An A to Z of Non-Binary Genders

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Fly-By-Night
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So, here’s a thing that happened: Alex Dally MacFarlane had the temerity to suggest that non-binary gender is an actual thing that deserves to be represented in SFF, and certain persons lost their shit, citing a variety of ill-informed reasons that can basically be summarised as “non-binary gender doesn’t really exist, but if it did, we’d still think it was icky and unimportant, and also you’re just a liberal fascist trying to make us sympathise with imaginary humans as part of your nefarious agenda to destroy all men”. And as such persons are apparently incapable of performing a basic Google search before spouting bigoted nonsense all over the internet, I’ve decided to make things easy for them, and compile a handy A to Z of non-binary gender identities in the modern world and throughout history. This is by no means an exhaustive list; for a more comprehensive synopsis of non-binary gender and sexual orientation, this amazing excerpt from Amara Das Wilhelm’s Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex is an excellent starting point.

In compiling this list, I’ve tried to avoid including words that are actively used as slurs or which refer primarily to sexual orientation rather than gender identity, so please – if a term is listed here that you think shouldn’t be, or if I’ve missed out something that merits inclusion, let me know, and I’ll update accordingly.

A – Agenderalyhaandrogyne, ay’lonit

B – Bacha posh, Badésbaklabigender, bissu, brotherboy

C – Calabaicalalai

D – Dalopapa

E – Ektomias

F – Fa’afafine, fakaleitifemminiello

G – Genderfluidgenderqueer

H –  Hijra

I – Intergenderintersex, ira’muxe

J – Jogappas

K – Kathoey

L – Lhamana

M – Machi weyemahu, molliesmukhannathunmuxe

N – Nàdleehì, neutrois

O – Oyama

P – Pangender

Q – Quariwarmi

R – Rebecccas*

S – Sarissekhet, sistagirls

T – Third genderTom-Deetransgender, travestitrigendertritiya-prakrtitwo-spirit, tumtum

U – UbhatobyanjanakaUranian

V – Virgjinesha 

W – Wariawhakawahinewinkte

X – Xanith

Y – Yirka-laul

Z – Zenana

*I know this one is a specific historical incidence of crossdressing rather than an actual gender identity, but I’m compulsive enough that the absence of something starting with R was irking me, so there you go.

  1. Erin Lale says:

    What about Hermaphrodite? It’s used in academic papers relating to ancient cultures.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I left that out deliberately, both because the term intersex has replaced it in modern usage, and because it’s become an offensive term in some quarters. Though I do appreciate the historical underpinnings.

  2. Kathy says:

    Reblogged this on Doomsday Writer! and commented:

  3. Jean Lamb says:

    SF versions–H is for Herm, *see* the character of Bel in The Warrior’s Apprentice, and other books by Lois McMaster Bujold. Also, b for Ba, a genderless servitor from the book Cetaganda and from Diplomatic Immunity, also by Lois McMaster Bujold. (fearlessly promoting her books since oh, 1986, I think?).

  4. SorchaRei says:

    This is awesome, as are you for dong this. Thanks!

  5. NinStud says:

    I think you need re-read what Larry Corriea’s wrote . He specifically said that if you want to write non-binary gender in your story go for it. What he objected to was Alex’s assertion that by default a Sci-Fi story (aka almost all) should have non-binary gender.

    From his response: “Okay, aspiring author types, you will see lots of things like this, and part of you may think you need to incorporate these helpful suggestions into your work. After all, this is on so it must be legit. Just don’t. When you write with the goal of checking off boxes, it is usually crap. This article is great advice for writers who want to win awards but never actually be read by anyone.”

    He also said: “Now, before we continue I need to establish something about my personal writing philosophy. Science Fiction is SPECULATIVE FICTION. That means we can make up all sorts of crazy stuff and we can twist existing reality to do interesting new things in order to tell the story we want to tell. I’m not against having a story where there are sexes other than male and female or neuters or schmes or hirs or WTF ever or that they flip back and forth or shit… robot sex. Hell, I don’t know. Write whatever tells your story.

    But the important thing there is STORY. Not the cause of the day. STORY.”

    • fozmeadows says:

      The idea that “cause of the day”, if you insist on using such a facetious term, is incompatible with STORY, is itself the problem.

      Alex isn’t asking people to include non-binary genders as a way of “checking off boxes”, but because non-binary genders have always existed, exist now and will continue to exist in the future, and if your otherwise meticulously worldbuilt future doesn’t include them at all – even if just as a background detail – then you’re not just contributing to the erasure of an entire group of people, you’re failing to understand something fundamental to the very nature of humanity.

      Look at the tone of Corriea’s piece. It’s condescending and abusive, calling Alex’s column “great advice for writers who want to win awards but never actually be read by anyone”, and flippantly dismissing people who actually exist as “neuters or chmes or hirs or WTF ever”. Yes, he’s said you can go for it, but he’s also aggressively mocking the people who do. And if you read Alex’s piece, she’s not saying stories should never be about binary-gendered persons – that’s something she explicitly qualifies. She’s saying, rather, that continuing to pretend that non-binary people don’t exist now and won’t exist in the future is a problem. See the difference?

      • NinStud says:

        1st paragraph: He never said that stories shouldn’t have causes/morals just that the focus should be on the story being told. There are many there are many worthy causes/issues that deserve to be written about and writers can’t include them all in a single piece and still tell a good story.

        2nd paragraph: See this quote from the article “How about if my story isn’t in any way, shape, or form concerned with sexual identity (or whatever some reviewer’s personal hang up is today) I don’t waste words writing about it, and readers who want to can just assume that those people exist in the universe but they don’t happen to have speaking parts in this particular novel, if they care enough to think about it at all, which they probably won’t.”

        3rd paragraph: I agree the tone is hostile, but what he is being hostile to is having non-binary gender as the DEFAULT of Sci-Fi. If Allex has simply said that she wanted to see more non-binary gender or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected.

        He’s also not mocking the people who do use non-binary gender, but simply pointing out the limitless possibilities to explore in Sci-Fi.

        From the article: “Robert Heinlein had stories where technology allowed switching sex. Great. That’s actually a pretty normal sci-fi trope where in the future, there’s some tech that allows people to change shape/sex, whatever, and we’ve got grandmasters of sci-fi who have pulled off humans evolving into psychic space dolphins or beings of pure energy. If that fits into the story you want to tell and you want to explore that, awesome for you. I’ve read plenty of stories where that was part of that universe. If your space whales that live inside the sun have three sexes, awesome (that one was my novella push on Sad Puppies 1). “

        • fozmeadows says:

          And again, you’re ignoring the possibility that the details of a non-binary gender ARE the story. The fact that Corriea is disinterested in this sort of fiction doesn’t mean the rest of us are, too.

          Even so, Alex isn’t saying all stories have to be about gender; just that, if you write a world where only binary genders exist, you’re painting as limited a portrait of humanity as if all your characters were white, or male, without even the merest hint that women and POC occupied the same universe. She’s asking for authors to acknowledge the diversity that actually exists, not to focus on it to the exclusion of all else. That’s Corriea’s strawman interpretation of her column.

          But why shouldn’t non-binary gender – in the sense of it actually existing – not be the default of SF, when it’s the default of the real world? This is the distinction you’re missing: Alex is asking for a default where non-binary genders exist, even if in the background, rather than the current state of affairs, where the default is their erasure. Nobody’s asking you not to write stories about cisgendered people any more; just to acknowledge that they’re not the only type of people who exist.

          And the reason why it’s problematic, that Corriea keeps using terms for and descriptions of non-existent non-binaries, like three-gendered whales, interchangeably with actual non-binary identities? Is because he’s essentially implying that they’re both fictional. Three-gendered whales don’t exist to suffer from their lack of representation in fiction; but countless, real non-binary people do. That’s the point.

          • NinStud says:

            1. He’s not disinterested in stories of non-binary gender. He specifically says that he has enjoyed such stories.

            2. Blind and deaf people exist. Should the default Sci-Fi story include them in the background too? What about orphans, single parents, etc? You can’t mention every group in a sci-fi story and still tell a good story.

            • fozmeadows says:

              Nobody is saying every single group, ever, has to be represented in every single story. We’re just saying: don’t pretend they don’t exist in the first place.

              • NinStud says:

                Allex is calling for changing the Sci-Fi default to having non-binary gener. This would mean that a majority of Sci-Fi works would at a minnimum mention non binary gender. The default sci-fi also doesn’t mention orphans, single parents, etc. However, there are a large number of Sci-Fi books that do mention these (and a lot that have non-binary gender as you poinited out in the blog post).

                As I said earlier if Allex had simply said that she wanted to see more non-binary gender or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected.

                • fozmeadows says:

                  You’re making a false comparison. Nobody thinks that orphans don’t exist, or that they’re mentally ill if they say they do, but you only have to read the comments on all three articles to see that this is what many people think of non-binary gender. If it would be a false representation of both humanity and reality for the SF default to be male only, rather than including women, then isn’t it just as false to say it’s cis gendered only? Why is this any different than saying that women (for instance) deserve to be represented or acknowledged as a matter of course – as a default?

                  • NinStud says:

                    “You’re making a false comparison. Nobody thinks that orphans don’t exist, or that they’re mentally ill if they say they do, but you only have to read the comments on all three articles to see that this is what many people think of non-binary gender.”

                    Is your argument that non-binary gender characters should be the DEFAULT for sci-fi stories to build awareness that non-binary gender people exist?

                    The purpose of the male and female characters in the Sci-Fi I read is not to represent all of humanity but to help tell the story. There are many groups of humanity and you simply can’t include them all in a story and still tell a good story.

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      Here’s the problem we’re having: you think the purpose of male and female characters is just to tell the story, but that non-binary characters are necessarily loaded with an agenda that drives out or interferes with the story. And I’m saying that this is as illogical an argument as saying – as many people once did, and sometimes still do – that male characters tell the story, while female characters are necessarily loaded with an agenda. Do you see the issue? You’re treating non-binary characters as being Other, narratively abnormal, such that their very presence distorts the story, when all you’re being asked to do is see non-binary characters the way you would cisgendered men and women – which is what they deserve, both narratively and in real life.

                    • NinStud says:

                      I never said that a character being non-binary gendered indicates an agenda or interferes with the story. My only objection is to trying to change the DEFAULT. Why should a sci-fi book by default mention that one character is non-binary gendered and not mention in passing that another is an orphan, another is divorced, etc?

                      As I said earlier if Allex had simply said that she wanted to see more non-binary gender or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected.

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      I’m off to the airport for a long trip in a few hours, so I can’t keep replying, but gender isn’t comparable to something like being an orphan. Everyone has a gender identity; not everyone is an orphan. That being so, why shouldn’t the default depict the full range of gender identities, and not just two? That’s my point.

    • NinStud says:

      Link to Larry’s article:

      [Foz’s note: I originally elected not to post to Larry’s blog for two reasons – I don’t want to give him traffic, and this piece is less about him than it is a resource about non-binary gender. If someone wants to find his piece, they can do so either via Jim Hines’s blog, which I have linked to above, or via the simple expedient of Googling it. As such, I’ve deleted the link from this comment.]

      • HeatherN says:

        The other possibility (if you’re interested) is using something like to link to the article without generating pageviews for him.

  6. HeatherN says:

    Reblogged this on HeatherN.

  7. […] gender systems and identities have existed in the past and do exist today (for the disbelieving, have an alphabet); or that Alex MacFarlane never promoted the use of these nefarious “checklists” for […]

  8. janitorqueer says:

    how about adding neutrois?

  9. Morgan says:

    Thank you very much for this, Foz! I’m genderqueer and my partner is transgender, so we’ve been following this little blow-up pretty closely. I deeply appreciate your speaking out in defense of Alex’s blog series and in support of people like me. It’s hard having an identity that most people I encounter haven’t yet heard of, and it means a lot that you’d go out of your way to confirm for skeptics that people like me do exist, and have in fact always existed. (I was briefly worried when I saw that the “lost their shit” link connects to Jim Hines’s site, since I have so much respect for him. Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised and relieved at what he’d really written!)

    I also know that I’m still ignorant of a lot of non-binary identifications and terms from cultures outside of North America, so I’m really looking forward to reading through the links and educating myself. So thank you too for a handy list to start out with! 🙂

  10. Much love for seeing agender on this list. It tends to get left out in a lot of non-binary gender discussions because a lot of people seem to think that if it’s not one or the other, then it must be some third, or fourth, or any number-th option, but rarely does a lack of gender identity get included. So this agendered person thanks you for that inclusion!

  11. […] hard science that most preach should be a staple of our craft. (You can find that glossary here: […]

  12. Laura Lam says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Very much worth a read.

  13. Kudos for providing such an informative list. I will probably link back here many times in the future.

  14. Foz, this list is the best thing ever. Thank you.

    NinStud, regarding this:

    “What he objected to was Alex’s assertion that by default a Sci-Fi story (aka almost all) should have non-binary gender.”

    Alex never actually asserted that. She asserted the need to dismantle the CURRENT default (that is, to stop defaulting to the gender binary). She never asserted the need to replace it with a DIFFERENT default.

    • NinStud says:

      The 1st sentence of Alex’s piece is: “I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.”

      If the default Sci-Fi story does not have only binary gender then the default Sci-Fi story must have an instance (perhaps just in passing) of non-binary gender.

      As I said earlier if Allex had simply said that she wanted to see more non-binary gender in Sci-Fi or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected.

      • McFarlane was being deliberately provocative with that first line, and to good effect, considering all of the discussion happening now. People do not make statements like that to keep the waters smooth.

        The 1st line reads in support of the interpretation that McFarlane wants to end the current default system. It does not support the interpretation that she wants to replace it with something specific.

        She simply wants the current default of binary genders to end so that SF/F can better represent the diverse gender identities that already exist in real life. An analogy: Say you are writing a story (or making a movie) that takes place in Los Angeles. No matter how speculative the story, if it were about white people only (or whatever alien version thereof), and had only white people as background characters as well, your story would ring false and be unbelievable because you would be asking your readers to pretend that there are no people of color (or diverse alien beings) in LA. You would be writing from the default position of white people are the norm. For a very long time this has been the default. We continue to dismantle that default so that SF/F can better represent the fact that the world is full of racial diversity. Dismantling the default of binary genders is no different.

        For another take on binary genders as default, see this short gem:
        Trying too hard (I hope that embeds correctly; sorry if it doesn’t.)

      • @NinStud: “If the default Sci-Fi story does not have only binary gender then the default Sci-Fi story must have an instance (perhaps just in passing) of non-binary gender.”

        Completely wrong, NinStud. Removing “the default of binary gender” means exactly what it says: that you don’t start by assuming anything about the characters’ genders, either as author or reader. It emphatically does NOT mean “put a token Other in there to check off a box so you can win an award or something.”

        Here’s the difference. Say I’m writing a story about someone named Zon who is a mercenary who’s spending some time at home while taking a break between jobs. That’s all you know about the story and characters so far.

        Ideally, at this point you should have no assumptions whatsoever about Zon or Zon’s family, because all I’ve given you is a job and an ambiguous name. As the author, I should ask myself all sorts of questions about who Zon is, but the thesis that started this whole hubbub is very simple: that “is Zon male or female” is the wrong way to ask “what is Zon’s gender,” because gender identity in the real world is not that simple, and thus by framing the question as a binary choice, I would automatically shut myself off from all sorts of stories that might arise from a different answer to that question. Maybe I’ll opt to make Zon a straight white male, but the point is that I should THINK about the question and ALL of the possibilities first.

        Perhaps not, though; just by asking the question in this thought exercise, I’ve got an idea for a setting where Zon’s species has a cyclical gender, their culture forbids female-gendered beings from combat roles, and maybe Zon’s “visiting home” because he’s about to shift to female and his spouse – on an opposite cycle – will take his place for the next job. Maybe the rest of Zon’s unit doesn’t even suspect that their “Zon” is really two people…

        See what I mean? Stories start with ideas, and writers frequently clarify those ideas by asking questions. Limit the questions, and you limit your ideas. Expand the questions, and maybe you get some different ideas.

        Consider Alex’s statement that she never wants to see another anthology that doesn’t even have one non-binary-gendered character in even one story. The typical anthology is what, around twenty stories? Figure at least two characters per story; if every last one of them was black and the anthology wasn’t based on the concept of Stories About Black Characters, wouldn’t that strike you as unusual? Well, Alex is simply reflecting the flip side of that perspective, that seeing strictly binary-gendered casts in book after book after endless shelves of books starts to look pretty “conservative” for something called “speculative fiction.” It’s unrealistic in bad ways.

        Imagine that you’re a painter. Would you deliberately choose never to use shades of red in your art? Hopefully not, unless that absence is part of what you want to show in a given piece. Would you automatically bypass the “blue” section of the paint shelf because you think nobody’s interested in it? Would you only pick up a very basic selection of paints, one shade each of the primary and secondary colors (and never mix them to create more), because that’s all you could ever possibly need?

        The very idea sounds silly, doesn’t it? And yet, when you’re writing stories, your characters and settings are as much a part of your palette as the history and plot are. Why on earth should you settle for stock choices when there’s such a wide spectrum to choose from? Why limit yourself that way?

        And yet, sometimes one DOES want to use those stock choices – which is fine! Perhaps you’re painting a brick wall, and all you want are shades of red and white because that’s what your vision is. Great; go for it – but make sure it’s a CHOICE and not a simple ASSUMPTION that it just has to be that way. That’s what makes all the difference. But then, if you open yourself up to using some green and brown, maybe you’ll find that the brick wall looks even better with a strand or two of ivy. Perhaps the contrast actually adds to the piece.

        • NinStud says:

          Again Alex’s first sentence is “I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.” Since there are only two possibilities (having non-binary gender or not having non-binary gender) this would mean that at least half would have non-binary gender.

          I completely agree that Sci-Fi authors don’t need to limit themselves to only binary genders. They also don’t need to limit themselves to only characters who can hear normally, they can include characters who are hard of hearing and those who are deaf. They don’t need to limit themselves to characters that can see normally, they can also include characters that have bad eyesight, or blind. There are limitless possibilities in sci-fi and authors should be free to do whatever they want. However, there is no call to change the DEFAULT sci-fi to include blind and deaf people (there are Sci-Fi novels with both they just are not the DEFAULT). If you try to include the full spectrum of humanity in a Sci-Fi novel there will not be much room left for the story. As I said above, if Alex had just said that she wanted to see more Sci-Fi with non-binary gender or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected.

          • sanguine_outlook says:

            You seem to be using “default” to mean simply “>50%”, and I don’t think that’s what either MacFarlane or your interlocutors here intended. It’s certainly not what I think of as the most natural, plain-English usage of the word. If I complain that, say, my roommate defaults to spending their evenings watching TV, I don’t just mean to make a statistical assertion that they watch TV on more than 50% of their evenings. Instead, I’m specifically trying to highlight the way my roommate is making a choice out of habit and inertia, rather than thoughtfully weighing all the alternatives.

            • NinStud says:

              If there are only 2 possibilities, in practice, if something is done “by default” it is done at least 50% of the time overall. For example “I pick up things with my right hand by default”.

              As I said above, if Alex had just said that she wanted to see more Sci-Fi with non-binary gender or showcase some good non-binary gender works nobody would have objected

              • I believe you are reading “default” incorrectly, applying it to outcomes rather than origins.

                There is sufficient evidence now that in the original piece, Alex was referring to the authorial issue of how to determine that aspect of a character, rather than saying anything about the mass outcome of that determination. As I put it, she was speaking out against “is this character male or female” (binary gender question) in favor of “what is this character’s gender” (broader gender question). The difference is that the first question inherently limits the possibilities – it’s a multiple-choice question as opposed to a fill-in-the-blank. (Consider “is this character German or British” versus “where is this character from” as a parallel; unlike the latter option, the former allows no room for American, African, Asian or any other perfectly valid option.)

                Saying that authors need to ask the more open question just makes sense to me. Yes, most of the outcomes probably WILL end up as “traditionally gendered” in the same way that most of the people we meet identify that way (just like there are lots of German and British characters out there) but the point is that those outcomes should be deliberate choices instead of…defaults. That’s why Alex phrased it as she did; she wants an end to defaults, not an end to cisgendered characters. Defaults are lazy and sloppy; real choices take more work but can prove more rewarding.

        • sanguine_outlook says:

          One more thought about your story idea, RevBob (about the alien mercenary of a cyclically-gendered species). This absolutely sounds like a cool story idea, something I’d like to read. But it would *also* be cool to see an ordinary human character with a nonbinary gender — that is to say, not because of their alien physiology or radically unfamiliar cultural background, but simply because nonbinary folks *already exist here and now*.

          It’s sort of like how the X-Men franchise often uses “mutant oppression” as a metaphor for real-world oppressions. I think there are some really interesting stories you can tell using this metaphor, but at the same time I would also like to see more mutant characters who also just *are* non-white or non-straight, in a literal and not just metaphorical way. Am I making sense?

          • @sanguine_outlook: Certainly that makes sense. Truth is, I started out thinking of Zon as a human of some sort, and “he” (English language default pronoun) turned into an alien when I asked myself the broad-form gender question. The cyclical gender idea hit me and just dovetailed so well with “aliens are ALIEN” and “why is there a story in the visit home” that this particular story suddenly came together. It’s worth mentioning, perhaps, that some terrestrial species exhibit some form of cyclical gender; that’s not an idea I invented.

            I am absolutely on board with nonbinary-gendered humans, as characters in stories and as people in real life. As I’ve said elsewhere on this topic, nature is messy and (from available evidence) absolutely HATES sharp divisions like, well, binary ANYTHING. The drive to pigeonhole stuff into discrete categories is a human trait, not a property of nature. Just ask the platypus. 🙂

            As for the X-Franchise, don’t forget about Northstar (first openly gay superhero), Storm (very strong non-white woman), the Native American character whose codename I forget but was part of the original X-Force, and several more. I can’t think of a nonbinary-gendered X-person, though, unless you count Mystique on a technicality as a shapeshifter…but even so, she’s pretty clearly a woman who occasionally uses a male disguise. IMO, that’s no more nonbinary than Bruce Wayne dressing up as a bag lady in “The Dark Knight Returns” – disguises don’t count. Still, I’ve gotta say that where the original X-Men comics read like a racial metaphor, the movies feel (to me) more like an LGBT metaphor. (“Have you tried NOT being a mutant?”) I think that’s good, too; that’s a more relevant civil rights struggle in the 21st century.

            Mentioning the X-Men actually reminds me of a character who’s lived in my head for a couple of decades now, but she just hasn’t found her way onto the page. She’s a Marvel-style mutant, and her power is that she can mix her genes with those of another being (or a piece of one, to get a little gruesome; she collects “samples” like fingers or toes in case of emergency) – and in so doing, she essentially rebuilds both from the ground up. I envisioned her sneaking into a morgue to steal a dead man’s eye color or fingerprints, changing her biological age and healing herself during the rebuild, and so forth – but I always saw her thinking of physical gender as just another mutable quality. Yes, she self-identifies as a woman and was born bio-female, but after a few dozen genetic changes, her birth sex doesn’t really seem relevant. Neither do labels like straight, bi, or gay, for that matter; she seems inclined to lean “straight” according to her current physical gender, but that may just be a matter of convenience while on the run. She’s kind of trans-everything, and I really want to explore the concepts of identity and permanence through her experiences. I just haven’t come up with the right angle yet…or the right plot. I kind of associate her arc with the old Bill Bixby “Incredible Hulk” TV series format, where she has adventures while being pursued by Someone who thinks she did Something – I just don’t know who or what yet.

            (Yes, I’m a comics geek. What gave it away?)

            • sanguine_outlook says:

              @RevBob: I’ve been of two minds about whether to respond to this, because it seems pretty clear that we’re basically on the same side and hoping for basically the same things, and I worry that anything further I say might come across as quibbling. But I can’t help but be a little uneasy about this part: “The drive to pigeonhole stuff into discrete categories is a human trait, not a property of nature. Just ask the platypus.”

              Speaking as a queer cis guy, it’s important to me to resist any sort of argument from “nature” or “biology”. The whole point, for me, is to understand that gender and orientation are not facts about nature or biology, but instead are the product of how we all as individuals interact with our culture and the stories it tells.

              • @sanguine_outlook: That’s rather my point, actually. The “argument from nature” that I always see comes from the opposing side, trying to argue (incorrectly) that nature is universally a binary cisgendered construct and basically pretending that deviation from nice neat classifications is the result of some unnatural aberration – a warped mind, a genetic defect, something like that.

                I take the opposite view, which is that when one looks at nature without an agenda, those neat classifications just don’t exist. There are all sorts of studies that demonstrate that in various ways. I’m saying that an unbiased view of the natural world exposes a much wider variety and more malleable definitions than the “it ain’t natcheral!” bigots would have us believe. It’s my way of turning their argument against them.

                And no, gender identification and sexual orientation shouldn’t need to be defended, natural or not. Unfortunately, we live in a world where that’s still necessary, and I think that’s one of the things that Alex (who started this whole snowball with her column, lest we forget) is trying to correct by bringing attention to it. Overcoming bigotry won’t happen overnight, and I think anything we can do to chip away at it is worthwhile. After all, it’s a big damn mountain; the more picks and shovels we bring to bear, the faster we can reduce it to rubble.

  15. Leo Nordwall says:

    In Scandinavia, the term “intergender” is widely used. It’s somewhat synonymous to “genderqueer”.


  16. […] gender in SF at (which I didn’t get around to blogging about, so just read this summary by Foz Meadows). Now I actually agree that the SFF community can be toxic at times, though I find it striking that […]

  17. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the
    time and effort to put this content together. I once again
    find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments.

    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  18. […] love to claim that nonbinary gender is some dumb #firstworldproblems thing, but Foz put together this amazing list of nonbinary gender identities from cultures around the world. There’s even one from Jewish religious texts. (By the way, […]

  19. bounqid says:

    thank you so mush

  20. Katah says:

    You are missing demigirl, and demiguy.

  21. Kay says:

    Great 🙂 A health promoter from the Pacific, Phylesha, shared a new acronym at a recent Asia Pacific Human Rights Conference = MVP-FAFF. This isn’t the full story, but here’s a link to her words and what some of the Pacific people of different sexual identities call themselves:

  22. Ross says:

    I’ve also heard the terms gender variant and genderfuck.

  23. Mari says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! But I have a question…. Most people I’ve seen keep saying things like “should I make this oc non-binary or gender-queer?” or “learning more about your gender is soooooo cool! Are you more non-binary or gender-queer????” and my questions is if gender-queer is on the list then what’s the difference between the two? I mean gender-queer is a branch on the non-binary tree so….? I’m very sorry for my ignorance and stupidity. Thanks to anyone who answers in advance and thanks for reading for those of you that do. To everyone I hope you find $100 (a lot of pesos’ or euro’s or whatever kind of money your country uses) on the ground.

  24. […] Meadows (Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows) An A to Z of Non-Binary Genders — “So, here’s a thing that happened: Alex Dally MacFarlane had the temerity to […]

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