A genderfluid person does not have a fixed gender identity. Instead, their gender is flexible and may shift and change. It is a type of nonbinary gender identity.
A nonbinary gender identity is one that exists outside of the gender binary, which refers to the idea of gender as being either a man or a woman only.
This article looks at what it means to be genderfluid, other gender identities, and how to be an ally to a genderfluid person.
A note on identity definitions
Medical News Today uses definitions of sexual, romantic, and gender identities that come from LGBTQIA+ and ally sources.
However, it is important to note that these identities are personal, and people may define them differently. Always refer to a person’s sexual, romantic, or gender identity the same way the person describes it.
People who are genderfluid may find that their gender identity changes rather than remaining fixed.
Genderfluid people may move between different genders throughout their life. Their gender may shift over a day, a week, months, or years.
Because gender identity is very personal and specific to each individual, people may see and use the term “genderfluid” differently. There is no standard definition for genderfluidity.
Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of their gender. A person may feel masculine, feminine, a mixture of both, or neither. People may also perceive themselves as another identity that falls outside these classifications.
Gender identity is also the name or label people use to describe their gender to others. A person’s gender identity may be the same as their sex assigned at birth, or it may differ.
As people gain a broader range of terms for describing gender, they may choose to use different terms over time to describe themselves.
According to Gender Spectrum, gender expression is how people present their gender to themselves and the world.
People may wish to express their gender through their clothes, makeup, hairstyles, voice, pronouns, body language, and more.
A person who is genderfluid may express their gender in any way they feel comfortable. There is no one-size-fits-all way for genderfluid people to express their identity.
For example, genderfluid people might present themselves as feminine, masculine, neutral, androgynous, and more. Genderfluid people may also change their gender expression however much they please.
Learn more about gender identity.
People may use the term “genderfluid” to describe their gender identity, or they may use it in combination with other identities. They may identify with another term entirely.
This section looks at some of the other identities that can accompany genderfluid.
Genderfluid vs. nonbinary
“Nonbinary” is an umbrella term a person may use if their gender identity exists outside the gender binary.
The gender binary is a classification of gender that recognizes only two genders: man and woman. If a person is nonbinary, they do not identify solely, or at all, with either category.
The genderfluid identity falls under the nonbinary umbrella. Some nonbinary people may identify as genderfluid if they have a gender that is shifting rather than fixed.
Genderfluid vs. genderflux
A genderflux person’s gender may fluctuate in intensity, or their gender expression may change over time, according to Polestar LGBT+ Community Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
People who are genderflux may also identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, or nonbinary. On the other hand, they may not.
Genderfluid vs. transgender
A transgender person is anyone whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Some transgender people may identify as a man or a woman, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, or another identity.
Nonbinary genders, including genderfluid, fall under the transgender umbrella. If a transgender person has a gender identity that changes throughout their life, they may identify as genderfluid.
However, a genderfluid person may choose not to use the term “transgender” to describe themselves.
Genderfluid vs. genderqueer
“Genderqueer” is an umbrella term for a person who does not identify with traditional gender norms — including gender identities, expression, roles, or expectations — according to Gender Spectrum.
People sometimes use the terms “nonbinary” and “genderqueer” interchangeably. Some people might view genderqueer as falling under the nonbinary identity, while others might not.
People who are genderqueer may or may not identify as genderfluid.
Genderfluid people may use whichever pronouns they prefer. They may change over time or from day to day.
Pronouns people might use include:
An example of using they/them pronouns in a sentence could be: “They forgot their book — I will bring it to them.”
People may also use neopronouns, such as:
For example, using neopronouns in a sentence may look like this: “Ey is over there, let’s say hello to em.”
People may be genderfluid if their gender identity changes and shifts rather than remains fixed.
To help people find out which gender identity feels right to them, The Trevor Project suggests people ask themselves questions such as:
- What gender do I want people to see me as?
- How would I like to express my gender?
- What pronouns make me feel most comfortable?
If the answers to these questions tend to change daily or over weeks, months, or years, a person might be genderfluid.
Exploring gender identity
People may want to try using different names, wearing different clothes, and using different pronouns to see what they are most comfortable with.
It may take a person time to discover their gender identity. They may have to try out a few different labels before they find one that suits them.
If the term “genderfluid” feels good to people, it might be a term they want to use.
“Gender dysphoria” is a term that describes when a person feels uncomfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and how other people perceive and identify them.
These feelings may be temporary or long-term, and they may change when a person expresses their gender as they please.
Some genderfluid people may experience gender dysphoria. However, a person does not have to experience gender dysphoria to be genderfluid, nonbinary, transgender, or otherwise gender nonconforming.
Within any type of relationship, genderfluid people may want to explain to a person that their gender identity is not fixed and may change.
A person may feel nervous about confiding in a partner, friend, or family member about their gender identity, but being fully comfortable and trusting the person will help.
People should be thoughtful and respectful of another’s gender identity and allow them to express their gender however they please.
A genderfluid person may wish to ask a partner, friend, or family member to change the language and phrases they use to describe them.
For example, a person may want someone to refer to them as a “partner” or “spouse” instead of “girlfriend” or “husband.”
Instead of gendered terms such as “son” or “sister,” a person may want family members to refer to them in different ways, such as “kid” or “sibling.”
Offering praise and compliments may also differ. For example, a person may not want their partner to use gendered terms such as “handsome” or “pretty.”
Sex and sexuality
A genderfluid person may have any type of sexuality. They might be asexual, pansexual, heterosexual, and more.
A genderfluid person may also have different romantic attractions. They might be biromantic, aromantic, and more.
Every genderfluid person will have different preferences or limits for sexual activities. A person should always discuss what sexual activities are enjoyable and what is off-limits before or during sex.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of the term genderfluid was in 1993.
However, this does not mean it is a new concept.
Many cultures have had forms of genderfluidity throughout history, for as long as 3,000 years or more. Many cultures have a history of multiple or shifting genders.
To discover more evidence-based health information and resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals, visit our dedicated hub.
People may find online or in-person support groups to help them connect with others with similar experiences:
- Gender Spectrum offers a range of support groups for pre-teens, teens, adults, parents, and caregivers.
- Trevor Space is a support group from The Trevor Project for young LGBTQ+ people ages 13–24 years old.
- PFLAG offers a range of support and resources for LGBTQ+ people, families, and allies.
Where to learn more
People may find the following resources helpful in learning more about being genderfluid or other gender identities:
Allyship is a way of supporting and being inclusive of all gender identities.
To be an ally to genderfluid people and the wider LGBTQIA+ community, a person can:
- introduce themselves with their pronouns, display pronouns on social media or email signatures, and ask others which pronouns they prefer to use
- use inclusive language
- avoid assuming people’s gender
- always refer to people how they have specified
- respect people’s gender identities, even if they do not understand them
How to support someone who is genderfluid
To support someone who is genderfluid, a person can:
- educate themselves about different gender identities and understand that gender is a spectrum
- listen to an individual’s experience and accept their definition of their gender
- be patient and open to a person discovering or developing their gender identity
- support any decisions that a person may choose to affirm their gender
- use and connect others to resources and guides that explain gender identities and expressions
- suggest support groups or networks if people want to connect to others with similar gender identities
Genderfluid people have a gender identity that shifts and changes rather than remaining fixed.
People may move between masculine, feminine, or nonbinary identities.