Further genders

Barker, Meg John and Richards, Christina (2015). Further genders. In: Richards, Christina and Barker, Meg John eds. Handbook of the Psychology of Sexuality and Gender. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 166–182.

URL: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/the-palgrave-h...


In this chapter, we cover those gender forms which fall outside the common binary of women and men. However, as we will see, bisecting the world into women and men – or, indeed, women, men, and others – is not necessarily a useful way of conceptualising things. Consequently, we have entitled this chapter ‘Further Genders’ in order to be comprehensible to readers who are unfamiliar with gender forms other than woman or man (whether trans or cisgender).
Another commonly used umbrella term, which we use throughout the chapter, is non-binary. Broadly speaking, this includes people who:
• have no gender (e.g. gender neutral, non-gendered, genderless, agender, neuter, neutrois);
• incorporate aspects of both man and woman (e.g. mixed gender, sometimes pangender, androgynous);
• are to some extent, but not completely, one gender (e.g. demi man/boy, demi woman/girl);
• are of a specific additional gender (either between man and woman or otherwise additional to those genders, e.g. third gender, other gender, sometimes pangender);
• move between genders (e.g. bigender, gender fluid, sometimes pangender);
• move between multiple genders (e.g. trigender, sometimes pangender);
• disrupt the gender binary of women and men (e.g. genderqueer, genderfuck).
As we will see, many people’s realities, whether they use this terminology or not, are something outside the strict categories of man (e.g. always wears blue, is aggressive, smokes a pipe) and woman (e.g. always wears pink, is passive, does knitting). Therefore, this chapter considers both those who explicitly identify outside the gender binary and those whose experience may be regarded as to some extent non-binary.
Another point to consider here is that the terms above may well be unfamiliar to many readers precisely because this remains such an under-researched area (and, indeed, an under-represented area in wider Western culture). As we will see, the vast majority of psychological research and theory has assumed that gender is binary – often to the point of searching for differences between (two) genders. Relatively little work has challenged the categories of women and men, although there has been a fair amount of theory in some areas of other disciplines (such as Sociology, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Trans Studies) questioning the gender binary: most notably queer theory. We touch upon this during the chapter while focusing upon the burgeoning body of knowledge within psychology. Of course, when we refer to ‘psychology’ here we are speaking of a minority Western model of psychology which has historically not engaged fully with global identities and experiences. Consequently, while this chapter endeavours to be broader in scope, it necessarily reflects this bias in its reporting of the literature.

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