Hello lovely readers! So as my first post I want to discuss the concept of gender identity and what exactly gender fluid means. Many people outside of the queer community (or sometimes within the queer community), are confused by non-binary identities or have never heard of them before. So lets start with some simple definitions:
Sex– male or female assignment in relation to genitalia, etc. This is what is listed on your birth certificate or driver’s license.
Gender Identity– gender that you associate with based on how you feel on the inside, regardless of what bits might be hanging out in your nether region.
Gender Expression– what you choose to wear that may depict you more as one gender or another
Cis-gender– gender identity matches with the sex that was assigned to you at birth
Trans-gender– gender identity does not match the sex that was assigned to you at birth
Ok, so now that we have these terms properly in place we can discuss some various gender identities. Society typically views gender as very clear cut dichotomy: male or female. Nothing in between. But in reality, much like sexuality (which i’ll save for another post), gender is a flexible scale (See Figure 1). ***Disclaimer: i like using visual aides, anticipate lots of these in later posts***
So, as you can see, there’s a separate scale for biological gender (or sex), gender identity, and gender expression. This means that even though you may identify a woman, and be biologically a woman, you could express as a man. There are all kinds of mixing and matching between the three spectrums, creating endless numbers identities! But, I’m going to focus primarily on the second spectrum, of gender identity. Generally when discussing trans*gender identities, the first thing that comes to mind are Male to Female (MtF) or Female to Male (FtM) trans* people. These are people who’s gender identities are exactly opposite what their assigned sex is. These kinds of trans* people are often cruelly criticized by the media, such as the case of Bruce Jenner recently coming out as trans* as she makes her transition process public (I might do a separate post on trans* people in the media later). Even though this is very negative publicity, most people are aware of FtM or MtF people due to the media.
Less commonly discussed, are the gender identities that fall in the purple section of the identity spectrum. These identities are what’s known as non-binary identities, meaning that these people identify somewhere outside of the typical male/female dichotomy. Some people may choose to just label themselves as non-binary, but within this category there are several specific identities.
Agender– People who do not identify as any gender, the concept of gender does not apply to these people
Genderqueer– an umbrella term encompassing any mixture of the genders, these people may be more male or more female or any combination of genders
Bigender– the feeling of having two seperate genders within the same body
Trigender– people who identify as neither male or female or a mixture of the two, but instead construct their own third gender
Gender fluid– an identity that fluxes and changes between any combination of genders within and outside of the binary
So, I identify as gender fluid but, no two people’s gender identities are the same. My experience as gender fluid by no means defines the identity as a whole. I am only using myself as an example.
What being gender fluid means to ME:
I was assigned a female sex at birth, but as long as i can remember, I’ve never felt truly female. As a child my parents noticed i was uncharacteristically “tom-boy”ish. I never wanted to play with dolls or other “girls'” toys, i refused to wear feminine clothes, and if i had the choice i always played games with little boys instead of girls. I loved power rangers and teenage mutant ninja turtles and my hot wheels; i loved fishing and wanted to wrangle crocodiles like Steve Irwin. And i know some feminists who are reading this are saying “just because you didn’t like female gender roles/stereotypes doesn’t mean you’re not female!” and i agree! These things do NOT mean you are trans*. You can defy gender stereotypes and still be cisgendered! But, the real indication for me was that I never felt comfortable labeling myself as a girl. Often when I was grouped in with other girls and referred to as a girl, I just had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was wrong. But just as often, I wanted to wear dresses and make up and loved being a girl. I was confused by this feeling for most of my life, especially when I was going through puberty and I both desired and hated the secondary sex characteristics I was developing. It wasn’t until college that I finally understood that I was gender fluid.
For me, my gender fluidity fluxes between being primarily male or primarily female. I generally will maintain one gender or the other for a few months at a time, but sometimes it changes as frequently as every few days. When I get dressed in the morning, this is generally the major indicator of how i’m feeling that day; I will pick out a skirt and pretty top and put it on and suddenly feel awful and incredibly dysphoric and immediately have to take it off and put something else on. Which brings us to some typical gender fluid FAQs.
What kind of gender expression do gender fluid people have?
Well, everyone is different! Some gender fluid people may only express as their assigned biological sex, others may express as only the opposite gender. Many non-binary folks prefer an androgynous expression, which is actually INCREDIBLY attractive (seriously though, just go google androgynous models!) like, can we TALK ABOUT THIS???
This is Beck Holladay. You can follow them on Instagram (@mickypancake)
But anyways, personally, I express as casual androgynous most days (mostly due to limited budget on clothes). I have actually recently purchased a binder and packer with the intention of trying to express as more male on certain days. But if the mood strikes me, I also LOVE sundresses and skirts and I will express as extremely female on certain days. Honestly how you choose to express is up to you! 🙂
What pronouns should I use with gender fluid people?
Once again, this is really a matter of preference. Some gender fluid folks just stick with their original pronouns, others choose something gender neutral. Some popular gender neutral pronouns include: They/Them/Their/Theirs/Themselves (this option is popular because it is already commonly used in the english language), Xe/Xir/Xir/Xirs/Xirself, and A LOT more! (full list: http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Pronouns). I’ve opted for the alternating female/male pronouns because I feel my identity mostly vacillates between either male or female.
Can I transition as a gender fluid person?
Absolutely! Whether its a transition that involves hormone treatments/surgery or just a social transition involving new pronouns/gender expression, transitioning is very much a reality for all people under the trans* umbrella. I’m socially transitioning currently which is part of why I’m writing this blog.
Does your gender identity affect your sexuality?
In my case, I would say that the two are pretty closely associated, but this is not true for everyone and gender by no means has to control your sexuality! But we’ll save discussions of sexuality for another time 😉
In general I’m a pretty open person, so if you ever have questions about gender, sexuality, or what I had for breakfast or whatever, please feel free to ask! I’m taking suggestions for future post topics, so please leave suggestions in the comments below about what you’d like to see next and I’ll try my best to cover all requests! 🙂 I hope y’all found this informative and keep checking in for new posts! Unsure of when my next post will be, could be tomorrow, could not be till next Tuesday. I’ll get on a regular schedule eventually i promise! Signing off for now!
Stay Sexy! 😉