Excerpted from an SHRM Blog by Allen Smith

The number of people identifying as “gender-nonbinary”—meaning, as neither male nor female—is on the rise, shifting the diversity conversation and raising new compliance challenges. California and New York City have specific protections that prohibit discrimination against gender-nonbinary individuals. Laws in other jurisdictions are less clear, as is the issue of how to handle certain workforce reporting responsibilities. The EEO-1 Report that private employers must file, for example, requires a male or female designation for each employee.

Just how many gender-nonbinary people are in the U.S. is uncertain. A 2016 study by the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law School, estimated that there are 1.4 million transgender and gender-nonbinary adults in the U.S.

Among transgender individuals, more than one-third (35 percent) would prefer not to be assigned either a male or female gender designation, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality publication The Report from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. The survey is the largest one of transgender people, with 27,715 respondents from all 50 states.

People who have nonbinary genders may be androgynous or intergender, may have a neutral or unrecognized gender identity, may have multiple gender identities, may have a gender identity that varies over time, may have a partial connection to a gender identity, may be intersex, or may have a culturally specific gender identity that exists only within that culture.

“The number of persons who consider themselves [gender-]nonbinary is almost certain to increase,” said Bill Osterndorf, president and founder of HR Analytical Services in Milwaukee.

Young people are more likely to identify outside traditional notions of gender and sexual orientation binaries such as gay/straight and man/woman, according to a 2017 study by GLAAD, a civil rights organization that works on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities.

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