What does enby mean?

What does enby mean?
Photo: Shutterstock

If you are familiar with the term “non-binary”, the term “enby” might have you feeling confused. While the words have the same inherent meaning, they aren’t always interchangeable.

If you know someone who identifies as enby (or you identify as enby yourself), here is what you need to know about the term.

Related: Biden Administration to Officially Recognize Trans and Non-Binary Veterans’ Genders

Enby Meaning

In simple terms, enby is slang for non-binary, which pertains to a gender identity that is not exclusively male or female. In most cases, an enby person might identify as:

  • Neither male nor female
  • Somewhere in between male or female
  • Genderless or gender-fluid
  • Not part of or beyond the gender binary

There is no single enby definition – when someone tells you they are enby, it’s best to ask them what they mean and how they identify.

Is Enby A Sexual Orientation Or A Gender Identity?

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same things. The former pertains to who you are sexually attracted to, while the latter is an internal sense of who you are.

Enby is a gender identity – enby people might have different sexual orientations like straight, gay, or bisexual.

What Pronouns Do Enby People Use?

Enby people might only use one pronoun, while others will use several. Some enby people prefer to go by they/them pronouns, while others might shift between he/him and she/her. Ultimately, the choice is personal, and the best way to find out what pronouns an enby person uses is to ask them!


Enby & Other Gender Identities

Some gender identities are very similar to enby but don’t mean the same thing. Here are a few gender identities that often get mixed up with enby.

Enby vs Non-Binary

Enby and non-binary are virtually the same thing. However, not all enby people feel affirmed when using “non-binary.” Some people find that the term “enby” is more approachable, comfortable, playful, and light.

Enby vs Gender Fluid

A lot of people tend to interchange enby and gender-fluid. While gender-fluid people can be non-binary, not all enby people feel that their genders change over time.

Enby vs Intersex

Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t adhere to male or female traditional definitions. While intersex people may not identify as either male or female like an enby person, most enby people are born with bodies that fit the typical male or female anatomy. However, their innate gender identities might be something other than male or female.


How To Use The Term Enby

In a general sense, you’d use the term enby to refer to someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. When referring to someone directly, you should only use the term enby with someone who identifies with it. If you aren’t sure whether a person is enby, ask them – never assume!

However, you can’t always call someone who is non-binary “enby”. People may find the word infantilizing in some cases, as non-enby people associate the term with younger generations. Because the term shares phonetic similarities with the word “baby,” it can sometimes make non-binary people feel dysphoric.

The same goes for when the word is used as a noun. Think about how “a homosexual” or “a migrant” can sound demeaning.

Common Non-Binary Gender Identities

Some people misconstrue non-binary as a third gender identity. However, there are more gender identities than male, female, and “other” that enby people might identify with:

  • Bigender: Someone who identifies with two distinct genders
  • Demigender: Someone who partially identifies with a specific gender
  • Gender fluid: Someone who moves between genders
  • Genderqueer: Someone who identifies as both a man and woman or neither of the options
  • Pangender: Someone who experiences all gender identities simultaneously or over time

How To Be Respectful Towards An Enby Person

The easiest way to respect an enby person is to treat them just as you would anyone else. You may also want to keep these tips in mind if you’re trying to become a better ally.

  • Don’t be nosy: If someone tells you they are enby, you aren’t necessarily privileged to know why. Take their word for it, and don’t try to disprove them. If they are comfortable sharing the reasons behind why they’re enby, they’ll happily tell you.
  • Educate yourself: If you are not familiar with gender terms, it can be confusing to understand the concept of being enby. Instead of asking an enby person to educate you, find helpful resources on your own.
  • Use the correct pronouns: Never assume someone’s pronouns. After all, appearance can’t indicate what gender identity someone adheres to. Instead, ask them and use these pronouns correctly.
  • Respect their chosen name: Some enby people may choose a new name that affirms their gender identity better. Always use their chosen name and don’t bring up their dead name.
  • Don’t expect praise: Using someone’s chosen name and pronouns correctly doesn’t require any congratulating. While an enby person might be grateful to you for respecting their choices, it shouldn’t demand praise.

The Bottom Line

While enby refers to a person whose gender identity doesn’t fit on the traditional male-female spectrum, its definition can vary among different people. As with anyone else, it’s always important to ask someone how they identify and how they want to be addressed.

Do you want to learn more about other gender identities and how to be a better ally? Explore more of what LGBTQ+ Nation has to offer!

Related: Major French Dictionary Adds Non-Binary Pronouns for the First Time

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Gay Gov. Jared Polis orders Colorado not to help other states’ abortion investigations

Previous article

Joe Biden signs executive order to protect abortion rights in wake of Supreme Court

Next article