The number of university students defining themselves with non-binary definitions has more than doubled in the space of a year.

Research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that 1,025 students in British higher education do not label themselves as male or female — up from 480 the previous year.



People who don’t conform to the gender binary have received more representation in popular culture in recent times, with stars from actress Ruby Rose to Arrow actor Bex Taylor-Klaus to Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar coming out as non-binary.

Ruby Rose arrives at the 2018 iHeartRadio Wango Tango by AT&T at Banc of California Stadium on June 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty)
Ruby Rose defines as genderfluid (Tommaso Boddi/Getty)

And since the beginning of 2017, TV viewers have seen non-binary characters introduced in Showtime drama Billions and Netflix shows One Day at a Time and Degrassi: Next Class.

This movement in the direction of acceptance seems to be allowing students to either open their minds about their own gender identities or simply feel free to come out as non-binary — or both.

The HESA data also shows that, when compared to figures from three years before the latest update, university students are around four-and-a-half times more likely to define as ‘Other’ rather than ‘Female’ or ‘Male.’

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University students are around four-and-a-half times more likely to define as ‘Other’ than three years before (Pexels)

London and Glasgow-based universities had the most self-defining non-binary students, with King’s College London topping the table ahead of the University of Glasgow, Kingston University and the University of Strathclyde.

A poll published earlier this year in the US found that the majority of LGBT+ people do not define as lesbian or gay, and it seems that an increasing number of people are also viewing gender less as a binary, and more as a spectrum.

Earlier this year, a parent went viral after explaining what it means to be non-binary to their child in a wonderfully simple way.

Jay Jackson, from Brighton, wrote on Twitter that a child visiting their workplace had asked them whether they were a boy or a girl.

After Jackson said they were “neither,” the child’s parent explained more about what being non-binary means.

London and Glasgow universities had the most non-binary students (Pexels)

Jackson recounted: “Their parent explained that some people are ‘he,’ some are ‘she,’ and others are ‘they’ — the kid replied that they had never thought of that, and the parent said they could think about it more together later.”

“Parenting done right, I welled up, my coworkers were emotional, it was everything,” they added.

“The parent also said that just because we’re told by other people that we are something doesn’t mean that it’s true.”

Unfortunately some people aren’t as accepting and educated, even within the LGBT+ community — as non-binary activist Owl (aka Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir) found out when her appearance in a queer magazine sparked a backlash in June.




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