[note: looping animated gifs under the cut]

what is gender?

we just don't know

Here’s something interesting I’ve noticed about the concept of quoigender: it’s not unique.  And by that, what I mean is — I’ve come across multiple instances of people independently crafting names for a very similar idea, which suggests to me that a confused, indeterminate, frustrated relationship to “gender” and how to apply it to oneself is actually a more prevalent experience than is commonly acknowledged.

So let’s take a little tour, shall we?

Quoigender, drawing off of quoiromantic, originated with the following description in its original coinage post:

  • someone who finds the concept of gender identity, or of existing gender words, to themself to be inaccessible, inapplicable, non-sensical, &c
  • can mean someone for whom the experience of gender is confusing, someone who cannot tell if they experience gender or if what they experience is indeed gender (except, perhaps, through extensive abstract analysis)
  • can be used instead of “questioning,” which indicates an ongoing search for a better term; quoigender instead indicates a troubled history with gender words/identities, and perhaps a frustration with searching, or finding such a search unhelpful; instead using quoigender as a more permanent, stable, unchanging, fixed point
  • also: throwing up one’s hands and saying “ugh, what gender even. forget this.”
  • this is not exclusive of having non-binary pronouns, of having social dysphoria or other kinds of dysphoria, of some gendery words being better or more accurate than others – just as being quoisexual is not exclusive of having sexual preferences, limits, boundaries, trends, &c

Before writing this post, I’d seen two other terms whose definitions partially overlap with that of quoigender.

Exgender, it in its original definition and reworded definition, conveys the same alienation and frustration:

agender is like saying e) none of the above for gender, but exgender/egender is like refusing to answer the question, crossing out the words, or eating the paper the question is written on. exgender/egender is an outright refusal to accept or identify in, on, or around the current gender hierarchy.


similar to agender only more strongly felt; a gender that is not a gender as opposed to not having a gender

Novigender, in a different vein, is comparable to quoigender in terms of giving up on coherence and proper classification:

a gender experience too hard to read/process/understand or too complex to pin down to one word


novigender’s more like you can’t put it into words so you don’t try

In the course of nosing around for the purposes of this post, I was able to find a few more coinage pages for quoigender-esque words.

Aquarigender (or genderflow) is premised in imprecision:

Aquarigender is a gender that is perpetually changing. It is never to a specific gender identity, but sometimes there are existing labels that are close to what the gender feels like at the time. Sometimes it changes to a completely inexplicable feeling.

Aquarigender is a flowing gender that changes slowly and constantly. It is not a set amount of genders that it switches between. Aquarigender is infinite.

Gendereaux looks extremely similar:

How I feel about my gender: simultaneously detached from the concept of gender entirely (while somehow not quite fitting agender), and encompassing most* of the non-binary part of the spectrum.

My gender is a fixed point of being these two things, but the way I feel about gender roles and how I relate to them is really inconsistent on even so much as an hourly basis.

Squidgender takes an even more whimsical approach:

a gender thats definitely there, but when you take time to examine it and work out what it is, it becomes obscure and sometimes disappears for a while

Oh, and I almost forgot…


a person who identifies as (at least partially) outside the gender binary and has a strong natural ambivalence about their gender identity or gender expression. They feel they have a gender(s), as well as a natural inclination or desire to express it, but it’s weak and/or somewhat indeterminate/indefinable, or they don’t feel it most of the time, or they’re just not that invested in it. They’re not entirely without a gender or gender expression, but they’re not entirely “with” it either, so to speak.

So using the word “graygender” can express:
the state of being kinda close to agender but not quite (just greysexuality is kinda close to asexuality but not quite), having a nonbinary gender that falls in a hazy grey area and can be hard to define or pinpoint, being gender neutral-ish more because of ambivalence and lack of participation in gender rather than active participation in nonbinary gender expression, and/or feeling gender and an inclination to participate in gendered thinking/expression less than most seem to.

So like I said, these kinds of feelings can’t be all that rare, if so many people are articulating these kinds of things without (presumably) having come in contact with prior articulations.  In fact, way way back, I can remember hearing the prefix cryo- and toying with the idea of applying it to gender, to refer to an experience in which gender seems relevant but frozen over and inaccessible.  You can browse an even longer list of such terms here, although I consider that list less valuable in that it provides no context for origins.

On the one hand, it bothers me that the the nonbinary community is so diffuse and spread thin that there are dozens of splinter terms for feeling ??? about gender, and no extensive journaling or community connections for any one term.  On the other hand, seeing all these individual summaries, when grouped together, helps me form a more coherent picture of an overall pattern.  And for the time being, it seems as though I’ll have to settle for that.

Here’s my take: I don’t know what gender even is, so I can’t begin to know how to assess such a thing.  Most of the terms listed above could reflect my sentiments, just going off the initial descriptions alone, but I’m not someone who can go off initial descriptions alone.

As I wrote in my post On Labels and What They Need:

I’ve concluded that this is a necessary part of the identification process for me: to form an understanding of a label through stories.

And given the state of quoigender-umbrella un-community, that makes sifting through these labels for the best fit nigh impossible for me.

(I also have this irrational aversion to reusing prefixes, which is why I don’t want to go with quoigender or graygender, despite the fact that they seem marginally more popular than the others and consequently would be good picks to fall back on.)

But maybe gender, unlike (un)attraction patterns, doesn’t fit well into stories, any more than some of us fit into this thing you call gender.  And maybe selecting a single label, for an experience of “gender is a lost cause,” can itself, sometimes, be a lost cause.

8 responses to “Quoigendering

  • Sennkestra

    I also see a lot of similar conversations in discussions about “cis by default*” and similar perspectives, which is kind of an example of similar feelings being articulated outside and at the peripheries of the nonbinary and/or trans communities as well (though it’s commonly among people who do still have some interaction with the nonbinary community)

    (*cis-by-default isn’t really a specific gender name but it seems to be one of the more common keywords for finding those discussions lately – a common co-occuring experience of “gender labels aren’t that useful for me” makes searching by label understandably difficult.)

    As far as examples, I don’t really think it’s really something that has a single authoritative resource, but there’s been a couple discussions about it recently:

    http://thatweirdsister.tumblr.com/post/137634923910/demigrayspeaks-nextstepcake (stuff is all mixed up in the notes for this)

    I think it’s hard to find a single term to refer to everything because while there’s some commonality in “current models of gender don’t work well for me”, the ways they don’t work and what that means are all over the place.

    • Coyote

      I definitely think of that realm as being in the same neighborhood, but didn’t think of addressing it here (or didn’t think of how), so thanks for bringing that up.

      Re: your last point… arguably the same could be said with gray-asexuality, but that hasn’t spawned near as many labels.

      • Sennkestra

        I’d actually think of it as closer to like, wtfromantic….but that also has one umbrella ish term too lol. I think some of it might just be based on the groups where these are coming from? wtfromantic and grey-a both come from early ace communities, which made up new words but with less fervor than say, tumblr and related communities where a lot of these gender terms are coming from (which, interestingly, have also been creating many many more sublabels or splits among what I’d call grey-a and wtfromantic).

        I think grey-A/wtfromantic also may have come out with firmer labels because they originated from early ace communities which were relatively unified and self contained, so it was easier to get everyone to use the same term and spread it to anyone else; whereas gender-whatever communities tend to be much more fractured and unstructured, leading to a lot of independent coinages (and making it near-impossible to convince everyone to all use one umbrella term after the fact).

  • Sennkestra

    I think it also gets extra hard to track down because it seems like a lot of people who have this kind of gender??? feel often just feel a need to kinda pick something, so a lot of people writing these narratives won’t pick a new label (because why bother with a new gender identity when gender identity doesn’t work) so a lot of it’s filed under like, cis or agender or neutrois or nonbinary or genderqueer or other labels that also include people who don’t have that kind of confusion over gender identity.

  • A Matter of Discrete Divisions | The Ace Theist

    […] for so long that they’ve given their questioning another name.  I wonder about [gif warning] the number of labels for frustration with trying to find a single label.  I wonder about gray-asexuality.  I wonder about the rom vs. aro divide for grayros.  I wonder […]

  • Chris

    Well I mean, as someone who identifies as quoigender I’m a little biased, but this is where I stand on this.
    For me, being quoigender is less ???? about my gender and not that I am agender, but that applying gender to me doesn’t make sense.

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