Q: Are there more than two genders?

Last year Facebook expanded their options for gender. This was alarming to some folks who realized there were almost sixty different ways someone could identify that went beyond male or female. What does it mean to identify as something other than male or female? What does it mean to be something that is other than male or female?

The full list that Facebook includes is listed here. If you explore other queer glossaries you’ll see several more pop out at you. This is a good place to start because this list is easily accessible:

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Female to Male
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans
  • Trans*
  • Trans Female
  • Trans* Female
  • Trans Male
  • Trans* Male
  • Trans Man
  • Trans* Man
  • Trans Person
  • Trans* Person
  • Trans Woman
  • Trans* Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transgender Female
  • Transgender Male
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Person
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexual Female
  • Transsexual Male
  • Transsexual Man
  • Transsexual Person
  • Transsexual Woman
  • Two-Spirit

You might look at this list and think “huh, a lot of these sound similar, whats the deal?” Part of the reason there are (and continue to be) so many ways to describe our gender, or our sexuality, is because our society has so very tightly packaged what being a woman means. And a man. And a girl. And a lady. And a boy. And a person. Transexual has different meaning than Transgender. The meaning behind two-spirit (a third gender recognized in Indigenous cultures) may tie more closely to someones identity than trans or gender queer.

I argue that there are an infinite number of genders because as soon as we begin to label something as “this is what it means to be a women” we instantaneously remove certain people from that label. Given how much we love and rely on labels, that means new labels must be created to define how those people identify. Even if that’s just “non-binary” or “other.”

Gender influences every facet of our lives. From what jobs are available to us, to how we’re supposed to look and behave, to how we communicate with the people around us. When we think of gender we may think of it more simply as how we look and what parts we have. However in that style of thinking: not all women “look like women” and not all women have “women parts”. So we have to break down those boundaries and challenge ourselves to think of gender not as something that is a simple binary (two easy parts.)

People who exist outside the gender binary don’t all share the same opinions about gender, just like people who exist inside the gender binary don’t necessarily agree on everything. Some people who are trans still fly with the gender binary. “I was misidentified as a male at birth but I am a female.” This type of thinking rests fairly easily within the gender binary. They are perceived as one and/or behave as one but would like to be seen as and/or behave as the other.

Other people want to exist between the binary, or they reject the binary of gender completely. This is where these other labels come in and help them explain what that decision means to them.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Walker says:

    Sorry if this is simple or answered elsewhere, but what does the asterisk mean? Or, even better, what does it mean to Facebook and is that different from what it means to people who use it? And … does it need to be pronounced?

    Like

    1. ST says:

      Great question. It’s a quick way to signify inclusivity of all trans* identities. This website explains it really well: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/05/what-does-the-asterisk-in-trans-stand-for/

      Like

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