Equality Institute

Equality Insights Blog

Understanding Gender Fluidity

Society has programmed us to the binary. Binary means "two." In this case, I'm talking about two genders or two sexualities. Traditionally, that has meant the male and female gender and the straight and gay sexuality. A lot of people already know that there are many who don't identify as straight or gay, but rather bisexual or those who fall in love with the person, not the gender. Well, just as there are more than two sexualities, there are also more than two genders.

That's right: there are people who identify beyond male or female. They may instead identify as gender fluid, genderqueer, non-binary or another similar term. These are people who don't fit neatly into those male or female boxes. Somedays they may feel more male and dress in a more masculine manner. Other days they may feel more female and dress in a more feminine manner. Or maybe every day they dress androgynously. Regardless of how they are presenting themselves, we must treat them with respect.

This might also mean that they don't use traditional pronouns. The pronouns I use are: she, her, and hers. There are others who use "he, him, and his." And there are people who use the pronouns "they, them, and theirs." I know this is confusing but the singular "they" is actually an acceptable pronoun and last year was chosen by the American Dialect Society as "word of the year."

Don't believe me? The Oxford English has added the word gender fluid to its dictionary. Australia and New Zealand now allow people to choose gender X on their passports. Sweden has added a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary. And that's just the beginning.

More and more societies and cultures understand that there are more than two genders. Now it's time to ensure that your employees understand this as well and don't accidentally offend a guest whose gender is ambiguous. What steps have you taken to train your team to understand the fluidity of gender?