Am I Non-Binary? How To Know If You're Non-Binary & What Does It Mean In The Dating World? Contents What Is Binary Gender? What Does It Mean To Be Gender Non-Binary? Non-Binary Gender Basics - Options for Self-identifying Non-Binary Names & Pronouns How to Tell Someone You're Non-Binary Dating As A Non-Binary Person Non-Binary FAQs Conclusion Have you asked yourself the question “Am I non-binary?” There are many reasons why you might feel like the traditional gender identities of male and female don’t accurately or fully allow you to express yourself. But what exactly does being non-binary mean for you as an individual, and what does it mean for you when it comes to dating? What Is Binary Gender? Human beings have a tendency to categorize things, to make them easier to manage and understand. Something is affordable or expensive, hot or cold, good or bad, male or female. But many things in existence defy the simple categories we wish to place them in. While many cultures are accustomed to thinking of gender as either of two binary categories — male or female— many people reject these simplistic labels. You may be one of these people if you have asked yourself “Am I non-binary?” We encourage you to read on and see if anything else in this guide resonates with you. What Does It Mean To Be Gender Non-Binary? Non-binary is an umbrella term used to refer to people who fall outside the binary gender categories of either exclusively male or exclusively female. But non-binary encompasses a broad range of individuals. It includes those who identify as both male and female, either at the same time or as moving between the two. It also includes those who identify as a gender that is neither male nor female, or who identify as having no gender at all (agender). While the term non-binary unites people who identify outside of the male–female binary, not all non-binary people are the same. So the non-binary experience can be quite unique for different people. How to tell if you’re non-binary? The feeling and experience are, again, not the same for everyone. But, generally speaking, if you don’t feel you identify completely with your gender assigned at birth and prefer to think and speak about yourself in another way, this can be a strong sign that you may be non-binary. If you do feel like you may identify as non-binary, you aren’t alone. A recent study found that around 1.2 million Americans identify as non-binary, and there are millions more around the world. It is also important to remember that non-binary is a gender identity and not a sexual orientation. It defines who you are, not who you are interested in. You can read more about the various sexual orientations here. Non-Binary Gender Basics - Options for Self-identifying How you define yourself as a non-binary person is very individual, and just as you don’t need to conform to societal ideas of male or female, you also do not need to conform to any single non-binary definition. The best approach is often to research the various established non-binary identities and see which feels right. Use whatever gender identity feels right for you, but don’t feel like once you have made a decision you have to stick with it. If, as you explore further, you find something that fits better, you can change your definition. Gender can be difficult to define and it’s not always useful to try to place ourselves in any gender box, including a non-binary one. While having a definition can help you communicate with others, it doesn’t define who you are. Let’s take a look at some of the most used non-binary gender identities and how it might feel to be non-binary: Do you feel like some aspects of your person are male and others female? Or do you feel feminine sometimes and masculine at others, and like a gender that defies definition at yet other times? You may be bigender or trigender, which refers to a person who identifies with more than one gender, either at the same time or moving between them. Do you feel like you were a certain gender at some point in time, but that your gender has changed? Or do you feel like, on some days, you wake up feeling one gender, but on other days your gender is different? You may be genderfluid, which means that your gender changes, either frequently or over the course of your life. One of the most commonly asked questions when people start exploring their gender is, “Am I non-binary or genderfluid?” If you are non-binary you may also be genderfluid, but this is not the case for all non-binary individuals. Do you feel as though you don’t really have a gender? Like you don’t identify with either male or female and that your gender generally feels neutral? If so, you may be agender. The terms agender, non-gendered, genderless, gender-free, and/or neutrois are used for people who feel like they do not have a gender or that their gender is neutral. Do you feel like you have a distinctive gender identity with strong characteristics, but that it is neither masculine nor feminine? You may be third-gendered or other-gendered. These terms are used to refer to distinctive genders that exist beyond the standard binary definition. Do you feel like you are mostly masculine or mostly feminine, but there are also parts of your gender that defy these definitions or go beyond them? You may be transmasculine or transfeminine. These are terms for non-binary individuals who principally identify as one gender, but do not feel limited to that gender. Do you embrace all aspects of gender freely and feel like your gender cannot be defined by our current collective understanding of gender? You may be pangender. This generally means that you are not restricted by gender and you have an interest in exploring all aspects of gender: male, female, and other. You can learn more about the different gender identities here. Non-Binary Names & Pronouns When you discover you are non-binary, you may feel that the name you were assigned at birth just isn’t right for you. The name may carry a lot of gender connotation, which may make you uncomfortable, or the name may be associated with negative experiences. In these cases, many non-gendered people decide to change their names, choosing a new name that better reflects who they feel like as a person. But certainly not all non-binary individuals feel this way. Many people feel very comfortable with the name they were assigned at birth. They have grown up with that name, it has accompanied them on their life journey, and it feels like an important part of who they are. These individuals often choose not to change their name, even if they have a traditionally masculine or feminine name. There is no right or wrong choice. You should use your given name or change your name depending on what feels comfortable for you. Many non-binary people feel differently about pronouns since, unlike names, which are a proper noun for you as an individual, pronouns such as he/him/his and she/her/hers are gender-specific and assign gender when used. Nevertheless, some non-binary people are comfortable using these pronouns, or choose to use them to avoid “outing” their gender. Other non-binary individuals prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns. They will usually use either the existing gender-neutral pronouns they/they/theirs, or neopronouns such as ze/zir/zirs, which are new pronouns created specifically for the non-binary gender. It is becoming increasingly common to share our pronouns so that other people know how to address us. Some non-binary people will share multiple pronouns, such as she/they or he/sie so that you know their preferred gender-neutral pronouns, and which gendered pronouns to use when appropriate. Some non-binary people prefer to use no pronouns at all and to instead be referred to by their name. How to Tell Someone You're Non-Binary? There is no right or wrong time or way to tell someone that you are non-binary, and you have no obligation to tell anyone at all. Telling someone that you are non-binary is often referred to as “coming out,” and similar advice applies to sharing your gender identity as sharing your sexual orientation. Who do you tell that you are non-binary? Your Partner - While you don’t have to tell anyone else that you are non-binary, coming out as non-binary to a partner can be important as it may affect them directly. Your Family & Friends - Telling family and friends you trust can also be a powerfully positive experience as you can share more of your authentic self and they can try to understand you better. Your Non-Binary Friends - You may feel more comfortable discussing your gender with new friends in the non-binary community before broaching the subject with friends and family. This is normal, as you have the comfort of shared experience. New friends also don’t already have a fixed idea of you as being a certain gender, so it can be easier for them to see you as you are. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being open in some situations and with some people, and not with others. You should put your safety and comfort first. You do not need to share your gender identity with people who are obviously hostile toward those who are different, or divulge this information in every job interview. How to come out as non-binary is completely up to you. You may choose to do things differently with different people and in different situations. But it is often best to be open, honest, and talk about your gender as fact rather than controversy. Also, be prepared to answer a few questions. Just because someone is curious it does not necessarily mean they are not supportive. It can be challenging to determine the difference between someone who is genuinely trying to understand you and someone who is questioning your identity. Dating As A Non-Binary Person Understanding your own gender identity and expressing yourself as non-binary in a predominantly binary world is challenging enough. Adding dating, romantic relationships, love, and sex to the mix can make things even more complicated—but also exciting. We have put together a list of non-binary dating tips to help you feel confident about jumping into the dating world as a non-binary person, especially if you are interested in online dating. Consider putting it front and center on your dating profile. One of the biggest challenges can be knowing if, when, and how to tell someone you are interested in that you are non-binary. If you are using online dating, why not get it out of the way right at the start? This can also help you weed out bigots and chasers. On OkCupid, you can select a range of genders to identify as by updating your profile details. However, some may not feel comfortable doing this and you do not need to share this information as openly if you do not want to. Ask them about their views directly. Once you have decided that you are interested in someone, why not ask them directly what they think about important issues in general. “Are you accepting of transgender individuals?” “What do you think of non-binary gender identification?” If you don’t get a good feeling from their answers, you can move on. Prioritize your comfort and communication. Maybe you enjoy discussing transgender rights, but maybe you don’t. These debates can leave many non-binary people feeling like they are being asked to justify their existence. But it is not your responsibility to educate others about non-binary issues. If someone tries to involve you in conversations that you don’t want to have, tell them you aren’t interested in discussing it. If they persist, they probably aren’t the match you are looking for. Pick your battles. If a potential partner seems to be asking you questions in good faith, sometimes it may be worth educating them. They might be confused or ignorant at first, but they want to get to know and understand you. You can set the terms for this discussion by saying, “I’m happy to answer a few questions about this; just understand that I get questions like these a lot, so if at some point I run out of patience, I’m going to refer you back to Google.” (Or whatever reference you think will work best for educating them on the non-binary experience.) Know yourself/what you want. Figure out what you’re looking for because many people you encounter may not know themselves as well as you know yourself. As a non-binary person, you’re accustomed to thinking deeply about gender, whereas people who identify with their gender at birth, called cis-gendered, often take their gender for granted. Having a clear picture of what your ideal relationship looks like will help you determine quickly whether someone is a good match for you. Do what keeps you safe. Barring STI status, you do not owe a potential partner any information about yourself that you deem too personal. Your safety comes first. Always remember that you don’t owe anyone anything. Dating as a non-binary person doesn’t automatically mean that you have to “come out” to anyone. Dating on your own terms doesn’t mean you have negative intent or are being “deceitful.” You should approach your partner about your gender identity when the time is right for you. Don’t be afraid to turn someone down, and don’t be afraid to break up. Ending relationships can be messy and hard, but it’s necessary as people change, and their wants and needs change along with them. You are just as worthy as a cis person of walking away from something that doesn’t feel right anymore.Many non-binary people fret about the dating pool being smaller for non-binary people (see the next point) and may feel tempted to stay in relationships that no longer work due to the fear that they may never find someone else. But try to look at the bigger picture: Do you want to invest in someone who isn’t right for you? Expect some disappointment. Dating in general can be hard, and dating as a non-binary person has its own set of challenges, but try to remain positive. If a person says they would never date a trans person, they probably don’t have the mindset that you are looking for in a potential date. Our Match Questions are a great way to see who is open to dating trans and non-binary people and filtering your matches for those people. Try dating other trans and non-binary people. Many non-binary people find greater happiness dating one another, as they already understand each other to a certain extent. Not having to explain fundamental aspects of your experience of gender can be a huge relief. Remember that all relationships work better when they are based on honesty, openness, trust, and accepting the other person for who they are. The same is true of non-binary relationships. Non-Binary FAQs What are the signs you’re non-binary? The non-binary experience is not the same for everyone, but there are some signs that can indicate that you do not align with the gender that you were assigned at birth. Principal among them is that you do not feel comfortable using gendered pronouns or thinking and talking about yourself in a gendered way. You may also feel attracted to androgynous issues and artists, or be drawn towards transgender ideas without feeling like you are transgender. Can you be feminine and non-binary? You can identify as both female and non-binary. It is possible to feel mostly female but that the gender does not fully encompass you, or that sometimes your gender is something other than female. There are many different ways to be non-binary, and everyone’s particular experiences and feelings will be at least a little bit different. Can you be non-binary and gay? Non-binary is a gender identity while gay is a sexual orientation. As gender identity does not dictate sexual orientation, one is not dependent on the other. However, being gay or homosexual means that you are attracted to individuals of the same gender as you. This concept doesn’t sit comfortably in a non-binary world where gender does not exist in silos. Non-binary individuals can certainly have a sexual orientation that feels similar to being homosexual. For example, you can be transmasculine — feel mostly masculine but also that this gender does not encompass you — and be attracted exclusively to men. These individuals may choose to refer to themselves as gay, using a term that others understand to explain their sexual preferences. What does intersex mean? Intersex is a term for people who were born with differences in their sexual and reproductive anatomy. How this manifests can vary greatly; it can manifest in the genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production and response, and secondary sex traits. An individual who is intersex can identify as male, female, non-binary, or intersex. What is gender dysphoria? Gender dysphoria is a medical term for the psychological distress a person may feel when their gender is misaligned with their gender assigned at birth. It can manifest as acute pain or a sense of unease. Many, but not all, non-binary people experience gender dysphoria. What is the difference between non-binary and genderfluid? Non-binary is an umbrella term for anyone who feels like they do not fit into the binary male-female gender dichotomy. Genderfluid is a specific expression of the non-binary gender and specifically refers to someone whose gender is not fixed. Their gender changes, either frequently, such as on a daily basis, or over the course of their lives. Conclusion Gender is more complex than something that can be cleanly divided into the two binary categories of male and female. The term non-binary exists for those people whose gender exists beyond the binary or who consider themselves gender non-conforming. But since gender is complex, determining, defining, and understanding your own gender isn’t always straightforward. Often the best thing you can do is give yourself the time, space, and freedom to explore. At OkCupid, we work hard to make our dating app a safe space where non-binary individuals can find meaningful connections. We currently offer dozens of gender options and sexual orientations to help you express yourself and find compatible dates. These are all editable at any time in your profile details, and it is simple to see how your profile appears to others. We also provide a non-binary dating guide to help people learn how to engage with a non-binary partner. This may be a useful guide to share with your partner, or even friends or family members who want to get a better understanding of what being non-binary means for you, especially within the context of dating. Get started today by downloading OkCupid as the preferred dating app for non-binary people.