Data Party! Insights into Nonbinary Readers from the 2022 Reader Survey

Feature image via the Gender Spectrum Collection

Nico: Hello fellow humans and a very happy International Nonbinary People’s Day to all who celebrate! I’m here to introduce this post, which, much like the 2022 Autostraddle Reader Survey, I worked on in collaboration with Riese, a human who loves data. What follows are some data points we found interesting when comparing survey results from our nonbinary readership against the readership as a whole (which includes nonbinary people). For the purposes of defining “nonbinary,” we included all folks who identified as nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, or agender. While I know it’s not perfect and that some people identify with only one of these labels, we felt it was the best way to look at a group of readers who do not identify along the lines of binary gender. I should probably also define “interesting” which is a) something we thought you all would find engaging and b) areas where the results varied significantly between nonbinary readers and the population of survey takers as a whole, because, of course, there were many times where there weren’t notable differences.

a chart that reads "Our readers have genders sometimes!" Let's break it down by Percent - 27.3% of AS readers identify outside the gender binary. This breaks down as 4.26% other, 5.82% I don't know, 2.01% agender, 1.23% trans man, 25.3% genderqueer / genderfluid / nonbinary, 2.88% trans woman, 58.49 cis woman

Nico: Riese, what do you think of the above results? I suppose I should go back and look at prior years to see if it’s changed at all, but I know you’ve also done that.

Riese: I have! Some of the long-term data is hard to understand clearly because the way we asked about gender has also changed over time — like in 2011, our options were, well, very 2011: female (93%), male (1.45%), transgender (1.72%), genderqueer (8.32%), and “other” (1.75%). In 2016, we introduced language similar to what we’re using now, Now, our non-cis categories are trans woman, trans man, agender, genderqueer/fluid/non-binary woman, genderqueer/fluid/non-binary man, genderqueer/fluid/non-binary person. If we smash those last four identities together into one, we go from 23% under that umbrella in 2016 to 27.3% in 2022. We also added “I don’t know/still figuring it out” in 2022, which 5.8% of survey respondents (including me) picked, so that was a popular addition. A lot of people are on a journey. Another change I noticed is the most popular of the three “genderqueer/fluid/non-binary” options shifting from “genderqueer/fluid/non-binary woman” in 2016 and 2020 to “genderqueer/fluid/non-binary person” in 2022. But in 2020, those categories were already closing in on each other. I think people learned a lot about themselves in those years.

Nico: As a whole, I would say that AS is not very cis, are we? At least not compared to the actual general population.

Riese: So our survey sample is from all over the world, not just the U.S., but we do know that at least according to some studies,1.6% of American adults identify as transgender and/or non-binary, a number that’s even higher in younger populations — 5% of those under 30. A 2021 Williams Institute Study found that 11% of the LGBTQ+ population specifically identifies as non-binary — I think these numbers are changing pretty quickly, so I do consider that 2021 number a bit outdated, but, as you pointed out, 27.3% of our readers identify as outside of the gender binary, so that’s well over double the LGBTQ+ population as a whole, and 31.4% identifying as trans and/or non-binary. That’s not even including the “other” or “don’t know” group.

A chart showing the breakdown of sexuality among all readers vs just nonbinary readers. 39.6% lesbian, 18.3% bisexual, 30.6% queer, 3.7% gay, 4.5% pansexual, with a small contingency of people identifying along the lines of fluid, straight, other and do not know. For nonbinary people, the percentages worked out to 23.8% lesbian, 15.7% bisexual, 49.6% queer, 4.8% pansexual, 3.2% gay, and again, a very small contingency of people identifying as fluid, straight, other, don't know

Nico: I am not super surprised by this, but also want to take a moment to shout out the nonbinary lesbians for anyone and everyone who’s sent us an advice question wondering whether they can still identify as a lesbian if they’re nonbinary or genderqueer or agender or genderfluid. Because you can! There’s nothing stopping these readers, and I hope nothing will stop you! I was kind of surprised to see fewer bisexuals per capita in the nonbinary category, but also, I imagine people are substituting queer for that.

A chart showing the gender of partners of all survey takers vs nonbinary survey takers. For the entire sample, we have partners split up into 50.8% cis women, 14.5% cis man, 23% genderqueer / genderfluid / nonbinary, 3.6% trans woman, 2.5% trans man, 3% don't know. For nonbinary survey respondents, we have: 33.8% with cis women partners, 35.4% genderqueer / genderfluid / nonbinary, 15.3% cis men, 4.7% trans women, 3.3% trans men, 3.5% don't know

Nico: Absolutely love to see the data bearing out T4T.

Riese: Yes, makes sense!

a chart showing the relationship style of all surveyed readers vs nonbinary readers. for all surveyed, we have 67.8% monogamy, 13.4% monogamish, 15.6% polyamory, 3.2% other. In terms of nonbinary readers, we have: 54.5% monogamy, 15.9% monogamish, 25.8% polyamory, 3.7% other

Nico: Again, not surprised that people who question gender and the performance thereof are also people who are willing or drawn to exploring relationship structures beyond more “traditional” monogamy. Although, monogamy remains the most popular relationship style overall.

Riese: Yes, this has been true historically as well.

this chart asked survey takers if they were a person with a disability. the entire sample responded with: 62.6% no, 20.2% it's complicated, and 15.6% yes. When it came to nonbinary people, we saw the answers: 45.6% no, 28.3% its complicated and 24.6% yes

Nico: When I saw this, I was like “OVER HALF?!” but yes, we have over half of nonbinary readers identifying as either disabled or “it’s complicated.” I do want to point out that internet lore and apparently also this study have demonstrated that there might be a correlation between neurodivergence and trans and nonbinary gender identities. As someone who has a doctor’s appointment to talk about potentially having ADHD and who knows what next week, I am being read for filth by these survey results, also. Based also on my friend groups and working at Autostraddle, I’m just like, yes, this could be part of the reasoning. I also think that people define being disabled differently, and again, if you’ve done a lot of work to get to know your relationship to gender, perhaps also your body, you might be more likely to learn about any disability(ies) you have, but that is me speculating based on this data. What do you think, Riese?

Riese: Yeah I have a lot of the same questions and theories you do! I’m not sure if I would check “it’s complicated” or “no” for this question personally — I do have fibromyalgia, ADHD and major depressive disorder but I don’t know if any of those things “count,” you know what I mean? It’s difficult to know how specifically people are defining themselves, if people are including mental illness as a disability, because it’s widely true that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to have a mental illness diagnosis. (I also think Autostraddle specifically might have a lot of readers with mental illness diagnoses because it’s something we’ve always prioritized discussing and normalizing on the site.) There’s also just, so much to be discussed when it comes to how your relationship to your body is shaped by a physical disability and then also by a non-“normative” gender identity and how those things overlap or don’t. I also found at least one study showing trans people were twice as likely to have at least one disability than their cisgender counterparts at similar ages.

This chart represents answers to the question of whether folks had changed their name or go by a name different from their given name. It shows that in the entire sample 16.6% of respondents did go by a different name than their chosen and 83.4% of respondents did not. Among nonbinary respndents, the answer was that 31.22% had changed their name and 68.78% had not.

Riese: Sometimes I forget that I chose this name and it’s not my given name but I did and it isn’t! I sort of changed it around when I realized I was queer.

Nico: Haha Riese I always forget that about you. You might not know it, but Nico is not my given name. This is also unsurprising! Lots of nonbinary people choose names that they feel better reflect their authentic selves and I love that for us. Below is a list of names, in no particular order, that nonbinary people reported choosing for themselves in the survey. Maybe you’re looking for some inspiration? See if you can find yours!

Here’s a list of the chosen names you shared with us

Names indicated by more than one person have a number (x) of people who said they used that name next to it.

    • Adrian
    • Aicerno ÓCathasaigh Ap Gryffydd
    • Alder
    • AJ (2)
    • Akiva
    • Al (2)
    • Alex (7)
    • Alistair
    • Alixe
    • Alixivy
    • Alyx
    • Amalthea
    • Ames
    • Amren
    • Andy
    • Ang
    • Angie
    • Antonia
    • Apple
    • Ari
    • Arlo Roan
    • Ash
    • Ash Journey
    • Ashur
    • Athena
    • Avery
    • b
    • Bec
    • Benji (2)
    • Bex
    • Bina
    • Bo
    • Bobbi
    • Bowen
    • Bree
    • Bridget
    • Cal
    • Casey
    • Cee (2)
    • CJ
    • Clark
    • Cole
    • Cora Fageaux
    • Crow
    • Dani
    • Danie
    • Danny
    • Dante
    • Dash
    • DC
    • Declan
    • Del
    • Dell
    • Dre
    • Drumlin
    • Dylan
    • E.N. West
    • eL
    • Eli
    • Ellie
    • Ellis (2)
    • Em (2)
    • Emma
    • Erika Hazel Karney
    • Eviah
    • Face
    • Fee
    • Femmaleboss
    • Feyi
    • Fleshie
    • Flórián
    • Florian Ilya
    • Foster
    • Franklyn
    • Grida
    • Hadley
    • Han
    • Harrow
    • Hector
    • idris
    • J (2)
    • Jack
    • Jai
    • Jaime
    • Jake
    • Jamie (2)
    • Jarvis
    • Jasmine
    • Jax
    • Jay (5)
    • JD
    • Jes
    • Jimmy
    • Jonah
    • Jonas
    • Joy
    • Jude
    • Jules
    • Julien
    • Kade
    • Kai
    • Kalirissia Freyadora Zarabella
    • Kasper
    • Kat
    • Kay
    • KC (“Casey”)
    • keith
    • Kellen
    • Kevriel
    • Kit Julian
    • Kj
    • kk
    • Kris (2)
    • Lane
    • Lauren
    • Levi!
    • Liam
    • Lilith Routh
    • Lily
    • Lin
    • Linden
    • Lini
    • Lo
    • Loghan
    • Luca
    • Luka
    • Lux
    • M
    • Mack
    • Macks
    • Maddie
    • Majd
    • Marcie
    • Maren
    • Marin
    • MB
    • Mel (2)
    • Micah (3)
    • Mik
    • Mika
    • Miko
    • Milo (4)
    • Mitchell
    • Mo
    • Mont
    • Moog
    • Morgan (2)
    • Morgan Van Kesteren
    • Moss
    • Nash
    • Nate
    • Nathalie
    • Neri
    • Nic
    • Nico
    • Niko
    • Nix
    • Nono
    • Olive
    • Oliver
    • ollie
    • Oskar
    • Otter
    • Pallas
    • Parker
    • Pepper
    • Perry
    • Pike
    • Psylocke/Tegan/Jamie
    • Quinn Jack Orion
    • Rae
    • Rain (2)
    • Red
    • Reese
    • regi
    • Ren
    • Rex
    • Rex (2)
    • Ricki!
    • Riddhi
    • Riley
    • Rio
    • River (2)
    • Robin (2)
    • Ron.
    • Roni
    • Rose
    • Rousz
    • Ryan
    • Sal
    • Sam (6)
    • Savvy
    • Sawyer
    • Sebastian
    • Seren
    • Shan
    • Shane
    • Shep
    • Shquam
    • Shuli
    • Silver
    • Simon
    • Sirius or Lorcan depending on the spaces I’m in!
    • Skay.
    • Skye Firestone
    • So
    • Sonia
    • Soren
    • Stokes
    • Sully
    • sweet pea
    • Tess
    • Thatcher
    • Theo
    • Theodore
    • Tree
    • V / Venn
    • Vika
    • Violet
    • Watson
    • Will
    • Willa
    • Wren
    • Z (2)
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Nico

Nico Hall is Autostraddle's A+ and Fundraising Director, and has been fundraising and working in the arts and nonprofit sector for over a decade. They write nonfiction and personal essays and are currently at work on a queer fiction novel and podcasts. They live in Pittsburgh. Nico is also haunted. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @nknhall.

Nico has written 222 articles for us.

Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3181 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. No but what if the people who chose the names Nic, Nico, Niko, and Nix form some kind of alliance. For science.

    Also, “for anyone and everyone who’s sent us an advice question wondering whether they can still identify as a lesbian if they’re nonbinary or genderqueer or agender or genderfluid. Because you can!” Hearts all over the world tonight <3 <3 <3

  2. Am I the only one who finds it slightly off that some of the most common nonbinary names (Alex, Jay, Milo, Sam) are names you see regularly as chosen names for trans men but you rarely see on trans women who weren’t assigned one of the those names at birth?

    • this is a website for lesbian and lesbian-adjacent community, most transfeminine nonbinary people i know identify with the gay men and gay-men-adjacent community. also, (i am a transmasculine person) i think there’s a ton of data that supports it being harder and more dangerous to be transfeminine than transmasculine, as well as more societally alienating, so that’s probably a major contributing factor to the overall higher number of transmasculine nonbinary people than transfeminine nonbinary people.

    • Hey, I’m transfemme and I’m a self-appointed Jay!

      I think trans women can’t often afford to have neutral or ambiguously-gendered names, because we exist in a society where “default” means male.

      Having a strongly gendered name means one fewer thing that might lead new people to misgender you.

    • Hm. I think part of that may just be that there are more transmasc than transfemme non-binary people. I can only speak for myself, but the vast majority of transfemme people I know are binary trans women.

      nix also mentioned it being more dangerous to be transfemme, which definitely could be part of it too. I know that every time I go out in public, I consider how female-presenting I am, for my own safety. Last thing I want is to be harassed while I’m alone.

      • I mean, as someone who is an (albiet binary) transfemme I totally get that part of it. Though it is nice to hear some transfemmes who do have gender neutral names- I was lazy and just turned my own gender-neutral given name into an even femmier version lol

  3. Thanks for this, especially the name list – it was cool to see mine there! And super interesting to see what other folks are choosing, too!
    As soon as I started to come out as non binary, I found choosing my name very easy as it’s the masc version of my former name. However, it can also be a gender neutral name, so all the bases are covered there. What made it so such a perfect fit for me is that it still relates to the history of my former name, & its cultural background. I changed it legally in 2019 & I celebrate the day each year now as a kind of second birthday, which is pretty fun as well as meaningful.
    With regard to the disability question, I got my autism diagnosis recently after a long time suspecting it. Also have an autoimmune disease. Here’s to being complicated!

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