In recent years, genderqueer people around the world have been coming out, talking about their experiences inside and outside of the gender binary and clearing up misconceptions about gender identity. Genderqueer, also known as non-binary, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities. In short, genderqueer describes gender identities that go against traditional expectations of what it means to have a gender.
Genderqueer is also known as an umbrella term, so when someone identifies as genderqueer, that could mean a variety of things. Some people consider themselves genderqueer and identify as cisgender, or with their gender assigned at birth. Others see themselves as genderqueer and prefer not to assign themselves to a specific gender identity. Because “genderqueer” carries a wide range of terms and phrases, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to being genderqueer. It’s also important to note that gender identity is separate from sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about attractions and is generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality.
However, others would say queer an actual orientation in and of itself. A queer orientation does not check into one of the neat, little boxes of gay, trans, or pan. It’s a simple, clean little word that leaves sexual choice wide open. And as with any identification and the label attached to it, some may still choose not to tie themselves to “queer” at all. There remains a hurtful stigma with the word that, for some, is hard to shake. Respect those who decline being called the former slur.