JWT's Intelligence's Gen Z goes beyond gender binaries covers research showing that today's teens (Gen Z) are more open-minded than older generations when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality.
Key quote on the growing view by teens that gender is not binary nor fixed:
Fifty-six percent of 13-to-20-year-olds said that they knew someone who went by gender neutral pronouns such as “they,” “them,” or “ze,” compared to 43 percent of people aged 28 to 34 years old. Over a third of Gen Z respondents also strongly agreed that gender did not define a person as much as it used to.
The study also found that Gen Z is flexible in terms of sexuality. Only 48 percent of Gen Zs identify as exclusively heterosexual and about one third indicated that they were bisexual to some degree.
This is substantially different than millennials, 65% of which reported being exclusively heterosexual. BTW, other studies have shown over 90% of baby boomers report being heterosexual. So there's clearly a generational trend going on.
The shifting view of gender is happening in part because the Internet makes it much easier for people to learn about and explore gender alternatives. Key quote from a Broadly article on the study:
"I think the internet plays the greatest role in the self-discovery process today," they said. "Young people have more access to information and to other people than ever before. Marginalized folks are building communities and platforms online and are talking about their everyday experiences on public forums. I can't tell you how many times someone has written something and I think, Oh my God, that's a real thing? That's not just me? There's a name for this?"
Now that there are terms to describe varying identities, more and more people are realizing they fit into another box or no box at all.
Below is a slide (click to enlarge) from the JWT article listing most of the terms in use to describe non-binary gender alternatives.
The shifting view of gender is an important social trend that will impact the economy in multiple ways. JWT, for example, is studying it because of its impact on shopping.
Only only 44 percent of teens said they always bought clothes designed for their own gender, versus 54 percent of millennials. I won't bother looking up the data for baby boomers, I'm confident that generation is mostly buying gender specific clothes.
But shopping is not the only area that will be impacted. Gender and gender identities are woven into much of our society. Changes in how gender is viewed will have a wide range of effects.