MILWAUKEE — In this Two Americas report, we explore why non-binary pronouns are often misunderstood and are more common than you might think.
A non-binary person refers to gender-neutral pronouns, such as 'they,' 'them,' or 'their' when you refer to them.
Karl Hooyman has used non-binary pronouns for the past two years, meaning they do not identify as male or female.
"I love going from a masculine day to a feminine day, and its just so much fun. It releases me from labels and expectations," Hooyman said.
More people are controlling their own narrative. In fact, a study shows more than one in four LGBTQ youth identify as non-binary.
"In our world, we think one or the other, when it's really this beautiful hue of expression. I think the younger generation is seeing it more than ever. I know how it feels to be that kid who was so scared," said Hooyman.
Licensed professional counselor Lia Knox says there has been a learning curve for not just our community, but our country as a whole, to better understand.
"If you look at the dictionary, they can be used for one person for someone who is non-binary," Knox said.
Knox believes lack of awareness has made it hard for our non-binary population.
"That also can cause high-risk of depression, high-risk of anxiety, higher risk of isolation, not being involved in things I'd normally be involved in," Knox said.
Knox says the way to bring it up in conversation is easy.
"You can simply say 'Hey what pronouns do I use?' or 'What pronoun would you like me to refer to you as?'"
Hooyman agrees, saying "I think everyone should out of respect."
A small gesture that could mean the world to someone in your community.
WATCH the video below to hear Karl talk about their conversation with family about their non-binary pronouns.
WATCH: Doctor Knox shares how to easily de-escalate a situation if someone is confrontational with you about LGBTQ topics.