"Some days I feel like my gender could be like what I was assigned at birth, but there are some days when I feel the opposite way," says Rowan Little, an 18-year-old high school senior in Kentucky who identifies as gender fluid and uses the pronoun they, rather than he or she.
Politicians are debating the very meaning of words like sex in fights over so-called "bathroom bills." Several lawsuits are fleshing out the meaning of that word, too, as plaintiffs allege that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered under bans on sex discrimination.
"I remember hearing the word gay being thrown around a lot when I was kid," he says, "and it wasn't really used as an endearing term." Like many of his peers, Scotten has come to see sexuality as a spectrum: "I totally believe there are a 100, 200 shades in the middle." And he tends to have an open mind even when he doesn't understand the nuances his peers are talking about when it comes to their gender.
"It makes sense to them, in their own head," he says, "and that's enough."Some experts say that there is more natural variation than has been widely acknowledged and that terminology is more limited than the sum of human experience. I don't know why we can't let that debate go.
"A lot of things I'm politically correct on," says Vanderburgh, "I know because of Tumblr." Social media has also made it easier for young people to find themselves — and each other."It's really easy to tell someone who is alone and doesn't feel like there are other people like them that who they are is wrong," says Jacob Tobia, a 25-year-old writer-producer in Los Angeles who identifies as genderqueer.
"But once someone realizes that they're not alone, it's really hard to take away that sense of personal empowerment."A couple of years ago, Marie Mc Gwier, 26, started selling Gender is over! The tech worker based in New York has since shipped more than 2,400 of them for about apiece.