Q&A: “I’ve noticed some nonbinary genders seem to get more recognition than others…”
Hey Vesper! I have a question. I’ve noticed that within the nonbinary and larger trans and queer and so forth communities, some nonbinary genders seem to get more recognition than others. Some- especially maverique as I’ve noticed- are hardly known of by many other nonbinary and/or trans people, while others such are gaining recognition in trans, nb, and other circles much more quickly in comparison. Why do you think some nb genders are becoming more well known than other nb genders?
this is a really tough question. not just because of how subjective it is (i mean, what even counts as ‘recognition’, let alone what counts as ‘more’ or ‘more quickly’), but also because there are an infinite number of factors involved in why any non-binary gender gets any amount of recognition at all.
imho, some non-binary genders are more commonly recognized at least in part because of the comparatively long history of people identifying or describing themselves as such. correct me if i’m wrong, but i think the most notable example of this is genderqueer, but even agender and genderfluid (or rather, the concept of gender fluidity) have arguably stood the test of time longer than most other non-binary identities in English.* honestly, i feel like it’s unfair to compare general recognition of a gender like maverique to genderqueer, for example, for that reason.
but perhaps that’s not even what you’re referring to.
if you’re comparing the recognition of equally (comparatively) newly coined words / identities, i still hesitate to compare their recognition at all because honestly, all recognition of non-binary genders in general is abysmal imho… also i’d hate for it to seem like i’m pitching one gender against another when all of us are struggling so much for recognition.
having said that….
there is the possibility– the completely unfounded possibility that i’m going to arbitrarily throw out there just because– that maybe there just happen to be more people of X non-binary gender(s) in the world than there are people of Y non-binary gender(s) and that factors into how quickly a word / identity spreads upon its coinage, which in turn factors into the spread of awareness spreads, which in turn also factors into recognition? perhaps in addition to agender having existed longer as an identity, perhaps the agender population really is just bigger than the maverique population would be even in an ideal world where both were equally recognized?
anyway, in all seriousness, i do suspect that linguistic stuff factors into whether a word “makes it” at all, let alone the recognition that it receives if it does. there have been so many words / identities coined to describe various non-binary genders over the years that have fallen out of usage entirely. even when it comes to words / identities which have remained in usage, i feel like linguistics continues to factor into how recognized it is if “recognized” is taken to mean someone can come across a word / identity for the first time randomly in a blog post and make a superficial guess at what it means. someone can come across the word “demigirl” or “androgyne” while reading, for example, and make a superficial guess at what they mean based on their linguistic knowledge of the English language. that’s more difficult for a person to do with maverique or quoigender, for example. and while that relative ‘ease of digestibility’ (for lack of a better way of putting it) may not directly translate into more recognition, it can come into play when, for example, a journalist chooses which of the genders they found on a wiki page they choose to throw into their “Did You Know?!” non-binary 101 non-think piece. people then read such articles and awareness (the seeds of recognition?) spreads.
another thing that i suspect is a big factor in things (that some may disagree with) is the role that binarism and the gender binary in general plays in everyone’s understanding of gender in general and how that translates into how easily digestible (again, for lack of a better word) or relatable any given person may find a particular gender to be. to use androgyne as an example, again, a binary person may (or may not) find the concept of androgyne as a gender understandable at least in theory by relating it back to the concept of androgyny that exists within society in general. even though androgyny and androgyne are different things, the binary person in question at least has a place to start from which to understand androgyne. which isn’t to say that that’s even a good thing that would actually help anyone actually understand androgyne, of course. however, the same cannot be said for a gender like aporagender or maverique which has nothing to do with the gender binary at all. where would a person, binary themself or not, even start in forming an understanding of such genders? even as a maverique myself, it was incredibly hard for me to put maverique into words when all the gender everything that i had to work with was tied in some way to a binary that i did not personally relate to. i can only imagine how hard it is for binary people especially to conceptualize (let alone understand) maverique, which presumably would also affect recognition of it.
having said all that, i want to stop now and make it absolutely clear that i am not saying that genderqueer people, androgynes or anyone else have an easier time of getting people to recognize, understand and accept their gender than maveriques do. i am making no such comparison, nor would i attempt to. as i noted above, all of us non-binary people are struggling so much for awareness let alone recognition and even what awareness or recognition some of us may get in whatever amount we get it in does not automatically translate into acceptance. a person may see the word “androgyne” in an article and be able to superficially guess what it means and understand (on some level) a definition of androgyne if they were to look it up, but that doesn’t mean that they’re anymore likely to actually accept androgyne as a gender than they are aporagender, for example.
honestly, “recognition” itself is a tricky word that i’ve hesitated using at all. it can imply that something is outright acknowledged as being valid or true rather than there being awareness of something and nothing more.
anyway, anon, sorry for this incredibly longwinded response. despite its length, i’m not sure i’ve even answered your question. really sorry about that! i could have (and arguably should have) answered your ask by simply saying it’s complicated.
* note that i’m making a distinction between non-binary genders and the words / identities that non-binary people have used to express their gender(s). a word and / or identity may have been recently coined or it may have been coined 20 years ago. either way, the gender that is being referred to by that word / identity is not a recent nor 20 year old thing. genders can and do exist even before the words used to describe them do. a person’s sense of gender can exist even before they have the means to actively assert the identity of X, Y and/or Z.