I have written several articles on postings related to Reform in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional areas rife for reform.
So how many genders are there?
The truth is, there’s no way to put a final number on how many genders there are.
Gender is about a person’s sense of self, and each individual person is likely to experience gender differently.
Gender identity labels are simply ways for us to relate to each others’ different experiences, and describe our own more clearly.
And while many people are men and many people are women (those are the binary genders that we’re most familiar with) there are also many people for whom those terms just aren’t accurate.
Which gender identities made this list?
It would be impossible for me to list every single gender on this page, but I do regularly keep it up to date with newly-established gender identity labels.
These labels are evolving in ongoing discussions among the trans and nonbinary community worldwide, and I’m adding to this list as they gain traction in that conversation—and as I come to a clear-enough understanding to feel confident briefly describing them.
Each one has intricate nuances and variations, and even—most likely—its own gender pride flag. There’s a huge amount to know about each one, and our understanding is still massively expanding.
The list is still growing
As it becomes less taboo for us as a society to start talking about our gender identities and expressing our true selves, more are coming to light. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’ll be adding more to it as I learn more. The list is in the addendum section.
Gender Stereotypes: Where do They Come from and Why do They Persist?
Questioning the origin of gender stereotypes is a complex and global issue, as multifaceted and layered as the cultures from which these preconceived notions originate. In Iceland, for example, almost no one (3.6%) believes that a woman has less right to available jobs than a man, whereas in Egypt, almost everyone believes such as an ineffable truth (94.9%). What cultural variables could possibly account for this? Religion often takes the blame, but when one looks closer, different nations where the majorities are of the same faith often still exhibit a remarkable variety in the level and enforcement of gender stereotypes.
One hypothesis that accounts for the development of this discrepancy lies in the different ways in which various cultures practiced agriculture in the past. Ester Boserup, from whom this theory originated, found that gender roles are strongly correlated to plough use. Unlike shifting cultivation, which relied largely on the use of hand-held tools, plough usage requires “significant upper body strength, grip strength, and burst of power, which are needed to either pull the plough or control the animal that pulls it. Because of these requirements, when plough agriculture is practiced, men have an advantage in farming relative to women.”
Naturally, as the centuries passed, it became thus assumed in those societies that men have an advantage when it comes to activities outside of the home (i.e. manual labour) whereas women specialise in those activities which take place in the home. The belief in this division of labour became so imbedded in these cultures that it effortlessly crossed over to those populations applying the same belief system to non-agricultural work.
To test this hypothesis, researchers combined pre-industrial ethnographic data from a wide variety of nations and ethnic groups which reported whether those societies traditionally practiced plough agriculture, alongside contemporary measures of individuals’ views about gender roles. Consistent with Boserup’s hypothesis, historical plough use was found to correlate very strongly with views on gender inequality today.
In the digital age, where rapid and frequent cross-culture communication is a fact of life, the reasons why these stereotypes still persist is perhaps more baffling than their origins. After all, it is quite easy for someone from Egypt to observe the fact that Icelandic society is functioning perfectly productively, despite their belief that women work just as effectively outside the home as men do. Likewise, even countries with adequate workplace equality still have stereotypes about the preferences and natures of women and men as distint categories.
But when exactly do these develop?
The short answer would be, perhaps obviously, “in childhood.” Children become “gender aware” at a very young age (typically between three and five years of age, in our commercialized society even sooner), and begin to develop gender stereotypes almost immediately thereafter. These concepts become rigidly defined between 5 and 7 years of age, and begin to have lasting impact on identity and self-esteem by adolescence.
Is this nature or nurture? It is a combination, but research seems to suggest that for the most part and at younger age, it is the latter. Children observe the roles of their elders, and begin to act them out in play with their peers as soon as they can walk and communicate enough to do so; through this process, they label themselves as being a boy or a girl, and begin to instruct themselves on what that entails. “Imitation and instruction are vital components to children’s development. Adults promote this learning by role-modeling behavior, assisting with challenging tasks, and passing along cultural meanings to objects and events, all of which are components of gender development.”
Even if a child’s parents do not adhere rigidly to gender stereotypes, the pervasive nature of the media inundates children with preconceived notions about gender. Gender-typed messages are found on bed sheets, towels, bandages, clothes, school supplies, toys, and furniture. Even the most well-meaning parent cannot shop for their child without exposing him or her to segregated pink and blue aisles for girls and boys. If aisles were thus segregated by race, most people today would be appalled, and yet it is considered normal where gender stereotypes are concerned (fortunately, activists, consumer groups and concerned parents are starting to react to this, demanding an ending to gender segregation in the marketing of children’s toys.
Likewise, adult role models are frequently shown perpetuating gender stereotypes via the media; for example, advertising related to computers typically depicts men and boys as “competent users, engaged in active or professional roles, while women and girls were passive observers or merely posed next to the computer while looking pretty or provocative.” This, of course, subsequently shows up in children’s play. It also keeps gender stereotypes perpetuated even as we move into a highly digital economy.
When a child enters school, this bias usually deepens, furthered by the biases of his or her teachers. “While unintentional, a teacher’s inherent biases can perpetuate unfair stereotypes and may be manifested in discriminatory classroom practices. For example, one group of teachers perceived girls as passive learners and therefore more “teachable” than boys.” In my research this was very evident as primary school girls (age 8-11) often complained of the double standard in terms of expected behavior from their teachers: boys would be allowed to be noisy and misbehaving in the class and playground to a much greater extent than the girls. Research shows that females often receive less active attention from their teachers, which reinforces lower aspirations of achievement and poor self-esteem.
With all of these factors taken into consideration, it is logical to assume that gender stereotypes today are the product of cultural bias that is found on many different levels of society—in the home, in the media, on the playground, and in the classroom—which then perpetuates into later workplace, affecting our identity/sense of self and our relationship with others. Ending gender stereotyping, then, will take the concerted effort of many – parents, educators, activists, media producers, marketers, regulators, to name a few – to critically analyze and counteract gender bias found at all levels, in the media, the school system, the workplace, and the home.
The Origin of Gender Identity
“What causes a person to be transgender”? You might as well ask the question, “What causes a person to be (a) gender?” These questions ask the exact same thing.
If you are a cisgender person wanting to understand what causes a person to be transgender, then ask yourself, “What causes me to identify as the gender I am?” The answer goes to the heart of the gender “identity” — what makes a person know “the gender” that person is and what makes a person cisgender or transgender, comes from the same “root”.
For a cisgender person, the answer may be easy: look down and you have your answer. But this answer does not tell the whole story. We look down because this is the easiest way for cisgender people to get an answer, and since our self-identification is congruent with our observation, we don’t further question. But what if our self-identification is not congruent with our observation?
Then let’s examine this “root” or “roots”. In other words, What is the origin of gender identity?
We know from empirical evidence that “biology” with its “male” and “female” hormones, do not dictate gender identity. There are biological males and females who identify with the other gender. Along with biology, is the genetics and epigenetics consideration: perhaps a set of genes contribute in whole or in part a “gender identity”. Genetics determine gender from a biochemical perspective, but I don’t know of any evidence that suggests genetics determine “gender identity”.
Biology and attendant hormones do not “cause” gender identity, even though hormones certainly shape the gender experience.
Cordelia Fine’s book, Delusions of Gender describes copious evidence that gender identity is socially reinforced. The book shows how even the most conscientious parents who want to raise their children “gender neutral” are not immune to reinforcing gender biases. Delusions of Gender is persuasive in arguing that society drives the parameters of gender conformity but does not examine the origin of “gender identity”.
Social and cultural rules do not dictate gender identity, even though society and culture drive conformity of gender behaviors.
What about psychological and neurological factors? Cisgender people do not deal with psychological or neurological issues around their gender identity, because “gender identity” is not even a thought — it is a knowing that is reinforced by and congruent with their biological and social/cultural experiences. Psychological and neurological considerations arise primarily when a person’s gender identity do not align with biological sex, and even then, are considerations imposed by others (people who decide that “something is wrong”).
I don’t view psychology and neurology as determinants of gender identity, even though both are used as factors when society impose “rights and wrongs” about gender identity.
Now I am left with a phenomenological dimension as the origin of gender identity. The very origin of your conscious knowing that “you” are “you” is also the origin of your gender identity.
In other words, strip away physical properties (Homo sapiens) and social conditioning (gender) and cultural constructs (role) of what and who you are.
How do you still know “who” you are?
That which creates the conscious quality you self-identity as “Me”, gives rise to your “gender identity”.
This conscious quality, within which gender identity resides, emerges independently of biology, society, and culture.
Just as this conscious quality that lets you self-identify as “Me”, emerges independently of biology, society, and culture.
What we are seeing as “gender identity” are really products of biology, society, and culture ACTING UPON the original conscious quality, and assigning a moral value to a phenomenon.
When there is agreement between gender identity and biological/social/culture influences, we don’t think twice about “gender identity” even as we may debate on the frameworks that society and culture have on “gender roles/rules”.
When there is disagreement between gender identity and biological/social/culture influences, we have heated arguments about the “right or wrong” about gender identity, when the real “rights or wrongs” remain with the frameworks that society and culture have on “gender roles/rules”.
Gender Identity is part of Consciousness.
The Origin of Gender Roles
The allocation of gender roles dates back to the Industrial Revolution, which started in the nineteenth century. The men worked with machines as farmers and apprentices, while the few employed women worked in factories and cottage industries. Men went to work every day to make money, while women managed the household. Sound familiar? Many of the stereotypes associated with being a female come from “The Cult of True Womanhood,” which is an idea that originated in 1820. The four facets of True Womanhood were piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. These values carried into teachings from magazines and social/religious leaders, who told women that their value lied in their virginity and that education other than religion would detract from their femininity.
Masculinity came from the Victorian ideal of manhood, which is described as the “Male Gender Role Identity.” The four topics branching out from the “Male Gender Role Identity” are called No Sissy Stuff, The Big Wheel, The Sturdy Oak, and Give ‘em Hell. According to the details of these topics, men were seen as strong, aggressive, successful, and seemingly immune to emotion. It was seen as controversial to even send boys to school because being well-behaved was a sign of femininity. Industrialization, exploration, and civil wars all laid out the foundation of modern masculinity as far back as the sixteenth century.
Gender roles began to become more specific at around the time of WWI. Before WWI, the stereotypical colors for boys and girls were switched. Little boys donned pink, while little girls wore blue. During the women’s liberation movement, girls refused to wear blue because of the color association. Instead of eradicating the stereotypes, blue became the color for boys instead. It wasn’t until around 1980 when gendered colors expanded from clothes to diapers, toys, and more. Video games were even considered gender neutral until they switched from the electronic aisle to the toy aisle. Since the toy aisles are sorted by gender, the video game companies had to pick a gender to market to. Lo and behold, video games are seen as a boy’s occupation. Since boys were seen as the more athletic sex, boys were told to wear shorts and pants. Since girls were not seen as athletic, they were told to wear dresses and skirts.
The roles and stereotypes that have been assigned for centuries all stem from the same rules laid out centuries ago. With a society that is constantly growing and changing, it is simply ridiculous to accept rules from as far back as the sixteenth century. While gender roles may have served a purpose during the Industrial Revolution, there is no place for them now in 2017.
After investigating this rather confusing subject, I am not sure if I am the wiser for it. I always try to remain unbiased on these articles. But frankly I think the issue of Gender is just a way for people that are confused to show that they are not confused. They want everybody else to be confused. What I take from this matter it is simply a matter of semantics. Restrooms have to be based on sex. Male sex and female sex is static and unchanging. You have XY and XX chromosomes, that fact cannot be denied by any individual. However, gender is fluid and open to interpretation by each individual. There are over 30 different genders. I have compiled my list from several sources to be as complete s possible. So apparently a person sitting a table in a restaurant can cycle through several genders without even getting up. So to me this is a totally useless and meaningless categorization. Imagine trying to identify animal species, if all the categories and identification tools kept changing. It would be impossible to differentiate one species from another. That is basically what you have with the gender issue.
thepbhscloset.weebly.com, “LIST OF GENDERS & SEXUALITIES;” deconforming.com, “The big list of gender identities (+ vocab to know),” By Adrien Converse; mediasavvygirls.com, “Gender Stereotypes: Where do They Come from and Why do They Persist?” affinitymagazine.us, ” The origin of gender roles,” By Sophie Sawyer; huffpost.com, ” The origin of gender identity,” By Jane Chin;
LIST OF GENDERS & SEXUALITIES
Romantic Orientation– Who you are romantically attracted to meaning wanting to be in a romantic relationship with and is unrelated to sexual attraction.
Sexual Orientation– Who you are sexually attracted to meaning who you get turned on by or who you would want to engage in sexual behaviors with.
*note all listed below are applicable also to romantic orientations. These take the prefix of the word and the ending -romantic, i.e. heteroromantic, panromantic, aromantic.
Heterosexual– The attraction to a gender different from their own (commonly used to describe someone who is gender binary [female or male] attracted to the other binary gender).
Homosexual– The attraction to a gender the same as their own (commonly used to describe someone who is gender binary [female or male] attracted to the same binary gender). Sometimess referred to as gay.
Lesbian– Women who are attracted only to other women
Bisexual– When you are attracted to two or more genders. This term is generally used to describe being attracted to men and women, but can apply to being attracted to any two or more genders. Note that you do not have to be equally attracted to each gender.
Pansexual– When you are attracted to all genders and/or do not concern gender when you are attracted towards someone
Bicurious– People who are open to experiment with genders that are not only their own, but do not know if they are open to forming any sort of relationship with multiple genders.
Polysexual– When you are attracted to many genders
Monosexual– Being attracted to only one gender
Allosexual– When you are not asexual (attracted to at least one gender)
Androsexual– Being attracted to masculine gender presentation
Gynosexual– Being attracted to feminine gender presentation
Questioning– People who are debating their own sexuality/gender
Asexual– Not experiencing sexual attraction (note that you can also be aromantic and you do not necessarily have to be asexual and aromantic at the same time). Sometimes the term, ace, is used to describe asexuals.
Demisexual– When you only experience sexual attraction after forming a strong emotional bond first or a romantic bond
Grey Asexual– When you only experience attraction rarely, on a very low scale, or only under certain circumstances
Perioriented– When your sexual and romantic orientation targets the same gender (for example being heteromantic and heterosexual or being biromantic and bisexual)
Varioriented– When your sexual and romantic orientations do not target the same set of genders (for example being heteromantic and bisexual or being homoromantic and pansexual)
Heteronormative– The belief that hetersexuality is the norm and that sex, gender, sexuality, and gender roles all align
Erasure– Ignoring the existance of genders and sexualities in the middle of the spectrum
Cishet– Someone who is both cisgendered and heterosexual. This is sometimes used as a slur.
Polyamorous– An umbrella term referring to people who have or are open to have consensually have relationships with multiple people at the same time
Monoamorous– People who have or or open to have relationships with only one other person at a time. The term, monogamous, is also sometimes used.
Queer– A reclaimed slur for anybody in the LGBT+ community or who do not identify as cisgender and/or hetersexual/heteromantic
Ally– A supporter of the LGBT+ community that does not identify as LGBT+
GENDER & SEX
Sex– Your assigned gender at birth and/or the gender of your reproductive organs
Gender– Where you feel that you personally fall on the spectrum between male and female. Commonly people identify as male or female, but some fall in the middle or move throughout the spectrum.
Cisgender– When you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth
Transgender– When you identify with a gender different than that you were assigned at birth
Transsexual– When you have had Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) to change the sexual organs you were born with to that of a different gender.
*note that you will sometimes see an astrid after Trans (Trans*) which is meant to include both transgendered and transsexual individuals
Male to Female (MtF)– When somebody that is assigned as a male at birth identifies as a female
Female to Male (FtM)– When somebody that is assigned as a female at birth identifies as a male
Binary– The genders at each end of the gender spectrum (male and female)
Non-Binary– An umbrella term for genders that fall somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and are neither strictly male or female. This can be used as a gender identification without further explanation. Sometimes the term, genderqueer, is used.
Genderfluid– Moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity
Agender– Not identifying with any gender. Sometimes referred to as being genderless or gendervoid
Bigender– Identifying as two genders, commonly (but not exclusively) male and female. Sometimes you feel like both genders at the same time and sometimes you fluctuate.
Polygender– When you identify with multiple genders at once. Sometimes referred to as multigender.
Genderflux: A person whose gender fluctuates in intensity.
Genderqueer: An umbrella term for a person whose gender is not strictly male nor strictly female (sometimes used synonymously with nonbinary).Gender questioning: A person who is questioning whether or not they really are cisgender, but is uncertain about their gender identity.
Cisgender: a person whose gender identity matches with the gender they were assigned at birth. More simply put: not transgender.
Neutrois– When you identify as agender, neither male nor female, and/or genderless
Gender Apathetic– When you really do not identify nor care about any particular gender. You are fine passing off as whatever and you really do not have an opinion towards your own gender.
Androgyne– This term overlaps a lot between gender identification and presentation. It can be used to describe others and as an identification. This term is used to describe people who are neither male nor female or are both male and female. Basically anyone who does not fit into a binary gender category.
Intergender– Somebody who’s gender is somewhere between male and female
Demigender– When you feel as if you are one part a defined gender and one or more parts an undefined gender. Terms can include demigirl, demiboy, demiagender, ect.
Demiboy: A person who is somewhat male, but not entirely.
Demigirl: A person who is somewhat female, but not entirely.
Nonbinary: a person whose gender is outside the gender binary; not strictly male nor strictly female.
Pangender: A person whose gender identity spans multiple genders. May consider themselves a member of all genders.
Polygender: A person who has two or more genders that they switch between or experience simultaneously (includes bigender and trigender).
Third gender: A term used similarly to nonbinary to refer to people whose gender identity isn’t strictly male or female, but is either somewhere in between, a combination of both, no gender at all, or something else entirely.
Trigender: A person who has three genders they switch between or experience simultaneously.
Greygender– Somebody with a weak gender identification of themselves
Aporagender– Somebody with a strong gender identification of themselves that is non-binary
Autigender: a person whose experience of gender is directly related to their experience of the world as an autistic person.
Maverique– A non-binary gender that exists outside of the orthodox social bounds of gender
Novigender– A gender that is super complex and impossible to describe in a single term
Designated gender– A gender assigned at birth based on an individuals sex and/or what gender society percieves a person to be
AFAB– Assigned Female At Birth
AMAB– Assigned Male At Birth
Gender roles– Certain behaviors an activities expected/considered acceptable of people in a particular society based upon their designated gender
Gender Presentation– The gender you present yourself to others. This is sometimes referred to as gender expression
Gender questioning: A person who is questioning whether or not they really are cisgender, but is uncertain about their gender identity.
Transitioning– The process of using medical means to change your sex
Intersex– A biological difference in sex that is when people are born with genitals, gonads, and/or chromosomes that do not match up exactly with male or female. Intersex individuals can have any romantic/sexual orientation and can have any gender identification. Intersex individuals are about as common as redheads.
Dyadic– Someone who is not intersex and when their gentinals, gonads, and chromosomes can all match into either a male or female category
Trans Woman– Someone who is assigned as a male at birth, but identifies as a woman
Trans Man– Someone who is assigned as a female at birth, but identifies as a man
Trans Feminine– Someone who identifies as feminine, but identifies as neither a man nor a woman. They must also be assigned male at birth.
Trans Masculine– Someone who identifies as masculine, but identifies as neither a man nor a woman. They must also be assigned female at birth.
Social Dysphoria– Discomfort experienced when acting in ways socially different than your gender or being addressed in ways different to your gender
Body Dysphoria– Discomfort experienced because of the difference between gender and your sex, role, or gender expression
Butch– A term used to describe someone who’s gender expression is more masculine than feminine. This is commonly used in describing women or lesbians.
Femme (Fem)– A term used to describe someone who’s gender expression is more feminine than masculine. This is commonly used in describing women or lesbians.
Binarism– Putting gender strictly into two categories (male and female) and refusing to acknowledge genders outside of male and female.
Two-spirit: A gender identity specific to indigenous peoples that transcends western views of gender. It describes someone whose body holds both a male and female spirit.
Woman: A person who identifies with the female gender. May be either trans or cisgender.
Man: A person who identifies with the male gender. May be either trans or cisgender.
There’s lots of overlap in gender labels
Many of the terms fit together and overlap with each other. Multiple terms can describe the same person at once. Think of it like a network with parent terms, child terms, and terms that overlap with each other.
This chart will help you see that there are taxonomies to how these terms fit together. This visual is a little oversimplified, but gives you more context than just a list.
Many people identify with multiple labels on the above list. Take me for example: the words agender, nonbinary, neutrois, transgender, and genderqueer all apply.
Other gender-related vocabulary to know
- AFAB & AMAB: These are abbreviations for “Assigned Female At Birth,” and “Assigned Male At Birth,” respectively. These terms reference the sex designated by medical professionals and placed on a person’s legal documentation when they were born.
- Bioessentialism: An outdated and unscientific belief that binary biological sex dictates someone’s gender.
- Binarism: Erasure or prejudice against nonbinary people—people who aren’t strictly male or female. Also sometimes called enbyphobia (pronounced NB phobia).
- Binary genders: Genders that are one of these two: either man or woman. (A binary-gendered person may or may not be transgender.)
- Deadname: The given name that a transgender person has rejected because it conflicts with who they are.
- Gatekeeping: The act of creating laws, regulations, and criteria for people to comply to before allowing them to identify as transgender or receive transgender healthcare.
- Gender dysphoria: A profound sense of unease coming from the fact that the person you are is being distorted beyond recognition. You can experience both social dysphoria and body dysphoria.
- Gender euphoria: A term for the powerful experience of expressing your true self. The inverse of gender dysphoria.
- Gender identity: a person’s gender identity is who they are.
- Gender nonconforming: People who break gender norms but aren’t transgender.
- HRT: The acronym for hormone replacement therapy. A medical treatment that helps people end up with the hormone balance they need.
- Intersex: a person who has a combination of male and female sex characteristics. It’s the “I” in LGBTQIA+. Intersex people can be cisgender, transgender, or any other gender identity.
- Medical transition: Various medical procedures that help align a person’s physical body with the person they know themselves to be.
- Misgendering: When a person is referred to as a gender that is not accurate to who they really are.
- Neopronouns: a word that literally means “new pronouns.” These pronouns are used to reference people of different genders with a higher degree of nuance.
- Social transition: The act of shifting a person’s life to align more with their gender. Includes things like changing your name, changing the gender on your birth certificate, adjusting how you dress, asking people to use different pronouns in reference to you.
- TERF: stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. These are folks with anti-trans beliefs who don’t acknowledge transgender women to be women.
- Transgender: A person who was assigned a gender at birth that doesn’t match their true gender.
- Transgender man: a person who was assigned the female gender at birth, but whose gender is actually male.
- Transgender woman: a person who was assigned male at birth, but whose gender is actually female.
- Transmedicalism: The false belief that you’re only trans if you have body dysphoria and physically transition. This is a specific type of bioessentialism.
- Transphobia: Discrimination against transgender people.
- Truscum: a group of people who hold the dangerous belief that there are true transgender people and fake transgender people.
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