What is Non-binary Gender Identity?
People who identify as Non-binary may have very different answers to this question. For each individual, how they define and experience their gender is unique to that individual.
Let's start with some basics.
Non-binary is an umbrella term that includes many gender identities. For many it may mean that they do not connect fully with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some describe their identity as being neither male or female, while others describe their gender as a mix of both or existing outside the boundaries of cis gender (male and female) in a much broader spectrum of gender.
Non-binary gender is considered a part of the broader LBGTQIA+ community. It is sometimes placed under the broader umbrella of Transgender. This is a relatively recent evolution since Transgender was once primarily defined as movement from one gender to another. Instead this modern interpretation focuses upon the person not identifying as their assigned gender. Or not being "Cis Gender".
Some Non-binary people identify as Transgender, while others do not.
What is Gender Identity?
Non-binary gender is just one of many ways in which people identify their gender. Gender identity is an indivuals sense, perception and internal experience for how they perceive themselves within a gender spectrum.
It is important to differentate between Gender Idenity and Gender Roles or Expression. Gender Identity is a deep rooted sense of self. It is not how one dresses, behaves or conforms to social or cultural definitions of gender behavior. Instead it is how someone experiences their fundamental existence. Non-binary people may or may not comform to or adopt common gender roles or expression. How Non-binary people experience existing simply as they are and how they see themselves defines their gender identity.
Gender Identity is also not sex or sexuality/orientation. Consider it this way. Sex is our physical body, the anatomical aspect of our physical selves. Sexual Orientation is who we are sexually attracted to. Non-binary people may be born physically male, female or intersex, this defines their Sex, but it does not define their gender identity. Likewise a Non-binary person may be attracted to males, females or other Non-binary people which defines their sexual orientation, but also does not define their Gender Identity.
I know this is confusing at first. There is a lot to understand and this is very new for many people. So I'll use myself as an example and try explain.
I was born male (assigned male at birth or AMAB) meaning my physical sex is male. I am attracted to female people. This is my orientation. But throughout my life I have experienced my gender as somewhere between male and female. Not just the natural blend of masculine and feminine attributes that all people have, but instead an innate sense of being a clear mix of both. This is my gender identity and why I identify as Non-binary.
As I said at the start, every Non-binary person will have unique answers to these questions and different responses to their identity, sex and sexual orientation.
Is Gender Identity Real?
A common and unfortunate response to Non-binary Gender identity is to question if it is real or not. We know from human history, with records going back thousands of years, that human society has always had people who identify outside the boundaries of male and female. In many cultures these individuals were held in high regard or seen as blessed or special. But the advent of far more conservative western culture these roles were slowly dismissed and often ostricized. While in many cultures third and other genders have always been part of society.
Beyond the history of Gender Identity, the are compelling scientific insights that show us that gender is far more complex than our binary cultural perspective.
It has taken a long time for western culture to remember the role of Non-binary gender in the human experience. Thankfully over the past couple of decades language has come back into our culture to describe and explain gender diversity. But we have a long way to go still to reach inclusion, equality and visibility.
Dispelling The Stereotypes
There are a lot of stereotypes and ideas about who Non-Binary people are. Much of the visibility of our community has been represented by courageous younger Enby (Non-binary) people on social media. A lot of the mainstream public believe Non-binary gender is something new and limited to young people. But our community is made up of people of all ages.
Some of the most visible and famous Non-binary influencers are AFAB (assigned female at birth) Non-binary individuals which has also led to a common perception that most Non-binary people were assigned female at birth. These courageous influencers led the way to creating greater visibility for our community and continue to represent us in media, on TV and on the stage. However, the Non-binary community is made up of people assigned other genders at birth. We are now seeing wider DSAB (Designated Sex At Brith) representation of our community online and in media.
Now it is important for us to build greater representation that dispells the stereotypes and shows the real diversity of our community. We are now seeing more representation of different age groups, people of color, and Non-binary people from all over the world. We are seeing greater and more diverse representation in mainstream media as well as social media.
Where Can I Learn More About Other Gender Identities?
There is so much to share on Gender Identity that I feel nowhere near qualified to provide. Thankfully there is a lot of information out there by people who can share great insights into the diversity of gender identity.
Deconforming.com has done a great job providing a simple resource covering many defitions of Non-binary gender identities. Visit their site and have a look around. https://deconforming.com/gender-identities/
Gender Identity Flags: Non-binary, Gender Queer, Agender, Gender Fluid, Bigender and Transgender pride. These are just some examples of diverse gender pride flags.