The history of the term gender non-conforming

The History of the Term Gender Non-Conforming

The term gender non-conforming (or gender diverse) has become a topic of conversation for a range of individuals and communities in recent years, but what does the term actually mean and how did it come to be? Let’s explore the fascinating history of the expression ‘gender non-conforming’.

What Does the Term Mean?

The concept of gender non-conforming is rooted in the idea that traditional gender norms, roles and identities should not necessarily be the norm. It’s a way to describe those individuals (or non-binary people) who do not conform to stereotypical roles and expectations that are traditionally assigned to a certain gender by society. In other words, gender non-conforming refers to individuals who feel more comfortable outside of these pre-defined gender roles.

The History of the Expression

The term itself was first introduced by scholar Lei Ming in 1996, in an article titled ‘Gender Non-Conformance: Sites for Resistance, Negotiation and Transformation in a Chinese Context’. Since then, it has become increasingly used as a term of self-identification and a way to navigate the complexities of gender identity.

Gender Non-Conforming Movements

There have been a number of gender non-conforming movements throughout history, including the Queer movement, which has been around since the 1950s. This movement has sought to challenge traditional and restrictive gender-based expectations and beliefs, paving the way for non-binary gender identities to gain wider acceptance in society.

Other significant movements include the Radical Faeries, which began in the 1970s and aimed to create a space where people could freely express their gender non-conforming identity. This movement has had a profound influence on the LGBT+ community and continues to inspire individuals who do not identify as either male or female.

Social Acceptance of Gender Non-Conforming People

Whilst gender non-conformity has become increasingly accepted in recent years, it is still often not seen as a legitimate form of gender identity or expression. This has had a significant impact on individuals who identify as gender non-conforming, but there is hope that society will continue to progress and become more inclusive of different gender identities.


In conclusion, gender non-conforming is an important term that has increased the visibility of individuals who do not identify as male or female, and has had a significant impact on society in recent years. The expression itself has its roots in various gender non-conforming movements, which continue to influence and shape the way gender non-conforming individuals are seen and accepted in our world today.

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