This is a mostly a translation of a post published by me in February 28, 2023. Some changes were made so the links and quotes cite sources written in English instead of in Portuguese, to help those who want to read more about the mentioned subjects, and also so the text makes more sense with regards to certain things such as pronouns.
This article is meant to give in-depth answers to questions folks have about xenogender folks and identities. This post is not supposed to be succinct or give easy to digest information, exactly because that kind of content already exists and doesn’t seem to help answering everyone’s questions. If someone is looking for shorter explanations, I would refer them to either this Carrd or to one of the links under What does xenogender mean? below.
What does xenogender mean?
Translation note: I use “gender identity” to describe, roughly, “any label which could be used as an answer to a form asking for ‘a gender’; or any label describing someone’s experiences relating or not relating to the concepts of any genders themselves. I don’t just use the word “gender” because that’s exclusionary of non-monogender labels, such as genderless, graygender, pomogender or polygender. That said, my use of “gender identity” is not meant to imply anyone’s genders aren’t real or material or whatever. Cis folks have gender identities too, the only thing is that those can also be descibed as single genders.
Xenogender is an umbrella term for gender identities which can’t be described solely by using comparisons to binary genders or to other identities that can be solely defined in comparison to binary genders themselves, and instead are at least partially defined using other kinds of aesthetics, senses, feelings, concepts, objects, lifeforms and/or so on.
Here are some examples of gender identities that could accurately described as xenogenders (definitions copied from the links given):
- Caelgender: a gender aesthetically associated with space (the cosmos).
- Leafin: A xenogender defined by having a connection to leaves. Some possible connections could include genders that: cannot be fully understood outside of the context of leaves; relate to leaves at any point of their seasonal cycle; are linked to leaves through neurodivergence; move the way leaves do, such as when interacting with wind; change with the seasons in a similar way that leaves do; etc.
- Lykh: a xenogender characterized by supernatural vigor and a sense of disembodiment. someone who identifies as a lykh might feel like their gender exists in spite of or apart from their earthly existence. synesthetically, this gender feels undead, incorporeal and/or extradimensional, like a conspicuous absence.
And, even though being xengender - as in, being someone who experiences any kind of gender identity in a xenogender or xenogender-related way - is a thing, here are some examples of gender identities I wouldn’t consider part of the xenogender umbrella by default:
- Autonomique, maverique and other similarly defined genders: While the descriptions of these terms contain words such as independence, autonomy and so on, these concepts seem to be trying to describe, above anything else, an isolation from the gender binary and/or related gender identities, instead of being genders defined by such sensations/concepts. Therefore, I see these genders as explainable solely by comparisons against binary genders. A similar argument can be made regarding gender identities defined by neutrality or ambiguity.
- Gender identities affected by life experiences (i. e.: nullagender, integender, neurogender): Even though folks may use these terms to describe their xenogender experiences, there are also folks who use such terms to describe experiences such as having no gender for being intersex or having a weak version of a binary gender because of neurodivergence. Just as I don’t consider being genderfluid a inherently xenogender experience solely because “the identity is defined by fluidity”, I consider that, unless someone considers their life experience to be also a part of their gender identity (something that should be decided by each one of these folks on their own), there is no reason to say these labels definitely describe xenogender experiences.
I hope this helps understand how not all labels that can be described as uncommon, new and/or out of the gender binary are necessarily xenogenders, but also how xenogender identities are extremely diverse regardless.
How do xenogender identities work, since gender refers to the body parts someone feels comfortable having or feels like they should have?
So, this line of thinking is an issue. Unfortunately, many live within societies which only consider genders to be based on bodies, voices and/or so on, and that will only admit woman and man as possible gender options. They may, perhaps, express confusion if someone can toe the extremely thin line separating both of those genders within an exorsexist society, but that’s it.
It is possible for someone to feel out of place if they are treated as a man. This someone may then seek hormone replacement therapy and surgeries that will make them not be seen as a man anymore. But that’s solely an external thing, something that doesn’t necessarily define this person’s gender identity. The gender society expects for each person based on their appearance isn’t necessarily descriptive of how anyone feels internally.
Because gender identities, in general, are ways to define oneself regarding senses of belonging or alienation in relation to the existing gender identities and other gendered characteristics. What someone likes or dislikes on their body may be a factor that helps define someone’s gender identity, but it also may not, and this also applies to anything else that may help define someone’s gender identity.
Binary genders cover many archetypes - as in mother, father, gentleman, playboy, girlboss, sorceress and so on - and senses of belonging or alienation around such archetypes are many times what defines someone’s gender identity. A sense of belonging within groups exclusive to men or to women, the language usually used to refer to one of these genders (such as pronouns and titles) and the level of comfort with socially expected gender roles are also factors that may be used to define someone’s own gender identity.
The idea of gender identities being defined solely around the body someone has or wants to have is a simplification which exists mainly so cis folks can understand what being trans is in a way that fits the cissexist worldview they were taught (that gender is based on genitalia and/or secondary sexual characteristics). There are binary trans folks who don’t want to do anything/everything they can to be physically closer to what a cissexist society would expect from a body associated with their gender because they don’t feel like that’s necessary, there are nonbinary folks comfortable with “binary-looking” bodies and there are even cis folks who seek bodies that aren’t traditionally associated with their gender identities.
Some women, men, and nonbinary folks may perceive their desired sexes, pronouns and titles as enough for them to claim their respective gender identities (and, again, there is nothing wrong with that). However, within nonbinary identities, archetypes tend to be particularly relevant when it comes to defining one’s identity. Some folks are both men and women; some have a specific gender and crave a well-defined place for it outside of the gender binary; some want to express neutrality regarding all genders; some don’t want to do anything to do with the concept of gender; and so on.
Xenogender folks have gender identities related to archetypes which are (at least partially) separate from the gender binary, and we tend to feel a sense of belonging within such archetypes instead of those connected to binary genders. This may seem too complicated or abstract to anyone seeing gender as connected to physical characteristics, but I guarantee even many binary folks feel connected to concepts related to their genders that go beyond their bodies or using she/her or he/him pronouns.
I want to make it clear that even if folks may be (and they have every right to be) both xenogender and xenogenital, alterhuman and/or so on, xenogenders are, in general, terms using metaphors to describe how certain gender identities work or feel like, and they don’t need to be connected with what someone wants for their body or what species they identify as. Someone who is leafin doesn’t necessarily feel dysphoric for not having the body of a leaf, for instance.
There is a cissexist social pressure to connect gender identities with certain kinds of bodies or specific pronouns, on top of a skewed idea (often perpetuated by trolls) of being xenogender being basically the same as being otherkin with one’s xenogender(s) being their kintype. The obligatory connection between being xenogender and wanting related pronouns or wanting to physically transition to a related body reinforces cissexism, exorsexism and gender conformity. While xenogender folks may try to present or transition according to their gender, this isn’t a necessary part of being xenogender, just like it isn’t a necessary part of any gender identity.
In my experience, a lot of xenogender folks tend to align with what other trans folks want in regards to physical transition (like wanting bigger, smaller or no boobs, or wanting to take hormone blockers and/or hormones their bodies would only naturally produce in small quantities). Xenogender folks who want to express their xeninity with their own bodies (and who want, as an example, non-human characteristics) seem to be rarer, and a lot of times this desire seems to be more about their nonhumanity (or also about their nonhumanity) than about their gender identity on its own.
Xeninity is the gendered characteristic associated with one or more xenogenders, just like femininity is the gendered characteristic associated with a woman’s gender. More on that later.
I’m not saying this to claim “most xenogender folks are just like normal trans people” or anything like that. Anyone with any kind of gender identity may want any kind of physical transition, and both xenogender folks satisfied with the bodies they got after their latest puberty and xenogender folks who would rather have scales or not have a body at all are valid. But there is discourse around nonbinary - and especially xenogender and/or pocket gender - experiences acting as if having these “unusual” gender identities automatically separated us from the “usual transition experiences trans people have”, even if these are still common for many of us.
The transxenine identity exists for those who want to claim having a form of identity, dysphoria, euphoria, expression, alignment and/or physical transition related to xeninity. Transxenine folks don’t need to be xenogender to be transxenine, and not all xenogender folks would consider themselves transxenine.
Is being xenogender a choice?
It is as much of a choice as being a woman, a man, agender, neutrois, maverique and so on. There are folks who see their gender identities as immutable and otherwise undescribable if they didn’t have these specific terms to use, folks who say they have such gender identities on their day-to-day lives even if these aren’t necessarily the most accurate wording for their actual gender identities and folks who like the concepts and want to be a part of them in such a deep, unshakeable way it’s hard to know if those identities were chosen or if they were always those folks’ real identities.
Using man as an example of a gender:
- Someone may say they are a man because they have always seen themself as such and can’t see their life going in any other direction (regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth).
- Someone else may say they are a man because it’s easier to simplify their man-adjacent nonbinary identity in this way.
- Someone else may not care about defining their gender identity and define themself as a man just so they can maintain certain privileges associated with being seen as a cis man rather than lose them by being honest about how they feel about their gender identity.
- Someone else may find the concept of being a man interesting and try to actively mold themself around it, and from an external point of view it may be impossible to tell if that person is “really a man on the inside” or not. Someone raised since birth as a man who feels like this may feel like it’s just what is natural and expected of everyone, while someone raised since birth as a woman who feels like this will probably never open up about it since, in the present day, saying their gender was an active choice instead of an innate truth may lead others to think it’s an admission of their manhood never being real enough.
Obviously, there are differences between choosing to claim being a man and choosing to claim being xenogender. One of them is that there are more rigid expectations for men regarding gender expressions, bodies and behaviors. The other is that choosing to have a xenogender identity will not give anyone any kind of social advantage or way to “pass”, being an umbrella of concepts often controversial even within nonbinary spaces.
Someone who believes it’s possible to be a man may still not believe that someone who dresses a certain way and/or has certain body parts can be a real man. Someone who believes it’s possible to be xenogender will likely not doubt someone’s word when they say they are xenogender, and if they doubt it will likely not be because of such concerns.
However, it is also more common for someone who is xenogender to feel isolated in their identity, and to not be taken seriously within most social spaces. It is also possible that they may have to deal with harassment and hate speech even from other non-cis folks and from those who claim to be allies to trans folks.
Anyway, to answer the question about if being xenogender is or isn’t a choice:
- There are folks who can only accurately describe themselves by saying they have one or more xenogenders. Therefore, their choice is between choosing to say they are xenogender, lie about it or use more vague terminology to avoid direct descriptions of their gender identities.
- There are folks who prefer to describe their gender identities using metaphors in ways which fit terms that can be considered under the xenogender umbrella. For instance, an agender person may want to describe their genderlessness like a void and therefore choose to use the term gendervoid to describe themself. This person can consider themself under the xenogender umbrella if they want to, even though they can also accurately describe themself in a non-xenogender way.
- There are folks who like to describe their gender identities in ways that could be included under the xenogender umbrella. In my experience, folks who do this were usually already under the nonbinary umbrella before adopting such identities. It is also common for folks to think of it as a joke and not think of their descriptions as xenogender experiences. Descriptions like “my gender is the shrug emoji” and “I describe my gender as magenta because it’s similar yet different to pink (girl/woman)” fall into this.
It’s possible to say most who fit into the latter two categories are choosing to be xenogender, since they can also describe their gender identities in other ways. Even then, that doesn’t mean that their xenogender identities are not valid, that these folks are lying about about their gender identities or that all xenogender folks could just choose not to be xenogender.
But then why not choose to just say you’re nonbinary?
Nonbinary is an useful label to describe communities/goals/etc. of those who are neither 100% men nor 100% women. However, when it comes to describe gender identities on their own, it’s a not a very descriptive label.
Someone might not have a gender and say they are nonbinary. Someone else might have a wide variety of genders and say they are nonbinary. Someone else might only be able to experience life as either a man or a woman, but because they change between those genders from time to time, they may also say they are nonbinary. Someone else may be almost a woman, but not completely feel like they are one, and say they are nonbinary because of that.
More specific terms are used to better identify nonbinary experiences, which is especially useful in groups with many different kinds of nonbinary folks. For instance:
- Someone who is genderfluid may want to be referred with different names and pronouns according to which gender(s) they are experiencing at the moment, if any. And while this kind of individual may have to deal with explaining how they will communicate these changes and how this isn’t about changing their mind about their identity, someone who is always neutrois might never have had to deal with that or have only been preoccupied with asserting their identity won’t change in the future.
- Someone who is agender may be repulsed by circumstances where they need to choose or specify “their gender” even if there is some acceptance of nonbinary identity within such situations. Meanwhile, a nonbinary man who usually just says they’re a man and who considers being nonbinary a rarely relevant detail may not see such circumstances as stressful or even problematic.
What xenogender folks tend to have in common is the experience of others seeing our gender identities as “weird” or “impossible” for not being solely connected to the gender binary and/or not being solely defined by a rejection of it.
However, xenogender is also more of a wide umbrella term for a group of identities which describe certain kinds of gender experiences than a specific gender identity on its own. Someone who can only describe their gender as the color red may experience their gender in a completely different way than someone who can compare their gender with a huge planet orbiting through space. Meanwhile, someone whose gender is defined as an elf-related archetype may not even be able to grasp such experiences.
This is why there are so many xenogenders: often, such labels are the only way to affirm the existence of our specific gender identities instead of hiding these behind more recognizable or respected labels. It can be easier to talk about our own experiences if we have more vocabulary available than to talk about those experiences in a vacuum.
Language that has to do with gender experiences outside of the woman-man binary is just beginning to be developed in many languages. Not only regarding identity labels, but also regarding how to explain how gender identities are experienced. Maybe explanations about how someone’s gender can have a certain color or size will be easier, seem less abstract and be less dependent on lesser-known terminology in the future, but I believe most of us don’t live in such a future yet.
Still, wouldn’t it be easier to describe these gender identities in other ways?
As I said above regarding whether being xenogender is a choice or not, this depends on the situation. However, regardless of if such a choice erases an integral part of someone’s identity or not, this kind of attitude is still cissexist repression.
Besides, not all xenogender folks want to assimilate into anti-xenogender spaces. Many of us prefer to be honest with regards to how we experience our gender identities.
Some open themselves up about being xenogender because they consider the community around them safe or indifferent enough for that. Others want to normalize being xenogender within spaces where this kind of identity isn’t common or widely known.
The fight against cissexism shouldn’t be limited to specific kinds of trans folks. Complete liberation from gender and sex norms will never be achieved while the supposed fight against them prefers to appeal to binary sensibilities over the radical inclusion of all non-cis experiences.
And what if someone has a problematic xenogender?
Sometimes - more rarely than folks who preach against xenogenders in bad faith fearmonger about - there really is the possibility of someone having an inappropriate xenogender.
Xenogenders may have to do with any existing concept, after all. So, for instance, it isn’t impossible for someone to have a gender identity related to:
- Works of fiction (or otherwise) written from a bigoted/oppressive point of view;
- Characters who commit indefensible atrocities;
- Oppressive systems and/or their respective figureheads;
- Offensive stereotypes;
- Inadequate or harmful behaviors, interactions or actions;
- Elements of cultures someone doesn’t belong to filtered through an outsider’s lens.
This doesn’t mean folks who have these kinds of gender identities necessarily support these things. And anyone saying their gender identity justifies violent, inappropriate or discriminatory actions is either lying (and possibly trolling) or doesn’t understand why such behavior is unacceptable.
However, if someone’s goal by talking about having such gender identities isn’t to make xenogender folks seem awful, bigoted or disconnected from reality, here’s the thing: the gender identity in question is a real experience and may not change in the future. Depending on the case, here are some options that I can suggest for someone in this situation:
- At least in more public spaces, broader terms can be used (such as xenogender, genderqueer or nonbinary);
- Using terms that are specific but which avoid problematic details may also be possible, depending on the case (for instance, lexegender instead of [word]lexic);
- If the specific gender identity is explained for those who don’t know about it, an effort can be made to highlight how having this kind of gender identity doesn’t mean endorsing certain views, preferably using content warnings if applicable, or doing something else along those lines.
What do xenogenders have to do with neurodivergence?
Lots of neurodivergent folks feel alienated from the expected behaviors for binary genders and/or can’t understand binary genders enough to see themselves as having such genders. Neurodivergent folks who feel like this commonly see themselves as nonbinary and, if their gender identities can be described as sensations, feelings, concepts, species or even as their neurotypes themselves, they may also end up under the xenogender umbrella.
Xenogenders are not exclusive to neurodivergent folks. The idea that “only neurodivergent folks would find use in such terminology” is rooted in ableism. Synesthesia is something that affects certain folks in ways that make them xenogender because of it (such as feeling a gender exactly like a color/taste/sound/etc.), but not all neurodivergent xenogender people are able to experience synesthesia in this way.
Some neurogenders - gender identities based on being neurodivergent and which are exclusive to neurodivergent folks because of it - are also xenogenders. But not every neurogender is a xenogender (for reasons already specified earlier) and not all xenogenders are neurogenders.
It is possible that one of the reasons why so many xenogender folks are neurodivergent is because it’s easier to accept oneself as having an “unacceptable” gender identity when one’s existence is already not seen as the “correct” kind of existence. For instance, if someone’s frequently not taken seriously in general and doesn’t have many friends, it might be easier for them to accept their own xenogender identity or for them to feel seen by the concept in general in comparison to someone who would lose more of their social life if they came out as xenogender.
What pronouns do xenogender folks use? What pronouns should I use by default for someone who is [insert xenogender here]? Are xenogender pronouns a thing?
(An explanation about what pronouns are and what are their importance can be found here.)
Just like for anybody, especially when it comes to nonbinary folks, personal pronouns don’t need to be associated with gender. Not only that, but the use of “male pronouns”, “feminine pronouns” and so on to describe specific pronoun sets can be exclusionary of those who don’t conform to gender norms and hinder folks who use certain pronoun sets for reasons that don’t have to do with gendered connotations.
- There are xenogender folks who use she/her pronouns.
- There are xenogender folks who use he/him pronouns.
- There are xenogender folks who use both he/him and she/her pronouns.
- There are xenogender folks who use she/her and/or he/him pronouns along with one or more other pronoun sets.
- There are xenogender folks who use one or more pronoun sets which aren’t linked to any specific gender, such as they/them, ey/em, ne/nem, thon/thons, co/cos and so on.
- There are xenogender folks who use any pronouns.
- There are xenogender folks who don’t use any pronouns.
- There are xenogender folks who use pronouns related to the subject of their xenogender identity. For instance, someone who is gendervoid may use voi/void pronouns because of it.
- There are xenogender folks who use other pronoun sets only because they like them, because they like to be associated with them or even because they’re the pronoun sets they hate the least, even if they don’t have to do with gender neutrality or with their own gender identities.
- There are xenogender folks who change their pronoun sets from time to time.
There’s a concept called xenopronouns. Places talking about the term usually say these are theoretical pronouns which can’t be put into words, but sometimes there are folks who use the term to refer either to neopronouns in general or to nounself pronouns (which are those pronoun sets based on nouns, such as star/stars or fae/faer). Sometimes xenopronouns are even said to be pronouns related to xenogenders because they are based on not just related nouns but also related adjectives and such.
The definition stating xenopronouns are theoretical pronouns doesn’t really have to do with xenogenders on its own, even though folks who want to use xenopronouns may be xenogender and they may also want those because they are xenogender. The other definitions are a bit more associated with being xenogender, especially considering how certain xenogenders are coined with suggested pronouns or are based on certain pronouns, but these kinds of “xenopronouns” are still not exclusive to xenogender folks and may not even have to do with xeninity themselves.
Maybe someone who is using kit/kits because it’s a pronoun set related to kittens instead of being related to being a man or a woman can be described as someone who is using xenine pronouns (regardless if this person has a gender related to kittens/cats/felines or not). But it would also be possible for someone to use these pronouns just because they like their sounds, not caring about the connection with kittens or with any sort of cat-related gender at all.
The same thing happens with other pronoun sets. For instance, someone may use she/her because they want to associate themself to femininity, but that doesn’t mean these pronouns are universally feminine or that she/her needs to be the only pronoun set associated with femininity. Someone’s personal reason for using them may have to do with gender identity and/or expression, but labeling a pronoun set or a specific pronoun as something gendered in a specific way ignores other ways different folks may want to use the same pronouns.
Maybe this isn’t so obvious within these examples, but some are murkier. What about fae/faer? How many use this pronoun because their gender has to do with fairies and how many assign other meanings to it?
Or what about it/its? There are folks who reclaim this set because they are treated as subhuman, there are others who use them because they don’t consider themselves human, there are folks who use them because they consider their gender identity is outside of human understanding/normality and there are folks who just want a common gender neutral pronoun that isn’t they/them. Is it/its a xenine pronoun set? Or are fae/faer and it/its pronouns only xenine depending on context?
I’m not against gender-based pronoun suggestions or against neopronoun diversity at all. But associating certain gender identities or concepts with specific pronouns or pronoun sets is limiting and not representative of everyone’s experiences.
Are all those xenogender labels actually in use?
While there are those who seem to coin xenogenders mostly because it’s an easy activity (just decide on a concept and a name, depending on who the person is they may also generate an image with stripes in different colors or use the fill tool to change an existing flag so the new identity has a flag), a lot of xenogenders are, yes, “in use”. This is because many xenogender folks have multiple genders, and it isn’t hard to find folks in xenogender-friendly spaces who have lists of their own labels with dozens to hundreds of xenogenders.
So, to answer the question: no, I don’t think all xenogender labels are used. But I believe most of them are, because there are many more folks using these terms than it may look like for someone with little to no interaction with openly xenogender folks.
I imagine at least some interested in the answer to this question wish they could “cut away” certain gender identities from lists and such so they “don’t have to worry about having all those genders around to confuse/alienate questioning folks”. A warning, then: that would be futile. Even if a community list tries to cover only common and/or umbrella-like terms, there will always be someone saying they have lesser known/more specific xenogenders and that they don’t identify with any of the listed terms.
That said, no one needs to remember the definitions or names of all existing gender identity labels by themself. Just don’t describe folks using terms they don’t apply to themselves and you should be okay.
As someone who maintains gender identity lists (and who usually needs to translate all the definitions), I’m not a fan of folks coining gender identities only as a hobby or to provide new blog content. However, I’m aware there are infinite possibilities out there in relation to gender identities, and that as such I’ll always have to add more labels to any list I make if I want a better representation of the diversity within nonbinary and nonbinary-adjacent communities.
What does xenic mean? Why are some genders described as xenic? Is there a difference between xenic and xenine?
Xenic was coined to define someone who is xenogender-aligned, just like lunarian was coined to define someone who is woman-aligned. Gender alignment on it’s own is a very complex and often misunderstood concept, but I’ll try to give a brief overview of the subject.
Some nonbinary folks started calling themselves (or, in some unfortunate instances, started being called) man-aligned or woman-aligned to mean a wide number of things. This may include, for instance:
- Having a gender identity which is close/related to one of these genders;
- Having similar experiences to trans men/women because of the physical changes they want to pursue, because of how they are treated when folks discover they are trans or so on;
- Being treated as that specific binary gender in day-to-day life, with all of the expectations and/or discrimination that entails;
- Having affinity with terminology and/or communities associated with that specific binary gender (ex.: women-only groups, MLM spaces).
After a while, specific terms were coined for man-aligned (solarian), woman-aligned (lunarian) and “uh, neither actually” (stellarian). These terms were still frequently misused, and in fact I’ve seen folks claiming lunarian/solarian mean an alignment to femininity/masculinity because of how the origin of these terms was explained (even though they say woman/man/female/male aligned right there).
Anyway, a lot of other terms were then derived from them, and then other specific terms for gender alignments were developed, including xenic, which is meant to describe someone who is xeno(gender)-aligned.
In my experience, folks who use the xenic label are xenogender folks who incorporate xenogender-like traits in their gender expressions, desired gender transitions, pronouns and so on. They may also be xenogender folks annoyed at the idea of having to choose between being grouped with women or men, and who prefer to only be grouped with those who have similar gender identities or who face similar issues because of them. Being xenic isn’t actually defined by any of that, but those are situations that may lead someone to say they are xenic.
After stellarian and related terms were coined, there was also a surge in gender identities and orientations which used those alignments as part of their definitions being coined, even though those gender alignments were meant to be broad and help with situations where the language of gender identity isn’t enough. Regardless, xenic started being included in these kinds of labels, but eventually the word just sort of started to be used as a synonym for those who didn’t want to spell out xenogender and/or didn’t know about the word xenine.
Or maybe they just decided to use xenic as a catch-all instead of a more specific word that shouldn’t even make sense for communities unfamiliar with gender alignment language.
What I mean is, there are groups of terms out there that defined in ways such as “for feminine folks”, “for masculine folks”, “for neutral folks” and “for xenic folks”, even if the other labels within the group weren’t using language related to gender alignment. I imagine the word coiners mean in this case is xenine, which is the characteristic originating in and associated to being xenogender in the same way masculinity is associated with manhood, but xenic is the term that often ends up being used.
I’ve also seen orientations or similar terms where terms are defined by “attraction to women”/“attraction to men”/“attraction to xenic folks” when, again, the other terms are not alignments and don’t include them either. This time, the word that should have been used is xenogender.
Even attraction to gender alignment on its own is controversial, since gender alignment can be used in a number of ways and it shouldn’t always have to include having to accept being considered of a similar gender identity to that alignment for the purposes of attraction. Even though discussions regarding attraction to nonbinary folks are relatively new, I still think it makes more sense for someone to claim being able to feel attraction to xenogender folks (or to folks outside of the gender binary in general) than for someone to claim being able to feel attraction to xenic folks.
I imagine this was enough to understand the differences between the words xenine and xenic as well. Xenine describes something/someone with characteristics akin to being xenogender, while xenic describes being xenogender-aligned as a gender alignment. Words evolve, sure, but I don’t think they should change meanings so fast when they aren’t that widely used and the original definitions are not that hard to find.
Technically, no one needs to be xenogender to be xenic nor to be xenine, but because of the stigma which comes with any association with xenogenders, it’s more common for those who describe themselves with those words to also be xenogender. It is also possible for someone to be xenogender without being either xenine or xenic.
- Someone is gendoux and, even though e likes using pastel colors, e uses e/em pronouns, describes eir gender expression as androgynous and doesn’t make an effort to express eir xenogender identity. E doesn’t describe emself as xenine and doesn’t claim to have any sort of gender alignment.
- Someone is buckgender and because of this they also say they are a nonbinary man. Even if he uses both they/them and he/him, they don’t incorporate the xenine part of their gender in the way he acts, dresses or introduces himself. They consider themself man-aligned and say it makes more sense for them to describe themself as masculine rather than xenine.
These are the things I can think of that I’ve seen folks asking about with regards to being xenogender (at least when it doesn’t have to do with specific xenogenders). I may add more stuff in the future in case I see relevant questions floating around.
Extra question number 1 (originally added May 11, 2023): Is it possible to be both xenogender and cis or binary?
It is possible to:
- Have a xenogender which is connected to a binary gender (such as glitravir or vaporwavigirl);
- Have a xenogender related to an archetype usually associated to/included in expectations directed at those with binary genders (such as dulcigender and amaragender;
- Have more than one gender - or a multifaceted gender identity - where the gender identity includes one or both binary genders as well as one or more xenogenders (and perhaps other genders/gender-related aspects as well).
Even if the differences between someone’s assigned gender at birth and their actual gender identity are few, their xenogender will likely not be accepted wherever they live. This person may be accused of wanting to fit into “unnecessary labels”, not have their identity taken seriously, be harassed for “believing in those made-up genders” and so on.
Maybe someone whose gender identity is close to their assigned gender at birth isn’t comfortable saying they are trans. However, having to hide how they feel about their own gender identity to not be a target of isolation, ridicule and/or violence isn’t a part of the cisgender experience. If someone has this experience, they may want to say they are isogender, not cis/“cisn’t” or not use any gender modality label at all. However, I don’t see the point of someone claiming cisgenderness while potentially having to deal with all this.
If one is xenogender in a way they aren’t close to the gender they were assigned at birth, their gender identity might add to the exorsexism and therefore to the cissexism they have to deal with. They might even have trouble being accepted as transfeminine, transmasculine or similar if they are openly xenogender.
If one has multiple genders: this is not a binary experience. If one wants to avoid the term nonbinary that’s up to them, but no genderfluid, bigender, trigender, polygender, polygenderflux, pangender or similar experience is seen as acceptable within a cissexist society.