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Updated: Jul 4, 2021

What does it mean to be non-binary?

Non-binary people identify with a gender beyond the binary of male and female.

Examples of non-binary identities include genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, and bigender. It is important to note that you cannot assume someone’s gender identity based upon their gender expression, or how they choose to present themselves. Also, just like sexuality, being non-binary is not a choice, so respect the gender identities of everyone around you.

How old are non-binary identities?

Non-binary identities are not unique to the 21st century.

While some people may claim that non-binary identities were a concept created by the current generation, a record of non-binary gender has existed since the beginning of written history, as far back as Mesopotamia. At the time, Mesopotamians referred to a third gender of people who often performed religious duties. This third gender continued to be recognized in many civilizations throughout history. Although the current term “non-binary” did not exist until the 20th century, the understanding of gender outside of the male and female binary has existed long before then.

What issues do non-binary people face?

Non-binary individuals face a variety of issues in today’s society. Among these difficulties are transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, and gender dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is the feeling that one’s gender identity differs from their biological sex or assigned gender. Gender dysphoria may lead a non-binary or transgender person to be uncomfortable with the characteristics of their assigned gender or biological sex, including the gender roles society associates with that sex or their physical appearance and body.


Transphobia is a range of negative reactions to people who do not conform to social gender norms and expectations, such as people who are non-binary. Transphobia can result in non-binary and transgender individuals experiencing a lack of acceptance and violence from those around them. As such, non-binary individuals facing transphobia may suffer from both physical and emotional harm simply because they fall outside of society’s expectations.


Misgendering is the use of a pronoun other than one’s preferred pronouns to refer to a person. Deadnaming is the use of a transgender or non-binary person’s former name that they no longer use. Misgendering and deadnaming are issues that are especially prevalent for transgender and non-binary individuals. This offense can be a result of society’s hesitancy to accept transgender and non-binary individuals and transphobia, but may also happen accidentally. To avoid accidentally misgendering someone, you should make an effort to learn and remember people’s preferred pronouns. In the instance that you do misgender someone, simply apologize and correct yourself. Being referenced by pronouns or a name that is contrary to one’s identity can be very harmful to one’s mental health, and can increase negative feelings of gender dysphoria and insecurity. It is important to respect other’s identities and make a conscious effort to respect their pronouns and name.

What are some symbols of non-binary people?

Genderqueer Flag

Genderqueer Pride Flag (2011)
Genderqueer Pride Flag (2011)

The genderqueer flag, featuring lavender, white, and chartreuse stripes, was designed by Marilyn Roxie in 2011. The lavender stripe, as a mix of the two colors generally associated with male and female (blue and pink), represents androgyny and queerness. The white stripe represents people who identify as having no gender, or agender. Lastly, the chartreuse stripe, as the inverse of lavender, represents identities outside of the gender binary.

Non-Binary Pride Flag (2014)
Non-Binary Pride Flag (2014)

Non-Binary Flag

The non-binary flag was created in 2014 by Kye Rowan. The flag is composed of yellow, white, purple, and black horizontal stripes. The color yellow represents something as its own and therefore those who identify outside of the gender binary. White represents multigender identities, as it is made of all other colors mixed together. The purple stripe represents people who identify as a mix of the male and female genders. Finally, the black stripe represents people who identify as agender, as black is the absence of color.

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