Some people identify as one gender their whole life. For others, it’s a lot more dynamic, and their gender identity shifts over time.
These people might refer to themselves as “gender-fluid,” which means their gender can change.
Some, but not all, gender-fluid people are transgender.
Gender-fluid people are people whose gender changes over time. A gender-fluid person might identify as a woman one day and a man the next.
They might also identify as agender, bigender, or another nonbinary identity.
Some gender-fluid people feel that the changes in their identity are extreme, while others might feel that they’re arbitrary.
Their gender might change quickly — in a matter of hours — or slowly, over months or even years.
When they realize their gender identity has changed, they might or might not change their gender expression — how they dress and present themselves, for example — and their pronouns.
For many gender-fluid people, it’s an internal shift they might not want to express outwardly.
While a gender-fluid person’s gender changes over time, a genderqueer person’s gender might not.
There’s a little controversy when it comes to the definition of genderqueer. Generally, genderqueer people don’t identify exclusively as male or female, or their experiences of gender are “queer” — that is, not conforming to the mainstream.
That said, you can be both genderqueer and gender-fluid.
No. Most people do classify gender-fluid people as being nonbinary, and many gender-fluid people feel that they fall under the banner of “nonbinary.”
However, many nonbinary people don’t feel like their gender changes over time, and thus, those people aren’t gender-fluid.
Along with gender-fluid, nonbinary people might be one or more of the following:
Bear in mind that this isn’t a complete list. There are hundreds of words out there that people can use to describe their gender. Those are just some of the most commonly used terms.
If you want something more comprehensive, take a look at our list of 64 terms that describe gender expression and identity.
The sex assigned at birth may not be a choice — but the labels you choose to describe yourself are totally up to you.
You get to decide which terms describe you the best. And, if you’d like, you don’t have to put a label on it at all!
One hard thing about figuring out your gender is that gender means different things to different people.
On the one hand, this is great: It means you get to define how you express your gender. On the other hand, it’s hard to know exactly whether one term will suit you.
Every gender-fluid person is different, and every gender-fluid person’s experience of gender is different.
If you’re interested in figuring out whether you’re gender-fluid, you can explore it in a few different ways. Here are some ideas:
- Think deeply about your gender. Ideally, how would you identify if you were free of social pressure? If you could choose any gender and gender presentation, which would it be? Do your feelings change? Journaling about this might help.
- Dig into the available resources. Read articles and books about gender identity, watch relevant YouTube videos, and follow accounts of people and organizations that discuss gender identity. Learning about other people’s experiences can help you articulate your own.
- Connect with other nonbinary, gender-fluid, genderqueer, or gender-questioning people. There are many online forums for this purpose. Talking about your identity, and listening to others’ experiences, may help you figure it out for yourself.
Remember, you can always change your mind about the label you use. If you use “gender-fluid” to start and later feel that “nonbinary” or “genderqueer” feels better for you, that’s totally OK!
Yes! If you feel that more than one term explains your gender, you’re welcome to use as many as you want.
Definitely. This is the exact sentiment that’s captured by the term “gender-fluid” — that gender identity can change over time. The terms you use to describe your gender can also change over time.
That’s OK, too!
You don’t have to choose a description if you don’t want to. Ideally, you shouldn’t feel pressured to identify as anything unless you want to.
However, it can be helpful to find a description that suits you. It can help you feel less alone and more validated. It could also help you find a community and express your gender to others.
If you’d like to find a descriptor, read up online. There are many different terms for gender out there. One or more of these might fit you.
Gender-fluid people can use whatever pronouns they’d like. Some gender-fluid people use they, them, and their pronouns.
Others might use she/her/hers, he/him/his, or neopronouns, like xe/xem/xyr.
Some gender-fluid people’s pronouns change along with their gender. On one day, they might prefer they, them, and their, and on another day, they might use she, her, and hers.
If you want to learn more about being gender-fluid or nonbinary, there are many places where you can find more resources:
- Nonbinary Wiki is a wiki-type site that includes a lot of information relating to gender identities.
- Neutrois is a great resource for people who think they may be neutrois (also referred to as agender or genderless).
- Genderqueer.me has a thorough list of resources for trans and nonbinary people, as well as people who are genderqueer, gender-fluid, or questioning their gender.
- Take a look at Book Riot’s list of books about gender identity, which includes both fiction and nonfiction books.
- If you’d like to learn more about gender, view our list of 64 different terms to describe gender identity and expression.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice, cannabis, and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.