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Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Nonbinary: What’s the Difference?


  • The terms genderqueer, genderfluid, and nonbinary each have a different meaning.
  • The term genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t fit within the male-female binary or who express their gender outside traditional gender norms.
  • Genderfluid refers to individuals whose gender identity isn’t fixed or changes over time.
  • Nonbinary refers to individuals who don’t identify exclusively as male or female.

Many people assume that the terms genderqueer, genderfluid, and nonbinary all mean the same thing. Though these terms represent a gender identity outside the traditional male-female binary, they each have a separate meaning.

Gender Diversity

Many people have been raised to understand gender as a binary system, based on assigned sex at birth. However, experts agree that gender is complex and may be more accurately viewed on a spectrum and not within a male-female binary system. Gender diversity is an important concept that reflects the complexity and diversity of gender identity and gender expression.

Gender diversity refers to the wide range of gender identities and expressions that exist beyond the traditional male-female binary system. Gender diversity also acknowledges that gender identity and expression can be fluid or change over time. This validates the fact that people may identify as nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, or any other gender identity that doesn’t fit within the male-female binary.

How Common is Gender Diversity?

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact number of people who are gender diverse. There isn’t a standardized method of collecting data on gender identity within census or research surveys. However, recent research suggests that gender diversity is relatively common in the United States.

A recent report from the Williams Institute at UCLA suggests that an estimated 1.6 million people age 13 and older identify as transgender. This data does not capture all gender diverse identities.

Do Genderqueer, Genderfluid, and Nonbinary Identities Mean the Same Thing?


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The terms genderqueer, genderfluid, and nonbinary fall under the umbrella of gender identity. More precisely, they each fall outside a static male-female binary system.

These terms do overlap, as they speak to gender identities that are not exclusively male or female. However, there are subtle differences among the terms. Each of these gender identities also has its own pride flag.

Gender identity is deeply personal and gender diverse people can experience and express their identity in a variety of ways, regardless of how they identify. For example, people who identify as genderqueer often differ in how they express their gender identity through their behavior, appearance, and pronouns. And they may or may not experience gender dysphoria.



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The term genderqueer refers to people who fall outside of or in between the male-female gender binary. Genderqueer people may identify as a combination of both male and female, neither, or a different gender identity entirely.

Genderqueer people may use other terms to describe their gender identity. For example, some genderqueer individuals also identify as genderfluid or nonbinary. Some prefer to use the term genderqueer exclusively.

Genderqueer has historically been used to describe anyone who “queers” gender. This could include anyone who expresses themselves in a way that isn’t “normal” for a person of their true or perceived gender identity.

Some people use genderqueer as an umbrella term to describe all gender diverse people. However, some members of the LGBTQ+ community consider the term genderqueer to be contentious. Regardless, many LGBTQ+ people and organizations recognize genderqueer as a legitimate and important aspect of gender identity.



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The term genderfluid refers to gender identity that is not fixed or changes over time. This means that a genderfluid person may feel more male, female, or another gender at different times, in different situations, or throughout their lives. Some genderfluid people also identify as genderqueer, nonbinary, or another gender identity.



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The term nonbinary is similar to genderqueer. In fact, some people use the two terms interchangeably. However, many gender-diverse people prefer to keep the terms separate.

Nonbinary people, sometimes referred to as enbys, don’t identify within the male-female binary. They may identify as a combination of male-female identities, neither, or another gender altogether. Nonbinary people can use any pronouns, but they commonly use gender-neutral pronouns like “they/them.”

Many nonbinary people also identify as transgender, agender, genderfluid, or another gender identity. Some nonbinary people undergo medical transition to better align their bodies with their gender identity.

Some people use nonbinary as an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t identify as exclusively male or female.

Can I Use Genderqueer and Nonbinary Interchangeably?


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Genderqueer and nonbinary identities overlap in many ways. Though some people who are gender diverse use these terms interchangeably, that isn’t the case for everyone.

Some people identify as both genderqueer and nonbinary. However, not all people who identify as nonbinary also identify as genderqueer. And not all people who are genderqueer identify as nonbinary.

Both genderqueer and nonbinary are used as umbrella terms within the LGBTQ+ community. Nonbinary is sometimes seen as a less politically charged term than genderqueer. Not all nonbinary people connect to the genderqueer identity.

Each person can decide which identity is right for their personal experience. And this can shift or fluctuate over time. The best way to know whether someone identifies as both genderqueer and nonbinary is to ask politely.

Supporting Gender Diverse People


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Research shows that gender diverse people often face discrimination, harassment, and marginalization due to their gender identity. This places them at greater risk for poor mental health outcomes and victimization. Advocates have made tremendous progress in increasing visibility and promoting good allyship, but there’s still more work to be done.

If you have gender-diverse loved ones, you can support them by learning how to be a better ally.

Allyship can include:

  • Learning more about gender diversity
  • Accepting your gender diverse loved ones
  • Using correct pronouns
  • Respecting boundaries
  • Speaking out against discrimination and harassment
  • Correcting myths about gender-diverse people
  • Practicing humility as you learn and grow

Learn and Thrive with eDrugstore

Practicing good allyship is a life-long process, but you don’t have to go it alone.

At eDrugstore, we provide people of all genders with resources to learn and thrive in their relationships. You can find free resources on topics like gender, sexuality, and intimacy on the eDrugstore.com blog.

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