In 2016, “gender-fluid” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary to describe “a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity.”
Does that mean someone who is gender-fluid is transgender?
No, though there might be people who identify as both. But they’re not the same and shouldn’t be interchangeably. Additionally, it should not be treated as being interchangeable with non-binary or enby.
CBS News described “gender-fluid” as a term for “a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender, and expresses a fluid or unfixed gender identity. One’s expression of identity is likely to shift and change depending on context.”
How often does a gender-fluid person’s identity change?
There is no defined time for that, and will depend on the person. But that flexibility — or fluidity — is a key part to understanding gender-fluid in context with the other terms we have reviewed. The crux of understanding gender-fluidity is that a person’s sense of gender has the capacity to change, evolve, and vacillate.
Do you have any examples of gender-fluid people?
In a 2015 article in TIME, actor and singer Miley Cyrus talked about her experience with gender:
Cyrus counts herself among the people who don’t feel they fit in the traditional boxes, saying she doesn’t like the labels boy or girl or even gender fluid, though she’s settled on the latter for now. “I’m just equal. I’m just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It’s literally just how I feel,” Cyrus says during a break from taking pictures for Happy Hippie Presents #InstaPride in Los Angeles last month.
Two years later, in Billboard, Cyrus said, “It’s weird that I’m a girl, because I just don’t feel like a girl, and I don’t feel like a boy. I just feel like nothing.”
Australian actress Ruby Rose, who appeared on a season of “Orange Is The New Black,” spoke to Elle in 2015 about what gender fluidity meant to her:
Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other. For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes. I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But then sometimes I’ll put on a skirt – like today.
So the person can change daily?
Each person will be different, but for Ruby Rose, that seemed to be an open possibility.
But that won’t be the case for everyone?
Correct. From a 2015 article in TheJournal.ie:
These imperfect terms try to label various aspects of the human condition, the nature of which is often hard to describe. They may be used by different people to mean different things but, generally, they attempt to describe individuals whose gender varies from what’s considered ‘the norm.’ The terms may include people who identify as both male and female, people who identify sometimes as male and sometimes as female, or people who don’t identify themselves as either male or female. But key to understanding ‘gender fluidity’ is to understand that these terms or their variants may not apply perfectly to an individual. They might apply to an individual at a certain point but at other times they may not. The nature of something being fluid is that it is changeable and very difficult to pin down. In essence, an individual can make that distinction but it’s impossible for a third-party to do so.
What pronouns do gender-fluid people use?
That will depend on the person. In a 2017 story for TIME, Katy Steinmetz talked to a person who uses “they”:
“Some days I feel like my gender could be like what I was assigned at birth, but there are some days when I feel the opposite way,” says Rowan Little, an 18-year-old high school senior in Kentucky who identifies as gender-fluid and uses the pronoun they, rather than he or she.
But, it will depend on the person. To learn more about how to learn a person’s pronouns, check out our post here.
How will I know if someone is gender-fluid?
As is often the case, you won’t be able to know unless the person tells you. As such, it’s safest to only use the terminology and labels that a person would use. The labels one uses can change over time. By 2017, Cyrus was using the term “gender-neutral,” according to Billboard.
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