What It Means to Identify as Genderqueer

Updated on July 4, 2017
social thoughts profile image

I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.


Years before it was added to my educational path, gender and sexuality was a passion of mine.

What about those who do not fit into a gender category?

Many genderqueer allies are cisgender. Being cisgender means that your genitalia matches your gender identity. Several find it equally as liberating to learn that it’s acceptable not to fit into these boxes. Of course, there is more to this concept than what is on the surface, and far more to debate; however, to indulge would go off topic.

Some trans* identify as genderqueer, but not all who identify as GQ are the same. As an umbrella term, it includes third gender, gender-fluid, genderless, and other terms.

Trans* with the asterisk, unlike trans, extends MtF/FtM (Male to Female/Female to Male) into the following groups:

Third gender/other gender: A combination of masculine and feminine, or an entirely new concept of gender.

Gender fluid: Moving between genders. At times, the person identifies as a woman, other times a man, and other times both. Then, there are times they identify as neither.

Agender/Genderless: Those who feel they don't have a gender. Rather than being either, or both, they are always none of the above.

The standard genderqueer flag represents the three ways in which non-binary people identify. Lavender is a mixture of the traditional pink and blue colors socially associated with feminine and masculine. It symbolizes those who are both genders. Dark green is the reverse of lavender, indicating those who are neither masculine nor feminine. White represents being entirely outside the gender categories.

Gender-Neutral Pronouns

There are many alternative gender-neutral pronouns to choose from when speaking about a genderqueer person. The most common are "zhe," "zher," and "zhim." Instead of using "he/she" pronouns, one uses "zhe" to refer to the subject. In replace of "his/her," one uses "zher" for the possessive pronoun. Rather than referring to the object as "him/her," there is the genderless pronoun "zhim."

Confused? Practice makes perfect! It's the same as when we learned "he" and "she," but less to specify.

A simple way to go about this is to use terms such as "they" or "one." The reason it can be difficult for many is due to being conditioned to gendered language. Think about romance languages. How often do they rely on gender to identify who is being referred to? This changes the rules. Try using gender-neutral alternatives such as "they" throughout your daily conversation. It isn't as hard as it seems.

For more on gender-neutral pronouns, see the chart on Wikipedia.

One subtle way in which we can all help end the social concentration on gender identity is for everyone to opt-out of doing so on forms, such as surveys. Gender declaration is not as relevant to these forms as we have been taught to believe. You do not have to be trans or trans* to understand that the request is unnecessary, or choose not to publicly identify; however, as with race, there should be concern over the reason why they want this information.

The question that every gender identity should be wondering during these survey inquiries is “Will this information create a bias in society?”

Medical forms are often used as comparison. It’s a weak attempt to make us feel ashamed and uneducated for questioning their desire to proceed with surveys; however, medical records go beyond asking for our gender identity and race. They keep our health record. Other organizations need not be so intrusive.

Don't allow society to convince you that there is a comparison when there isn’t.

We are people before we are any other category.

Ash Hardell is an example of a non-binary YouTuber and activist. They made a video with their then fiance, now spouse, Grace, and friends Kaitlyn and Alayna. While Alayna is not genderqueer, she speaks about preferring sports bras, and appearing flat-chested. Likewise, Ash, Grace and Kaitlyn all prefer the flat-chested look since it keeps them gender-neutral; however, both Grace and Kaitlyn talk about situations in which they will put on makeup and a dress.

While similar, Ash, Grace, and Kaitlyn each identify differently when it comes to gender. Grace likes the term greygender. Kaitlyn identifies as gender-neutral or non-binary. At the time of the video, Ash identifies as genderqueer, and questioning. In addition, Ash is considering terms such as non-binary, gender-expansive, gender fluid, and Demigirl.

As for the trans community supporting non-binary individuals, there is YouTuber Chase. He made a video entitled “Are Non-Binary People Even Real??” In the video, he freely discusses the discrimination against non-binary trans* identifying members of the LGBT community. As a FtM, he feels strongly for those targeted for not fitting the standard trans situation. In his own experience, he went through changing his mind about surgery and hormones. Although he eventually went through with both, he was given a hard time by his fellow trans community for being unsure of himself; therefore, he knows from personal experience how judgmental they can be. His overall point is that as long as non-binary identifying trans* people have no negative impact on MtF/FtM trans people, they do not deserve to be treated with suspicion and invalidation.

A problem that continues to exist within the LGBT community is acceptance for anyone who does not fit strictly within a particular group. Bisexuals have always received criticism at pride events, even though their identify has a place in the term LGBT. There is a fear because they flow between worlds; therefore, it is not a surprise that non-binary gender identities would receive similar treatment for not choosing one side of the gender spectrum. It is hypocritical that a community that has been oppressed and controlled by society now seeks to do the same to its own members.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 social thoughts


Submit a Comment
  • social thoughts profile imageAUTHOR

    social thoughts 

    3 years ago from New Jersey

    Oh, Bill. You are silly, indeed. We both know there's so much to you, and anyone with a past such as yours has incredible things to share. Thank you for the support, my friend!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I lead such a boring life. I'm just a recovering drunk. Nothing special about that, or interesting. In fact, it is often a conversation killer. LOL but Genderqueer....now that can get things started at a party. :) Interesting read for sure....sorry for my silliness.


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