Yesterday I wrote about the difference between one’s gender identity & gender expression, but today I wanted to talk about two terms that people can use if they fall outside the gender binary – gender nonconforming & nonbinary. Now, I want to say that I actually use both terms, because they both describe the fact that I don’t vibe with the gender binary (male & female), but I do understand that some may prefer one term over the other, which is fine. But one thing always remains true: If you are going to refer to someone’s identity, you should always ask what label they prefer, and stick to that one.
The dictionary definition of “non-binary” as something that is “not consisting of, indicating, or involving two.” (i.e. the gender binary, referring to the idea that there are the idea that there are only two categories of gender experience (male & female). While I like the term gender nonconforming, I greatly prefer the term nonbinary (or gender neutral) because I don’t gel with either binary gender.
Gender nonconforming, on the other hand, refers to people who have a gender expression that does not conform to traditional gender norms. Similar to both “non-binary” “gender non-conforming” is also often used as an umbrella term—although it is sometimes also used to refer to people who identify as cisgender but who dress or behave in ways that defy gender stereotypes (e.g. cisgender women is suits) – I like this term because honestly, I might not have the time or energy to give an in depth explanation of what being nonbinary is like (especially since university has started again), so it serves a quick way to somewhat explain my gender.
But these two umbrella terms are just some of the words people may use to describe their gender, because as our language grows, our understanding of gender continues to expand, and people are identifying with an ever-growing and increasingly fluid group of labels – some of these could be “gender-fluid”, “genderqueer”, “demigirl” & “demiboy” etc.