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What does it mean to be gender apathetic? 

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Jun 14, 2023

What does it mean to be gender apathetic? 

Gender apathetic is a term that describes a person’s indifference or apathy toward their own gender identity or the concept of gender as a whole. If you are gender apathetic, you might not particularly care about what gender you come across as, or maybe you don’t really vibe with any specific gender identity or expression. 

Either way, gender apathy is a common feeling to have in a world that forces us to choose between a false binary.  Gender apathetic (also known as inersgender, apagender, or anvisgender) is a gender identity that typically falls under the non-binary umbrella. 

Some gender apathetic people don’t feel particularly one way or another about personal pronouns or how other people perceive their gender. In other words, IDGAF. Do you relate to the feeling of generally being *yawn* over gender? If so, gender apathetic might be for you.

The history of gender apathy

The history of gender apathy traces far back in the Tumblr archives, all the way to 2014. A decade ago (in internet years) might as well be a century. The term ‘inersgender’ was originally coined on Tumblr to help people who generally feel apathetic towards gender find language to describe themselves. 

For the word nerd out there, the prefix for inersgender comes from the Latin word ‘iners’, meaning lazy. I can personally resonate with the word ‘lazy’ to describe my gender expression because some days it really do be like that. While some gender apathetic people might identify as ‘lazy’ and reclaim the word regarding their own gender, others prefer terms like ‘anvisgender’ or ‘apagender’  to move away from the negative connotations of it. 

Perhaps you feel like no real sense of gender fits, or maybe your identity exists somewhere else entirely off the gender spectrum. You might be exhausted by having to explain your gender all the time and have settled on an attitude of neutrality or disinterest.  If you relate to any of these feelings, the term gender apathetic might be right for you. Gender apathetic people might also identify with one or more of the following terms from this non-exhaustive list: 

  • Anvisgender
  • Apagender 
  • Cassgender
  • Greygender
  • Gender averse
  • Cis apathetic
  • Trans apathetic

Is gender apathetic the same as agender?

You might be asking yourself: how do you know if I am gender apathetic, agender, or something else entirely? What’s the difference between being non-binary and gender apathetic? How do I know which labels are right for me? There are so many terms these days for different gender identities. Deciding what is right for you is a deeply personal decision that only you can make. 

The main difference between gender apathetic and agender is the word ‘apathy’ i.e. you don’t really care about gender. Agender is a term to describe people who don’t identify with any particular gender. These folks may feel a lack of gender and be generally disconnected from the gender binary. Someone who is agender might not have an inner sense of gender or might not experience a personal gender. 

Gender apathetic can be a way to describe people who might feel loosely connected to certain gender identities or expressions, but, at the end of the day…  they just don’t really care. Agender people are typically genderless, whereas gender apathetic people might have more of an attitude of flexibility, and openness, or no strong feelings about how others perceive their gender identity or gender presentation. You might identify as agender, or you might not. If you are gender apathetic, you might have a gendered or a genderless presentation, but you’re not really interested in how others perceive your gender; it’s not that deep. 

Non-binary is an umbrella term used to describe people who are not exclusively ‘men’ or ‘women’ but experience a gender identity that is neither, both, or something else. Nonbinary people may identify as agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, transgender, or something else entirely! Some gender apathetic people identify as nonbinary, but it’s important to know that not all nonbinary people are gender apathetic. 

A rainbow sign for gender pronouns held by an LGBTQ+ person

Source: Unsplash

Gender apathetic pronouns

Surprise! If you are gender apathetic, you might also feel unconcerned with pronouns. If you aren’t sure what pronouns are right for you, try experimenting with a few different options to see if you prefer one over another. It’s also okay to use multiple sets of pronouns or not emphasize them too much. Some common pronouns used by gender apathetic people might be: 

  • Ze/hir/hirs
  • Xe/xem/xyr
  • Ve/ver/vis
  • She/her/hers
  • He/him/his
  • They/them/theirs

You can also just use your name instead of any pronouns! For the allies out there, it’s important to remember that you can never know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Gender apathetic people have a diverse range of gender expressions and pronouns. Best practice for gender pronouns is always to ask someone what their pronouns are and never assume (even if you think you know)!

What does the gender apathetic flag look like?

The most common gender apathetic flag uses the colors brown, light blue, white, and grey. The colors in the flag each have different meanings: the brown represents general apathy and/or laziness, the blue represents sloth, the white represents the absence of gender, and the gray represents confusion. 

FAQs about gender apathy

How do I know if I’m gender apathetic?

If you are questioning your gender identity, you might feel confused or at odds with all of the different labels. Make sure to give yourself time and space to figure out what is right for you. Be patient and give yourself room to explore different gender expressions, pronouns, and terms.

You might want to ask yourself how you feel about gender. Do you care how others perceive your gender? Is gender an important part of your personhood? How do you feel about pronouns or gendered language? Does it bother you if people misgender you or don’t always get it right? Remember that your gender can shift as many times as you want over the course of your lifetime. What feels good today can always change tomorrow. 

What’s the difference between gender ‘apathetic’ vs ‘averse’?

Gender-averse and gender-apathetic can be two different ways of relating to how your gender is perceived. Gender ‘averse’ differs from gender ‘apathetic’ in the sense that you might actively reject gender as opposed to being passive about it.

If you are gender-averse, you might care more about the language people use for you or how others see your gender. Some gender averse people might identify more strongly with the term agender than gender apathetic folks. No matter how you experience your gender (or lack of it), you are valid.

Is gender apathy a thing, or is there a better term for what I’m feeling?

Gender apathy is definitely a thing! If ‘gender apathetic’ feels like an accurate way to describe what you are feeling, then it might be the right term for you. 

Feeling apathetic toward gender is also a very natural response to the oppressive way that the gender binary is forced upon all of us. The constant obsession with labeling people as male or female and their appearance or behaviors as masculine or feminine is enough to make anyone want to opt-out entirely. 

Labels and definitions can be useful when they help us feel a sense of community and belonging. Still, they can also feel reductive and limiting to describe the entirety of our being. 

In fact, the need to define and categorize is a relatively modern and Western way of articulating gender. Black and brown indigenous cultures across the globe have celebrated gender diversity and non-conformity for centuries in non-linear and expansive ways. It’s important to remind yourself that your gender identity is still real and valid even if you don’t have the exact language for it right now—or ever! 

A nonbinary, queer Afro-Latinx person exudes confidence in a dark-lit forest

Source: Adobe Stock

Is it okay to be gender apathetic? 

Being gender apathetic is absolutely okay! There are plenty of apagender, gender-averse, agender, or non-binary people existing and thriving in the world. You are not alone and your identity is valid, no matter what language we use to describe it. If you are feeling isolated, reach out to a local LGBTQ+ center in your area to find support.

If there is one thing that the gender binary has shown us, it’s that gender is made up. How our genders are perceived can have real-world implications, but everyone is just making it up as they go along. 

Everyone has diverse and nuanced relationships with their bodies and genders, even if they don’t realize it. As you figure out what terms work best for your gender, hold space for yourself to experiment and play and find joy in the in-between! 

To find community and connections near you, download HER today.

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Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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