“Genderqueer” is an identity term for some people who do not identify with the gender binary (man and woman).

The term “genderqueer” means that your gender identity does not totally align with the concept of either man or woman. You might identify with multiple genders or no gender, or your gender identity may change over time.

Genderqueer is a type of LGBTQ+ identity. It’s similar to the term “nonbinary” — both encompass many gender identities that fall outside the man-woman binary.

Many genderqueer people also identify as transgender, nonbinary, or both.

If you’re exploring your gender identity or supporting someone who is, you’re not alone. There are many communities filled with people on similar journeys and plenty of support resources that can help.

The idea that there are only two genders — man or woman — is known as the gender binary.

Yet many people accept that gender exists on a spectrum as opposed to this binary. This allows for folks to fall anywhere along that spectrum — or to identify outside of it completely.

For some people, sex aligns with gender identity. This is called being cisgender. For others, sex and gender do not align. This is called being transgender (trans for short).

The term “transgender,” by definition, means a shift from one gender to another. This includes folks who are trans men or transmasculine, trans women or transfeminine, and nonbinary, among others.

Are sex and gender the same thing?

People often use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably, but they have different meanings:

  • Sex refers to the physical characteristics that differentiate male, female, and intersex bodies.
  • Gender refers to a person’s identity and how they feel inside. Examples include man, woman, nonbinary, and agender. A person’s gender identity may be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
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Nonbinary and genderqueer are both LGBTQ+ gender identities, and both involve a rejection of the gender binary.

The term “queer” is often used to describe nonheterosexual sexualities, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual. Applying the term to gender — to create “genderqueer” — refers to non-cisgender gender identities.

For some people, genderqueer can also mean moving between gender expressions. Rather than existing outside of the gender binary, they occupy both spaces.

While gender identity is your personal feeling about your gender, gender expression is how you present your gender. This might match your gender identity but it does not have to. It’s important to remember that you cannot assume a person’s gender identity based on their gender expression and vice versa.

For genderqueer folks, this could look like identifying more with one gender over another at different times. It could also look like identifying with multiple genders at once or with no gender at all.

Both “nonbinary” and “genderqueer” can be used as identity terms and as umbrella terms for all of the varied identities that do not conform to the gender binary. These may include:

  • agender
  • androgyne
  • bigender
  • demigender (demigirl or demiboy)
  • genderfluid
  • pangender or polygender

A person’s gender identity doesn’t dictate their sexuality. Gender and sexuality are two distinct parts of a person’s identity.

“Queer” is an umbrella term that can be used in reference to gender, sexuality, or both. It refers to existing outside normative expectations, specifically in relation to gender and sexuality.

Genderqueer individuals may identify as sexually or romantically queer too, but not always. Their attractions and identities are up to them to define. It’s important to avoid assuming someone’s sexual preference based on their gender or appearance.

Just as gender identity varies from person to person, so do pronoun choices.

Some genderqueer and nonbinary people use gender-specific pronouns (she/her or he/him) and others use gender-neutral pronouns, such as:

  • they/them/theirs
  • xe/xir/xyr
  • ze/hir/hirs
  • ey/em/eir
  • ze/hir/hirs
  • ze/zir/zirs
  • xe/xem/xyrs

Others choose to use more than one option for flexibility, such as she/they or he/ze/they.

Some people just prefer their name used and no pronouns at all. For example, “That book belongs to Tim. It’s one of Tim’s favorites, and Tim has read it five times!”

If you’re determining your gender identity, knowing that there is no wrong answer may be helpful. Many options exist, and the ones you choose may be the ones you feel align best with who you are.

You also aren’t obligated to choose any gender identity at all. You can opt to exist as yourself, without a title.

If you’d like to learn more or find support, consider these resources:

  • The Trevor Project provides information, helplines, counseling, and community for LGBTQ+ folks.
  • Gender Spectrum offers online groups for trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive youth and parents.
  • Trans Lifeline offers emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.