You may have seen doctor’s offices, college applications and other professional forms adding a third checkbox to the “Gender/Sex” section: Nonbinary. Upon first glance, this might appear to be a positive shift towards inclusion for gender queer individuals.

However, simply adding a “third box” might create the perception that we have simply added another gender with its own distinct characteristics.

Contrary to this common misconception, nonbinary is actually an umbrella term to describe individuals who exist outside of the male or female binary. Many diverse gender identities exist under this umbrella, including but not limited to gender fluid, agender, transmasculine and transfeminine and nonbinary.

The primary characteristic between nonbinary individuals is rejecting rules and expectations of gender characteristics, so to limit nonbinary people to a “third gender”, an “in-between gender” or an “androgynous gender” is reducing the very notion of what it means to be nonbinary.


Many thanks to our intern Casey B. (they/them) for coming up with this topic and the text!
Graphics by our social media maven Victoria (she/her).