Gender is more than just boy or girl. Learn about gender identity and expression, and how gender is evolving around the world.
DeeWho is Dee?
Hi! I’m here to help you learn more about gender. This topic involves the core elements of gender identity (our sense of self) and gender expression (how we show up in the world). For some of us, it’s as easy as male or female, man or woman. But for many others, it’s far more complex. Our gender can involve a mix of masculine and feminine, or be something altogether different — what people refer to as non-binary. Let’s explore…
Learn about the broad spectrum of gender identities and expressions.
Gender identity is distinct from biological sex even though for most people the two correspond.
Gender used to be thought of as an either/or proposition: male or female. But a growing number of people do not identify with those two choices, and America has noticed.
There’s a lot of diversity in gender identities. But life isn’t easy for people who identify “beyond he or she.”
Not everyone identifies as a man or woman. Watch this CBS News video to hear from people who identify "beyond he or she."
Timothy LeDuc is poised to be the first openly non-binary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Listen as Kiyan Williams, who identifies as gender non-conforming, talks about what it was like coming of age feeling different from everyone else.
Listen as Sissy and Vickie talk about their life together and what it has been like for Sissy, a cross-dressing man.
Around the world
Worldwide, the variety of gender identity and expression is nearly boundless. Many cultures have long recognized not just two genders, but 3, 4, 5, or even more.
Check out some of the gender-diverse cultures that have existed throughout the world.
Learn about the Two Spirit People who have been part of Native American communities for countless generations.
There's nothing new about gender identities beyond male and female--they've been around since ancient times.
Population studies show that around the world, more people identify as non-binary than you might think.
(Verb) To wear clothes typically associated with people of a different gender for fun, self-expression, relaxation, etc. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not indicative of being transgender; persons who are cross-dressers are usually comfortable with their anatomy and do not wish to change it. Cross-dressing is not necessarily tied to erotic activity, and is not a reflection of sexual orientation. Learn More
Drag / Drag King / Drag Queen
(Noun) The theatrical performance of one or multiple genders via dressing in the clothing of a different gender, or in a manner different form how one would usually dress. For instance, drag queens perform in highly feminine attire. Drag kings perform in highly masculine attire. Drag often presents a stereotyped image. Individuals who dress in “drag” may or may not consider themselves to be transgender. They may also identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or some other sexual orientation. Learn More
(Noun) The ways that a person communicates a gender identity to others such as dress, behavior, hairstyle, voice, and/or mannerisms. Learn More
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not behave in a way that conforms to traditional expectations for their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Also known as gender variant. Learn More
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not behave in a way that conforms to traditional expectations for their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Also known as gender non-conforming. Learn More
Explore More Topics
Citations & Sources
Bakker, J. (2018) Brain structure and function in gender dysphoria. Endocrine Abstracts, 56(S 30.3). https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0056/ea0056s30.3.htm
Biswas, S. (2019, May 31). How Britain tried to 'erase' India's third gender. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48442934
Bodkin, H. (2018, May 22). Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people with gender dysphoria. Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_fb
CBS News. (2017, March 23). Non-binary: The gender beyond he or she [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0ahBHJbyCg
Cocking, L. (2018, January 10). A brief history of Mexico’s third gender. The Omnivore. https://medium.com/the-omnivore/a-brief-history-of-mexicos-third-gender-7d80451419e6
Geiger, A.W., & Graf, N. (2019, September 5). About one-in-five U.S. adults know someone who goes by a gender-neutral pronoun. Pew Research Center Fact Tank. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/05/gender-neutral-pronouns/
Graf, N. (2019, December 18). About four-in-ten U.S. adults say forms should offer more than two gender options. Pew Research Center Fact Tank. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/18/gender-options-on-forms-or-online-profiles/
Havas Global Comms. (2017, September 18). The future is FeMale. Havas Group. https://download.havas.com/prosumer-reports/future-is-female/
Herman, J., Flores, A., Brown, T., Wilson, B., & Conron, K. (2017, January). Age of individuals who identify as transgender in the United States. Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/age-trans-individuals-us/
India court recognises transgender people as third gender. (2014, April 15) BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27031180
Joel, D., Tarrasch, R., Berman, Z., Mukamel, M., & Ziv, E. (2013). Queering gender: Studying gender identity in ‘normative’ individuals. Psychology & Sexuality, 5(4), 291–321. http://people.socsci.tau.ac.il/mu/daphnajoel/files/2014/11/Joel_gender_identity_2013.pdf
Kaur, H. (2019, October 16). Why it matters what pronouns you use to refer to people and what to do if you slip up. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/us/preferred-gender-pronouns-explainer-trnd/index.html
Khaleeli, H. (2014, April 16). Hijra: India's third gender claims its place in law. Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/16/india-third-gender-claims-place-in-law
Leguizamon, M., & Griggs, B. (2018, February 6). More US teens are rejecting 'boy' or 'girl' gender identities, a study finds. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06/health/teens-gender-nonconforming-study-trnd/index.html
Miller, C. (2015, October 30). Boys and girls, constrained by toys and costumes. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/upshot/boys-and-girls-constrained-by-toys-and-costumes.html?_r=1
Moskowitz, C. (2010, June 6). Kids learn gender stereotypes at home. Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/6621-kids-learn-gender-stereotypes-home.html
Nambiar, S. (2017, January 1). A brief history of Hijra, India’s third gender. Culture Trip. https://theculturetrip.com/asia/india/articles/a-brief-history-of-hijra-indias-third-gender/
Nunberg, G. (2019, August). Opinion: Even a grammar geezer like me can get used to gender neutral pronouns. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/08/06/744121321/even-a-grammar-geezer-like-me-can-get-used-to-gender-neutral-pronouns
A map of gender-diverse cultures. (2015, August 11). PBS. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/content/two-spirits_map-html/
Richards, C., Boumanam, W.P., Sealb, L., Barker, M. J., Niederd, T.O., & T'Sjoene, G. (2016). Non-binary or genderqueer genders [Abstract]. International Review of Psychiatry, 28(1), 95-102. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26753630/
Rider, G.N., McMorris, B., Glower, A., Coleman, E., & Eisenberg, M. (2018). Health and care utilization of transgender and gender nonconforming youth: A population-based study. Pediatrics, 141(3). http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/02/01/peds.2017-1683
Scobey-Thal, J. (2014, June 30). Third gender: A short history. Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/30/third-gender-a-short-history/
Silverman, H. (2019, August 1). 2 more states will offer a 3rd gender option on driver's licenses. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/01/health/washington-pennsylvania-gender-x-id/index.html
StoryCorps. (2014, December 17). Darnell Moore and Kiyan Williams [Audio podcast]. https://storycorps.org/listen/kiyan-williams-and-darnell-moore/
StoryCorps. (2016, June 3). StoryCorps 423: Sissy [Audio podcast]. https://storycorps.org/podcast/storycorps-423-sissy/
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2012). Top health issues for LGBT populations information & resource kit. Rockville, MD: HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4684. https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4684/SMA12-4684.pdf
Suddath, C. (2019, April 17). Boy scouts are just scouts now, and that’s making girl scouts mad. Bloomberg Businessweek. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-17/boy-scouts-are-just-scouts-now-and-that-s-making-girl-scouts-mad
Synowiec, O. (2018, November 26). The third gender of southern Mexico. BBC Travel. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20181125-the-third-gender-of-southern-mexico
Trammell, K. (2019, September 18). Merriam-Webster adds the nonbinary pronoun 'they' to it's dictionary. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/17/us/merriam-webster-nonbinary-pronoun-they-trnd/index.html
Wren, C. (2017, September 21). Five insights about gender and brands. Branding Strategy Insider. https://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2017/09/five-insights-about-gender-and-brands.html
Yuan, O. (2020, January 6). Gender means more than you think it does. Ipsos. https://future.ipsos.com/gender/gender-means-more-than-you-think-it-does