The Breakdown of Gender Binaries: Writing Genders in Contemporary Fiction

Citation: Ceri Louise, Davies, and Ceri Louise Davies. The Breakdown of Gender Binaries: Writing Genders in Contemporary Fiction. 2008.

PhD Thesis. Swansea University. Wales.

Accessed 01/09/2021: ttps://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42319

“In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler asked, “[i]s the breakdown of gender binaries … so monstrous, so frightening, that it must be held to be definitionally impossible and heuristically precluded from any effort to think gender?” (Butler, p. 1999, p.viii). Using this question as a starting point, I look at the way that gender is understood and challenged in contemporary fiction. Specifically, I examine novels and short stories that focus on finding one’s place in gender, and the way such narratives write gendered experiences outside of the traditional male/female binary. In the first chapter, I look at females that live as males, exploring various ways of ‘doing’ gender, both on-stage and off, and the creation of cohesive gender identities. Chapter two looks at the way that sex and gender are medicalised. I argue that the male/female binary is protected by both the media and the medical establishment. This expands into a discussion of the way doctors attempt to preserve this binary in the face of increasing challenges to its very viability. In chapter three, I consider novels that focus on a male-to-female transition, as well as what is at stake in writing gender. Finally, I look at the emergence of ‘genderless’ characters, both in terms of the viability of the term ‘genderless’, and the difficulties in finding a suitable language with which to understand and quantify gendered experience.”

Critical Texts on Androgyny

A Literary Review:

Critical Articles/Books/Links on Androgyny and Literature 

  1. Allcroft, Jane. Towards a Genderless Society. https://www.academia.edu/19907232/Towards_a_genderless_society_Androgyny_in_late_20th_century
  2. Burns, Christy L. “Powerful Differences: Critique and Eros in Jeanette Winterson and Virginia Woolf.” Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 44, no. 2, 1998, pp. 364–392.
  3. CASELLI, DANIELA. Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 54, no. 4, 2008, pp. 926–929. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/26287464 Accessed 4 Oct. 2020.
  4. Dana-Tabet, Adrianne. “Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives.” American Ethnologist, vol. 26, no. 2, 1999, pp. 492–493 (Book Review)
  5. Eberstadt, Mary. “The Lure of Androgyny: Gender Fluidity and Ambiguity are being Driven in Part by the Collapse of Family and Community.”, vol. 148, no. 3, 2019, pp. 28+
  6. Farwell, Marilyn R. “Virginia Woolf and Androgyny.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 16, no. 4, 1975a, pp. 433-451
  7. Hargreaves, Tracy. Androgyny in Modern Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ;, 2005a.
  8. Hargreaves, Tracy. Virginia Woolf and twentieth century narratives of androgyny (QMC. 1995. Thesis)
  9. Hughes, Jennifer, Abigail A. Camden, and Tenzin Yangchen Agnes Scott College Rethinking and Updating Demographic Questions: Guidance to Improve Descriptions of Research Samples2016. THE INTERNATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY IN PSYCHOLOGY 
  10. Heilbrun, Carolyn G. Toward a Recognition of Androgyny. Replica Books, Bridgewater, N.J., 1998.
  11. JARRAWAY, DAVID R. “”Creatures of the Rainbow”: Wallace Stevens, Mark Doty, and the Poetics of Androgyny.” Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, vol. 30, no. 3, 1997, pp. 169-183
  12. Krishnaraj, Maithreyi. “Androgyny: An Alternative to Gender Polarity?” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 31, no. 16, 1996a, pp. WS9-WS14
  13. MacLeod, Alison Jean. Handsome Girls, Hellcats and Tomboys : A Study of the Female Androgyne in Literature. University of Lancaster, 1996.
  14. Muehlenhard, C.L., Peterson, Z.D. Distinguishing Between Sex and Gender: History, Current Conceptualizations, and Implications. Sex Roles 64, 791–803 (2011) 
  15. Melita, Maureen M, and Muareen M Melita. “Gender Identity and Androgyny in Ludovico Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso’ and Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando: A Biography.’” Romance Notes, vol. 53, no. 2, 2013, pp. 123–133.
  16. MONTASHERY, Iraj. Virginia Woolf and the Exploration of the Third Gender. International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 1-10, apr. 2013
  17. Ramet, Sabrina Petra. Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. 
  18. Secor, Cynthia. ““The Androgyny Papers”.” Null, vol. 2, no. 2, 1974, pp. 139-141
  19. Stacey, Jackie. “Crossing Over with Tilda Swinton—the Mistress of “Flat Affect”.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, vol. 28, no. 3, 2015, pp. 243-271

How to Create Ungendered Narrative Voices

On Ambiguity: The Genderless Narrator

Workshop Outline 2/2019

Sex is biological. Gender is cultural. How do we reflect the difference between the two in our writing? Is it possible or are we so trained to classify each other by gender? I present the idea that unless we know how we are using gendered language unconsciously, we can’t write authentically gender non-conforming narratives.

MY OWN WORK challenges gender expectations. The first question that comes up is who is the narrator? What gender are they? Lucky, in Lucky Shot, and Joey in When No-one’s Looking, are both ungendered narrators, searching for answers as they travel across the States and beyond. Each is running from a troubled past and into new relationships as they struggle to claim a place in the world. Find a sense of belonging. Kirkus Reviews assumed that the protagonists were male: The novels don’t say either way. However, the editors, publishers and professional reviewers had a hard time accepting these perspectives as valid. Androgynous, agender, queer, all of the above, I’m simply being myself, and it comes out in my clothes, relationships, in my lifestyle and yes, in my stories. I write from this outsider perspective as do my characters–what was unconscious is now carefully considered and questioned and I play with ambiguity. 

Why do we classify by gender roles? In life and literature? 

What do we need as readers to connect with the humanity of the protagonist? 

What are our own hidden biases? 

Is an ungendered narrative more inclusive? 
Does it take the reader out of the story or engage them more?  

Who has done it successfully? How? 
How do we write a gender neutral story?

An Overview of the craft techniques include:

  • Terms: an overview.
  • Forms and genres: novels/ shorts/ poetry/ memoirs: examples.
  • POV: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
  • Possessives/ pronouns: use/ absence. 
  • Names: as clues and expectations.
  • Think of the reactions of other characters: natural acceptance of friends or discomfort of strangers? 
  • Authors name, sex, and gender: default filters of our reading their work.
  • Assumptions/ biases re. skills, clothes, emotions as found within the spectrum of  masculine and feminine. 
  • Language of the body: describing physicality without gender labels/ expectations.
  • Q&A. 

The presentation is built from a MFA critical thesis as well as examples from recently published poetry, short stories, and essays within the West. There will be short writing exercises to put into practice a few concepts. 

PASS WITH CARE: a review

COOPER LEE BOMBARDIER navigates his journey to a sense of belonging through art, stories, and performance. The essays take us from a working class childhood in South Shore of Boston to San Francisco, Santa Fe, on tour across the States with Sister Spit, and more recently north to Canada where he calls home. His work has been published in the Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, Longreads, BOMB, and The Rumpus. He has also had essays in numerous anthologies, ones that have garnered a Lambda Literary award, 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards, and Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The Huffington Post named him one of “10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing the Landscape of Contemporary Art.” 

Pass with Care is his first book, one that takes on his journey into his own physical presence, claiming a body and identity on his own terms.  He moves from “A Body Trapped in an Idea of a Body” (p.26) to “Accepting my body as trans helped me see how much I am like other people–not special or different–because in accepting my body I had to accept life and that fact that I was living it” (p199).

 It’s beautifully written. 

The essays in Pass with Care describe a tomboy childhood, (“I was a tall, awkward pork chop of a girl in boys’ clothes with a thicket of dark hair that hugged my round face like an over-padded helmet” p.17), to becoming a butch dyke in San Francisco of the early 1990s (“dressed up as I tend to get, in my favourite embroidered Western shirt and unwashed 501s, rough as sandpaper, and big black  boots worn down in the heels,” p.183) and starting to transition while in Santa Fe during the mid-late 1990s. I remember Cooper hosting spoken word events in town, he was a charmer, a presence, and well-known in our small queer community. Through him, I discovered Sister Spit, Michelle Tea, and Sini Anderson who were on and off tour during those years. In Pass with Care, I learned about a darker side to his sense of community here, I’d had no idea. It’s humbling to be reminded how easily people draw lines in the desert sand and to claim one identity that pushes out others. I’m sorry to say that Cooper was kicked out as he transitioned from butch to trans. As he writes, “Embarking upon this transition meant that I was shoving off from the shore of lovability, that I was in fact worthless.” (p.52). He writes about these and other struggles with such compassion for his younger self that it took my breath, softened my heart, and I had to pause. 

The essays shift around in time and style. Some chapters are a blend of childhood and home, others on the role of Buddhism, acceptance, and transitioning. Lists. Interviews. Flashbacks. Poems. Memories. We read of how people reacted to his appearance in anger, in confusion, in binary concepts. In Lips Like Elvis, one shopkeeper’s irritation at not being able to box Cooper in one gender or another, leads Cooper to reply, “I’m not trying to make people think anything. I’m just trying to feel as much like myself as I can.” (p.36) The Identity Poem builds upon labels within labels to the point of the ridiculous and back out. The Conversation records some of what people have asked when trying to figure out why would he want or need to transition and then coming to support him with “I’m excited to see you be more comfortable.” (p.29). In My Life in Ink, Cooper tells of his attitude to tattoos, the first at age 12, in the 1990s having strangers show up at his door asking for some, squandering an apprenticeship at Black and Blue, and then giving stick and poke tatts on tour; “It is about connection, a reminder, a friendship, an adventure.” (p.169)

To me that sums up this collection: Cooper’s essays are intimate memories, unique and beautiful if hard stories, ones full of connection, pain, and as Bombardier wrote, “an indelible souvenir of a time and of a place” (p.169). They stay with me. 


Pass with Care: Memoirs

By Cooper Lee Bombardier

Nonfiction | 240 pages

Paperback and hardcover editions

ISBN 9781948340489 (Hardcover): US $24.95

ISBN 9781948340212 (Softcover): US $18.95

Publication date: May 12, 2020

DOTTIR PRESS

Gender Neutral First Names

A

Abimbola

Abiodun

Addison

Ade

Adebola

Adebowale

Adedayo

Adi

Aeron

Ahn

Ainsley

Akachi

Akira

Ale

Alex

Alexis

Alix

Aleksandr and Aleksandra both go to Sasha

Aleyamyehu

Amal

Amandeep

Amani

Amardeep

Amari

Amarjeet

Amit

Amor/Amore

Anan

Ananta

Andile

Andy

Anh

Ankhayar

Anukta

Aoi

Apurva

Aran

Arden

Ari

Ariel

Arista

Aruna

Asa

Ash

Ashanti

Ashley

Asti

Atiya

Avery

Awotwi

Ayanda

Ayo

Ayodele

Azar

B

Baako

Badr

Bai

Bailey

Bala

Balwinder

Bandile

Bao

Baran

Beau

Beren

Bernie

Bilge

Billie

Blair

Bo

Bobbie/y

Boipelo

Borna

Brett

Briar

Brogan

Brook(lyn)

Bryn

Buhle

Burcin

Businge

C

Cahaya/Cahya/Cahyo

Cam/Cameron

Cande

Carey/Cary

Carmo

Caron

Carrol/Carol

Casey

Cass

Chan

Chanda

Chandler

Chandra

Chang

Chao

Charlie/y

Chau

Chea

Chen/g

Chese

Chi

Chibuike

Chifundo

Chihiro

Chike/lu

Chin

Chinwe

Chris

Chun

Chus

Citalli

Claude

Coby

Codie/y

Cruz

D

Da

Dale

Dallas

Dana

Dar

Dara

Darby/Derby

Darcy

Dawa

Daya

Dechen

Dell

Dene

Deniz

Devin/Devon/Devyn

Dian

Diede

Diklah

Diyar

Dolgoon

Dor

Dorji

Dabaku

Duda

Durga

Duri

Duru

Dusty

Duygu

Dwi

E

Ebrar

Eddie

Eden

Eef

Efe/Efemena

Ehsan

Eike

Eirian

Ejiro/Ejiroghene

Eka

Ekene

Ekin

Eko

Ekundayo

Elian

Ellery

Ellis

Emery/Emory

Emlyn

Enfys

Eniola

Enitan

Enu

Esen

Eun

Evren

Ezhil

Ezra

F

Fang

Farah

Farai

Fatsani

Fen

Ferdous/Firdous

Fergie

Finn/Finley

Flann/Flannan

Flick

Folami

Fran

Frances/Francis/Frankie/Franny

Freddie

Fu

Fumnanya

Fungai

G

Gabi/Gabby

Ganizani

Garnet/Garnett

Gefen

Georgie

Gerry

Giang

Gili

Gio

Glaw

Gohar

Goksu

Golbahar

Golshan

Golzar/Gulzar

Gray/Grey

Greer

Guadalupe

Guanting

Guanyu

Guiying

Gul

Gulbahar

Gunay

Guo

Gurdeep

Gurmeet

Gurpreet

H

Hadar

Hadley

Hadyn/Hayden

Hai

Haneul

Hanne

Harinder

Harley

Harlow

Harper

Hari

Harpreet

Haru

Haruka

Haven

He

Hed

Heng

Hennie/Henny

Hibiki

Hifumi

Hikari/u

Hikmat

Hilal

Hinata

Hira

Hla

Hollis

Hong

Hosni/Husni

Hozan

Hua/Huan/Huang

Hui

Hunter

Husni

Hwan

Hyun

I

Idowu

Ifiok

Ihab

Ihsan

Ikram/Ikraam

Ilham

Ilkay

Iman

Imani

Ime

Inderjeet/Inderjit

Inderpal

Indiana

Iniobong

Innes

Iseul

Isha

Isi

Islay

Ismat

Itoro

Itumeleng

Ivory

Jaci

Jackie/Jax

Jade/Jaden

Jae

Jaffe

Jamey/Jamie/Jaime

Jamyang

Jasvinder/Jaswinder

Jawdit

Jaya

Jay

Jeong

Jerry/Gerry

Jess/Jesse

Jia

Jian

Jiang

Jie

Ji-Hu

Ji-Min

Jin

Jinan

Jindra

Jing

Jingyi

Jip

Ji-Soo

Ji-Su

Ji-Hu

Ji-Won

Joey

JoJo

Jong

Jools

Joo-Won

Jordan

Jothi

Ju

Jun

Jung (Jeung)

Juul

Jyothi/Jyoti

K

Kadek

Kaede

Kagiso

Kahurangi

Kai/Kaimana

Kaipo

Kalani

Kalei

Kali

Kam/Kameron

Kamala

Kamalani

Kamon

Kanta

Kanti

Kaoru

Kapua

Karam

Karma

Kasey (Casey)

Katlego

Kau’i

Kaulana

Kawehi

Kayden

Kayin

Keahi

Keala

Kealoha

Keanu

Keelan

Kefilwe

Kei

Kelcey/Kelsey

Kelley/Kelly

Kendal/Kendall

Kennedy

Kenzie/McKenzie

Keone

Kerry

Keshet

Ketut

Khayrat

Khorshid

Khurshid

Kim

Kirabo

Kiran

Kirby

Kisembo

Kit

Kohaky

Komang

Konani

Kondwani

Kris

Kulap

Kumbukani

Kun

Kunzang

Kusuma

Kyo/Kyou

Kyrie

Kyung

L

Lacy/Lacey

Lake

Lakshmi

Lan

Lan

Lanh

Lashawn

Lauren

Laurie

Laxmi

Lee

Lehua

Lei

Leigh

Leighton

Leilani

Leith

Lennie

Lennon

Lennox

Les/Leslie/Lesley

Li

Lian

Lim

Limbani

Limbikani

Lin

Lindsay/Lindsey

Ling

Linh

Lior

Liraz

Liron

Lishan

Logan

London

Loren

Loreto

Lou

Lucky

Lungile

Lupe

Lux

M

Maacah

Maayan

Mackenzie

Madalitso

Made

Madhu

Madhur

Madison

Mahinder

Makana

Makara

Makena

Makoto

Malak

Manaia

Mandeep

Maninder

Manjeet

Manpreet

Many

Maram

Marjin

Marley

Martie

Masami

Masozi

Matija

Mattie

Maui

Mavuto

Mawunyo

Max

Mayamiko

Mayeso

Mckinley

Mega

Mehr

Mel

Merle

Merlin/Merlyn

Maciaih

Micha

Michi

Mickie/Mickey

Mies

Min

Minenhle

Ming

Min-Jun

Minoru

Misa

Mitra

Mo

Moana

Moerani

Mohana

Mohinder

Monet

Monroe

Montana

Mor

Moran

Morgan

Motya

Mphatso

Mpho

Mtendere

Mu

Mudiwa

Mumtaz

Munashe

Murphy

Myeong

Myung

Nao

Narinder

Naseem

Nasim/Nassim/Nesim

Navdeep

Navneet

Nazaret

Ndidi

Neelam

Neo

Nergui

Nermin

Neta

Nevada

Ngawang

Ngoc

Ngozi

Hhung

Nicky

Nika

Nikora

Nilam

Nima/Nimat

Ning

Nishat

Nitya

Nitzan

Njinga

Nkemdilim

Nkruma

Noam

Noel

Nogah

Nollaig

Noor

Nor

Nour

Noy

Nsia

Nsonowa

Nthanda

Nuka

Nur

Nurul

Nyoman

Nzinga

O

Oakely

Ocean

Odell

Ofra/Ophra

Oghenekaro

Oghenekevwe

Oghenero

Olamide

Olayinka

Ollie

Oluchi

Olufunke

Oluwasyi

Oluwayemisi

Omega

Omer

Omid

Omobolanle

Onyekachi

Or

Ora

Ori

Osher

Otgonbayar

Otobong

Ouibo

Ozgur

Paderau

Padma

Page/Paige

Parker

Parminder

Parveen/Parvin

Passang

Pat

Payton/Peyton

Paz

Pema

Pemphero

Penjani

Peta

Petia/Petya

Pheonix

Phuc

Phuntso

Phuntsok

Pich

Pilirani

Ping

Pip

Presley

Puck

Purnama

Putu

Qamar

Qing

Qiu

Quinn

Quy

Quynh

R

Radha

Rahat

Rain/Raine

Rajani

Rajinder

Raleigh

Randy

Rashmi

Ratna/Rathna/Ratnam

Raven

Ravid

Ravinder/Ravindra

Rayan/Rayyan

Reagan/Regan

Reese

Refilwe

Reilly

Remington

Ren/Rin

Reyes

Ricki

Riley/Rylee/Ryley

Rini/Riny

Rio

Ripley

River

Robbie

Robin

Rong

Ronnie

Rorie/Rory

Roop/Rupinder 

Roshan

Rotem

Rowan

Ru

Rupinder

Rusen

Rutendo

S

Sabah

Sacha/Sasha/Sascha

Safa/Safaa

Sage

Sal

Salama

Sam/Sammie/Sammy

Samnang

San

Sandy

Sang

Sanya

Sasa

Sashi

Schuyler

Selby

Senna

Senol

Seong

Sequioia

Seung

Sevan

Shachar

Shae

Shafaqat

Shahar

Shahnaz

Shai

Shaked

Shakti

Shalev

Shandiin

Shani

Shannon

Shashi

Shay

Shea

Shelby

Shelley/Shelly

Shi

Shikoba

Shiloh

Shinobu

Shion

Shiori

Shui

Shun

Shura

Shyama

Sibonakaliso

Sidney/Syd/Sydney

Sigi

Silver

Simcha

Simran

Sinclair

Sithembile

Sky/Skylar/Skyler

Slaine

Slava

Sloan/Sloane

Sonam

Soo-Jin/Su-Jin

Sophea

Sopheap

Sora

Sothy

Sree

Sri

Stace/Stacey/Stacy

Stav

Steph/Stef

Stevie

Storm

Su

Suad

Su-Bin

Sukhdeep

Sukhjinder

Sukhwinder

Sultan

Suman

Sunan

Sung

Sung-Hyun

Sung-Min

Sunny

Surinder/Surendra

Sushila

Swaran/Swarna

T

Tabassum

Tadala

Taegan/Teagan

Tafadzwa

Tai

Takara

Takondwa

Tal

Tam

Tamandani

Taonga

Tashi

Tasi

Tatenda

Tayler/Taylor

Teddie

Temitope

Temple

Temuulen

Tendai

Tenzin/Tenzing

Terry

Thando

Thanh

Thoko/Thokozani

Tierney

tinashe

Tionge

Tirta

Tivoli

Tiyamike

Toby

Tom

Tommie

Tomomi

Tovia

Tracey/Tracy

Tri

Trinidad

Tristen/Tristan

Truc

Tsering

Tshering

Tsubasa

Tu

Tumelo

Tuktu

U

Udo

Uduak

Uduakobong

Ufuoma

U’ilani

Ulli

Umut

Unathi

Uttara

Uzoma

V

Val

Van

Vanja

Vanna

Vaska

Veasna

Vic

Vieno

Vijaya

Vinh

Vinnie

Vivian/Vivien

Vosgi/Voski

W

Wallis

Wanangwa

Wangchuk

Wattana

Wayan

Wei

Wen

Wil/Willie

Wobbe

Wu

Wyn/Wynne

X

Xia

Xiang

Xinyi

Xquenda

Xuan

Xue

Xun

Y

Yachin

Yafe/Yaffe

Yagmur

Yahui

Yamikani

Yan

Yancy

Yang

Yannic/Yannick

Yarden

Yaroslava

Yasu

Yating

Yazhu

Yeong

Yi

Yijun

Yin

Yolotl/Yolotli

Yona/Yonah

Yoshi

Yoshie

Young

Yu

Yuki

Yun

Yun-Seo

Yuneuan

Yuu

Yuuki

Yuval

Zan

Sedong

Zhen

Zheng

Zhenya

Zhi

Zhihao

Zhong

Zhou

Ziv

Zohar

Zola

Zorion

We Had No Rules: a review

Corinne Manning

Arsenal Pulp Press, May 12, 2020

Corinne Manning’s debut collection of short stories takes us into the messy world on contemporary queer life, navigating assimilition versus rebellion and fitting in versus belonging. Written in the first person, the narrators tell of gay divorces, break ups, hilarious at times, sexy as hell at others, surprising yet familiar. No one is a single identity and within these pages, I can experience and witness our queer world from within.  

The opening of Gay Tale comes close to sounding autobiographical even while knowing this is a short story: “Oh fuck it. I’m writing lesbian fiction…How many people, I wonder, have stopped reading already? A lot of lesbians are scary, and weird. I don’t even like the word.” (p.27) I know the feeling. The tone is light, playful, and still addresses the fear of strangers yelling insults, defining one’s own desires, and playing knowingly with the reader, “I knew I would end this story before the sex scene. My arms were exhausted.” (p.37)

Professor M is a story we’ve heard before, the almost affair, the layers, the partner at home, a dog, seven years together, and yet it’s also fresh. The first person narrator is ungendered and open to your own interpretation, the ending hopeful. Looking at how she played with not specifying the gender of the narrator, the use of the initial M as the name, the girlfriend won’t comment on gender as they’d been together so long, it’s irrelevent. The student’s reaction to M is  flirtatious. M wonders, “If I held her in that office, would I feel it on the sides of her thights, around her ribs? What is it like for someone with a sprit to avaliable to hold someone like me?” (p.47.). To me, an example of how many (straight) readers would read that as the male gaze. Manning is comfortble with gender ambiguity, playing with stereotypes and expectations. Almost without noticing.  Information is dropped without blinking, no explanation, just matter of fact. “She stood and stripped down to her underwear and T-shirt. Small breasts. No testicles. She dove into the water” (p.36). And “I didn’t like that she called me a man, but I didn’t have the language then don’t quite still” (p.82). “The world would bend away from me even if I wanted to bend towards the world” (p.104).

BIO: Corinne Manning is a prose writer and literary organizer. Their stories and essays have been published widely, including in Toward an Ethics of Activism and Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault. Corinne founded The James Franco Review, a project that sought to address implicit bias in the publishing industry.

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Glossary

Agender: Relating to, or being a person who has an internal sense of being neither male nor female nor some combination of male and female : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is genderless or neutral.[1] In the print version of the OED of 1997, the word doesn’t exist. However, the online OED of 2020 defines it as Designating a person who does not identify as belonging to a particular gender; of or relating to such people.[2]

Androgynous: 1: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female 2a neither specifically feminine nor masculine  2b suitable to or for either sex  3: having traditional male and female roles obscured or reversed[3]

Asegi: Cherokee. Translates to ‘strange’, similar use to ‘queer’. Used for “people who fall outside of men’s and women’s roles or who mix men’s and women’s roles.”[4]

Assigned female at birth (AFAB): A term that refers to people who were assigned the sex of female at birth; replaces the earlier terms of “natal female” and “genetic female”.

Assigned male at birth (AMAB): A term that refers to people who were assigned the sex of male at birth; replaces the earlier terms of “natal male” and “genetic male”.[5]

Butch: A gender expression that fits societal definitions of masculinity. Usually used by queer women and trans people, particularly by lesbians. Some consider “butch” to be its own gender identity.[6]

Cisgender: Designating a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to his or her sex at birth; of or relating to such persons. Contrasted with transgender.[7]

Femme: Historically used in the lesbian community, it is being increasingly used by other LGBTQIA people to describe gender expressions that reclaim and disrupt traditional constructs of femininity.[8]

The following ‘Gender’ prefix definitions are all from the same source: See footnote #7.  

Gender binary: The concept that there are only two genders, man and woman, and that everyone must be one or the other. Also implies the assumption that gender is biologically determined.

Gender-fluid: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 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. 

Gender identity: One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. 

Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. 

Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female. 

Genderqueer: Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as “genderqueer” may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories. [9]

Non-binary: Designating a person who does not acknowledge or fit the conventional notions of male and female gender, and instead identifies as being of another or no gender, or a combination of genders; (also) of or relating to such a person.[10] (It seems this is now more common than genderqueer but to me the term is more clinical than is genderqueer, more like saying someone is hetersexual rather than straight.)

Queer: Historically, queer has been used as an epithet/slur against people whose gender, gender expression and/or sexuality do not conform to dominant expectations. Some people have reclaimed the word queer and self identify in opposition to assimilation (adapted from “Queering the Field”). For some, this reclamation is a celebration of not fitting into social norms. Not all people who identify as LGBTQIA use “queer” to describe themselves. The term is often considered hateful when used by those who do not identify as LGBTQIA.[11]

Queer is a colloquial term used more by my peers within our community as it is less clinical and is an act of claiming the word back from the insult it has been in the past. 

Sex: a medically constructed categorization. Sex is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth.[12]

See the above terms of AFAB and AMAB for the specifics of that usage. No longer do forms ask Sex: Male or Female. It’s worth looking at when Sex no longer referred to Gender within mainstream western bureaucracy.  

Tomboy: A girl or young woman who acts or dresses in what is considered to be a boyish way, esp. one who likes rough or energetic activities conventionally more associated with boys.[13]

Transition: A term sometimes used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to discover and/or affirm one’s gender identity. This may, but does not always, include taking hormones; having surgeries; and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Many individuals choose not to or are unable to transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.[14]

Transgender: Often shortened to “trans”. Designating a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond to that person’s sex at birth, or which does not otherwise conform to conventional notions of sex and gender. Although now typically used as an umbrella term which includes any or all non-conventional gender identities.[15]

From a UK site: https://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/about-us/news/qtipoc-organisations-you-should-know-about

  • BAME – Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic
  • POC – People of Colour
  • QTIPOC – Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour
  • LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer


[1] “Agender.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agender. Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

[2] “agender, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/47450702. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[3]  “Androgynous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/androgynous. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[4] Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory. Driskill, Qwo-Li. p.6

[5] Life on the Gender Border: Caitlyn Drinkwater. Both terms come from this thesis https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/53065/Drinkwater-2020-thesis.pdf

[6] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary Accessed 30 September 2020.

[7] cisgender, adj. and n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/35015487. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[8] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[9] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/index.cfm?c=78738&a=730061 Accessed 30 September 2020.

[10] “non-binary, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/74216458. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[11] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary

[12] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary

[13] “tomboy, n. and adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/203097. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[14] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/index.cfm?c=78738&a=730061 Accessed 30 September 2020.

[15] “transgender, adj. and n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/247649. Accessed 30 September 2020.