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Beyond the Gender Binary

, by DCEG Staff

The gender binary describes the inaccurate concept that gender is categorized into only two distinct forms (i.e. man/woman). Many gender-expansive identities exist either between or outside of this binary, such as genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary or agender.1 Various pronouns like the singular, third person they may be used to reflect gender neutrality.

  • Genderqueer – An umbrella adjective for someone who avoids conventional ideas of gender, e.g. genderfluid, non-binary, agender
  • Genderfluid – Describes a person who experiences gender as dynamic and changing over time
  • Non-binary – Describes a person who does not identify exclusively as masculine or feminine
  • Agender – Describes a person who rejects a gender identity or is gender-neutral

Many electronic medical records and research databases have started including several options for self-reported gender. This allows more complete collection of gender identity. When designing a study, investigators might consider:

  • Designing questionnaires to be inclusive of gender-diverse communities. A variety of epidemiological outcomes may look different for people beyond the gender binary.
  • Reporting separately on gender identity and sex assigned at birth. A two-step methodology should be considered to avoid conflation.2

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  1. Richards C, Bouman WP, Seal L, Barker MJ, Nieder TO, T’Sjoen G. Non-binary or genderqueer genders. International Review of Psychiatry, 2016, doi:10.3109/09540261.2015.1106446
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2022. Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 10.17226/26424.

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