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What are all those gender options?

"I don't know what half these mean!" -- I hear this pretty frequently from people seeing the RPR's full list of gender options for the first time. I also hear some anxiety from people who want to try exploring other genders and experiences through RP that they might end up using the terms wrong and insulting someone. If our gender options list confuses you, you aren't alone. Look at it as a great opportunity to start learning new things about the people around you, online and IRL. :)

I encourage everyone to do their own research and ask their own questions, and to get as knowledgeable as you can about the full range of gender expression and identity. I offer this mini-primer on the options that the RPR currently offers just to get you started. Brace yourself, I'm about to use words like "gonads" -- no giggling! ;)

First, it's important to recognize that sex and gender are not the same thing. What's the difference between sex and gender? Sex is usually a description of a person's physical body, whereas gender is a description of what "role" they occupy in society. Gender roles can change across cultures and time, with many cultures both historical and modern recognizing more than two possible gender roles. Sometimes a person's sex and gender "match," sometimes they don't, and when you dig just a bit deeper you'll discover that the idea of "matching" doesn't make sense anyway.

That's because it's not just gender roles - physical sex is dramatically more complicated than you knew, too! Sex is made up of a number of dimorphic traits like chromosomes, gonads (internal reproductive equipment), genitals (external reproductive equipement,) ratio of sex hormones, and other characteristics. Many of these traits will line up in traditionally male and female ways, but it's quite common that even cisgender folk will have one or more that don't "line up," sometimes without even knowing it. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that person, it just means there's more to learn about the ways that humans can be.

About 1.7% of humans are born as intersex, which can mean they have some kind of physical ambiguity that makes it impossible to determine whether they are male or female, or that they have a chromosome other than XY-Male or XX-Female, for example XXY.

That's just a few examples of how sex is complicated before we attempt to layer the cultural interpretations that are gender on top… To say nothing of the fantasy and sci-fi sexes and genders that might exist in a place like the RPR! Although many of us are raised to believe that there are only two physical sexes that dictate our gender roles, this is demonstrably false.

Historically, Western cultures have tried to recognize only male and female gender roles, but we're finally starting to re-examine the idea of a rigid gender binary system. In part, it's due to the voices and stories of non-binary individuals. In part, this is due to greater openness to other cultures. For some who could ignore personal stories, the realization that we need to broaden our understanding of gender is because of advances in science proving not just that there are more than two sexes, but that these additional or non-conforming sexes are vastly more common than most of us ever thought.
With so much variance in the way that real world (and fictional) people can be in body and mind, it just makes sense to have more nuanced ways to describe ourselves.

Sexual orientation is yet another area that we won't cover here, but in general, sexual orientation is a description of what type of person someone is attracted to -- that might be some or all of the gender roles, and some or all of the physical sexes that people can have. Sexual orientation doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a person's own sex or gender. Gender identity describes who the person is themselves, and sexual orientation describes who they are attracted to.

With that introduction out of the way, let's do a quick run-down of the gender options that the RPR offers. Many of these terms have similar meanings (ex. Transgender female and transgender woman,) and boil down to how someone would prefer to be referred to.
  • Agender - Someone who identifies as having no gender or being without a gender identity.
  • Androgyne - This term is sometimes used interchangeably with androgynous, and sometimes used to indicate someone with a gender identity that can be a blend of both or neither of the binary genders. They may describe this as being between female and male, between man and woman, between masculine and feminine or simply 'in between.' On a historical note, this term is more commonly used for someone who was assigned male at birth and now presents as more feminine.
  • Androgynous - Someone who identifies in the middle of the gender spectrum between male/masculine and female/feminine presentation. An intersex person may also identify as androgynous. On a historical note, this term is more commonly used for someone who was assigned female at birth and now presents as more masculine.
  • Bigender - Someone who identifies as two genders simultaneously. These could be male and female, but can also include any non-binary identity.
  • Cisgender Female - Someone who identifies as female and was assigned female at birth.
  • Cisgender Male - Someone who identifies as male and was assigned male at birth.
  • Cisgender Man - Someone who identifies as a man and was assigned male at birth.
  • Cisgender Woman - Someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth.
  • Demiboy - Someone who identifies as largely nonbinary, but with a partial connection to masculinity. Some may identify with two or more genders while others may not.
  • Demigirl - Someone who identifies as largely nonbinary, but with a partial connection to femininity. Some may identify with two or more genders while others may not.
  • Demienby - "Enby" is sometimes used as a noun for a third gender, just like the word "boy" is used as a noun for a masculine gender and "girl" is used as a noun for a feminine gender. Therefore, a demienby is someone who identifies at least partially as a non-binary gender, or "enby." Not all non-binary people identify as "enby," but some do.
  • Female - Someone who identifies as female, and does not designate whether that matches what they were assigned at birth or not.
  • Gender Fluid - Someone who is a dynamic mix of male, female, and/or other genders. Some days they may feel more female and other days they may feel more masculine. Some days they may even feel agender.
  • Gender Nonconforming - Someone who does not conform to prevailing cultural or societal expectations about what is appropriate to their gender. It sometimes means something similar to "nonbinary."
  • Gender Questioning - Someone who is not yet certain what their gender role is, or who had one they are no longer certain of.
  • Gender Variant - Someone who does not conform to either feminine or masculine norms. Similar to "nonbinary."
  • Genderqueer - This is often used as a catch-all for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression. They might be transgender, but not necessarily.
  • Hermaphrodite - This term refers to a being that has the ability to provide both egg and sperm needed to reproduce. Some species of animals are hermaphrodites, such as most snails, plants, angelfish, worms and sea stars.

    However, there is no such thing as a real human hermaphrodite - humans who have been mistakenly called hermaphrodites are actually intersex. Because the word hermaphrodite is so frequently misused on humans or fetishized, many people have come to view it as a transphobic slur. We included this term in our gender list because we are a RP site that plays home to many animal-based, fantasy or sci-fi races where the hermaphroditism may be literal and intersex may not apply, but we urge players to use the term with extreme care when deciding whether to use it on a "human-type" character.

    Because this is not something that applies to real humans, we offer it only for characters, not for users.
  • Intersex - Someone whose physical anatomy is different than what society generally expects. It might describe someone who looks female on the outside, but has mostly organs associated with males on the inside. Or, the person might have sex chromosomes that are different than expected. The person may have a combination of both sexual organs. In the past, intersex folks were often referred to as "hermaphrodites," but this is incorrect as hermaphrodites are both fully male and female at the same time and have the reproductive capacity of both. Unlike "hermaphrodite," intersex is a real way that humans can be born and exist in the world, at a rate of about 1 in 1700 births.

    An intersex person may choose to identify their gender as male, female, intersex or any other non-binary gender instead.
  • Male - Someone who identifies as male, and does not designate whether that matches what they were assigned at birth or not.
  • Neither - Neither male nor female. Similar to "agender."
  • Neutrois - Someone who identifies as neutral-gendered, neither more male nor more female. Sometimes also refers to someone who is "agender," as in having no gender.
  • Non-binary - Someone who feels that they have a gender, but that that gender is neither male nor female. Can also be used as a catch-all that includes agender folk.
  • Other - Someone who identifies as something not on this list. Or, sometimes just used for purposely mysterious characters.
  • Pangender - Someone who identifies as being more than one gender.
  • Trans - Short for "transgender." Transgender people have a gender identity that differs from their "assigned sex." They might identify as male, female, or some other gender. Trans people might but don't necessarily desire to undergo medical treatments that will help them change their physical sex to match their gender identity.
  • Transexual - A transgender person who desires medical assistance to transition from one physical sex to another.
  • Transexual Female - Someone who identifies as female, but was assigned some other sex at birth. They have, or plan to, undergo medical procedures to transition their physical sex to match their gender identity.
  • Transexual Male - Someone who identifies as male, but was assigned some other sex at birth. They have, or plan to, undergo medical procedures to transition their physical sex to match their gender identity.
  • Transexual Man - Someone who identifies as male, but was assigned some other sex at birth. They have, or plan to, undergo medical procedures to transition their physical sex to match their gender identity.
  • Transexual Person - Someone who has a gender identity that is inconsistent with, or not culturally associated with, their assigned sex, and desire to permanently transition to the gender with which they identify.
  • Transexual Woman - Someone who identifies as female, but was assigned the male sex at birth. They have, or plan to, undergo medical procedures to transition their physical sex to match their gender identity.
  • Transgender Female - Someone who identifies as female, but was assigned some other sex at birth.
  • Transgender Woman - Someone who identifies as female, but was assigned some other sex at birth.
  • Transgender Male - Someone who identifies as male, but was assigned some other sex at birth.
  • Transgender Man - Someone who identifies as male, but was assigned some other sex at birth.
  • Transgender Person - Someone who has a gender identity that is inconsistent with, or not culturally associated with, their assigned sex.
  • Transmasculine - Someone who was assigned female at birth, but identifies with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.
  • Transfeminine - Someone who was assigned male at birth, but identifies with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity.
  • Two-spirit - Someone who has both a masculine and feminine spirit. This term is from some First Nation (Native American) people, who may use it to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. Although this particular term is fairly modern, recognition of non-binary gender roles has been a long recognized tradition among many First Nation peoples. It is a sacred gender to those First Nation peoples, and considered disrespectful to use it outside of the native peoples whose cultures it originates in. If you're not sure, pick something else!
  • Unknown - We largely include this for use on character profiles where the author prefers to only reveal information other characters might know IC by looking at a character; if their gender is not immediately obvious, hidden by costuming, too alien to guess at at a glance, etc., this is a great option to represent that.
  • None of your beeswax! - This is something that users can pick when they'd prefer not to disclose their gender identity on their profile. ;)

Again, all of these genders are vastly more complicated and nuanced than can be described in just a few sentences, and some people may use these terms differently than I've described them here. You are strongly encouraged to do your own research to gain a deeper understanding of the range of genders in the world.

Remember, honoring the gender and pronouns a person prefers can be as easy as calling someone by the name they introduce themselves as, and refusing to do so is as rude as insisting on calling a person someone else's name despite having been introduced to them.

If you're curious, the site itself does its best to refer to people by pronouns based on whether the gender they've selected tends more feminine, more masculine, or neither. This can be seen very clearly during an event like Epic Week, where someone might be described as swinging "her" sword, "his" sword, or "their" sword. It can also sometimes be spotted in accolades when describing what someone did to assist the site.

Community Feedback

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  • Alex_Ao3

    August 5th 2018

    8:56pm

    I'm really impressed that a website included all of this. I just joined, and while building my profile, I assumed 'other' would end there, and my god it was nice to see a full list. Thank you.
  • UpAndDownTheHoedown

    July 19th 2018

    11:20pm

    Thanks from the bottom of my heart,an untransistioned mtf losdr.
  • Ghostiel

    July 13th 2018

    9:00pm

    Super informative read! ♥♥
  • EversongEternity

    July 13th 2018

    8:16pm

    Thank you for writing this out so well
  • IlexysCrowe

    July 13th 2018

    5:21pm

    Excellent! Thanks for this! <3
  • Yersinia

    July 13th 2018

    7:08am

    Thanks for taking the time to write this! I have to say, this list is actually the reason I joined RPR with the intention of sticking around; I could tell it was going to be a more inclusive (and therefore more fun, relaxing, etc) environment than what I was used to.
  • Sanne

    July 13th 2018

    6:31am

    I don't fully understand every single gender listed here, and some of them appear redundant to me. However, what I find important to remember is that as long as the inclusion of these genders doesn't take away our ability to choose for ourselves, it doesn't hurt having them around either. :) I'm no less a cis woman because other people feel more comfortable with the distinction between cis-female and trans-female. I see women as women either way, but their comfort in identifying as they choose supercedes my feelings of redundancy regarding the list. (This applies to all genders, just using myself to create an example.) Their comfort and validation matter as much as my own.

    At the end of the day, we still get to make our own choice in how we identify. The additional options in no way affect anyone else if they don't apply to the individual. I think that's a good way to see this list as a whole. It was created with respect and, knowing Kim, only after extensive research and speaking to the community and people who have first hand experience with these identities.
  • ollie

    July 13th 2018

    5:44am

    this was a very helpful explanation! i’ve always loved the amount of gender options that are available here because a lot of websites either don’t have them, or they do but people are hateful about it. i’ve seen a lot of positivity and respect here and it’s a nice change to what i’m used to <3

    however, i’d just like to add that, as a trans person who’s been involved in the trans community for years, a lot of us consider the term transsexual outdated/offensive due to its association with fetishism and bigotry. some trans people still use the term, and that’s perfectly okay, but you should never call someone transsexual without their permission. also, if you’re cisgender and have a trans character, you should probably refer to them as transgender instead of transssexual.

    of course, i don’t speak for every single trans person ever, this is just based on what i’ve seen from my ~6 years of being involved in the community.
  • Mythik

    July 13th 2018

    5:43am

    This was a interesting read but not just interesting but enlightening as well.
  • rat

    July 13th 2018

    4:47am

    Firstly, thank you for the clarification on the use of hermaphrodite vs intersex! Just as it is crucial for people to not conflate the two terms, RPers who use hermaphrodite to refer to alien biology for example should be free to without accusations of using a slur.

    @joestart - It's important that anyone who feels one of the above terms best applies to them is able to access the option, regardless of others' opinions on that term's connotations or validity. For some, the nuances in these terms are important and I'm pleased that RPR has taken this measure to ensure everyone feels represented.

    Also worth bearing in mind that a blank space to add your own options isn't feasible without opening up another place for the mods to keep an eye on, so this list is the best compromise.
  • Tate

    July 13th 2018

    12:08am

    @Joestar, while I can respect your view on this, there's a very clear and large part of the trans community who do not agree with you and wish to be able to announce theirselves.

    Male and female are still an option. This is all about preference.
  • joestar

    July 12th 2018

    9:20pm

    as a trans person, i don't think there should be transgender (fe)male and cisgender (fe)male options. you're implying that trans people are a completely different gender than what they identify as. transgender isn't a proper identity either. it's a medical condition. maybe there should just be male and female options for both cisgendered and transgendered people alike.
  • Skye

    July 12th 2018

    6:44pm

    This was very thoughtful. Thank you so much for taking some additional time to compile all of this information together. I learned a few things! ♥
  • LightSide-Lucree

    July 12th 2018

    6:18pm

    Thank you so much for this! This is definitely an informative article, and also helped confirm my own gender as well. This is why I love RPR: it always does its best to be inclusive and respectful to everyone!
  • milgram

    July 12th 2018

    5:59pm

    Oh, thank goodness you put the thing about "hermaphrodite." It always annoyed me to see people use that word inaccurately, and at worst, in a fetishistic/offensive manner. Overall, what an informative post. I learned a lot that I hadn't before.

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