'I Didn't Have the Language Then'-A Qualitative Examination of Terminology in the Development of Non-Binary Identities

Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Mar 28;11(7):960. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11070960.


Introduction: Identities that lie outside of exclusively male and female, such as non-binary and genderqueer, have become increasingly more prevalent and visible within recent years. However, to date, the role of terminology in the development of such gender identities has been under-researched. This study aims to: (1) Examine what role terminology plays in coming to identify as non-binary. (2) Explore the continuing importance of terminology once a non-binary identity is established.

Methods: This study uses thematic analysis on data produced from interviews with 16 participants who self-selected for the study and were recruited from several transgender and LGBTQ+ organisations on the basis that they identified outside the gender binary of male and female.

Results: The analysis uncovered several key themes and sub-themes relating to terminology choice, encountering new terms and the process of identifying with new terminology, as well as becoming visible and understood by others.

Conclusions: This study found that terminology is not only central in coming to identify as something other than exclusively male and female, it also remains an important factor when it comes to making a non-binary identity visible to others.

Keywords: gender diverse; non-binary; terminology; thematic analysis; transgender.

Grants and funding

This study was supported by ARC East Midlands as part of a doctoral studentship.