Non-Binary Gender definition

Many people feel that binary gender definitions (male/female) do not reflect their true gender identity. In this case, they may refer to their gender as non-binary and to themselves as genderqueer.

Although non-binary individuals are part of the LGBTQ+ community and their gender is different than the one that society assigned to them at birth, they may or may not also describe themselves as transgender.

Find out what non-binary means, how to refer to a non-binary person, and how non-binary identities are recognized by law in the US.

What Does Non-Binary Mean?

Tu put it simply, ‘non-binary’ means neither female nor male. A non-binary person does not feel represented by conventional binary terms and definitions, meaning that they are not strictly female or male, at least not all the time.

‘Non-binary’ is an umbrella term — although for some it is enough to define their gender identity, many others prefer more specific terms. There are several non-binary identities, such as abinary, genderfluid, etc.

Gender-neutral pronouns

Since non-binary people do not identify as female nor male, binary pronouns like ‘she/her’ or ‘he/him’ should not be used to refer to them without their consent.

There is no one-fit-all rule when it comes to non-binary and gender-neutral pronouns. It is always best to directly ask a person what pronouns and titles you should use when talking to and about them.

Here are some examples of gender-neutral pronouns:

  • They/them (most commonly used)
  • Xe/xem
  • Ze/zir
  • Sie/hir
  • Thon

Are Non-Binary Genders Legally Recognized?

The United States does not recognize any non-binary gender at federal level. However, states are passing increasingly more inclusive laws.

In 2016, James Shupe was the first US citizen to have a non-binary gender on official documents thanks to the ruling of a court in Multnomah County, Oregon. Other states followed and it is now possible to obtain a non-binary birth certificate and other official documents in some states.

While the neutral gender X marker is still relatively uncommon in US documents, most states allow for transgender birth certificate amendments. Specific requirements vary greatly according to state laws.