basis might emerge during fetal development. The specific findings discussed involve binary trans* participants, but they are potentially relevant to anyone who experiences gender dysphoria.

Key Points
  • There is evidence to suggest that, in the brains of transsexual women, thebed nucleus of the stria terminalis (aka BSTc; a region which differs in size between cisgender males and females) is sized within the range typically found in cisgender females.
  • Evidence also shows that, for transsexual women, the number of somatostatin-expressing neurons in this region of the brain is within the range expected of cisgender females. Conversely, for transsexual men, the number of somatostatin-expressing neurons in this area was more similar to the range found in cisgender males.
  • These findings support the idea that, in people who experience gender dysphoria, the sex characteristics of the brain may be incongruent with other sex characteristics.
  • The development of sexual dimorphism in utero is highly complex, and there are many stages at which one or many aspects of an individual's sex may become incongruent with the rest:

"Once in the fetal brain, testosterone is either metabolized into dihydrotestosterone by an enzyme named 5 alpha reductase or converted to estradiol by an enzyme called aromatase. Counterintuitively, increased estrogen receptor activation is responsible for defeminization while increased androgen receptor activation seems to be responsible for masculinization. All this makes clear that there is nothing straightforward about an individual being born with a gender identity that matches their biological sex."

  • For an individual's brain to develop with a representation of their body as predominantly male, they must not only be exposed to sufficient testosterone, but this testosterone must also be released with the correct timing, as there is a relatively short time frame in which the brain is susceptible to defeminisation. If this does not occur, the gender map may be "partially imprinted as male". Possible causes of disruption include disorder in the mother's endocrine system, maternal stress, medication, or potentially other substances and/or adverse events. Female gender is less complex to produce, but still potentially vulnerable to disruption.
  • "Gender identity, far from being absolute, appears to occur on a continuum, with most people gathered at either end, the rest being somewhere in between. Feelings of discomfort or complete inappropriateness about one's assigned sex do not mean the individual is wrong or ill. It simply means that the assignment made at birth almost universally on the shape of one's genitals can, on occasion, differ from the unseen brain imprint."
Limitations
  • Only two studies were cited in support of points relating to the BSTc.
  • The samples used in these studies were very small, and there was considerable overlap in the participants used in the two studies.
  • Both studies examined postmortem brains, and the majority of trans* participants had been on hormone replacement therapy during their lifetimes. Findings relating to the BSTc may, therefore, have been due to hormone use rather than an innate marker of gender dysphoria.
  • The authors did attempt to control for this by including a control group of cisgender males with hormonal disorders; however, this control sample was also very small, consisting of only two brains.
  • Only a single transsexual man was studied, so firm conclusions about the brains of transsexual men cannot be drawn from the study described.
  • The discussion of fetal development is purely speculative; no research is cited to support the idea that a neural correlate of gender identity develops in the womb.
Published In: The Gendered Self by Anne Vitale
Access: Introduction available as a free download; full book available for purchase in physical and ebook formats.

Law[edit | edit source]

United States[edit | edit source]

Summary

A discussion of the need for genderqueer people to be recognised as a distinct, legally protected class, and the possible benefits this could yield for society in general. First-person accounts from genderqueer individuals are used to illustrate what it means to be genderqueer. The paper goes on to outline definitions of 'genderqueer', statistics that highlight unique challenges faced by genderqueer people with regard to discrimination, and arguments that could be used to refute the perceived need for classification based on binary sex.

Key Points
  • Genderqueer identity has largely been ignored by U.S. law; the word 'genderqueer' is often instead used to refer to a political movement to challenge gender roles. Genderqueer people are sometimes included under the wider definition of 'transgender', but this can serve to erase genderqueer identity from consideration.
  • Two definitions of genderqueer should be considered:
  • The Practicing Law Institute's existing definition of 'genderqueer' as a “term for people who challenge the binary gender system of femininity/masculinity; often used because of its subversiveness/overtly political/activist aspects; incorporates ideas from gender theory into personal identity.”
  • A definition of 'genderqueer' as a distinct identity:

    ““Genderqueer” refers to those who do not (or do not always) identify as either a woman or a man. Some who consider themselves genderqueer may identify as a man one day and a woman the next. Others identify as neither man nor woman, seeing themselves as between or beyond genders. Some reject gendered pronouns, preferring to be referred to as “they,” or “ze” (a recently created, gender-neutral pronoun) or simply by their name.”

  • Legal protection for genderqueer people would likely make it easier for binary trans* people to seek legal protection, as a system that is already accustomed to removing a gender marker should also have little changing one from 'M' to 'F' or vice versa.
  • Accepting genderqueer people under the law would also be an admittance that gender is fluid and constructed, which may lead to the reduced medicalisation of trans* identities and wider acceptance of less rigid attitudes toward gender.
  • Genderqueer people may face bias in the courts due to their (statistically) younger age, which may contribute to a perception of them being 'confused', 'going through a phase', or threatening the status quo with radical views.
  • 90% of genderqueer people surveyed report an experience of verbal harassment in the workplace, barriers to advancement, and pervasive fear of these outcomes.
  • US federal law likely already protects genderqueer people, due to language that focuses on 'gender identity' and 'gender expression', rather than transition.
  • For example, the latest proposed version (at the time of the paper's publication) of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) defines gender identity as “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”
  • However, employers are often unaware of this, and may discriminate despite the law. This may mean that employers who do discriminate against genderqueer people will take fewer precautions to cover themselves, making it easier for plaintiffs to build a case against them.
  • Most state laws also implicitly include genderqueer people, by protecting “gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”
  • Exceptions:
  • New Mexico's definition of gender identity as "a person's self-perception, or perception of that person by another, of the person's identity as a male or female based upon the person's appearance, behaviour or physical characteristics that are in accord with or opposed to the person's physical anatomy, chromosomal sex or sex at birth"
  • Minnesota's state laws describe being trans* as " “having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness”.
  • Colorado makes the distinction between gender identity (“an innate sense of one’s own gender”) and gender expression (“external appearance, characteristics or behaviors typically associated with a specific gender”). Laws concerning "sexual orientation harassment" include deliberate misuse of pronouns and names.
  • At the time this paper was published, the latest proposed version of the ENDA defined gender identity as “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.” This further clarifies the inclusion of genderqueers under the law, though it may be unintentional.
  • Arguments for genderqueer inclusion from the standpoint of equal protection:
  • Gender classifications are reviewed under the Equal Protection Clause using the 'intermediate scrutiny' standard - any act of discrimination based on gender by the state must be justified with benefits to an important state interest.
  • There is precedent to show that laws based on gender stereotypes should not be upheld - see the case of Craig v. Boren, in which law would have allowed women to legally buy beer at a younger age than men, as men were caught drunk driving more often. The law was not upheld, as it was felt that differential treatment of the genders played a role in women having fewer opportunities to drive when drunk.
  • There is also precedent that perceived 'inherent differences' between genders are not enough to justify discriminatory law - see the case of United States v. Virginia, in which the Virginia Military Institute banned female students, as they were not considered physically or mentally tough enough to withstand training. The law was not upheld.
  • It could be argued that the idea that there are only 'men' and 'women', and that gender does not differ from sex assigned at birth, is in itself a stereotype and a presumed inherent difference between sexes. Therefore, this idea alone should not be enough to justify a binary sex classification system.
  • Binary sex classification is also arguably irrelevant to important state interests, as sex classification does not affect a person's privileges for travel in the US and often does not relate to their gender expression for the purposes of identification.
  • The Due Process Clause protects “personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.” There is a precedent for this clause being used to affirm the right to an abortion and undermine ant-gay sodomy laws.
  • Since US family life is still much defined by traditional gender roles, and the right to marry is based on the genders of the partners who wish to marry, gender is clearly linked to these personal decisions. The clause has also been described by the Supreme Court as protecting 'the right to define one's own concept of existence', and gender could arguably be included in that concept.
  • Genderqueer people could, therefore, make the case that they should be free to define their own gender without intervention by the state in the form of binary classification.
  • The First Amendment prohibits 'state-compelled speech', particularly that which conveys an 'ideological message'. There is a precedent for this being used to justify refusal to display passive, state-issued messages (e.g. citizens removing the New Hampshire state motto, "Live Free or Die", from their license plate, because they disagreed with said motto).
  • To some extent, presenting and/or identifying as genderqueer is an ideological decision, and genderqueer people should not be forced to affirm the idea that gender is binary and tied to sex every time they present documentation.
Published in: The Dukeminier Awards Journal
Access: Open Access.

Policy/Statistics[edit | edit source]

United States[edit | edit source]

Summary

An analysis of data from the 2008 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, which surveyed 6450 trans and gender non-conforming participants over the course of six months. The study included two questions about gender identity, one of which provided an 'A gender not listed here' (GNL) option, with an open text field to specify. This analysis focuses on respondents who described their gender identity as GNL (a total of 860 participants, 13% of the sample), and their experiences of discrimination, harassment and abuse compared to non-GNL respondents and the total sample.

Introductory Note
Since this paper is freely available at the link above, in the interest of brevity I will not be reporting all exact statistics here; please refer to the original paper for specifics.
Key Findings
  • A variety of gender identity labels were submitted by GNL respondents, including:
  • 'Genderqueer' or 'queer' (42% of GNLs; 6% of the total sample)
  • 'Both', 'either', 'neither', 'in-between', or 'non-binary' (9% of GNLs)
  • 'Androgynous' or 'blended' (8% of GNLs)
  • 'Non-gendered', 'gender is a performance', or 'gender does not exist' (3% of GNLs)
  • 'Fluid' (2% of GNLs)
  • 'Two-spirit' (2% of GNLs)
  • 'Bi-gender', 'Tri-gender', or 'third gender' (2% of GNLs)
  • 'Genderfuck', 'rebel', or 'radical' (1% of GNLs)
  • A variety of unique responses, including: 'Birl'; 'Jest me';'Skaneelog'; 'Twidget'; 'Neutrois'; 'OtherWise'; 'gendertreyf'; 'trannydyke'; 'genderqueer wombat fantastica'; 'Best of Both'; 'gender blur'; and 'transgenderist'.
  • Some responses for which the frequency was not reported, including: 'Pangender'; 'Hybrid'; 'Mahuwahine'; and 'Aggressive'. It is unclear from the report whether these were folded into other categories above for the purpose of producing statistics.
  • GNLs were more likely than non-GNLs to be FAAB. They were also more likely, to be under 45, and/or to be multiracial, Black, or Asian. They were less likely than non-GNLs to be White or Latinx. In addition, GNLs were more likely than non-GNLs to live in California, the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic states, and the West (including Alaska and Hawaii), and less likely to live in the Midwest and South.
  • GNLs had higher educational attainment than non-GNLs, but were more likely to live in extreme poverty - though this may be because they were, on the whole, younger than non-GNLs.
  • GNLs were more likely than non-GNLs to have experienced harassment and sexual assault at school; they were also more likely to have experienced physical and/or sexual assault as adults. In addition, GNLs were more likely to have worked in an underground economy, postponed medical treatment for fear of discrimination, and/or attempted suicide, and were more likely to be uncomfortable with going to the police for help. Finally, they were also more likely to be HIV positive or of unknown HIV status, and more likely to be unemployed. To summarise, contrary to common perception, GNLs had experienced abuse, harassment, and discrimination at higher rates than non-GNLs.
  • GNLs were less likely than non-GNLs to have lost their job, and/or had medical treatment denied, as a result of transphobia.
Implications for Future Research
  • Including non-binary gender options in future surveys may be necessary in order to observe the "unique demographic patterns" and "distinct experiences of discrimination" present in non-binary/GNL people.
  • Future researchers should further explore the identities and experiences of genderqueer people, both by examining these data more closely and by designing novel studies.
  • In addition to the gender question focused on by this study, the survey included an additional question asking participants to choose as many identity labels as applied to them from a list, including 'Transgender', 'FTM', 'MTF', 'Genderqueer', and many others. Answers to this question have not yet (at time of publication) been investigated in detail, but appear to differ considerably from those given by GNLs; more research is required to explore the answers to this question.
  • Further research is needed to make up for the statistical limitations of this study (see below).
Limitations
  • In addition to the 'GNL' option and binary male and female answers, the gender question examined here also provided an option for "Part time as one gender, part time as another", which was chosen by 20% of respondents. This wording could conceivably cover genderfluid and bigender identities, meaning that there have been more non-binary respondents to the survey than were examined by this study.
  • The statistical test used - Pearson's chi-squared - only produces generalisable results when applied to a random population, which this was not. In addition, the non-random nature of the study may have compromised the test's ability to find statistical significance. The findings of this study should therefore not be taken as read, but instead, be used to provide hypotheses for more in-depth research.
Published in
The LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School
Access
Open Access
Content Note
Contains mention of sexual and physical assault and suicide.

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