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Non-binary gender identity
The non-binary or non-binary gender identity is a collective term for all gender identities that do not or not exclusively describe themselves as female or male. Non-binary persons are thus outside of the two-part, binary gender order.
How is non-binary gender identity defined?
Binary means 'two-part' - this means that a binary gender order contains only two genders, i.e. male and female. Non-binary people do not identify as either women or men and are therefore outside of the traditional binary, two-part gender order. Your gender identity can be either feminine or masculine and somewhere between the two genders, or it can be entirely outside of the categories 'male' and 'female'. Non-binary is a collective term that encompasses many other gender identities. If a person describes themselves as non-binary, it simply means that this person does not consider themselves exclusively a woman or a man.
Non-binary gender identity is purely a gender identity, which should be distinguished from sexual identity. This means that a non-binary person's sexual and romantic orientations can vary greatly. From hetero-, homo- or bisexuality to cupiosexuality - everything can be represented. In addition, nonbinarity does not depend on a person's biological sex or sex characteristics, which means that it is not reflected in a person's appearance.
So non-binary gender identity simply means that a person expresses their sense of identity in a way that is outside of societal norms and the strict separation of female and male gender identity. Most non-binaries use gender-neutral pronouns - in English-speaking countries, the pronouns they/them are particularly widespread.
The different non-binary gender identities
Non-binary gender identities can be broken down into numerous different subcategories, including:
What all these gender identities have in common, is that they do not define their gender as male or female. Nevertheless, there are some significant differences between the various non-binary gender identities.
Transgender is a generic term for anyone whose psychological gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. Both binary trans people (i.e. women who were born male and men who were born female) and non-binary people can therefore see themselves as transgender.
Genderqueer includes people who identify neither as man nor as woman as well as people who see themselves as a combination of man and woman. The term 'genderqueer' is therefore often used synonymously with 'non-binary'. If someone describes themselves as 'genderqueer', this means that this person does not clearly classify themselves as a woman or man and contradicts the two-gender concept.
Genderfluid includes people whose gender identity is not static but shifts and changes. Gender-fluid people therefore prefer not to commit themselves to a specific gender, but instead leave it changeable and fluid. Gender fluids either move between different genders or express several genders at the same time.
Xenogender is an umbrella term for the gender identity of people who cannot describe their sense of gender in terms of the traditional concepts of femininity and masculinity or genderlessness. They therefore use other concepts and categories such as animals, colors, shapes, symbols or objects to describe their identity. An example of a subset of xenogender is 'catgender' - this means that the person in question compares their gender identity to that of a cat.
Demigender means 'semi-gender' and refers to people who identify primarily or at least partially with one gender, but at the same time also with another. Demigender includes the subgroups Demigirl and Demiboy. A demi-woman or demi-man identifies themselves partly as a woman and partly as a man, regardless of birth sex. At the same time, the person regards other parts of their identity as belonging to other genders or as agender or gender-fluid.
Bigender means 'both sexes' and refers to persons who identify with both the female and male gender and combine elements of both genders. Male and female gender identities are felt simultaneously or alternately by the person.
Pangender ('unisex'), omnigender or polygender are people who feel they belong to either several or all genders. Pangenders do not commit themselves to a specific gender and combine many gender identities. These different gender identities can be felt by the person either simultaneously or alternately.
Agender is a gender identity that refers to people who identify as asexual, genderless, or they do not have or want to have a gender identity. Other terms for agender are gender-neutral, neuter, or neutrois.
Development of non-binary gender identity
The concept of non-binary gender identity developed in the USA in the course of the 1990s and since 2010 has increasingly come into the focus of the global media. In 1990 the book 'Gender Trouble' by the American philosopher Judith Butler was published, which for the first time publicly questioned the natural existence of the female and male sex and the associated dual status. Finally, in 1994, non-binary American author and actress Kate Bornstein published the book Gender Oulaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. As a result, gender studies expanded their research approaches to non-binary gender identities. As a result, non-binary people slowly came into the public eye.
Since the 1990s, more and more famous show stars, actors and other celebrities have identified themselves as non-binary, slowly increasing international attention and acceptance of non-binarity. The expression 'X-Gender' was introduced in Japan around the turn of the millennium, which can be used to define a gender outside of the binary categories 'woman' and 'man'. In many countries around the world, for example in Chile and Uruguay, a third gender option is now legally recognized. Since the end of 2020, South Africa has even had the option of receiving gender-neutral identity cards. Argentina followed in July 2021, becoming the first Latin American country to allow non-binary people to be marked in ID documents.