Although we still have great strides to make towards equality and acceptance, LGBTQ+ rights have improved significantly throughout the world.
As governments and workplaces continue to take meaningful strides towards inclusivity, we’ve seen a positive shift in the attitudes of wider society.
More acceptance means more self-expression, and many people who identify as genderqueer feel more confident and assured to be themselves.
Do you want to learn more about what it means to be genderqueer? Stick with us to find out.
What Does Genderqueer Mean?
If you identify as genderqueer, you usually feel like you don’t subscribe to the gender binary of man or woman. There’s no ‘set’ way to ‘be’ genderqueer, either.
You may identify with no gender, your gender identity could change over time, or you may identify with multiple genders.
Genderqueer is a form of LGBTQ+ identity, and in many ways, it’s similar to the term ‘nonbinary’ (we’ll come back to this later, though).
Some genderqueer people can even identigy as transgender, nonbinary, or both.
People who are genderqueer often view their gender as fluid and recognize that it doesn’t align with either homosexual or heterosexual norms; Genderqueer can also be used to describe a person who is questioning their gender identity.
The Genderqueer identity is one of the most common identities under the transgender umbrella.
Gender As A Spectrum
To fully grasp what it means to be genderqueer, it’s crucial to understand that gender isn’t a black and white concept.
Gender identity and gender expression are the two primary facets of gender. Our gender identity is how we identify ourselves (such as a man or a woman, or something different).
On the other hand, gender expression is how we present ourselves and express our gender. You can think of this in terms of masculinity and femininity.
Some people feel they closely identify as either male or female, and others feel like they sit somewhere between the two.
Other people may identify strongly with both, or they may fluctuate between masculinity and femininity on a day-to-day basis.
For someone who’s genderqueer, gender presentation and expression can manifest themselves in a number of ways.
To be genderqueer, you don’t need to appear androgynous or act in a way that subscribes to masculinity or femininity.
However, some people may do this if it feels right for them. Essentially, gender expression comes down to how a person understands and relates to their own gender identity. Anything goes!
What Identities Fall Under Genderqueer?
Genderqueer can encompass a number of identities. However, not every genderqueer person will relate to the following identities.
If you’re unsure what pronouns you should be referring to someone as, or you want to understand more about their gender, it’s always best to ask before making assumptions.
- Genderfluid: If you’re genderfluid, you may feel like your gender often changes. This could mean either your gender expression or gender identity.
- Nonbinary: Nonbinary, sometimes referred to as NB or ‘enby’ describes a person who feels like they don’t relate to either gender. Some nonbinary people may identify as transgender, but not always.
- Two-Spirit: Two-spirit is a phrase often used in Native American tribes. To be two-spirit means you have a third gender. For people who are two-spirited, gender identity and expression can differ. For example, some people may have traits of one gender or multiple, and usually, each two-spirit will play their own unique role in their tribe.
- Bigender: To be bigender means you identify as both male or female, and sometimes, even more than two genders. This term isn’t the same as ‘two-spirit,’ which is unique to Native American culture.
- Agender: People who are agender may feel like they have no gender or that their gender is completely neutral.
The Difference Between Non-Binary And Genderqueer
Although genderqueer and nonbinary identities can often overlap with one another, there remains some debate about what the differences between the two really are.
To understand the differences, think of it this way:
The term ‘nonbinary; is often used as a catchall expression for people who don’t subscribe to or relate to the binary expressions of male or female.
However, genderqueer is usually used to describe a specific experience beneath this umbrella, such as being genderfluid.
For many years, though, the term genderqueer has been used by anyone who feels that they ‘queer’ the concept of gender.
Essentially, this means that anyone who identifies to or expresses their gender in ways outside of the norm can label themselves as genderqueer.
The term genderqueer also has its political roots. So, those who identify as genderqueer may have particular political leanings for identifying as genderqueer that someone who is nonbinary may not have.
Ultimately, it’s up to the person exploring their gender identity to decide which terms suit them best.
Not everyone who’s genderqueer will relate to or express their gender identity in the same way, which makes the process of gender exploration and expression entirely unique for the individual.
Is There A Difference Between Sex And Gender?
For people wanting to understand gender expression, terms such as genderqueer and nonbinary can be confusing.
What’s important to understand that there is an inherent difference between sex and gender. Sex and gender are often used interchangeably. However, they both have different meanings.
The term ‘sex’ refers to the prominent physical characteristics that separate the bodies of people who are intersex, male, or female.
However, the term ‘gender; refers to an individual’s identity (in other words, how they feel on the inside). For example, someone’s gender identity can be different from their assigned sex.
The Bottom Line
To be genderqueer can mean different things to different people.
Ultimately, though, the term can be used to describe anyone who is exploring their gender identity or who feels that they don’t subscribe to the traditional homosexual or heterosexual gender norms.
Remember: if you’re unsure which pronouns someone prefers, it’s always best to ask first.
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