10 gender identities and terms to know about breaking the binary

Between, beside and beyond the binary come those people who identify outside the traditional male and female roles and expectations.

Whether someone’s gender identity is contrary to the one assigned at birth, whether it’s cohesive with or apart from their physical sex traits, and whether it’s expressed outwardly and/or felt inwardly, there’s one bottom line: Whatever gender we say we are, we are. Whatever terms we prefer should be respected. 

Those among us whose personal truths break the binary can and should be trusted to know their own minds and feelings regarding their own gender, including the 10 common gender identities on this page. 

If you think they sound similar, note the nuances while also remembering that everyone deserves to identify with the terms that make the most sense to them, not the most sense to someone else. 


Gender Fluid

Shifting gender identity and gender expression. This can be androgynous as neither male or female, or it can be organically passing from one to the other and back again.



Either male or female at any given time. Shifts vary and can last from hours to years. 


Gender Non-Conforming (Also: Gender Variant)

Don’t go along with cultural expectations of gender roles. Obvious examples include people born with male genitalia who wear makeup and people born with female genitalia who like short haircuts and sports.


Third Sex

Society or the person themselves categorize them as neither woman nor man, but as a separate and distinct third gender. Some cultures include four genders — feminine man, masculine man, masculine woman, and feminine woman. 



Some scholars consider the Native American identification of Two-Spirit as part of the Third Sex category. These people are thought to spiritually be both male and female, and they are highly revered, often as religious leaders with a direct line to the spirit world.


Genderqueer (Also: Non-Binary)

Usually used as an umbrella term referring to all gender identities that are outside the gender binary of exclusively female or male. They may see themselves as having two or more genders, or no gender, being beyond gender, or moving between genders.


Agender (Also: Genderfree and Neutrois)

Genderless. People with bodies assigned either of the traditional binary roles may feel or present themselves as neither male nor female. They may seek to appear androgynous to match these self perceptions.



The person’s inner male or female identity does not match the one assigned to their sex traits at birth. Through choice or circumstance, trans women and trans men may or may not seek to alter their bodies with surgery.



Born with some mix of, or all of, the physical sex characteristics of both binary sexes. Can refer to combinations of chromosomes, hormones and/or genitalia that are outside the binary. Depending on the person, intersex individuals identify as either, both or neither binary gender.



Perhaps the most common gender identity: Individuals who feel their gender is in line or homogenous with their biological sex. The gender assigned at birth matches how they see themselves.

Source: The Talko

This feature originally appeared in Q magazine.Read the full issue online here:


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