As a Genderqueer person myself, many people ask me what is Genderfluid vs. Genderqueer. There are a lot of things that differentiate us from one another but before I dig into that let me explain what non-binary/genderqueer means as a whole.
Non-binary and Genderqueer are considered the same thing by some, but some people see them as separate identities. Both identities use different flags, some people identify themselves as both genderqueer and non-binary while others identify themselves as only one of the two. For simplicity’s sake, we will be focusing mostly on genderqueer and how it can sometimes be used interchangeably by non-binary folk.
Non-binary means that your gender identity falls outside of the gender binary. Genderqueer is very similar because your gender also falls outside of the binary and can not be described using the words that most people would use for gender.
Genderqueer could mean a multitude of things. To break this down a little more gender is more than just expression. When I say expression I mean clothing choices and mannerisms. Gender is more of a feeling within you and less of a reflection of who you are as a person. Non-binary along with Genderqueer people often feel that they can not relate to the experience of either gender. they do not feel what a cisgender individual feels towards their gender. When it comes to non-binary identities it feels as though one is floating between two different extremes but can never quite relate to either.
It’s like floating in an abyss of sorts.
Especially if the person is agender. Which means that they have no gender. Gender to the agender person is an abstract concept and can not be felt or even explained. But even that can change from person to person so it’s always best to talk to the individual about their identity in order to get a better idea for what they mean.
An example of the difference between genderqueer and non-binary could be that, you can be Agender and non-binary at the same time. Because Agender falls under the non-binary umbrella. You also can be genderfluid and non-binary at the same time and genderfluid also falls under the non-binary umbrella. Keep in mind that you can have those identities and still be genderqueer simultaneously.
What truly sets them apart is that some genderqueer people view being genderqueer as a third gender and don’t want to use any other label. Ultimately that is up to the person that is using the label to decide.
Genderqueer is seen as more of a political statement as opposed to non-binary. The thing that makes this identity so unique is that it is different for everyone. Not everyone that uses this identity will feel the same way and express themselves the same way.
Genderfluid, on the other hand, means that you fluctuate between your identities. Genderfluid is more dependant on the expression of the individual and not solely based on how they feel. Say if a person feels like they are a boy and a girl they would fluctuate between boy and girl identities based upon how they may feel. One moment they would want to express in a masculine way and other days they would express as a feminine person. It all depends on what that person is feeling that day. Genderfluidity is mostly tied into expression wears genderqueer and non-binary identities are not.
Another way that genderqueer is different is that people with genderqueer identities are very rigid in their expression and feelings towards their gender and they never fluctuate. For example, a bigender person can identify as genderqueer or non-binary. Bigender people have two genders that don’t fluctuate whereas genderfluid people fluctuate in their gender. Also, I would like to add that bigender does not mean that they are a boy and a girl. Bigender can mean that they are a boy and agender or even androgyne. There is no limit to what two genders the person can be.
There are other identities such as trigender, demi-gender, and androgyne. Those three fall under the non-binary category but they can still call themselves Genderqueer if that’s what they feel accurately sums up their gender identity.
There is another identity that is often confused with genderfluid and that gender is known as genderflux. The difference between the two is that genderflux involves fluctuation in the intensity of the way the gender itself feels and not the gender itself. So gender flux is focused on the intensity of the feeling of gender whereas genderfluidity is focused more on the expression of gender.
However, some people view genderflux as a specific type of genderfluidity. So to simplify it a little, some see it as a gender that can go under the genderfluid umbrella and the genderfluid umbrella is under the non-binary umbrella as a whole. There are a lot of overlaps in these identities.
There is no wrong or right way to identify. How you express yourself – be it through your clothes, your voice, your lifestyle, or anything else for that matter – is entirely your choice. And your choice is always valid.
The biggest difference between genderqueer and non-binary is what the person who identifies that way defines it. It is all based upon what the wearer of that identity says it is.
For example, I realized that I was a non-binary Bi-gender person in high school, I came out as FTM which is an abbreviation of female-to-male and was planning on going through with the surgery and everything but then one day I realized that I did not feel completely male. Some days I felt feminine and other days I felt masculine but my presentation always stayed the same, at least it did when I became more comfortable in my skin and with my gender identity as a whole.
I had heard the term genderfluid before and could somewhat relate the experience but nothing fully clicked until I was told about bi-gender. Bi-gender and genderfluid are often confused with one another and the way I differentiate it is, my identity is static. I have two genders but my feelings do not fluctuate.
The expression of my gender may indeed fluctuate but my gender as a whole stays completely the same. Some people struggle to separate gender identity from expression but I was able to clearly do that and that is why I personally struggled with whether I was genderfluid or not.
It is up to you to explore which identities feel right for you. No one other than you can tell if your identity is correct. Only you can know you fully, gender and all. Please do not feel pressured to pick a gender, there is nothing wrong with being a person that is questioning or has no label at all.
All in all, genderfluid is based upon your gender expression being fluid and able to change and genderqueer tends to be a static identity that does not change and does not fluctuate. Non-binary is an umbrella term that genderfluid also falls under. If in doubt, it is always best to ask the person that identifies this way what they mean by it so that you can respect their identity because not everyone who identifies the same, feels the same.