Gender nonconformity (also called gender nonconforming, GNC, or gender atypical) involves not conforming to a given culture's gender norm expectations. Gender nonconforming is a phrase for someone whose gender expression doesn't match their society's prescribed gender roles or gender norms for their gender identity. Gender nonconformity transgresses societal or psychological expectations for perceived gender assignment, through presentation, behavior, identity, or other means.
A person who is gender nonconforming may or may not consider themselves transgender, or even LGBT at all. Gender nonconformity is a broad term that can include transgender as well as cisgender people.
There exists a lot of examples to illustrate gender nonconformity, such as:
- A man or a nonbinary person with feminine mannerism, who may like stereotypical girl things (Barbie dolls and Littlest Petshops for example) - They are known as feminine boys, or simply feminine if nonbinary.
- A woman or a nonbinary person with masculine mannerism, who may like stereotypical boy things (Any sport widely played by boys for example) - They are known as tomboys, or simply masculine if nonbinary.
- A man, a woman or a nonbinary person enjoying something that would otherwise be seen as weird or unorthodox for most people (Dungeons and Dragons, Linux computers, being a part of the furry fandom, using tiny forums or an unknown social media instead of Twitter, etc) - They are known as nonconformists and they are sometimes referred to as "geeky" or "nerdy".
- Some people who identify as nonconformists may also believe in anti-conformity which is a subset where they will try their best to avoid all trends and avoid anything that is popular. A common buzzword that's thrown at them is "contrarian". Although not always used as a slur, the term is pejorative and should be avoided.
Gender nonconforming children
Although some people apply this label to themselves, one common use of the label is when adults use the label "gender non-conforming" for children, in order to avoid outlining a child as having a particular gender identity or sexual orientation while still young. The phrase "gender non-conforming" is used to include children who are called tomboys. For another example, the label is used for a child who was assigned a male gender at birth and prefers giving what is seen as a feminine gender expression. The child's family use this label so as not to outline whether this particular child might grow to self-identify as one of any of these:
- A transgender woman
- A feminine but still cisgender gay man
- A cisgender heterosexual man who just happens to be feminine
- Even just a phase of enjoying feminine expression in childhood, which the child outgrows
Since it's not possible for the adult family of the child to predict what that behavior might specifically mean for that child's identity, they use an open-ended label. That said, it's common for people to feel very clear about their gender identity and sexual orientation from very early childhood. A child knows their own identity better than the adults around them, but doesn't have all the words for it.
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The phrase "gender nonconformity" dates back at least to the late 1960s.
Although it is a gender expression, "Gender nonconforming" was among the 56 genders made available on Facebook in 2014. "Gender Nonconforming" was also added as a gender option for Tinder users in 2017.
- Kirkham, George; Sagarin, Edward (May 1969). "Transsexuals in a formal organizational setting". The Journal of Sex Research. 5 (2). page 104.
[...]the organization finds itself in the paradoxical position of pretending to be 'straight' in every respect except the gender nonconformity[...]
- Eve Shapiro, Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. Unpaged.
- Mallenbaum, Carly (15 November 2016). "What you need to know about Tinder's new gender identity terms". USA TODAY. Retrieved 29 April 2020.