What Does It Mean to Be Bigender?

person putting on lipstick

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Someone may identify as bigender if they identify with both male and female genders. They might even identify with a third gender (aka trigender) or more. For example, someone who identifies as bigender may identify as both male and female.

Being bigender means identifying with two or possibly more genders, and it is considered a nonbinary gender identity.

A bigender person might always express one of their genders physically, at different times, or at once.

History and Origin of the Term 'Bigender'

The term 'bigender' isn't all that old. Here's a look at the history of how this term entered our current lexicon.

It Was First Listed Under the Term 'Androgyne'

The term bigender was first recorded in July 1988 as part of the 2nd International Lesbian and Gay Health Foundation Conference.

At this conference, it was included in the glossary of terms under the word androgyne. Androgyne was defined as "a person who can comfortably express either alternative gender role in a variety of socially acceptable environments (includes bigenderist)."

The Term Bigender Has Roots in Botany

The term bigender was added to the dictionary in relation to human gender in 2019. However, it was previously used to describe plants. That's because while some plants are distinctly male or female, others contain the characteristics of both genders.

Terminology Is Always Evolving

Jack Drescher, MD, Past President of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and recipient of the 2022 Sigourney Award, tells Verywell Mind that "since there are many other gender identities besides male and female, it is hard to come up with a one size fits all definition for people who identify as bigender."

Gender Exists on a Continuum

Our language has yet to catch up with our understanding of how people identify. Monica Johnson, PsyD, of Kind Mind Psychology, explains that "as we continue to deepen our understanding of gender and sexuality and acknowledge that [gender exists] on a continuum, we will continue to develop terminology so that we can have a shared language around the lived experiences of ourselves and the other humans we interact with on this planet."

Bigender vs. Nonbinary

The term bigender falls under the umbrella category of nonbinary.

While the term bigender is categorized as a nonbinary identity, a bigender person may not always identify as nonbinary. This is because being nonbinary means you don't identify with the sex you were assigned at birth, whereas being bigender means you identify with two or more genders.

In other words, a bigender person may identify with the sex assigned at birth and one or more additional genders.

Bigender vs. Bisexual

Bigender and bisexual both start with the prefix "bi," meaning two, but bigender and bisexuality are not related.

Bigender is a gender identity. The term bisexual is a sexual identity/orientation that describes the people you are attracted to and/or intimate with.

To be bisexual means that you are attracted to men and women, and potentially other genders as well. Being bigender means identifying as two or more genders and identifying as bigender is unrelated to whom you are attracted.

Bigender vs. Androgyne

A bigender person identifies as two or more genders, whereas someone who is androgynous doesn't present as specifically male or female, or they may present as a mix of genders or appear gender neutral.

Additionally, androgynous is often used as a term used to refer to how someone presents themself to the world, whereas bigender is an identity.

How Many People Identify as Bigender in the United States?

No specific research has been done to quantify how many people in this country are bigender, and both doctors note that accurate counts are unavailable.

Our closest tool is the research conducted to discover how many people fall under the larger umbrella categories of trans or nonbinary.


The percentage of people who fall into that category changes significantly with age. Approximately 5% of adults under thirty identify as trans or nonbinary, whereas only 0.3% of adults over 50 do.

How to Support Bigender People

Even if you don't have the same life experience as another person doesn't mean you can't support them.

In fact, validating people's gender identities is important to prevent harm and enable others to have good mental and emotional well-being.

Dr. Johnson notes, " it's important to acknowledge the existence of bigender people, support their perspectives and identified pronouns, and their rights to [the] authentic expression of their identities."

Here are several ways you can support bigender people.

Be An Ally

The first step to being an ally is to understand the discrimination that others face and dedicate yourself to not being a part of it.

In this situation, that includes misgendering people or denying them access to services because you don't agree with their gender. Additionally, being an ally means that you stand up for wrong in addition to not causing harm when you witness it.

Monica Johnson, PsyD

It's important to acknowledge the existence of bigender people, support their perspectives and identified pronouns, and their rights to [the] authentic expression of their identities.

— Monica Johnson, PsyD

Simply expanding your thinking is a great start to allyship. Dr. Drescher says that "gender identity always has a subjective quality to it. One consequence of the role of subjectivity is that we are seeing a growing number of gender identities which a growing number of it people are identifying with. These are cultural changes that make some people uncomfortable because they struggle with the binary definitions of gender that all of us start out learning as children. However, in the adult world, learning to live with a range of gender identities is the new normal."

Ask About Pronouns

The best way to ensure that you refer to someone in the manner that suits them is by asking. Ask a person their name and their pronouns in the same way, by being straightforward and judgment-free.

If someone tells you they use multiple pronouns, ask if they prefer you mix up their pronouns or if they'd rather tell you when to use different ones.

Nothing about it needs to be awkward; you wouldn't feel strange asking a person what their name is, and eventually, it will feel just as normal to ask someone their pronouns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should I refer to someone who identifies as bigender?

    When it comes to referring to someone who is bigender in the third person, you'll want to find out their pronouns. You should refer to a bigender person by whatever pronouns they want to be called.

  • Where can I learn more about gender?

    Everyone can benefit from a better understanding of gender and how it can be expressed.

    You can learn more about gender with the help of these resources:

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. It Gets Better Project. Gender expansive, genderqueer, gender nonconforming.

  2. Dictionary.com. Bigender.

  3. Lesbian & Gay Health Foundation Conference. Abstracts Of a Symposium on Gender Issues for the 90s.

  4. It Gets Better Project. LGBTQ+ Glossary.

  5. Pew Research Center. About 5% of young adults in the U.S. say their gender is different from their sex assigned at birth.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.