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It Depends! Contextual Variability in Feminist Identity Disclosure Among Binary and Nonbinary Individuals


Given feminist backlash and stigma in society, whether people would publicly say that they are a feminist might depend on their social context, which could have implications for understanding who identifies as a feminist and why, as well as community and coalition-building. We therefore tested whether disclosure of feminist identity varies across interaction contexts and by gender/sex, given some gender/sex-specificities to stigma about feminist identity. In our study, we asked women, men, and nonbinary people who are feminists (N = 640) about their willingness to disclose their feminist identity in eight interaction contexts: immediate family, extended family, friends, partners, work, strangers, anti-feminists, and pro-feminists. Results revealed substantial intra-person contextual variability in feminist identity disclosure, suggesting participants’ decision to disclose their feminist identity varies across contexts. In general, participants were most reluctant to disclose their feminist identity to a stranger, with anti-feminists and work contexts showing the next greatest likelihood to not disclose. Finally, participants were most likely to share their feminist identity with their immediate family, friends, pro-feminist, and romantic partners. We also examined the disclosure pattern for each gender/sex group (women, men, and nonbinary participants). Results emphasize that holding a feminist identity might not necessarily lead to identity disclosure and that disclosure decisions may depend on contextual pressure and gender/sex considerations.

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This research was not pre-registered. The data and materials used in the research are available from the corresponding author upon request pending required ethics approvals.

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Available from the corresponding author upon request pending required ethics approvals.


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This research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada 150 Research Chairs program to Sari van Anders.


This research was funded by the Canada 150 Research Chairs program to Sari M. van Anders.

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All authors contributed to the study conception, design, material preparation, data collection, and analysis. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Eun Ju Son and Sari van Anders. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sari M. van Anders.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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This study was approved by Queen’s University (Ethics Clearance ID: GPSYC-1053-21).


All participants provided informed consent.

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Son, E.J., Harris, E.A. & van Anders, S.M. It Depends! Contextual Variability in Feminist Identity Disclosure Among Binary and Nonbinary Individuals. Sex Roles 88, 424–441 (2023).

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