Beyond Binary: Terms and Concepts

Companion piece to Beyond Binary: Introducing Gender Fluidity in Fantasy Worlds


Kat Sanders

3/7/20242 min read

yellow green and red lego blocks
yellow green and red lego blocks

Here is a comprehensive list of terms and concepts related to gender fluidity, applicable to both the real world and fantasy storytelling.

Real-World Terms:

  • Gender Fluidity: The condition of one's gender identity being not fixed, changing over time or depending on the situation.

  • Non-Binary: A term for people who do not identify exclusively as male or female.

  • Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

  • Cisgender: Describing a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.

  • Genderqueer: A term used by some individuals who do not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions.

  • Agender: Refers to people who do not identify with any gender.

  • Bigender: The condition of identifying as two genders, either simultaneously or varying between them.

  • Pronouns: Words used to refer to people (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/zir) that reflect their gender identity.

  • Gender Expression: The external display of one's gender, through clothing, behavior, body characteristics, and voice.

  • Gender Dysphoria: The distress or discomfort that might occur when there is a discrepancy between a person's gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.

  • Two-Spirit: A term used by some Indigenous North American cultures to describe a person who embodies qualities of both males and females, often holding special roles within their communities.

Fantasy Storytelling Terms:

  • Aetherian: A fictional term used to describe beings that exist beyond traditional gender binaries, often associated with ethereal or otherworldly attributes.

  • Shifting Sands: In fantasy, this can refer to the fluid nature of identity or magic, often used metaphorically to represent gender fluidity.

  • Genderweave: A fictional magical trait or spell that allows individuals to alter their physical form to match their gender identity.

  • Eldritch Echo: In fantasy settings, a characteristic that allows an individual to project different gender identities through magical means.

  • Soulbond: A term used in some fantasy stories to describe a deep, often spiritual connection between two beings that transcends physical forms and traditional gender norms.

  • Genderglyphs: Imaginary symbols or runes used to express or invoke gender identity or gendered magic in fantasy cultures.

  • Enby (from N.B.): Derived from the abbreviation NB (non-binary), used to describe characters who do not fit conventional gender categories.

  • Thaumgender: A fictional gender identity influenced by magical forces or one’s magical affinity.

  • Mirrorborn: A term used in fantasy to describe individuals who reflect the gender identity of those they are bonded with or who have a fluid identity that changes in different situations or environments.

  • Chronogender: A concept in fantasy where a character’s gender may change over time or in different eras, possibly influenced by magical cycles or temporal shifts.

These terms and concepts can be adapted and expanded upon in fantasy storytelling to create rich, inclusive worlds that reflect a wide spectrum of gender experiences.