Why, exactly, a new generation is rejecting categorizations that society has been using for millennia is up for debate. Eighty-one percent of Gen Z-ers believe that a person shouldn’t be defined by gender, according to a poll by the J. Walter Thompson marketing group. But it’s not just about gender — it’s about authenticity, whether real or perceived. Macho male actors and glam, ultra-feminine actresses have less cultural cachet than they used to. Gen Z, with its well-honed radar for anything overly polished or fake-seeming, prefers YouTube confessionals about battling everything from zits to depression. When the New York Times recently asked Generation Z to pick a name for itself, the most-liked response was “Don’t call us anything.”

Perhaps their ideas of gender have expanded under the influence of parents who are beginning to reject practices like gender-reveal parties that box kids in even before they are born. Jenna Karvunidis, who popularized the gender-reveal party, recently revealed on Facebook that her now 10-year-old child is gender-nonconforming and that she regrets holding the party. “She’s telling me, ‘Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there’s many different sexualities and all different types,’ and I take her lead on that,” Karvunidis said in an interview with NPR.

Eliana Dockterman on labels.

From a broader article about the gender neutral Mattel doll.