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How Do I Know If I'm Non-Binary?

Portrait of a non-binary person outside their apartment

"What does it mean to be non-binary?"

Non-binary people have a sense that their gender identity exists outside of the binary definitions of "man" or "woman." For some, this might mean identifying as both masculine and feminine. For others, it might mean you view yourself as neither.

There is no one definition of what it means to be non-binary, which can make it tricky for us if we're questioning things to know the right answer for ourselves. You're not alone!

"Is being non-binary the same as being trans?"

"Trans" is an umbrella term that means the gender a person feels is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. It includes a broad spectrum of many different identities and expressions.

"Non-binary" is an umbrella term that means the gender a person feels exists outside the binary definitions of "man" or "woman." It too includes many different identities and expressions.

Therefore, not all trans people are non-binary. Most (but not all) non-binary people do identify as being part of the trans umbrella.

You might be non-binary if you experience your gender as both masculine and feminine, if you experience your gender as being neither of those things, or if you don't identify with binary, sex-based categories of expectations and societal roles or physical characteristics of your assigned sex. A non-binary gender provides folks with the space to play and explore and eventually actualize the identity that is right for them.

"What are some types of non-binary identities?"

Although there are many different identities within the non-binary umbrella, a few of the more common ones include:

  • Non-binary: many non-binary folks identify simply by using the parent umbrella term; they may also call themselves enbies, a phonetic way to say "NB" for non-binary. 
  • Agender: having a gender that is undefined or completely neutral. (For example, someone who is agender may refer to themselves as genderless.)
  • Bigender: having two different gender identities, which can be felt either alternatively or at the same time.
  • Genderfluid: having a gender that is not fixed; a person can move between two or more different identities. (For example, a genderfluid person may feel like a girl one day, a boy another day, and a different gender altogether another day.) 
  • Demigender: having a gender that is primarily one identity, while also feeling other gender identities at the same time. (For example, a demi-woman may identify as mostly female, but also partially identifies as male.)
  • Two-Spirit: having both masculine and feminine spirits, used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or spiritual identity.

"Do I need to use a different name or pronouns?"

No. While many non-binary folks change the pronouns they use or change their name to better align with their sense of self, not all do. You can keep your name/pronouns, or use any language that feels good to you. Consider what makes you most comfortable and stick with that; you can also ask people in your life to stop using gendered terms that don't fit, too.

"Do I have to look androgynous?"

Androgyny is the possession of both masculine and feminine characteristics, and no: non-binary folks don't have to look any certain way. Your gender expression and presentation—how you dress, how you style your hair or appearance, how you use your voice and language—are yours to decide and do not always have to align with your gender identity.

It is possible and entirely valid to be, as an example, a demi-man who likes wearing makeup and dresses. The same goes for an enby who uses "he/him" pronouns and dresses in clothes typically perceived to be masculine in society.

No matter what your journey looks like, if you discover and identify yourself as non-binary, you are  "non-binary enough" just as you are.

We recommend reading our guide, "How Do I Know If I'm Trans?"which answers a lot of questions that non-binary and questioning folks also may have around understanding gender, gender dysphoria, gender expression, transition, and ways to explore your identity.