Pride Month: What does it mean to be genderqueer?

Genderqueer might be an oft-used term, but not many understand what goes into it. Read on to know all about it, and how you can try to prevent misgendering.
Genderqueer is an oft-used term, but not many understand it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Updated: 7 Jun 2021, 05:54 pm IST
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It’s Pride month–a time that is essential, especially with regard to awareness around different gender identities. Although there are growing conversations around the queer community, most people are still not aware of how to address them properly. Let’s talk about the word genderqueer, for instance. It’s quite likely that most people may have come across it, but not many know what it means.

Before we get to that, it’s important to understand what queer means. It is a way to exist that doesn’t necessarily align with heterosexual or homosexual norms. It is essential to remember this—in most cases, it is used to describe a person’s sexual orientation, but it can also be used to express a nonbinary gender identity.

When you are of a ‘queer’ gender, you either fall outside of, in between, or switch among the binary gender categories of man and woman. They believe gender is fluid, which means it can change or fluctuate at any given time.

The good news is it is one of the most common identities that falls under the transgender umbrella. There are surveys that testify to its acceptance—for instance, GLAAD’s 2017 Accelerating Acceptance survey found that one per cent of the overall population of 18- to 34-year-olds identifies as genderqueer.

What is the gender spectrum?

To understand what genderqueer really means, we need to remember that gender isn’t necessarily black and white. For instance, we may have been brought up with certain notions about gender, either through media or conversations in our families. But remember being a man or a woman is about your biological sex. Gender identity is how you identify yourself, be it as a man, woman, or something else. Furthermore, gender expression is the way you express yourself.

People can identify more closely with being male or female, or they could even be somewhere between the two categories. Also, it is essential to remember that a person who is genderqueer can express themselves in any way they like. They do not have to act too masculine or feminine to identify as genderqueer, but they can if they would like. It also depends on how they feel!

Gender isn’t necessarily black and white. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Is being genderqueer the same as non-binary?

Not necessarily, but can be. The two can overlap with each other at times. When it comes to being non-binary, what it really means is these people do not identify with binary categories of man and woman. Those who are genderqueer think of their gender as fluid.

For the longest time, a lot of people have identified differently, but they have conformed to the traditional norms of masculinity and femininity. But those who are genderqueer do things that might not be considered ‘normal’ by traditional standards, and that doesn’t matter. What really matters is the term that works best for them. It is a personal choice, but it is essential that others respect them too.

Those who are genderqueer think of their gender as fluid. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What are the identities that fall under genderqueer?

There are various identities that fall under the genderqueer umbrella.

These include:

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  • Agender
  • Bigender
  • Pangender
  • Gender fluid
  • Androgynous
  • Neutrois
  • Demigender

This is another point we want to touch upon. Those who are transgenders can also identify as genderqueer.

And lastly, genderqueer people use various pronouns, based on their comfort. These are he/him/his and she/her/hers. Some can also be more gender-neutral, such as they/them/theirs. Also, there are some genderqueer people who have created their own pronouns, namely ze/hir/hirs. Also, there are some who do not like any pronouns to be used for them.

Here’s how you can prevent any kind of misgendering:
– Don’t make assumptions about anyone’s gender identity. Just ask them what they would like to be addressed as.
– Do not be intrusive in any way about a person’s body or medical history.
– Be often to accepting the fact that your genderqueer friend’s identity may change over time. Just go with the flow.- If you make mistakes, either in addressing them or otherwise, please apologise and try to educate yourself.

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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