Are We Moving Toward Androgyny?

By Mariamne Paulus


For many years esoteric teachers have predicted that we would come to a state of development called androgyny when we would not be identifiable as either male or female. It appears we are moving quickly into that state, which is quite confusing for those of us who have identified as either male or female all these years.  This new generation has quickly developed terminology that enables them to speak of the changes going on in our culture.  [The definitions provided below were posted on June 3, 2021 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation,]


Identifying Gender Identity

Gender identity is an internal identification, is not visible to others, and can match or differ from their assigned sex at birth.

The term “nonbinary” refers to persons who identify with or express a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female. Here are some examples.

Some persons prefer to be known as “agender,” which means a person who does  not identify as male or female. Some agender individuals see themselves as genderless, while others see themselves as gender neutral. I have noticed when filling out forms in doctors’ offices recently that they now ask you to choose “male, female or other.”  This is a step in the direction of acknowledging the changes going on.

Some people have chosen to identify as “asexual.” These people are not sexually attracted to others and have no desire to engage in sexual behavior. Asexuality is different from celibacy in that a person who is celibate is sexually attracted to others but chooses to abstain from sex.

There are others who are “bigender.” These persons have two genders. People who are bigender may experience two gender identities at the same time or at different times. These gender identities can be binary – male and female – or include nonbinary identities.

Bisexual” describes a person who is attracted to both men and women. A person does not need to have had specific sexual experiences – or any sexual experience – to identify as bisexual.


What Are Your Pronouns?

There are those whose gender identity matches the sex – male or female – originally identified on their birth certificate. They are known as “cisgender,” which is pronounced sis-gender, and describes only their gender identity, not their sexual or romantic attractions.

Any person who does not identify with the gender originally assigned on their birth certificate is designated as “transgender” or simply “trans.

Some who do not identify as exclusively male or female and who usually prefer “they” as a pronoun call themselves “enby,” which is the phonetic pronunciation of “NB,” which stands for nonbinary. Not all nonbinary individuals prefer or use this term.

The term “gay” describes a person who is attracted, emotionally and/or physically, to someone of the same gender. The term can be used by men, women, or individuals who identify as nonbinary. A person does not need a specific sexual experience – or any sexual experience – to identify as gay.

The other aspect of this change of terminology is the choice of pronouns. Many are choosing to use “they/them” rather than “he/him” or “she/her.” This may seem like a new phenomenon, but it actually has been in use in the English language since the 14th century. They is popular now as a non-binary pronoun for people who are trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming. But singular “they” has always been a popular device for writers when gender is unknown, irrelevant, or needs to be concealed to protect the anonymity of a person you’re talking about.

Republicans in the Arizona Senate seek to remedy the increasing use of pronouns in this new way. For their first bill of the 2023 session, they (meaning Republicans) have decided to prioritize banning pronouns. We can all hope the bill does not pass. It is so hard to speak without pronouns.


Remaining “Fluid,” or Not Resisting

As I have been exposed to changes in terminology, I have chosen to adapt rather than resist.  As a result, when I was asked one day, “what are your pronouns?” I knew what the question meant.

I do not view all of this as a fad which will quickly fall away.  I see it as a major shift in our understanding of who we are as human beings.  We are not fixed objects with one definition.  We are, as today’s young people say, “fluid.”  We are discovering who we are as we go along, and as we learn more about ourselves, we change how we talk about ourselves.

I was surprised to discover just the other day that the Cambridge Dictionary recently updated its entries for “man” and “woman” to include transgender people. It is the latest dictionary to broaden its lexicon to reflect evolving language around gender.

While the Cambridge Dictionary’s primary definition for “woman” remains “an adult female human being,” a second definition refers to “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” Similarly, the British reference guide defines “man” as “an adult male human being” and also “an adult who lives and identifies as male though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.”

Despite the outcry deeming Cambridge Dictionary’s new definitions to be a political statement, the spokesperson said that such changes are meant to provide an accurate depiction of how certain words are used in society. Other dictionaries have made similar changes to terms around gender and gender identity over the years.

It seems to me that all of this reflects a gradual change in the way we know ourselves, and perhaps before long it will be common to recognize ourselves as androgynous. Perhaps that is one step toward knowing ourselves as Spirit rather than human. Who knows?  I am open to the changes as they come. u