What's your concept of your gender like?

Questions and discussions about gender, gender roles and identity.
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What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Heather » Sat May 30, 2015 1:56 pm

In other words, what's your gender story and picture when it comes to your identity?

To give you an example, I'm someone assigned female sex at birth, and while I don't bristle at people deciding for me I'm a woman, I tend to have most often -- and do currently -- experienced my own gender as being more agender than anything else. Again, she/her isn't a set if pronouns I mind (and the same would be true of he/him), but when given a choice, they/them feels better to me. If I'd come of age with as much visibility of genderqueer identities as a lot of you have now (and the language! We didn't have any of these words, even), I'd probably have identified firmly this way very early on, and would probably be more intense about it now. Mostly, growing up, I was just happy to have visibly androgynous people like Patti Smith, Boy George, Annie Lennox, Grace Jones and David Bowie to look to, and given when I grew up and the countercultures I was part of, a lot of androgyny was around me full-stop. On the whole, that worked well enough for me.

(As it is, my experience as someone now middle-aged was that I just got comfortable figuring out how to be a woman that's who I am, which often doesn't match a lot of feminine roles or identities. I absolutely get, support and understand people my age or older transitioning only now -- be that people with trans or genderqueer identities -- but my own discomfort with the box I often have been put in just isn't that great, and my emotional energy is so spoken for already, that at this point in my life, it just seems like more trouble than it's worth for me.)

I get what a lot of people mean when they talk about things being masculine or feminine, and certainly am not unfamiliar with the cultural roles, behaviours and ways of presenting that tend to be assigned to one or the other of those groups. But personally, I've never had much intrinsic sense of what, if anything, that means for me. Like, those things, neither of them, save in fleeting moments, really, have ever felt like a sense I had inside of me that directed me, but only like things I understood as what they were based on other people who DO have that kind of inner feeling about them.

In other words, were I tasked with assigning what things are masculine or feminine in myself, I'd mostly be doing a lot of shrugging, because for the most part, nothing really strongly ever feels like one or either of those things to me.

That said, I keep my hair long, and while a lot of that is about the fact that I look like a busted Cabbage Patch Kid with it very short, it also has been something both masculine and feminine for me. I grew up around, and have most often also dated, more men with long hair than women, so more often than not, my mess of a mop feels like a masculine thing for me, were I asked to pick and assign a gender attribute. I'd probably butch it up a bit more with my dress if my body shape didn't make that very tricky and ask for a lot of custom tailoring. But my preferences in clothing tend to usually have a lot more to do with my general aesthetics and comfort than gender. Again, like pretty much everything for me, even things a lot of people think or say are about gender -- and that a lot of people experience as being about it for themselves -- for me, if and when those things are about anything, gender probably isn't it.

But. I for sure struggled a lot growing up (and sometimes still!) with being told that this, that or the other thing I was doing wasn't what women or girls were supposed to be doing to be those things. I was never bothered by any of that because I was invested in being a woman or a girl, but because the message I usually got was that a) I was a girl or woman, b) and since I couldn't (or someone thought I shouldn't) change that, then c) I should not be doing those things, and needed to change my behavior, interests, mannerisms or appearance. If all I got from those was the message my gender wasn't what they thought, I wouldn't have cared very much. It's the message that I couldn't be all of who I was and needed to change THAT to "match" the sex or gender I was "supposed" to be.

Too, it is a big pile of grr how often one does still have top pick only man/woman or male/female on so many things. There's a whole other level of suckiness when you want to pick the one that doesn't match your assigned sex (because, especially on legal documents, and certainly per most people's sensibilities and fears, that's taken as fraud), to be sure, but when neither is where you sit, an "other" and a "none" option would sure be swell.

So, what about you? :)
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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Jacob » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:49 am

In my own bubble of me, I just think of myself as ungendered, and the gendered labels on my body and my life are something put on me from the outside. And in my sex life, I just think of it as play acting.

But I guess when people or institutions treat me like a man, I don't fight it, and that lands me with a lot of privilege which I have to own. So I feel like it is accurate to say I am a guy when I talk about politics but false when I am talking about identity.
"In between two tall mountains there's a place they call lonesome.
Don't see why they call it lonesome.
I'm never lonesome when I go there." Connie Converse - Talkin' Like You

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby MusicNerd » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:44 am

Well, I identify as a woman and am cis, and there're definitely some privileges that come with being cis that I continually try to educate myself on regularly. But when it comes to how I feel based on gender expression: I feel like I present myself a lot more femininely than how society would label my personality, which can throw people off quite a bit at times. For instance, I swear like a sailor..... when I chip my freshly-painted nail polish or smudge my lipstick. :P tbh I just swear a lot in general lol

Something I tend to struggle with though, is that even though I identify as femme, I feel like I'll never actually be able to fit "conventional" standards of femininity or beauty expected of women seeing as I'm Black/mixed/not-white-passing-in-the-slightest. For instance, I was out on a date with someone and explained that I tend to get mistaken for straight most of the time because of being femme, and then he went on to talk about how his ex was "more conventionally femme" and as he gave the description, in my mind I was like, "ah, she was white-- got it." Like, puh-lease! I'm never gonna have long, straight-but-loosely-curled hair unless I chemically altered it (which I don't wanna go back to doing). So yeah... sometimes things like that can sting a bit for me even though I know most of the time people don't intend for it to.

So, I'm still working through that and just accepting that I'll never actually be able to fit those standards, or might not even be seen as feminine or queer or femme enough (or a woman *cue Sojourner Truth*). But I try to create my own expression of femininity and also try to look to other QPOC femmes for my inspiration :)
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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Johanna » Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:23 am

For myself and my own identifcation, I don't really have much use for the concept of gender. I can't really say "I identify as man/woman/etc" because to me, there are no feelings connected to those words. I happen to have been assigned female at birth, and I like a lot of stuff that's pretty femme, so that works for me.

I definitely struggled more with the idea of gender growing up - as a kid, I was very much what people call a "tomboy", and though I wasn't really conceptualising it in this way back then, it definitely bothered me to have gender foisted upon me via the judgements about my non-girly behavior. Having always been prone to rebellion, the result of this was that I wound up vehemently rejecting femininity for a few years, refusing to wear skirts or make-up or heels and making it a point to be one of the "cool girls", who play soccer and video games and hang with the guys. It took me a while to realize that by doing this, I was still limiting myself and playing right into the neat little gender boxes. But it took me a while to figure out what felt right for me, independent of gendered expectations of those around me, and to accept that I don't have to identify as a given gender if it doesn't feel right to me.
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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Sunshine » Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:14 am

I like my gender.

I just really love being a woman. I like my female body, I like having breasts and "lady parts" (sorry if that sounds prude...), I like getting my period, even. I feel comfortable around other women (as a rule - of course there are exceptions). I don't understand why some women don't want to see a female gynecologist, for example, or don't want to work on an all-female team. I guess they have reasons, but I just don't get them.

For some odd reason, though, I feel very drawn towards other people who are androgynous. Isn't that odd? I am happily, enthusiastically female, but I am often attracted to other women who are somewhat "masculine" and to men who have "feminine" traits. Opposites attract, I suppose.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Alixana » Sun Aug 16, 2015 5:38 am

I was assigned female at birth, and identifies strongly as a woman. When I was younger, and just starting to figure out some of the ways of how the world is unjust, I remember once thinking "I would have it easier if I were a boy!" but then immediately thinking "...but I want to be a girl". (I found that such an interesting contrast from how one of my friends, who is trans, told me how he, when growing up, always knew he'd rather been born a boy but it didn't cross his mind that he was trans, because he thought that all girls felt that way.)

That said, I have often been uncomfortable/bored with things deemed feminine. I long felt somewhat uneasy wearing skirts or dresses. I then figured out that most of my unease came from concepts I didn't know the words to talk about them and process them. Like, I think I felt that wearing feminine clothing kinda made me "agree" to be treated in the objectifying and demeaning ways women are sometimes treated. I didn't want to do that, so my tactic was to wear nondescript clothing and generally trying to fade into the background as much as possible. After learning about feminism, I realized, that no, nothing I wear/don't wear can make it in the slightest way my fault if someone behaves badly towards me. This has made me much more comfortable wearing dresses, even if it still is something I mostly do on special occasions, and in everyday life doesn't spend much time thinking about what to wear (but feminism has also taught me that there is nothing "shallow" or "silly" about spending much time and money on clothes, it's a perfectly fine hobby, just not for me).

Shaving has also been a huge issue for me. I never particularly felt like I wanted to do it, but the stigma of being a woman who did not shave was to large. During the last 3 years or so, I have tried to gradually get comfortable not shaving, while also accepting that sometimes it was just too scary not to shave, since it worsened my social anxiety in some circumstances. About a month ago, I finally felt "**** it, I can't be bothered anymore, I'll never shave my legs again!". =D It may sound silly, but that felt like a huge victory to me.

I'm very happy that I was assigned female at birth. I think growing up with the expectation on me to behave "masculine" would have been much harder. I'm a person who often cries, and often needs to be allowed to cry before dealing with things. Growing up with the stigma boys often get around crying would have been crippling for me, I think.

I also find it interesting how I can feel so strongly that I am a woman, when I can't really define what a woman is. It clearly isn't liking all things considered feminine, since I (and most others) don't do that. It also clearly doesn't mean having a vagina/womb/breasts etc., since transwomen are as much women as I am. I guess something of it has to do with feeling a connection towards other people (women) who have faced/are faced with similar injustices. That also gives rise to the interesting question of; would I identify as strongly as a woman if we lived in a world with no gender-based inequalities?

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Jacob » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:13 am

Just wanted to say I really appreciated everyone's descriptions of gender here and how much it comes from our own experience.
"In between two tall mountains there's a place they call lonesome.
Don't see why they call it lonesome.
I'm never lonesome when I go there." Connie Converse - Talkin' Like You

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Nyako » Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:05 pm

Gender is a weird concept to me. I personally identify as feminine, but not female - I am biologically female and I'm comfortable being referred to as she/her, since that is what I look like. I just see myself as a being, more than anything, although it was confusing when I was little - I knew I wasn't a boy, so the only other option seemed to be a girl, and I didn't feel like that either. I ended up being fussy and insisting on having long hair and so on because I thought I had to be a girl (partially due to social problems, which I know now was due to then-undiagnosed Aspergers). It was only a few years ago I realised I was neither in particular, but I like wearing dresses and knee socks and all that so that is what I wear. I never saw a difference in genders anyway, people are just people to me.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby al » Thu Feb 11, 2016 10:09 pm

My gender is like an itch between my shoulder blades that I can't scratch, but it it kind of tickles in a good way. It's a shaved head and piercings and toenail polish and worn-in shirts from the thrift store and opening doors for people and cooking Indian food and not shaving anything I don't want to, as well as strong coffee and howling at the moon and working with my hands and crying when I feel the love among people in the room. It's a cold beer and a handwritten note and staying in for the night and a Hawaiian shirt and an heirloom tomato, all in a backwards baseball cap. It's a old and comfortable sweatshirt that's a little smelly, but it feels like home to me.
A friend of mine says her gender identity is "baby chainsaw", and it seems to fit her perfectly. She's sharp and soft and pink, all at the same time. I haven't found a phrase yet that suits me quite that well, and I don't know if I ever will. Like I said earlier, not having a name for this nebulousness is like a nice little tickle that I kind of want to last. For now, I'm embracing my connection to other women and the experiences/struggles that we share, and challenging myself, as well as others, to explore my identity and expression beyond the traditional options presented to me. And I'm probably going to go eat a tomato now.
Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it. -Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Heather » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:13 am

I love your writing style, al! :)
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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Onionpie » Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:13 am

I've been thinking more about my gender lately, and thinking about the way the environment I grew up in affected it, and how different I might be had I grown up in a different environment. I grew up in suburbia, and I was a tomboy. But literally nobody else was, I don't know how I had such completely rotten luck. I always gravitated to the less-feminine girls as my social circle, but even they were ALWAYS more feminine-presenting than I was. I had short hair and was always made fun of for it. I wore a lot of hand-me-downs from my brothers. I played video games with my brothers. I play-fought with my brothers. I always felt I was a girl but people regularly misgendered me which I found frustrating. I began to resent my agender/masculine expression, not because it didn't feel like it fit me (it really, really did) but because the only response I ever got towards it was ridicule and misgendering.

I started growing my hair out in grade 4, and I started wearing slightly more feminine clothes. People stopped misgendering me. It felt like such a relief. I still really had no interest in "feminine" things like makeup, dolls, etc. I still always managed to be a slightly weird kid, dressing up as "Harriet Potter" randomly -- nope, not on halloween, or on "be your favourite character" day of spirit week. Just because I was feeling like Harriet Potter that day. I played with stuffed animals instead of dolls, and enjoyed getting lost in forests pretending I was a wild animal. I was still very much non-feminine personality-wise, but I had started to present more feminine to avoid the social disapproval I had been getting. (I had always felt extremely out of place, because of my "weird" personality, mixed with not-good social skills, mixed with my accent, mixed with being very culturally English in a very Canadian suburb, so I wanted to be able to control just ONE thing that didn't make me the focus of ridicule).

In grade 7 I think I was at my most comfortable with my outward expression of identity -- I wore a mix of baggy "skater boy" jeans and tshirts, with a random assortment of skirts and dresses in all kinds of styles. One day I would be full-on Alice Cooper goth. Another I would be 100% 80s mall-rat of many colours. Then I'd be hippy dippy in a long flowing skirt. Then I would be back to skater punk in my jeans and studded wristbands. That's when I had the most fun with my expression and felt the most connection with it -- it felt most in line with my inner self. But in grade 8 I began to resent the femininity that was being pressed onto me from all sides by society, and that I had been pressing onto myself from a young age, which I felt just didn't fit at all with my inner sense of self. I started wearing only baggy tomboy clothes again, started hanging out with only guys and being the "cool girl" who was "one of the guys". I started to despise femininity and became misogynistic towards any femme women. But my female friends (who shared the same "I'm one of the COOL girls because I hate women" attitude) were STILL always more feminine-presenting, and more comfortable with presenting feminine, than I was.

In grade 12 I started dating a pretty conservative, very masculine guy who had a very white-picket-fence, safe-gender-conforming family, and I think it had to do with my sense of trying to fit into society's rules for how my gender should be. My hair was very long, down to my waist at this point, and I tried very hard to look sexy in sexy victoria secret lingerie. I did a burlesque class. I always felt totally ridiculous and out of place when I was trying to align myself with conventional perceptions of "sexy". I felt uncomfortable and awkward. After a few years, we broke up, and I cut all my hair off and dyed it pink. Now it feels MUCH more in line with my inner sense of myself. I have always struggled to find a balance between my anxiety around being judged for my gender presentation, and presenting the most authentic sense of myself.

I've come to recognise that I really really like a lot of very femme aesthetic -- not frilly pinks, but cute 50s dresses with brightly coloured high heels and brightly coloured lipstick. However, although I really enjoy that aesthetic and feel the "cutest"/"prettiest" and most presentable to society when I'm dressed like that, it ALWAYS feel like a performance to me. I feel most like myself when I'm wearing my doc martens or brown WWI-style boots with my black leather jacket. I'm still searching for a balance in my wardrobe between steampunk/cute retro 50s/elven archer/90s skater, but at least it's feeling a little more like a journey (albeit a pretty frustrating one at times) instead of a crushing pressure. I learned how to skateboard and I love it. I learned how to do very femme makeup and it's so fun and looks great, but does feel a bit like a mask I'm wearing to garner approval.

I always wonder how I would have grown up differently, had I been in an environment where I didn't feel so out of place for absolutely everything. Where maybe some other girls had been totally tomboy, and had been skateboarders and androgynous punks. Maybe I wouldn't have learned to be so ashamed of myself as a child.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Sunshine » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:26 am

Onionpie wrote: ...being the "cool girl" who was "one of the guys". I started to despise femininity and became misogynistic towards any femme women. But my female friends (who shared the same "I'm one of the COOL girls because I hate women" attitude)...


You know, I am kind of glad that you mentioned this, because it's something that I have been thinking about a lot recently. I know it wasn't the main topic of your post (which is great, btw, and my hat is off to you), but I'd like to talk about it a bit anyway, if you don't mind.

I do not have many friends, but the few people I have gotten fairly close to over the years have almost all been girls / women who told me I was the first female person they became friends with. If I had a dollar for every time in my life that I have heard "I mostly hang out with boys / men" from a girl / woman, be it a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger, I would be pretty rich by now. I definitely grew up with the idea that the "cool girls" are the ones who run with the guys and act and think like them and that not getting along well with other girls / women is a sign of superiority. My own parents discouraged me from presenting too "girly", the idea being, I guess, that it would hurt my academic / career chances.

Only recently have I realized that this actually makes me feel hurt. I don't like being told by people I love and admire that my gender is something they despise and to have it implied that if we are to get along, I need to be as un-feminine as possible. I also feel discouraged at work, because it always seems as if my gender is a hindrance and I am not "feminist" or "emancipated" enough because I am womanly. Sometimes it seems to me as if all that the gender equality movement has achieved where I live is that we women get to dress up as men, act like men and get criticized for, surprise, not being as good at being like men as the men themselves are. (Where I work, all the equipment is made for big male hands, btw. Even though the people who have to use it are about 60% female. Motherhood is seen as a career-stopper, while fatherhood is the final touch to a man's resumée).

At the same time, if a girl or a woman is too outwardly "masculine" (and consequently not sexually attractive to most straight guys), like you describe yourself during parts of your adolescence, that's not deemed okay either. We're supposed to look like supermodels but act like a drinking buddy.

I think it's totally fine if people don't conform to the traditional notions of what their gender is like. In fact, I often really like those people. I just wish that a more "feminine" way of being was just as highly regarded as a "masculine" one, whether the person in question has a penis or a vagina (men / boys who are in any way considered "girlish" are often ridiculed, which is dumb, if you ask me). I also wish that women themselves would stop putting femininity down. Doesn't mean that I want us all to be super feminine, just to show a little appreciation for people who are.


Sorry that this turned into such a long rant. Also sorry to whine about being given a hard time for being too femme in a reply to a post about the problems of a woman who is very much not femme. Just goes to show that the grass isn't necessarily greener on the other side of the fence, I guess...

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Heather » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:33 am

We're supposed to look like supermodels but act like a drinking buddy.


Boy oh boy, is that spot-on.
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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Onionpie » Fri Feb 26, 2016 6:34 pm

Seriously, well said Sunshine! I got to that line (the one heather quoted) and was like "Bam, there it is."

I totally get what you're talking about, and I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Women are expected to throw femininity -- in terms of behaviours and personality traits -- totally under the bus. We're supposed to be sexy and attractive, but not TOO sexy and attractive because then we're sluts. We're supposed to act like girls so as not to make men uncomfortable and question gender norms (because god knows that would just be TERRIBLE!!) but not TOO much because then we're "high maintenance" and "shallow" and "hysterical". Basically, if you're a woman, you just don't win at all.

And I think the pressure to be feminine added to the disdain for femininity in our society has led to a really complex and confusing relationship between women and their femininity. The less-femme women like myself grow to resent femininity because of it being forced upon us, but we also grow to think it's "cool" to rag on other women to win points with the men, as that's the only way to garner approval as a non-femme woman. It makes it hard to understand exactly where the line is between "I don't like this particular part of feminine expression because it doesn't suit me" and "I don't like this particular part of feminine expression because it was forced upon me" and then "I don't like this particular part of feminine expression because society tells me it is stupid and wrong".

Pulling apart those three things and trying to identify what I ACTUALLY like has been a big part of my journey of discovering my gender expression. I used to hate dresses, and now I've decided that actually, I love them, and I just used to hate them because I felt like they represented the femininity that I felt so trapped by. When I'm doing my makeup, I ask myself, am I doing this for ME, because I enjoy the way it looks, or am I doing this to be more presentable to society and avoid the humiliation that was laid on me in my youth? Sometimes it's the former, sometimes it's the latter, sometimes it's a bit of both.

There's a really excellent post somewhere on the internet about "being one of the cool girls doesn't mean you win" because hey you're still a woman and that misogyny is still directed at you even as you try to pretend it isn't, and I really dug it, it was what I had come to realize as I grew up and that was why I let go of being so attached to "being one of the guys". I can't find it now, which is really disappointing. Damnit.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Sunshine » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:27 pm

You guys have really made me think these past few days...

What is it exactly that makes me think I am very feminine? How do I define that? Is it a preference for certain clothes? Most days, you'll find me wearing jeans and sweaters, but that's for practical reasons, I feel the most comfortable in skirts and colorful tights, and I love dresses (unfortunately, I have a hard time finding any that fit me, though). Is it my hair? It's long, yeah... but one of my male friend's hair is the same length and I think of him as a rather masculine guy, so that's not really a good indicator. Makeup? I only wear minimal makeup to cover up my acne so I don't pick at it and make it worse and I have no clue how to do anything more advanced (nor am I very interested). My hobbies? I read. I write. I play computer games. I exercise. I cook. I watch movies and talk about them for hours on end. Men do all those things too and my interests actually have more overlap with those of my father than my mother.

Personality? How can I say my personality is "feminine" when women are all so different? Are there any personality traits that are more feminine than others? And if so, why?

I'm breaking my brain over here... :-P

All I know is I feel really feminine and the fact that I am a woman is a source of happiness for me. So I guess that's my concept of my gender.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Atonement » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:50 am

It's funny, because I feel like I present as a lot more feminine than I feel.

I wear dresses almost all the time. But that's because they're super comfortable, and I only have to pick out one piece instead of buying/matching a top to a bottom.

I have super long hair that I would never cut, and that's a huge part of my identity. But, I really feel like it's more of a cultural expression than a gender one. The same goes for my jewelry. I usually only wear eyeliner as makeup, but every couple months I love to do a full face and get dressed up.

As for likes and dislikes, I guess those could be seen as feminine as well. I love to bake, and I only drink "girly" drinks (I won't touch beer or whiskey, etc.). A huge amount of my belongings are an unapologetically bright turquoise. A couple months ago I splurged on a canopy bed and put fairy lights on it (best investment ever). But, in my mind, these things don't have anything to do with gender. They're just FUN, and what's good. And the only reason more guys don't openly enjoy these things is because they're not allowed to, which I think is kind of sad.

That being said, I take a lot of pleasure doing whatever the hell I want. I am not afraid to go to home depot, buy wood and build something. I'm not scared to go to questionable parts of town alone to go to unique or cultural stores, provided that it's early in the day. And hopefully soon, once I save money, I'll be able to travel to foreign countries alone too. I don't let being alone and being a girl stop me from doing anything I'd want to do otherwise.

I guess this is sort of what cis privilege is, but I don't really think about my gender identity all that much.

On the other hand, my mother is also cis. And in that time between when her romantic relationship with my dad ended and she started dating again, she went through some sort of identity crisis that I don't fully understand. She said that without a man in her life, and without being sexual, she didn't feel like a woman.

This made no sense to me. I haven't so much as kissed someone in 5 years, and I may have missed it some here and there, but it never made me feel insecure in my gender identity. In my mind, being a woman is something that you just ARE or AREN'T, whether cis or trans. It's not like an annual certification that you have to present proof of continuing education to renew.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Redskies » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:08 am

I'd say I connect very strongly with the notion of not being born a woman, but becoming one. It would seem untrue to say I wasn't a woman, and it seems broadly true to say that I am, so that's that - but it's not the whole story of ever. It took me a really long time to have any frame to understand or describe my experiences, but now I have it, I think the intrinsic gender I was "born into", as it were, was some kind of agender. But I'm not agender now, because my life experiences and the version of myself I've become have had a very strongly gendered context - I don't think there's a single thing that hasn't been moulded or adapted in some way to negotiate the world as a person who was assigned, read as and treated as a girl or a woman.

I didn't want to be a girl, and I didn't want to be a boy either. I wished gender didn't matter in any way to anyone. It's complicated, because there were definitely a bunch of gender-role things - which are very different to actual gender - which I hated and resented and which felt completely wrong for me. In that sense, I sometimes wished I was a boy, because it seemed like boys had more freedom to be and like some of the things I wanted. I was also glad I wasn't a boy, because I thought that no matter what, in my family, I'd've been expected to be very well-behaved and caring, and I thought that would have made it harder to fit in generally socially as a boy than as a girl. (Oh, gender roles, burn them all down.) But what I wanted to BE was just a human, and I wanted everyone else to only care about being human too. There's a picture of me at about 5 looking very androgynous, and I look Really comfortable, and I remember feeling comfortable and Right that way too, in a way I didn't when I was more girl-coded. I tried pretty hard with the girl-coded stuff (longer hair, dresses) because I knew it was what I was supposed to do, but it didn't make me happy.

Growing up and learning to be a woman was AWFUL. I hated it and everything felt wrong all the time. I deeply hated the ways my body changed and strongly coded me as "woman" - although again, that's very complex, because many young cis women who are generally comfortable with their gender can struggle immensely with big body changes and things that the world reads as sexual characteristics before we've even grown into our own teen sexuality. I've never had a problem with the actual body parts I have, but some of them becoming obvious and making me very strongly read as "woman" was very hard. I've never been comfortable with my body's potential reproductive role: I would much, much prefer to be the person who Didn't carry a pregnancy if I were going to have biological children, and I've always felt dysphoric (I hope I'm using that word correctly here; I apologise if not, I couldn't find another one which meant "this is wrong, this is not supposed to be happening") about periods.

For some time now, I feel like I've very successfully learned how to be myself as a woman. I've had a lifetime of experiences as a woman. I'm a woman. At this point, I wouldn't change that - I don't think! - because that's how things have become, that's the version of myself I've become, that's the version where I know how to navigate the world, that's who I am now. And the process of learning was so hard, Wow No I don't want to go and re-do any of that and struggle learning different things again. I also don't want to damp down or cover up any features of my body, because it's really important to me now to be comfortable with and like my body, and me trying to "hide" it in any way would do bad thngs to my brain. But if it were a choice of going back to the beginning and simply being an agender person, in a world where I could just be an agender person and my body didn't make it hard for other people to think differently, I would choose that.
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Sunshine » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:49 pm

Redskies wrote:Growing up and learning to be a woman was AWFUL. I hated it and everything felt wrong all the time. I deeply hated the ways my body changed and strongly coded me as "woman" - although again, that's very complex, because many young cis women who are generally comfortable with their gender can struggle immensely with big body changes and things that the world reads as sexual characteristics before we've even grown into our own teen sexuality. I've never had a problem with the actual body parts I have, but some of them becoming obvious and making me very strongly read as "woman" was very hard. I've never been comfortable with my body's potential reproductive role: I would much, much prefer to be the person who Didn't carry a pregnancy if I were going to have biological children, and I've always felt dysphoric (I hope I'm using that word correctly here; I apologise if not, I couldn't find another one which meant "this is wrong, this is not supposed to be happening") about periods.


Redskies, that's really interesting. I think you've nailed it, "it" being why I feel very feminine - I am quite the opposite this way, I am very, very comfortable with my body's reproductive potential. I know that childbirth is intensely painful, I have seen plenty of children come into this world, but if I were in a better place emotionally and my relationship wasn't mostly long-distance, I would get pregnant, like, tomorrow. My period is uncomfortable, but I like getting it, and when I first got it, I felt relieved and happy (I was rather late entering puberty and worried that maybe there was something wrong with me). When I got hair under my arms and breasts, I thought that was cool, too. I feel irrationally sorry for men because they don't have the chance to become pregnant and have to put up with a penis while I have a vagina (penis envy is certainly not a thing for me, lol). I know this is completely silly and unfounded and also probably rude (if not sexist), but I'm talking about a gut feeling here, not something that went through the filter of my intellect.

I wonder why this is. I know plenty of women feel somehow disadvantaged because of their female body, and it makes sense because women are at a disadvantage in many societies, but I've just never felt it. My sense of my gender has always been "yay, I lucked out".

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Johann7 » Fri May 27, 2016 1:35 pm

I am actively hostile toward gender as a social system, as I see no function but harm in categorizing certain behaviors, interests, modes of self-presentation, etc. as gendered. I am completely indifferent to social gender as an aspect of identity, both for myself and other people. I do think that biological gender is a useful system of categorization in some cases, as embodiment does impact ability in some ways (e.g. reproductive ability, possible sexual acts), but I also think it's used far too often to determine things to which it has no actual relevance.

I was assigned male at birth and assumed to be a boy/man as a result, though as a child I tended to wear my hair long, and lots of strangers assumed I was and treated me as a girl, something which just caused me to find their assumptions funny. Further, my indifference means I'm usually treated as a cis man as an adult, I suspect based on facial hair (and arm/leg hair in summer) and a flat chest as cues, and I don't object (in contrast to someone who is, for example, actively invested in being agender and objects to being gendered at all). Of course, in our society being gendered as a man often comes with various social privileges from which I then benefit; even having to try to account for these and not fall into patterns of exploiting them to the detriment of others, it's advantageous on the balance (it's possible I'd care more if I was more often gendered as a woman by others - I'm not sure becasue I haven't internalized the sense of threat many women report feeling as a result of sexist treatment like catcalling or limitation due to gendered expectations like worrying about being slurred for standing up for oneself or not being perceived as sufficiently friendly or deferential, so I suspect that even then, my experience would be somewhat different). That said, I also have no objection to being gendered as a woman when it does happen (I mostly wear my hair long, and I'm catcalled not quite daily by people driving past me from behind while I'm walking or biking, for example), and in instances where people are intentionally trying to misgender me as a way to try to coerce masculine-normative behavior, I'm not bothered in the slightest (I find the utter futility of trying to coerce someone indifferent to social gender by using gender norming to be wryly hilarious).

I'll occasionally adopt an overtly masculine or feminine presentation for the purpose of genderfuck, but I mostly wear jeans and shirts that tend toward a masculine-to-gender-neutral skater punk or folk-punk aesthetic; for a while my style was best described as "butch lesbian" (most directly by a friend who observed at a party she was throwing that I was wearing the exact same outfit as one member of the lesbian couple who lived next door). I don't have the first clue what people mean when they say they "feel like a wo/man" - as far as I can tell, all of the meanings attached to gender are arbitrary social determinations that I never internalized (and unstable: look at other cultures and historical periods for radically different gender norms). I feel how I feel, I behave how I behave, and I really couldn't care less what label anybody wants to attach to that. I've had to actively work to overcome genderblind sexism in a number of instances: as I'm utterly indifferent to others' social gender identities/presentations, it never seemed that important to me, but becasue other people do care a lot and treat people differently on the basis of social gender, I've had to learn in what cases I need to try to actively account for gender in order to avoid defaulting to sexist norms.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby LaurenBacall » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:06 am

My gender does not bother me. When I was little, my mom dressed me in fairly neutral clothing, nothing was pink, I played with trains, no princesses etc. I guess I tended towards tomboy, I always had best friends that were boys and girls in elementary school, and always played with the boys at recess. Shopping in the women's section didn't offend something in me, it felt right in that I liked the things I found there usually. Recently I've started looking in the men's shoes section because I like men's sneakers better than women's sneakers, but I don't choose to make my "gender" choices subversive or political. Gender for me is not something I need to actively resist every day to make a point, I am content with being a woman, dressing as such, dating men, keeping my hair long. If something does bother me, like shaving my armpits, I've tried to learn to choose not to do it, and if I do like something, like shaving my legs, to accept that I CAN just like it because I do, not because I was programmed to do so.

There's a term Levi-Strauss uses in a paper that makes a lot of sense for me in terms of gender. It's called "bricolage."

"The French verb, "bricoler," has no English equivalent, but refers to the kind of activities that are performed by a handy-man. The "bricoleur" performs his tasks with materials and tools that are at hand, from "odds and ends.""

Gender is something that is created out of gathered bits and pieces of what's socially available, and mushed together into something. It's still compatible with Beauvoir's "one is not born, but rather becomes a woman" bit from Second Sex, but touches on the actual practice of what becoming could look like as an activity.

I'm a woman, but the way I create that is not so strictly tied to a list of things I should do. It's a starting place, something I can add things to or take away from at will, a flexible category. I don't feel the need to not have one, and in a lot of ways it's enjoyable to have a gender. It's benign, if anything, and useful and pleasant sometimes. The only harm that comes from it is from other people treating me differently because of it.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Nefarious » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:56 am

Gender is a concept I've never understood. To me everything related to it seems to be just personal preferences on how they act, behave, dress, speak, look, date ect. I get that it's something important to some people. But I don't get it especially since the concepts like masculine, feminine, androgynous, and so on are not a solid defined fact so much as terms defined by the current society which is always changing and so then gender itself is also defined by society. What is considered masculine in one country is different from another.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Allenwrench » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:15 am

Before I begin, I'd like you to picture the vastness of a galaxy. That is the best way I can explain my gender. A girl flashes through from time-to-time, as does a boy. Sometimes they quick-step together on the stars; and other times, they tango. And sometimes, they don't dance at all. They melt into one another, becoming some strange and fleeting amalgamation of two entities. Occasionally, they fade away into nothing and it's just the vast galaxy sitting within me. Their coming and going is sporadic and odd, but nevertheless welcome as they are just as much a part of me as the star system in the depths of my soul and being.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby Kat J » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:14 am

:arrow:
Redskies wrote: I've never had a problem with the actual body parts I have, but some of them becoming obvious and making me very strongly read as "woman" was very hard. I've never been comfortable with my body's potential reproductive role: I would much, much prefer to be the person who Didn't carry a pregnancy if I were going to have biological children, and I've always felt dysphoric (I hope I'm using that word correctly here; I apologise if not, I couldn't find another one which meant "this is wrong, this is not supposed to be happening") about periods.


Redskies I've never heard anyone sum up so succinctly the way I feel about my gender! I am happily female, as assigned at birth, and have the privilege of going through life without having to constantly justify my existence. However, I often have moments where I'm strolling along and other people's perceptions of what it means to "be a girl" appear like boulders in my path I bang my head. Cultural assumptions of what I should think/feel/wear/do. Now I'm quite happy to scramble over a few obstacles now and again but plenty of times I just don't need that crap!

Your point about reproduction resonates strongly with me. I told my family several years ago that j may never want children, because for me the only reason to have kids is because I really want kids! and I have a pretty strong aversion to conception, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding etc. for myself. Bearing children seems utterly alien to me, but I think all the time about how I would raise a child! So I have some big decisions to make down the line. As to periods, when I had my first one I was like "seriously? this is gonna happen periodically basically forever now?". I just couldn't get over how messed up it felt to me, like hasn't science or evolution got a better idea already ?! Then when I started my current contraception 5 years ago my periods stopped and I started to feel like my body is the way it's meant to be. I dread the day they return.

To the rest of it, its taken me a while to figure out what being female means to me. I went through the "cool girl" phase at school, hanging out with the guys, sneering at the girly girls who I didn't fit in with. It was only later that I realised how messed up that was, how it not only devalues anything "feminine" but also devalues all women, anything that is not the cis-male "norm", and acts as a hurdle for people of any gender who want to put on makeup or express their emotions. Besides, I like to do that stuff too sometimes!

I love to go out in heels and a dress on the weekend, after spending the week at work in "men's" clothing. In a male-dominated industry and I long ago stopped noticing when I was the only female in the room. I don't take my gender to work with me, it doesn't feel relevant. Until I get the comments that foist it back onto me, twisted in a way I don't recognise. Advice from a colleague: "Your handshake is too firm for a girl, you should change that, it might make people uncomfortable if they're not expecting it". What?? Is that my problem, or is it their's? [SPOILER: it's theirs]

For me being female is picking and choosing. It means that yeah, I can use a chainsaw and that's badass, and I can do symmetrical eyeliner and that's also badass.

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Re: What's your concept of your gender like?

Unread postby BiKinksterBoy » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:09 pm

my concept of gender is kinda strange and self-contradictory. I simultaneously acknowledge and recognize it as a thing in the universe, and acknowledge how much of a constantly changing human creation it is. for myself, though, gender is a pretty simple(even though I'll inevitably complicate it in describing it) thing. I'm a boy, born a boy. I like to play around with doing "feminine" things but not to express a feminine side of myself but more because of the things associated with those things. like skirts because they're pretty not because they're a girl thing. but I also am hyperaware of how much those things are constructed as feminine. There are some times, like when I sexually cross dress, that I like to role-play as a girl, but that's a strange state in between masculine and feminine (yes I know androgynous is a word but that's not quite what it feels like; not really ambiguous so much as boy with a bit of girl but still definitively male) where I think of myself as a "male girl" or something like that. idk. might be transphobic somehow. I know I don't want to *be* a girl. Some of this blurring I don't like though; like some ideas of "sissy" kinks or whatever don't really appeal to me but that might be more the misogyny/homophobia inherent in that and how it focuses on the humiliation rather than the actual feminine/masculine dichotomy. basically, I'm male and confident; free in my maleness and the variety of stuff that maleness lets me do (I try not to limit myself based on traditional gender roles), but I'm comfortable messing around with the more presentation and sexual aspects of my gender. sorry if this whole screed doesn't make much sense.
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