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Understanding xenogender: Identities beyond the binary

Robyn Exton

Sep 02, 2023

Understanding xenogender: Identities beyond the binary
  • Let us introduce you to a gender identity that’s as unique as a rare gem, as captivating as a shooting star, and as magical as a rainbow. Well, folks, that’s the essence of xenogender! It is notable among non-binary identities, breaking free from gender as we know it.

    If you’ve heard of this term, identify with it, or want to learn something new about your queer peers, then let’s get to it!

    What is xenogender?

    So, what exactly is this enigmatic xenogender we’re gushing about? It all began on Tumblr, as many things do on these articles. 

    User ‘Baaphomett’ coined it in a submission to the MOGAI-Archive blog, a page dedicated to “Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex,” and it’s actually an umbrella term for other identities. Think of it as a subcategory.

    Source: PBS

    The prefix “xeno-” stems from the Greek word “xenos,” meaning “foreign” or “strange.” Its literal meaning is “cannot be contained by human understandings of gender,” and xenogender individuals dare to be different, defying the norm to embrace their unique identities and experiences, not caring if others get them or not.

    Folks who fall under the xenogender category sometimes use the adjective “xenine” to describe themselves and the noun form “xenity.”

    The difference between xenogender and other nonbinary identities

    Now, you might wonder why we point out the difference. Well, while non-binary folks don’t strictly identify as exclusively male or female but a secret third thing, as some might say,  xenogender adventurers transcend even that notion! They explore a universe of identities that may incorporate concepts, objects, animals, or intangible wonders to describe their gender.

    For some, their identity might be as elusive as an enchanting forest nymph or as powerful as a thunderstorm; for others, it could be as calming as a cup of chamomile tea. The beauty of xenogender lies in its boundless variety, with each person’s identity as exceptional as a rare cosmic event.

    The xenogender flag and symbol

    On January 15th, 2017, DeviantArt user, Pastelmemer, waved their artistic wand and gave life to the original xenogender flag. At its heart lies the astronomical symbol for Iris, the Greek goddess of rainbows. How fitting for a gender identity that’s as vibrant as the colors in the sky! 

    Xenogender flag. Red stripes fading into orange, then yellow, followd by blue and purple hues. Over the stripes, the Iris rainbow astronomical symbol can be appreciated.

    Source: Nonbinary Wiki

    The iris flower served as inspiration for the chosen colors. With a sunny stripe of yellow, a color that boldly symbolizes non-binary identities, standing on top of purple hues, often associated with androgynous, non-binary genders. The rest are just colors that you might find irises in.

    There is also an alternative suggestion for the flag, born on February 17, 2017, by an anonymous user and Mod Hermy from Pride-Flags Deviantart. It consists of an iris flower in full bloom, gracefully embracing its uniqueness – just like the vast spectrum of xenines. The mesmerizing blueish-purple hues pay homage to the most common colors found in these exquisite flowers.

    Source: LGBTQIA Wiki

    Both flags are used and accepted within the community. You just have to pick the one you prefer or alternate them as you wish. The community also uses the single Iris rainbow symbol on its own.

    Xenogender subcategories and examples

    Xenogender doesn’t stop at one definition; it’s a galaxy of possibilities! Let’s take a detour and explore some subcategories:


    This is the cutting edge of xenogender and encompasses any recent (2010 and forward) gender identities. A similar concept to neopronouns, which you might’ve guessed, are those outside the ones we know, like she/he/they/xe, based on objects and concepts.


    Those who identify as stargender might feel an ethereal connection to the cosmos, shining as bright as a constellation. Pronouns they might use are: star/stars/starself.


    On a similar line as “genderless,” it consists of the void, nothingness. It’s abstract, shapeless, and, in good xenogender fashion, incomprehensible. It can also be defined as a lack of gender, and some pronouns associated with them are null/nulls/nullself, abyss/abysses/abysself, or am/ams/amself.

    Source: Into the Void Magazine

    Others might embrace identities like “faegender,” drawing power from mythical creatures like fairies. Then there’s “lunagender,” which waxes and wanes like the moon itself, changing with each phase. These subcategories, just like the stars in the night sky, seem endless, offering an infinite playground for exploration.

    Celebrate Xenogender Pride

    If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that the world is infinitely more exciting with xenines in it. Xenogender Visibility Day bursts onto the scene to celebrate this fantastic spectrum of identities! It’s been celebrated since May 15th, 2021, and it’s an awesome opportunity to show your pride unapologetically and freely.

    Source: Chicago Reader

    Even if it’s a fairly recent date, we are extremely happy and proud of our xenogender friends for sharing their experiences and opening up, paving the way for baby queers out there to learn more about themselves every day.

    As we bid adieu to this super interesting journey through the realm of xenogender, let’s remember that gender is a vast landscape, and there’s room for everyone’s unique identity. Embracing xenogender is like embracing the magic of existence, where each individual’s identity adds a thread to the grand tapestry we call life!

    So, whether you identify as xenogender yourself or are an ally seeking to understand this wondrous concept, let’s approach it with compassion and empathy, receiving other queer folks with open arms to our community.

    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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