Gender Non-Conforming

Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) is both an identity on its own and an umbrella term for gender identities that do not exclusively fall within the gender binary. For simplicity’s sake, some people use “non-binary” as a synonym for gender non-conforming.

The gender binary is the categorization of gender into two separate, opposite forms: male and female. A non-binary identity rejects this belief and acknowledges the existence of genders outside of the binary. Similarly, gender non-conforming refers to folx who do not conform to stereotypes, roles and societal expectations around gender.

The non-binary and gender non-conforming umbrella is HUGE and can include folx who are genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, nongendered, genderless, genderfree, neutrois, third gender, other-gendered, agenderflux, androgyne, aporagender, bigender, demiboy, demigirl, demigender, enby, fa’afafine, femme, Calabal, Calalal, Bissu, genderf*ck, zachar, nekeivah, androgynos, ay’lonit, saris, tum tum, gender neutral, gendervoid, neurogender, polygender, ne uchica, kirkalaul, muxe, pangender, queer, winke, nádleeh, ikwekaazo, ininiikaazo, transfeminine, transgender, transmasculine, aravani, aruvani, jagappa, chhakka, two-spirit, xenogender, X-gender, hijra, māhū, and maverique.

Non-binary genders and the presence of gender non-conforming folx have been observed in many cultures throughout time. Here are just a few examples:

  • Japan: X-gender
  • Native American: Two-spirit, winkte, nádleeh, ikwekaazo, ininiikaazo
  • Chukchi: ne uchica, kirkalaul
  • Zapotec: muxe
  • Judaism: zachar, nekeivah, androgynos, ay’lonit, saris, tum tum
  • Bugis Tribe: Calabal, Calalal, Bissu
  • India: Hijra, aravani, aruvani, jagappa, chhakka
  • Kanaka Maoli: Māhū
  • Samoa: Fa’afafine

Non-binary and gender nonconforming folx may or may not identify as transgender, which may or may not relate to their decision to transition or not transition. The important thing to remember is that all of these identities and decisions are up to the individual experiencing them. You cannot know whether an individual identifies as transgender, whether they are transitioning, have transitioned, want to transition, or have no intention of transitioning, and in what areas they may or may not want to transition just off of knowing they are non-binary or gender non-conforming. Likewise, some transgender folx identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming, but many don’t. Many transgender folx do exist within the gender binary.

Non-binary and gender non-conforming folx use a variety of pronouns, and it’s best to just ask if you’re not sure which pronouns they use. Some non-binary and gender non-conforming folx use exclusively gender neutral pronouns, such as they/they/theirs, others use he/him/his or she/her/hers, and still others may fluctuate in which pronouns they use or may be comfortable with any pronouns.


“Hey, are you a boy or a — never mind, can I have a push on the swing?’ 
And some day, y’all, when we grow up, it’s all gonna be that simple.”

Andrea Gibson – “SwingSet”
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