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How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:01 am
by Sam W
This question is for folks of all gender identities. As you've gotten older, have you found that the ways in which you express your gender have changed? If so, what changed them?

For example, when I was younger I refused to wear anything feminine (I will blame this solidly on school dress codes. It was easier to just wear jeans and a baggy t-shirt than risk having to wear your p.e. clothes). As I got older and had space to explore, I realized I did like more feminine clothes and make-up, but that I still wasn't comfortable looking like the image of "correct" femininity (e.g look nice but don't look like any effort went into it, always look like you're either going to a job interview or a Sunday at a country club with your sorority sisters). I eventually stumbled onto the idea of "hard femme" which fit me almost perfectly, because it had a space for weirdness. Now I'd call my gender expression a mix of hard femme and utility femme (because I have a low tolerance for clothes that I can't do things in).

How about you?

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:46 pm
by bikinksterboy
it hasn't really changed for me much, I've always been a cis male, probably always will be, but lately I've become more accepting of forms of expression outside what society deems to be more masculine, yet nothing that id consider girly, just different ways of expressing my male-ness

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:28 pm
by moonlight
My gender expression has gone through lots of ebbs and flows.

When I started buying my own clothes, I bought basically the same stuff my mom had been buying for me my whole life: flower patterned modest-length dresses or t-shirts and pants. And as I grew up, I continued to buy the same sort of thing. It got more feminine as time wore on. I started wearing make-up to the point of excess (trust me it looked awful), shaving my legs, underarms and even toes. I have always worn jewelry.

But then I started learning about being trans and started to think that, since this, the only brand of femininity that I really knew, didn't really feel like a fit, that I must be trans. So I started surreptitiously shopping in the guy's section of stores and binding my breasts. I stopped shaving completely.

But that felt just as much not like me.

Thanks to Scarleteen, I found out that there is a world out there beyond the male/female binary and started thinking along the lines that I might be genderfluid. So I allowed myself to come back to feminine clothes since they fit my body better. I found that I preferred not shaving over shaving, so I never started again.

Now on one day I might wear a stripped dress, a nice t-shirt and jeans the next.

Internally, gender is still a complex beast for me. Since I look, to this binary-obsessed society, to be female, I get called she, her, Miss, etc. I don't really mind. I don't know where my gender lies, I don't expect people ignorant of gender fluidity, genderqueerness, etc to be able to put proper pronouns on it.

For me, gender just doesn't play much of a role in my day to day life: I wear what is comfortable and useful, I respond to the pronouns people call me and I don't tend to think about it very much.

I wouldn't go so far as to call myself agender, I do have gender, I just don't have as strong an emotional tie to it as I could.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:37 pm
by Danny S.
Until around eighth grade, I refused to wear dresses, the color pink, or anything "girly." I prided myself on being a tomboy and loved it when people called me weird (my little gay heart was queer before I even started having crushes). In middle school I started wearing makeup and dressed pretty femme for a while, and then settled on a more neutral style later on in high school. I came out as agender/genderqueer a little less than a year ago (which is very strange to think about? lol), but I tend to go through phases of a few months or more in which I dress super femme, wear extravagant makeup looks that border on drag (I go to a very queer liberal arts school so this isn't socially unacceptable), and wear lots of dresses, skirts, and accessories. Currently I'm going through a more androgynous or "masculine" phase, not wearing any makeup except for maybe eyebrows and contouring occasionally, and wearing button ups, t-shirts, and basketball shorts. I think this is partially because my partner and I share clothes, and their style is very andro. I bind my chest even during more femme periods.
I very much express my gender through my clothing, but it's not necessarily traditional gender expression.
Also, I love the term utility femme.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 9:58 pm
by Lyssa
I love the term utility femme too!

I grew up in the South where the girls I were around never had a hair out of place and pearl earrings always in. I tried to copy them sometimes, but my hair would take hours to get it in place! I realized then I didn't like to look "done up" every day. During the week my wardrobe became strictly jeans, t shirt, and hoodies- things that were non fussy and not eye-catching. On the weekends,though, I would be in my cheerleading uniform or more form fitting tops which made me feel more daring and a little edgy. I would feel more powerful in these get-ups and was more willing to be seen.

During my last year of high school and transitioning in college (and moving into a totally different environment), I realized I liked to experiment during my "week get-ups" so that I felt a little more different,and I wanted to push the limit of what girls back home looked like, what I looked like when I was younger. I now experiment with colored eyeliners,pink hair, purple mascara and berry lips. Trying these new vibrant colors always made me feel daring like I was the only girl who wore purple lipstick-(I'm not). I now rock this combo where I look casual in my clothes and have performance- like makeup like I wore when I used to cheer- utility femme all the way, I guess.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am making my gender expression work for me instead of trying to look like everyone else around me. It seems that the thrill of trying something different, of experimenting is now directly connected to my gender expression. It feels so good to throw myself into something new and not care about others opinions because I know I'm gonna rock it! I don't know if I would have tried things like dyeing my hair pink or cutting it off if I didn't get that environment change to see how varied people look and the varied ways people express their genders.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:49 pm
by bikinksterboy
update: my actual expression hasn't changed, but now I'm more comfortable in understanding and accepting my feminine side and that I like things like skirts because of their feminine associations and that's okay

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:24 am
by Bubbles
I hope this doesn't sound silly, but I stopped wearing shorts.

My school has this dress code where you could only wear either knee-length shorts (Which were only for "boys" according to the school), skirts (Which were only for "girls" according to the school), or these thick, long pants which felt too hot to wear in the summer (It's really hot in Australia). So I wore knee-length shorts all the time, both at school and away out of habit, but I never liked how I looked or felt in them. Somehow they felt too masculine maybe (Perhaps because of how the school acted with them), or just not quite right in some other way. My parents bought clothes like that for me throughout my childhood so I just kind of accepted it. But after I graduated, I realised how I felt about it and I decided, never again!

I dress in more gender-neutral stuff now and I feel more comfortable being seen in public. I'm also starting to look into alternative fashion to see if I can take it further.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:57 am
by Heather
It doesn't sound silly to me! Sometimes our really watershed stuff hides inside seemingly everyday, boring things. Congrats on that move! :)

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:30 pm
by TiredEnby
I see this is a really old post but I still want to participate.

I am an afab person, and most of my life I was raised a girl, Most of the "girly" stuff I did was because I thought I was supposed to do and like those things, like wearing dresses, putting on makeup (which was quickly abandoned save for the occasional eye shadow or bold dark lipstick), and being attracted to guys.
I never had a problem with being called a girl until around Christmas last year. Around that time I started wanting to present more androgynously and my long hair really started to bother me, so a month later I had it all cut off and figured out that I'm non-binary.
I gave up on makeup and dressing nice when I went into highschool in favour of mostly jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts along with the occasional skirt or other feminine clothing item thrown in.
Once i figured out I am non-binary my feminine clothes were almost all given away in favour of more gender neutral clothing, I occasionally wear very light eye shadow but my lipstick has been abandoned, along with my underwire bras (the least comfortable things in the world imo) in favour of my binder or fabric bras that make my already blessedly small chest look smaller.
The biggest change I noticed though was how I viewed my body; when I thought i was a girl I was never really comfortable looking at my Girl Body naked in the mirror, the fact my sex is heavily objectified by society definitely had a hand in that. But after I figured out that I am non-binary I feel just fine looking at my naked non-binary body (that just so happens to have breasts and a vulva) in the mirror.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 6:45 pm
by bisethual
Like a lot of transmasculine people, I avoided wearing traditionally 'feminine' clothing (like pastel colours, nail polish, etc.) because it made me feel uncomfortable. Now that I am a little more comfortable with my gender identity, I don't feel weird wearing pink or glitter. Nowadays, my gender expression is more or less gender-neutral, although I like to experiment with more masculine or feminine styles of dressing.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:11 pm
by Amanda F.
I identify as a cis woman, and was very gender-neutral when I was younger. Only recently have I started to play more with traditional displays of femininity. I used to feel like femme-ness was just for the male gaze, but now I've begun to enjoy experimenting with it for myself.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:50 am
by bikinksterboy
I think I've become much more comfortable inhabiting traditionally feminine roles in general, and I think I've settled into some of those as a nice little niche. Oh girlfriend, bridal-carry me off into the sunset~!

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:23 pm
by 0PT1M15T1C
Although I'm still young, my expression has changed so much over the years.

When I was really little apparently I liked dresses but from when I can remember on, they never had my size in girls jeans or I HATED the way they looked so my dad would always get me jeans from the boys section (he's an artist and he'd even paint them sometimes for me!) As I got older and puberty started, I cut my long hair and had the worlds worst pixie cut, I started wearing much baggier clothes and flannels to hide the way my body was developing. My parents didn't let me cut my hair again for about a year, although with the way I was dressing some people would still call me a boy and I would be ecstatic about that.

Over time, I was able to start wearing boys clothes and got my hair cut short again, and it's stayed that way for about 4 almost 5 years now. I was originally okay with painting my nails, wearing necklaces and such, and that has changed.
Aldo went through that 6th grade boy highlighter phase... And trust me, if you ever think that's a good look, it's not, or at least really wasn't for me.
It's kind of funny because I've had a friend that I transitioned with and it started as I was the far more feminine one and he was the more masculine one, but now we are the opposite. I currently love my style at the moment which I don't really know how to explain but it suits me well. Shirt over top of a hoodie with black jeans and a dragon ring, sometimes with a beanie or snapback.

I know a lot of people may become more comfortable with their gender expression in time, and in a way, I do think that's true, I don't avoid "feminine" things as much as I used to, I just enjoy looking like a cis male and passing as that rather than being viewed as being trans. For quite some time I really repressed anything having to do with being trans, I absolutely hated it, and still, I don't hang my flag on the wall like lot's of people do, it stays tucked away, but I do think I've grown quite a lot. For a LONG time I refused to be near the colour pink, and now I have neon pink boxers that show through holes in my ripped jeans and I love that. Thank god for binders and a small chest though.

Might I say, my friends are finally impressed by my style, which is something I've struggled with for SO long. I love being able to speak the truth when I tell people beginning their transition that it takes time to learn and grow, and that they will find themselves and what makes them feel comfortable but also look FLY.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:55 pm
by bikinksterboy
recently I've also started playing around with more traditional masculine expressions like jackets. that's been fun.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:01 am
by bikinksterboy
I've started my plan to shave with the seasons, as it were a while ago. It's really simple. I shave everything for the summer to cool down, and let it grow through autumn and winter as it gets colder. I'm kind of excited to see how this can give me new opportunities to play around with my presentation and aesthetics

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:56 am
by Jacob
EDIT: I didnt mean this to be my life story, but once I started writing bits it got longer! Hopefully it can at least be helpful to someone to know what a 30 year gender journey can look like.

I think about my evolution mostly through clothes.

When I was really small I didn't realise that things were gendered, and I was given lots of 'kid clothes'... I remember adoring soft comfy fabrics, smooth ribbons, and was obsessed with my 'shiny shoes'.

I did feel more and more restrained after that, when even into my teens I was increasingly dressed by my parents in stiff clothes which I wouldn't even be allowed to wear in a WAY that wasn't approved of.

I was really fed up of grown ups having so much power over my life, and so I think I came to think there was something more 'authentic' and honest about the masculinity displayed by some of my friends, who seemed like they could do or say what they wanted, and I remember trying to perform that masculinity. But I never felt like I could live up to it, and a lot of the negative experiences with boys at school seemed to root from how I had fallen short... it felt like I had 'failed' masculinity and it was a long time before I realised that wasn't what had happened, and had I had more ways to think about gender that could have gone very differently.

I eventually got into 'overdressing' as a way to express myself. Taking the old fashioned clothes my parents wanted to wear and making them even more formal... wearing ties, waistcoats and jackets when they were far from necessary and rather than feeling masculine it felt like I was 'playing' with these cliches. And that's the wardrobe I took with me to university.

Many of the queer women and transguys I came into contact with seemed to be doing the same thing with their fashion and that was super relateable, while ... I just didn't know how I fit into it. There was something about meeting that one genderqueer person that felt suuuper right... but at the time people were using 'he' pronouns for them, as 'they' wasn't really popular yet and it didn't seem unusual to be seen as genderqueer and male.

So I was really intersted in gender for myself and in general, and made friends who were like this too, and existed in feminist activist groups which we comprised. There it felt like I needed to do more to 'own up' to maleness and male privilege, which while valuable in lots of ways also meant that I was more persistently reminded of my assignment to a gender that honestly had never fit me.

There was a bit of space to start rethinking some of this when I graduated but then I had to deal with the way the various workplaces I was at have rules about what you wear and how you look. Dating also made things weird because I wanted to live up to how the people dating me, wanted to see me which would often be adjoined to their idea of my gender.

FINALLY, in the past couple of years as non-binary identity has become mainstream, I've realised "Oh yeah that's me!". I've made clearer to the people around me that I don't see myself as a man and want people to call me 'they' not 'he'.

As I've brought that to my places of work it has felt really uncomfortable, as I have to deal with everybody else's discomfort and how it emphasises the 'outsider' feeling that has always been there, but I also feel more confident to be in that situation. Essentially I'm dealing with the problems many people deal with of being 'out' as something, where for the longest time I didn't know what to be out about.

It's been a trek, and I'm glad I'm where I am now, a whole lot freer to see myself, and dress myself in ways that feel good and true.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:04 pm
by asunflower
hey Sam,

like you, when i was younger, i was really worried about being perceived as too feminine. i think there was definitely some internalized misogyny at work. i thought things that were pink or frilly were vapid or would make me appear like the teen movie caricature of the "stupid girl." still, i think, i also felt a deep joy in exploring butch or masc kinds of presentation. as a kid, i had my head shaved after getting lice and it was one of the most liberating experiences i'd had in my gender presentation.

as i've gotten older, i've become more okay with embodying really feminine looks on some days and presenting more masc on other days. these days, i try to hit a mix of the two that satisfies me. it ends up being hard femme, like you, on some days and then artsy boy or intellectual dad depending on other days.

these days, even though the pandemic has made it difficult for me to get my usual short hair cut, i find it easier to see my body as a slate for however i feel like presenting that day. the things about my body that used to really stress me out because they marked me as 'feminine' are mostly easier to accept these days.

Re: How has your gender expression evolved?

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 1:52 pm
by avocado
Hi all,

I think it has been a slow process for me to find where I am most comfortable in my gender expression and identity (and it’s still a process). Growing up, I felt uncomfortable wearing dresses, skirts, makeup, high heels or anything traditionally “feminine”. In the past few years, I've been lucky to be surrounded by a queer community and I felt comfortable exploring my gender expression. I’ve rekindled a love of skirts while also allowing embracing the button-ups. I’m also learning that my gender expression doesn’t have to tie closely with my gender identity!

For a while, I struggled with feeling more masculine-presenting than my girlfriend. I tried to lean into this gender presentation by cutting my hair very short, but I immediately freaked out and bought a ton of big earrings to try to balance the non-existent gender presentation scales. Yikes. Writing this post, I’m becoming even more aware of how harmful the gender binary can be! I’ve given a few more hairstyles a try since, and now feel like I have a stronger appreciation of any/all of my gender presentations.