A person in my class says she's gender neutral. What's that even mean?
Hi there! Thanks for your question!
First of all, it's super important to find out whether or not this person uses she/her pronouns. It can be tricky, but we have to un-learn the assumptions we make about people. Some gender neutral folks do use she/her pronouns, while others may use something neutral like they/them, ze/hir, etc. It's absolutely up to the individual how they self identify.
Now, gender is a lot more complex than just boy or girl. Like most types of identities, gender is on a spectrum (this is why we queerios love the rainbow symbolism!). Some people identify much closer to one end of the spectrum (say, super masculine) and others may identify as a lot more feminine and be closer to the other end. Most people fall somewhere in between. A gender neutral person typically sits pretty close to the middle of the spectrum. It may mean that they feel slightly masc and slightly femme, or that they don't feel like those terms fit their identity at all. Some individuals may identify as gender fluid, which typically means that they fluctuate along the gender spectrum: sometimes a little more to the masculine end, and sometimes towards the feminine end.
Here is a neat graphic that might help you better understand the gender spectrum. It's also a really great graphic to explain the differences between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation.
***please note*** I had previously used a graphic here of the 'genderbread person' but have since found out that it had been plagiarized by a cisgender white man from a group of racialized queer folks and never gave them credit. I apologize if the image offended anyone for this reason and I've removed it. I will be using this as an example of allyship among intersecting communities, and as a lesson of how easy it is to share unvalidated, incorrect, or harmful content.
I know it sounds really complicated, but it's actually really simple. All we have to do is allow folks to identify however they want, support them, and love them no matter what!
After all, it's important to allow people to #justB themselves.