Gender identity vs. gender presentation: my gender is adorable, y’all

My gender identity and my preferred presentation don’t really “match”. Which I guess is more a way of saying that my gender presentation doesn’t read true to my gender, which is a complicated thing, since the way I am read is tied up in gender norms I have no interest in complying with in the first place.

My gender, as I have best been able to understand and articulate it, is fluid and moves among agender, androgynous, genderfuck, and slightly masculine leanings. There have been times when I have tentatively identified with transmasculinity, and I do have continuing interest in some day pursuing masculinizing medical interventions, but when I get right down to it, transmasculine is not a good descriptor for me.

My presentation, meanwhile…

When I first came out as genderqueer, I had a strong urge to lean hard into a masculine-androgynous presentation with my clothes and hair. This was a very important part of my gender journey, no question; at the time, I was trying out new things and seeing how they felt (oddly liberating in many ways, and I found it fascinating to watch people’s perceptions of my gender shift the harder I leaned into masculinity).

But in the long run, I find masculine-androgynous presentation bores me. I missed a lot of my old clothes (which thankfully I did not entirely purge). I got bored of my hair being to short to do anything with (though to be honest even when I had long hair all the time, I only ever *did* anything with it once in a blue moon), and for the last while I’ve been growing out the top part while keeping the sides and back shaved down. The top part just reached the point where it’s long enough to pull into a bit of a ponytail, and this delights me because it comes with so many adorable possibilities.

Which brings me to the point of what I think I’d been missing. What isn’t represented in my understanding of my gender in and of itself is a desire to be adorable. I am sometimes a spiky person, and I have a lot of walls that I put up around myself with a lot people – though far fewer than I used to – but I don’t really want that to be the sense I put off, and mostly it isn’t. I’m actually pretty approachable. And cute!

Masculine clothes hide my badass adorableness in a way that can be useful, for sure – it makes me seem more grown up and professional sometimes when I need that – but also in a way that makes me feel boring.

I’ve been working on rebuilding the adorable part of my wardrobe, and it makes me really happy to be reclaiming the parts of my previous aesthetic that always rang true. It’is really hard for me to navigate the waters of keeping a certain level of ambiguity in my presentation (to ward off dysphoria), while also getting back into what are ultimately some more “girly” clothes stuff. But I feel like I am getting somewhere with it, finally.

Hooray for small victories.

2 comments

  1. Hooray for all victories!

    And thank you for continuing to write your way through this. Reading your stuff gives me insight into questions I haven’t even known how to ask.

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