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What does non-binary mean, and is it different from being transgender?

Everyone has a gender identity, an internal sense of self and perception of one’s own gender. For some people their gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (cisgender) and for some people their gender identity is different than the sex they were assigned at birth (transgender).


There have always been transgender people who felt that their gender identity didn’t fall neatly into the two binary categories of “man” or “woman.” In the past, trans people who felt that way used the words genderqueer and genderfluid to describe that experience. While those words are still used today, it’s now more common for people to call themselves non-binary if they feel their gender identity is something other than “man” or “woman.” Non-binary can mean many different things to different people.  There is no one right or wrong way to be non-binary, just like there is no right or wrong way to be transgender.


The bottom line is: listen to how someone uses the word non-binary to describe themselves and try to understand how they are using it. Many of them will be telling you that they are a transgender person who is non-binary, while others will be using non-binary in a different way to describe their experience. Regardless, simply accept that they know best how to describe themselves.

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