Gender Non-Conforming

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Famous literary tomboy Caddie Woodlawn and her brothers Tom and Warren learn to quilt. Illustration by LGBT author and illustrator Trina Schart Hyman.

Gender non-conforming is a term used to describe people who do not follow other people's ideas or stereotypes about how they should look or behave based on the female or male sex they were assigned at birth. What qualifies as "gender non-conforming" varies according to the culture the person was born into. For example, in many societies, it is considered gender non-conforming for a man to wear a dress or skirt, while in other societies it is traditional for men to wear clothing that resembles a dress or skirt, such as the Scottish kilt or the Middle Eastern thawb.

People who are considered to be gender non-conforming can be cisgender, transgender, or genderqueer. For example, many girls who are called "tomboys", a term for girls who are perceived to be gender non-conforming because they like traditionally "boy" activities such as sports, identify as cisgender, while others eventually come out as transgender or genderqueer.

People who are considered to be gender non-conforming often face high rates of bullying and harassment in school, in the workplace, and in society at large, whether or not they are actually LGBT. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network offers numerous resources for students, parents, and teachers to help fight bullying of gender non-conforming students in schools.


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