Love knows no gender – and never is that more important to remember than when dating a gender fluid person. For many years, society has celebrated straight, gay, and bisexual romances – loving either a man or a woman, either the opposite of or the same as your gender. We’ve recognized individuals who identify as transgender, who were born in the wrong body and who may be straight, gay, or bi regardless of their identity. However, the spotlight hasn’t been shone on gender fluid individuals until more recently, although of course they’ve always existed. Since gender identity is separate from sexuality, you may find yourself with a gender fluid partner whether you consider yourself straight, gay, or bi. If you love them, do everything you can to support this part of them.
Support Their Pronoun Choices
Just as transgender people feel uncomfortable when called by the wrong words and pronouns, so do gender fluid people. However, with them, the wrong pronoun can fluctuate. Even if they are fine with being called “he” one day, they may prefer “she” or “they” the next. Some prefer “they” at all times to indicate a more gender neutral identity, and still others prefer different gender neutral pronouns, such as “zhe” or “per,” which is short for “person.” It’s not rude to outright ask your loved one what pronoun they want to be identified as – and it’s not rude to make a mistake, so long as you gently correct yourself as soon as you realize the error.
Respect Their Fashion Choices
Part of a gender fluid identity is crafting how you represent yourself to the world. Many gender fluid people make a point of dressing more masculine one day and more feminine the next depending on how they feel inside that morning. Others blend both masculine and feminine at once, opting for a more neutral look. Your loved one may dress feminine the vast majority of days and only dress masculine on occasion (or vice versa), or they may change virtually every other day. Don’t make negative comments when they’re dressing the opposite of what you might expect. Celebrate and compliment their attire just as you might any other partner’s – or simply don’t comment on it, as you might any other partner’s.
Gender fluid people face too much discrimination, even from family and other loved ones. They don’t need it from the person they choose to date. Never make disparaging or condescending remarks about your partner’s choices. For example, if you’ve known them for a while before they came out as gender fluid, it’s okay to make mistakes and still talk about them as “she.” What you shouldn’t do is roll your eyes and sarcastically say something like, “So she—sorry, I mean, ‘they’…” with annoyance in your tone. You can say exactly that as long as you remain non-judgmental as you say it. Even if your partner isn’t there to hear you, it’ll come back to them. This kind of exchange will color your partnership either positively or negatively depending on how you approach these types of corrections.
Engage in Honest Communication
It’s okay to feel a little hurt that you’re losing the title of boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife for your partner. Nonetheless, it’s important you recognize this choice isn’t about you – about hurting you or intentionally making your life more difficult. It’s about your partner being true to themselves. The more you talk to your partner, the better your relationship will be. Invite them to tell you how they feel. Their identity has nothing to do with how much they love you, but your support (or lack of support) toward them after they come out will have an impact on how loved they feel by you.
Defend Them Against Others
You need to support your partner fully, but you’ll find not everyone else in their life will. Do what you can to stand up for your partner. Correct pronoun choices, ask that people don’t deride anything about your partner, and defend them whenever necessary.
Gender fluid people can think of themselves as men, women, both, or neither – it’s really up to the individual person to identify themselves. There’s no correct way to be gender fluid, so there’s no single way to support your love for a gender fluid person. What’s most important is you demonstrate respect of their choices and realize their identity is simply a part of who they are – not the sum of who they are.