Gen Z Doesn't Really Believe in Gender

Fifty-six percent know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns and only 44 percent always wear clothes designed for their gender.


Louis Vuitton ad

Here's an interesting look at the post-millennial cohort that people are currently calling "Gen Z." Though its parameters are still nebulous, Gen Z starts somewhere between 1995 and 2000 and ends somewhere between now and 2025. It's a rough concept still…kind of like these kids' budding views on gender and sexuality. But if one thing's clear from a new Innovation Group survey, the oldest of Gen Z—today's 13- to 20-year-olds—are, as Broadly puts itqueer as fuck.

A few quick hits: 35 percent of Gen Z respondents consider themselves somewhat bisexual, with only 48 percent identifying as completely straight and six percent exclusively into same-sex partners. Fifty-six percent said they know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns such as "they," "xi," or "ze." And only 44 percent said they always wore clothes designed for their gender. 

The Innovation Group presented these results at the SXSW festival in Austin last Friday. The study of around 1,000 young people also included millennials, defined here as those between ages 21 and 34. Compared to Gen Z, millennials identify as less fluid in their sexuality and are less likely to use gender-neutral products or know people who use gender-neutral pronouns. 

A full 65 percent of millennials identified as completely heterosexual, and millennials were less likely than Gen Z respondents to buy non-gendered shoes, clothes, deodorant, fragrances, or sports equipment. Neither group was big on saying that people are defined by gender, but Gen Z respondents were more likely to say that "gender doesn't define a person as much as it used to" (38 percent of Gen Z strongly agreed, versus 27 percent of millennials). 

Of course, there are explanations here other than millennials simply being less woke. Adolescence is a time of sexual exploration, and some of these sexually fluid teens may later come to identify more concretely as heterosexual or homosexual, as is wont to happen. As for gender not defining a person as much as it used to, millennials may not wish this so any less but simply have more experience in the broader world and are therefore less optimistic about gender not defining people. Regardless, when you combine those who "strongly agree" with those who only "somewhat agree" that gender doesn't define people, the difference between Gen Z and millennials drops to just four percentage points. 

For some survey questions, pollsters divided data into three groups: Gen Z, younger millennials (21 to 27 years old) and older millennials (28 to 34 years old). Some results:

  • 56 percent of Gen Z respondents, 47 percent of younger millennials, and 43 percent of older millennials know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.
  • 70 percent of Gen Z, 58 percent of younger millennials, and 56 percent of older millennials agree that "it's important for public spaces to provide access to gender neutral bathrooms."
  • 74 percent of Gen Z, 65 percent of younger millennials, and 62 percent of older millennials say they are more accepting of "nontraditional gender identities" than they were a year ago.
  • 88 percent of Gen Z, 81 percent of younger millennials, and 83 percent of older millennials agree that "if a sport is available for one gender at a school or university it should be available to the other gender as well." 

Another section simply asked if respondents were familiar with terms like "cisgender" and "asexual." On most of the words asked about, knowledge gaps between age groups were not drastic, and each group led in identificaiton of some words. Older millennials were more familiar than Gen Z or younger millennials with the words transgender, queer, and asexual. Younger respondents were significantly more familiar with terms like demisexual, genderqueer, and pansexual. The most familiar of the terms overall were transgender, queer, and asexual.

Across age groups, overall knowledge of most of the terms was pretty low. Just 33 percent of Gen Z respondents, 29 percent of younger millennials, and 19 percent of older millennials had heard the term genderqueer. Less than half of Gen Z and older millennials and slightly more than half of younger millenials had heard the term gender fluid. And just 28 percent of Gen Z, 23 percent of younger millennials, and 19 percent of older millenials knew the term cisgender, with similar percentages for nonbinary

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  1. Across age groups, overall knowledge of most of the terms was pretty low.

    That's incredible!

    *** rolls eyes ***

  2. Normally I'd yell get off my lawn, but in this instance I'd be afraid one of these weirdos would try masturbating my grass.

  3. Adolescence is a time of sexual exploration...

    What? No one told me that.

    1. Anyone think of the Calhoune rat study when they read this? The "Beautiful Ones"?

      I am so glad we live in a time where it totally matters where you put your genitalia.

      "And now class, please describe how often you sustain an erection when looking at Count Chocula; if you dont have a penis, measure your estrus. Then compare that to the average quantity of sexual estrus emitted when your fempanion observes The Hamburglar. If no fempanions can be dipsticked, then measure your subpanion's erection."

      Can't wait.

    2. Adolescence is a time of sexual exploration...

      Well, if that's the case, why am I in prison? Oh, THEIR exploration....

  4. I have a kid in college and another in High School. This study is complete horseshit.

    1. Nobody I know voted for Nixon!

      1. Yeah - Out here in the deep backwoods of New Jersey and the barren swamplands just outside of Philadelphia there aren't any liberals at all.

        1. Not that shithole Gibbstown?

          1. i dunno how far from philly Harrisburg is, but that place was astonishingly shitty

  5. What is gendered sports equipment?

    1. ^^^^^This...

    2. Traditional cis-baseball-bats are clearly male. A cis-baseball-glove is female. To be more inclusive, we need to separate form from function in order to allow maximum self expression.

    3. You never heard of a "cup"?

      1. Aren't you the spoilsport.

      2. I thought gendered wasn't related to sex organs, I'm confused

        1. It was a joke, actually. I assume they actually mean equipment in blue (and other colors) for boys and pink (and other colors) for girls. Kind of like what LEGO recently did to get girls interested in their product.

          1. Ok little kids I get. Although that seems to be a recent phenomenon in marketing. I don't remember a pink-everything-for-girls obsession in the 80s. My legos were primary colors.

            1. For example, a Gen Z Ind would not buy meggings to work out in, Ind would buy leggings to work out in.

              1. Are meggings what you wear with a man bun?

                1. I assume that those who have a man bun wear meggings, yes.

            2. Yes, I think the irony is that in many ways the 80s were more gender-neutral than now. But yes, things like this exist, and so what? My daughter's favorite color is pink, and she really like Hello Kitty. If she buys a pink Hello Kitty baseball bat, that doesn't mean she's ceding to a life of domestic drudgery, chained to a kitchen stove while dressed like Donna Reed.

              1. Yeah my little sister is like that too, she is also great at math. On the other hand, I hate pink and feminine things but I make pretty stuff for a living. It would be nice if people could just like what they like without always assuming there is some deep sociological or political reason for it.

              2. My daughter's favorite color is pink, and she really like Hello Kitty.

                You need to get her one of these.

              3. My daughters [now 21 and 28] loved the "pink aisle" and everything associated with it; the couple of times they got out of my sight range in a store caused brief panic on my part, but I knew right where to find them [and if they weren't in that aisle they would clearly have been abducted]; today they would tell you that gender stereotyping as an outcome of the color of their toys is total bullshit promulgated by those with an agenda [trying to work off their own, idiosyncratic pathologies] who don't know dick about kids or childhood development [i.e., what it really means to raise a child into a thinking, confident and competent adult].

            3. Yes, in the 80's girls played with nongendered Legos. Then a few years ago some genius figured out that boys were way more interested in traditional Legos, but if they made the Legos into pastel colors girls would demand them like crazy. Hope that researcheer got a nice bonus because sales skyrocketed when that niche (if you can consider half the population a niche) got discovered.

        2. right. I think we're talking about two separate concepts; your anatomy and your, I dunno, will - even if we're talking about them as different things - with the same words, hence the arguments not really making sense. there's no reason we need to use the same words to describe what clothes you like to wear as well as the specifics of your sexual proclivities. the internet has a weird effect on stuff like this, as in it immeasurably broadens your (potential) social circle, so you see more of a variety lifestyles, but it also lets people segregate themselves into narrower and narrower categories. self segregation based on lifestyle or ethics is, in some ways, more dangerous, and definitely more insidious than government segregation, because, historically at least, imposed segregation has been based on the most superficial characteristics (still dumb), whereas if you only associate with people who already agree with you you never learn anything.

      3. I prefer Ds and DDs.

      4. SEXIST!

    4. Jock strap

  6. Fifty-six percent said they know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns such as "they," "xi," or "ze."

    Even if the person they "know" is some online entity or public figure I'm still not buying this as a representative sample.

    1. People have been misusing "they" forever. It's not so much gender neutral as plural. You can use it to refer to a group of actual women, you know.

    2. My wife's niece, a freshman in college, announced on Facebook that she'd like to be referred to in this manner. It's happening, though, like dubstep, I don't get it.

    3. How much of that is because there is that one individual that refers to themselves as ze at school, but due to current morays, EVERYBODY knows that person. In the past, the one person may have been more discreet. In my school, we had a girl that claimed she could talk to animals in their own respective languages. Just because 80 percent of the kids knew about her didn't mean there were huge numbers of Dr. Doolittles in our school.

  7. Finally a generation that would approve of the sports bra I wear to save myself from some nipple chafe.

  8. Oh boy, a new generation to heap some collectivism on!

    1. Well, I don't care if people think they're a nerf football as long as they have a reasonable understanding of NAP with adherence to free market principals.

      1. Well there's no opportunity for culture war with that perspective.

  9. "35 percent of Gen Z respondents consider themselves somewhat bisexual"

    No. Most of you are straight, it's just that straight isn't "in" right now so you feel the desire to label yourselves with my orientation. Because for whatever reason the younguns are treating sexuality like fashion these days.

    1. No. Most of you are straight, it's just that straight isn't "in" right now so you feel the desire to label yourselves with my orientation.

      Can we get a hiss and a meow to go with that cattiness?

    2. "My orientation."

      All orientations are equal, but some orientations are more equal than others.

    3. All women are bisexual. At least they are in porn.

    4. Sexuality as a positional good. 😀

    5. "Bi-curious" was the thing in the 1990s, so I'm not so sure this is new.

    6. Historical rates of overt homosexual activity throughout diverse societies despite taboo suggests bisexuality is what it seems like... a practical matter. Many more people might be able to enjoy homosexual sex given the right circumstances than would actively seek it or prefer it exclusively. Because... wait for it... sex feels physically good.

      The real illusion is how many allegedly totally homosexual people they are. If we collectively were more realistic about this, far more gays would date bisexually. But supposedly pure gays are really hostile to bisexuals diluting their tribal culture, so they prefer to pretend along with straight bigots that bisexuals do not exist. Numerically, the majority of people having gay sex in America are probably not self identified pure homosexuals or even bisexually identified. They are highly likely to be people with... straight identity... because bisexual identity is difficult to organize a tribe around...

    7. These studies go against everything gay rights activists have been telling us for decades about homosexuality.

  10. There is a difference between saying you are gay or lesbian and kissing or sleeping with the same gender. Many of those under 18 don't know that.

    1. And some of them are *very* surprised when they learn this.

  11. So "somewhat bisexual" is when you're attracted to the opposite sex but are narcissistic enough that you wish you could have sex with yourself so you settle for a stand in?

    1. I need to know, is there a Batman exception here? Asking for a friend....

    2. I thought being "somewhat bisexual" is sneaking glances at men while they use the urinal.

      1. Only if you tap your toe 3 times.

    3. "Somewhat bisexual" = "bi-curious" = "I'm willing to have a three-way"

  12. " And only 44 percent said they always wore clothes designed for their gender. "

    Yes, those would be males. Every girl friend I ever had wore my clothes on a routine basis.

    1. Ever since I moved in with my girlfriend, I don't bother buying hoodies. She just takes them. But I only ever see her wear the one. The rest just vanish.

      1. Yeah..... her boyfriend is wearing them...

        I keed, I keed!

    1. Don't do that. You'll end up on a list and living under a bridge down by the river.

  13. You know- morons.

  14. My primary concern is that 20 years from now, when I'm looking for porn, the only thing available will be a bunch of curve-less blobs with nondescript genitals sporting bowl cuts licking each others taints.

    And when I was a teenager, I would have totally said that I knew people on heroin, because I thought that would make me cool in the 90s. My guess is that something similar is happening here.

  15. So if Gen Z doesn't believe in gender, does that mean they don't believe you can be born the wrong gender?

    1. Your mistake is trying to analyze these beliefs logically. The question is not whether they are basically consistent with one another. The question is which beliefs make you feel good. Once you know the beliefs that you want to hold, you reach for arguments. Any arguments will do, so long as they are effective. If arguments P and Q in support of beliefs A and B directly conflict with each other, that's OK. If anybody points out the inconsistency, scream a list of ad hoc demands by which the heretic can absolve himself.

      1. *polite applause*

    2. To a degree. You're unlikely to find someone that identifies as both pangender/genderqueer and transgender.

      That said, there's a difference between believing what's right for *you* and believing what's right for *everyone*. So someone that personally identifies as pangender might have no problem with someone that's transgender.

  16. I used 'Xe' in a corporate email the other day as a substitute for 'he or she...', first time usage for me. *shrugs* I can live with the adjustment, but I still feel very opposed to compelling anyone to alter their speech if they desire not to.

    1. This is understandable. The conservatives or realists in your office might make fun of you if you do this, the progressives might set your car on fire if you don't.

      1. This is pretty marginal. Even most progressives aren't using xe/xi/xou/xerim. I imagine this is on the revolutionary agenda for sometime in the next few years, but not right now.

        1. I honestly wouldn't even be aware of the rise of such parlance if Reason didn't lower both barrels on Prog agendas everyday. But now that I see that it is a thing, I think there may be uses for such language down the road; who knows what science has in store for gender identification years from now.

          1. There is no chance that this will ever have success. None.

            How do I know this? No, it isn't because it is stupid. Or because it is a non-solution to a non-existent problem.

            The reason this will never work is because those goalposts just keep running down the field. If you've lived long enough, you can see the wheel of stupid turn enough times to recognize the pattern. Folks who get all worked up over terminology are never satisfied. They are are perpetually offended by whatever the current term of art is, even if it is the term that they demanded a few years back.

            E.G. negro - Black - Afro-American - Black - African American - Black - African American


            Crippled - disabled - Handicapped - differently abled - handi-capable (no, seriously, they tried to float that one)


            idiot - Moron - Retarded - Mentally Handicapped - Mentally Challenged - intellectual disability

            As you can see, no matter what the new and improved, non-offensive word is, there's always a new crop of offense to come along and sweep it away. Even if the new word is actually worse and more offensive.

            These folks are not motivated by the things that they believe motivates them. Their true motivation lies in being perpetually aggrieved. Without a wrong to right, they have no sense of being. By being holier than thou they obtain a sense of self-worth. This will not change with acquiescence.

            1. And what were originally clinical terms that evoke negative connotations that no one honestly wants have to be changed every so many years; case in point, terms like cretin, imbecile, moron, and retarded quickly morphed into handy one word insults and have thus evolved into the acceptable language of the day. Obama oversaw the change in legal definition from mentally retarded [circa 1961] to the less pejorative intellectual disability through Rosa's law [I believe this was in 2010].

              Look for another law in a decade or so as intellectual disability evokes the connotation of someone who is not very smart, so another term with temporarily less baggage will have to be found to make everyone feel better about it.

              So I believe cretin, moron and imbecile and now ok to use, especially if they are being used by a progressive/ SJW toward someone who is not with the[ir] program. Given time retarded will also be acceptable in this vein.

              What a stupid, retarded world.

        2. You realize progressive compete with eachother ot see who can get to these things first, right?

          Next few years = approximately 30 seconds from now.

  17. Teenagers still like to fuck around with surveys given by adults. Film at 11. Seriously, according to the "drug use" survey we had to do in high school, 85% of the student body was on heroin and meth at the moment they were taking the survey. In reality, I never even saw any drugs other than weed and cocaine until I was in college.

    1. We lied on surveys on drug and alcohol use all the time in high school and college. They're frickin kids.

  18. Zhey are either stupid or brainwashed en masse if they insist upon denying something that definitely exists (gender and **gasp** gender differences). It's like believing the moon isn't there. Then again, maybe it's just a particularly stupid form of social signaling but, if they're this pliable, we're in trouble. Finally and hopefully, this study might just be complete horseshit.

  19. It's a fad, like rock and roll music and haircuts.

  20. They're kids, they have no idea what they believe and it's pretty hard to take seriously anybody who takes this nonsense seriously. Hell, when I was that age I believed I looked pretty boss in two-tone platform shoes, bell-bottom pants and a ruffled-front shirt with puffy sleeves. I also believed Pablo Cruise was going to be the next big thing, so what the hell did I know?

  21. "[...] were less likely than Gen Z respondents to buy non-gendered shoes, clothes, deodorant, fragrances, or sports equipment."
    Wait, what?

    There's non-gendered shoes and clothes? Where do these people shop?

    1. T-shirts and jeans? Sweatpants and Crocs? I guess they make those mostly for a specific gender. But if someone from 100 years ago showed up, they would think that most women were cross dressing.

      1. if someone from 100 years ago showed up, they would think that

        ... everyone had been reduced to farm-laborers

        1. We have designer blue jeans these days. It's all working-class chic all the way.

  22. Most of this seems like pretty obvious, no-shit kind of stuff.

    People wear casual clothes, which are much less gender specific than the more formal clothes of the past.
    Being gay or bisexual doesn't carry much stigma anymore, so between people trying to be hip and people that would have stayed closeted in the past, you'd expect to see more of that. Same with gender ambiguity/fluidity.
    I don't know what "defined by gender" means. Just do what they fuck you want to do.

    I guess I'm a confused old person when it comes to gender neutral pronouns.


    1. "Hey baby, wanna go have gender?"

    2. You beat me to it. The whole article is rendered nearly unintelligible by that conflation.

  24. 13-20 year olds?

    Would like to see the "just 18 & up" data before believing it means anything.

    That's a non-cohort. there's about as much difference in maturity between a 20yr old and a 15yr old as there is between me and a recent college grad.

  25. "Only 44% always wear clothes designed for their gender". Does this include all the time my gf wears my god damned Arcade Fire Tshirts?

  26. Can't be too far from the ones who want to argue that species is an artificial construct. Never mind that pesky DNA, if they want to be a horse, so be it.

  27. only 44 percent said they always wore clothes designed for their gender.

    What exactly does that mean? To my mom's generation, that could mean girls wearing pants.

  28. This "study" is from a marketing group. Their head of Analytics doesn't list one academic credit indicating any personal ability in research design. All they care about is how to re-brand the Axe line so Gen Z will buy it.

  29. another brainwashing success story!

  30. i don't believe in human-caused global warming = SCIENCE HATER/DENIER

    I don't believe in chromosomes = OPEN MINDED/PROGRESSIVE

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