Gender identity is a wide spectrum. Can learning the language used to describe various gender identities and non-binary pronouns help explain the difference between gender expression and help in inclusivity?
Table of Contents
Non-binary is a term used that describes individuals who do not identify exclusively as male or female. The term addresses various gender identities and expressions that are outside of the traditional gender binary system, which categorizes individuals as either male or female.
- Non-binary individuals are those whose gender identity and/or expression fall outside of the traditional binary categories of a man or woman. (Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.))
- Some non-binary individuals identify as a blend of male and female; others identify as a gender different from male or female; some do not identify with any gender.
- The term “non-binary” can also be “enby”/phonetic pronunciation of the letters NB for non-binary, although not every non-binary individual uses this term.
- Non-binary individuals may use various terms to describe themselves, including: (Outright International. 2023)
- An individual who does not follow conventional gender norms.
- An individual who does not identify with any gender.
- An individual whose gender identity is not fixed and can change over time.
- An individual who feels a partial connection to a particular gender.
- An individual who identifies as both male and female or a combination.
- An individual who identifies as many genders.
- An individual whose gender expression is a mix of masculine and feminine traits or…
- Who identifies as having a gender that is neither male nor female.
- An individual who does not conform to societal expectations or norms of gender expression or identity.
- An individual whose gender identity differs from the gender assigned at birth.
A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun.
- In gender context, pronouns refer to an individual without using their name, like “he” – masculine or “she” – feminine.
- Non-binary individuals may use pronouns that do not fit the pronoun associated with the gender assigned at birth.
- Instead, they will use pronouns that more accurately reflect their gender identity.
- “They/them” are gender-neutral pronouns that refer to someone without assuming their gender identity.
- Some non-binary individuals use “they/them” pronouns, but not all.
- Some may use “he/him” or “she/her” or a combination.
- Others may refrain from using pronouns and instead ask you to use their name.
- Some nonbinary individuals use newer gender-neutral pronouns known as neopronouns, like ze/zir/zirs. (Human Rights Campaign. 2022)
- Gender pronouns and neopronouns include: (NYC Department of Social Services. 2010)
- He/him/his – masculine
- She/her/hers – feminine
- They/them/theirs – neutral
- Ze/Zir/Zirs – neutral
- Ze/Hir/Hirs – neutral
Are Transgender Individuals Non-Binary?
Transgender individuals and non-binary individuals are two distinct groups that are related.
- There are some transgender/trans individuals who are non-binary, however, most transgender individuals identify as either male or female. (National Center for Transgender Equality. 2023)
- To understand the difference, it can help to know the meanings of transgender, cisgender, and nonbinary: (GLAAD. 2023)
- An individual who identifies with a gender different from the one assigned at birth.
- For example, someone assigned male at birth/AMAB, but identifies as a female is a transgender woman.
- An individual whose gender identity follows the one they were assigned at birth.
- For example, someone assigned female at birth/AFAB and identifies as a woman.
- An individual who identifies with a gender outside the traditional binary of male and female.
- This can include individuals who identify as genderqueer, agender, or genderfluid and others.
Using non-binary pronouns is a way to show respect and validation for an individual’s gender identity. Here are some recommendations on how to use pronouns: (National Center for Transgender Equality. 2023)
Ask for the individual’s pronouns
- It’s recommended to avoid assuming an individual’s pronouns based on appearance or stereotype.
- If unsure of someone’s pronouns, ask respectfully.
- “What pronouns do you use?”
- “Can you share your pronouns with me?”
Practice using the pronouns
- Once you know an individual’s pronouns, practice using them.
- This can be accomplished by using their pronouns when referring to them in conversation, emails, written forms, and/or other types of communication.
- If you make a mistake, apologize and make the correction.
- If unsure of an individual’s pronouns, or if someone uses gender-neutral pronouns like they/them, use gender-neutral language instead of gendered language.
- For example, instead of saying he or she, you can say they or their name.
- Learn as much as possible about identities and pronouns to better understand and support the LGBTQ+ community.
Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic wants to help create a more inclusive and affirming environment for everyone.
Is Motion Key to Healing?
Human Rights Campaign. Transgender and nonbinary people FAQ.
Outright International. Terminology surrounding gender identity and expression.
Human Rights Campaign. Understanding neopronouns.
NYC Department of Social Services. Gender pronouns.
National Center for Transgender Equality. Understanding nonbinary people: How to be respectful and supportive.
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