What does genderqueer mean?

What does genderqueer mean? How do you know if you are genderqueer? Read on as we define genderqueer and some other useful sex and gender terms. We’ll also help you find out what it means to be young and genderqueer and who you can turn to for help.

A young woman sitting on her laptop. She is researching being genderqueer. This is a wide-angle image.

Challenging gender norms

Feeling confused about your gender? Like you’ve been born with the wrong body? Putting a label on your gender isn’t straightforward. We’re never going to be able to definitively define genderqueer, or any gender identity, for you. To be honest, It’ll take a while to figure out what your gender means to you and how you feel about it

Helpful definitions

Here are a few useful terms that can be helpful when talking about gender identity and gender expression: 

  • Sex – biological sex is defined by our anatomy as male, female or intersex (those with different variations of sex characteristics, including chromosomes or genitals). It includes our internal and external sex organs, chromosomes and hormones. These biological factors have no effect on your gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Gender – masculine or feminine characteristics that represent how you see yourself. These are ideals perpetuated by society and have no factual basis.
  • Gender fluid – when someone’s gender expression, gender identity, or both varies throughout their lives.
  • Transgender – an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender differs from the one they’re assigned at birth. It is important to note that transgender people haven’t necessarily had gender reassignment surgery.
  • Genderqueer/non-binary – used to describe people who do not define themselves according to the gender binary. When it comes to the difference between genderqueer vs non-binary people, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but not everyone considers them the same thing.
  • Cisgender – the opposite of transgender, meaning people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Pronoun – the word we use in place of a noun. When we’re talking about defining gender, instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ some genderqueer people may prefer to use a neutral term, such as ‘they’. It’s best to check with the individual on what they prefer.
  • Misgender – to refer to someone using a term that doesn’t reflect the gender which they identify as.

How many genders are there?

There’s no straightforward answer to the question’What does gender queer mean?’ In fact, according to Facebook (our trusty machine overlords), there are more than 70 ways of defining gender, but most application forms and questionnaires may only ask if you’re a man or a woman. Unfortunately this doesn’t reflect reality. Gender is a much more nuanced and complex issue than just sticking people in one of two categories.

The various gender expressions include male and female; those who do not feel they have a specific gender (agender or genderless); others who have a gender that’s in between (people with a genderqueer identity, androgynous, third gender); and people whose gender changes (gender fluid).

Why is gender identity important?

Gender identity is important because it is at the core of who you are. When people are constantly misgendered it forces them to either have to hide their identity and live with the anguish that causes, or constantly battle against people questioning who they are. 

There are no rules for expressing your gender. There’s no specific genderqueer meaning that fits every person who doesn’t subscribe to gender norms. Genderqueer individuals may present as the gender they were assigned at birth, or they may not. If you’re unsure about a person’s identity, it’s best to ask and let them explain what they feel comfortable with.

Define genderqueer

So what does genderqueer mean? Well, hold onto your hats because we’re about to go old-school on you. 

The dictionary defines the term genderqueer meaning as: “denoting or relating to a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.” Others consider the term genderqueer as an umbrella term to cover any identity that isn’t cisgender. It’s important to understand that gender identity is relative to each individual and how they identify.

Getting support if you’re young and genderqueer

If you’re confused about your gender and need someone to talk to, there are many places you can go for support. Try these for starters:

  • Gendered Intelligence aim to promote gender diversity and have various youth groups around the UK for non-binary and questioning young people.
  • All About Trans focuses on promoting a more sensitive and realistic representation of trans people in the media.
  • Albert Kennedy Trust supports homeless LGBT 16- to 25-year-olds who’re made homeless or living in a hostile environment.
  • Mermaids is a support group for trans people aged 19 and under. Their information line, tel: 020 8123 4819, is open Monday to Saturday from 3-7pm.
  • LGBT Youth Scotland helps young people in Scotland. It has loads of advice, as well as a text and live chat service for those struggling with trans issues.
  • Here at The Mix we have an online community where you can chat anonymously to other young people about how you’re feeling.
  • Queer Youth Network gives you the opportunity to meet and chat with other LGBT young people online.

Next Steps

  • Queer Youth Network gives you the opportunity to meet and chat with other LGBT young people online.
  • LGBT Youth Scotland has lots of great advice articles about LGBT issues, as well as running supportive live chats online. Text on 07786 202 370.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 27-Nov-2021