Yet another perspective on (my) gender-related self-doubts

I’ve written a number of times about gender-related self-doubt, but I also want to to preface this by saying it’s not that I particularly do doubt my gender all that much, so much as that I am always searching for different models and approaches to it, and often I am pre-emptively trying to think of what I might say to someone if I were to be questioned on it.

Today, I want to look a little closer at some of the things I’ve talked about before, around how my rejection of of my old largely-by-default identity as a “woman” sometimes felt like an expression of internalized misogyny, as well as the fact that I don’t think my gender identity is particularly innate, but rather that it is intensely and deeply tied up in the ways gender is socially constructed and the ways I make my way through the world in which I happen to be living.

The thing is, though, that for every “Am I *sure* I’m not really just a woman who can’t deal with being objectified/hates being stereotyped as a woman/[insert problem faced by women here]?” question that might flit through my mind, I could just as easily ask the same questions about why I don’t just identify as a man. (Is it because I hate the ways in which men are unfairly advantage in culture, and the idea of actively pursuing that gives me the heebie-jeebies? (Would that qualify as internalized misandry, or something like it?) Or is it because I know I would “fail” at it?

The fact that I know I am more likely to be challenged on the fact that I don’t identify as a woman, than the fact that i don’t identify as a man is rooted in cisnormativity – I feel more pressure to justify my non-identification with my birth-assigned gender than anything else, because my non-identification with anything else is simply assumed by most people.

But as soon as I let go of that normativity, it becomes clear that my feelings about either position in the gender binary pretty well mirror each other, to the extent that anyone who felt inclined to act me (in an exasperated voice, I imagine) why I don’t just identify as a woman, they might just as well ask me the same thing about identifying as man, for all the value that idea has. Those identities just don’t work for me. And so I don’t make use of them. It really, really is just that simple.

One comment

  1. Right on! This is a cool insight and it’s awesome that you know what works for you. Indeed, it is that simple.

    I think all gender-variant people hear those skeptical voices asking us to justify ourselves. I know I do. It seems like it’s not so much self-doubt as internalized transphobia. Like you said, you don’t doubt your gender–you just struggle for the words to explain it to a hypothetical incredulous questioner. So not only is it because of cisnormativity that you worry about explaining why you’re not a woman; it’s also cisnormativity/internalized transphobia that we feel the need to repeatedly rehearse explaining our genders at all.

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