GENDERQUEER & NON-BINARY GENDERS
What does it mean to be genderqueer?
Genderqueer is commonly used as an umbrella term for non-binary gender identities (between, a combination of, or outside of male and female). Many different categories fit under the genderqueer umbrella. Some of these categories include:
Agender: “without gender”; someone who does not identify with or on the gender spectrum at all
Genderfluid: a wider, more flexible range of gender expression, with interests and behaviors that may change, even from day to day. An individual may feel they are one gender one day and a different gender the next; they may also identify as a combination of genders or that gender terms do not accurately describe them (genderspectrum.org)
Gender-neutral/Neutrois: internal identities that can be completely genderless or can be neither male or female, just neutral; does not always indicate a complete lack of gender as the term “agender” does (neutrois.com)
Bigender: a mix of two genders
Trigender: a mix of three genders
Demigirl: partially (as opposed to fully) identifying as a woman
Demiguy: partially (as opposed to fully) identifying as a man
Intergender: between genders
Androgynous: a blend/mix/overlap of male and female identities or masculine and feminine characteristics
Third gender: different cultures allow for more than two categories of gender. Some cultures include a third (fourth, fifth, etc.) gender. To some, a third gender may mean being a mix of male and female while to others it may mean being neither. Some examples of different cultural understandings of gender include the calabai and calalai of Indonesia; two-spirit Native Americans and Aboriginal peoples; the fa’afafine of Samoa; the Albanian Sworn Virgins; and hijras of South Asia, among many others.
Two Spirit: a term used within First Nations communities to refer to either an Aboriginal LGBTQ* individual and/or to someone that has both male and female spirits (refer to our pamphlet on Two Spirit identities for more information)
Pronouns (chart courtesy of Levana Gender Advocacy Centre)
Pronouns are the words that are used to refer to a person or persons (such as “I,” “you,” “we,” and so on). Third person pronouns are the pronouns that we use to describe an individual. The pronouns often used within the gender binary are he/him and she/her and anyone who does not identify with this binary may struggle to find pronouns that accurately reflect their identities. . However, with increasing recognition of trans* identities in larger culture, more and more gender-neutral pronouns are being used to reflect non-binary gender identities. Some examples are:
If you are uncertain about which pronouns to use, it is perfectly fine to try different ones “on for size” until you find a pronoun or a variety of pronouns that work for you. Trans* friendly support groups, like Gender Revolution in Saskatoon, are great spaces to experiment with pronouns.
If you are uncertain about which pronouns your genderqueer friend(s) may use, just ask them politely! It is much better to ask in a respectful way than it is to risk offending someone by using the incorrect pronouns. That said, most genderqueer people will understand about making pronoun mistakes, especially if you are doing your best to respect their identities.
As well, there are many, many blogs out there (especially on webservers such as Tumblr) that talk specifically about genderqueer and non-binary identities. It’s really just a matter of finding one that you like and that works for you! Feel free to access our internet service at the Avenue Community Centre to explore these websites in a safe, inclusive environment.