gender presentation

Gender Perspectives Vol. 20

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

It’s been far too long since our last installation of Gender Perspectives, and I’ve been accidentally sitting on this draft for a while, so let’s get right to what I have for you today:

My Transgender Day of (in)Visibility | Wandering Aloud

Being trans is difficult; being middle-aged and non-binary doesn’t make it any easier. I know that there is ‘no right way to be trans’ and as a rule I’m proud to be out and visible. Still, sometimes I am left with the feeling that perhaps there is a ‘wrong way’

 

What I Want | THEMAGICSPACESHIP

I want to experience the relief and joy and affirmation my binary trans friends experience when they begin to transition and the world starts to read them correctly at last. Confusion is not good enough. Avoiding referring to me is not good enough. Being read half the time one way and half the time the other, and wrong all the time, is not good enough.

 

Self-Expression After Coming Out | Queerly Texan 

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself [as a lesbian], and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

 

Gender? I Don’t Know A Gender! | Sofhoney

What are you?

I’m me! I’m Sof. I change frequently – that goes for mood, attraction, appearance, & a whole lot of other things, too. It’s something I beat myself up over – a LOT. It’s something I’ve come to realize doesn’t matter. Not to me, anyway – some people identify very strongly with a gender or sexuality & that is great & amazing & I support & uplift those who identify that way…it’s just that I personally don’t!

 

Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 26

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Discuss how your clothes do or don’t reflect your gender

Honestly, thinking about writing my way through this issue again just seems exhausting right now. Clothes are important, and they are a big aspect of gender presentation for lots of people. But they don’t define a person’s gender. There’s a weird tension with clothes, because they feel so important to so many people, because wearing clothes that “match” your gender can feel so freeing and validating, because it is a major tactic for dealing with dysphoria, etc. But at the same time, many of the same people who find clothes personally important really do just wish that society didn’t insist on gendering clothes so damn much. Anyone should feel comfortable wearing a skirt if they want, and anyone should feel ok wearing a three-piece suit or whatever, too.

The question of whether my clothes match my gender almost doesn’t make any sense to me any more. I know what it means, obviously, but I don’t know what it would mean for my clothes to match my gender, given the amorphous character of my gender.

I gotta get me some amorphous clothes, I guess?

But really, though, I touched on this issue a bit in an earlier genderqueer challenge post. What I’ve been focusing on when I shop for clothes or put together outfits these days is whether or not they seem to reflect me back to myself. I’ve been working on reclaiming the aspects of my aesthetic and style that don’t fit into the norms of white genderqueer androgyny (more on that here and here. Setting gender aside (if that’s even possible) is the only way I can deal with dressing myself without constantly second-guessing whether people will think my presentation ‘matches’ whatever they think my gender is or means.

Ugh. I dunno. I’d love to hear other enbies’ persepectives on this one though!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Questions from the search terms: “genderfuckery meaning”

For some reason, I’ve been feeling more of an urge to respond to these lately. I think I am just not coming up with ideas elsewhere, and I still want to write *something*?
Anyway, from my search terms: genderfuckery meaning

So, what is genderfuckery?

Wiktionary‘s actually a good definition of what it means to genderfuck:

“To subvert traditional notions of gender identity and gender roles”

‘Genderfuckery’ can be used to describe any act of genderfucking, or in other words, fucking with (or messing with) gender.

Genderfucking is similar in concept to gender bending, though it is more likely to be used in more extreme contexts. People who genderfuck are probably less interested in bending the limits and meanings of gender, and more interested in straight up breaking them, and putting the pieces back together in different ways.

In practice, genderfuckery might look like:

– Someone doing things or wearing things that seem at odds with their gender (or with the gender they are perceived to have)
– Someone presenting in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for strangers to identify their gender

Or sometimes it can be more personal. For me, learning to re-embrace feminine clothing styles sometimes has been an important personal journey; though it actually often has the impact of making my gender seem less complicated to some observers (it seems to match more with what their perception of my body implies my gender should be, or something), for me it a personal act of resistance against the pressure I feel to constantly perform my genderqueerness in a safe and (relatively) understandable way. People are more willing to accept androgynous presentations from non-binary people, and more likely to consider my gender to be fake or something I am making up if the things I do don’t fit into this androgynous idea of what it means to be non-binary.

But, in fact, that is exactly what makes my refusal to adhere to the nascent norms of non-binary gender a form of genderfuckery. I refuse to be boxed in by what other people want my gender to mean, or to look like.

So, um, yeah. That’s what genderfuckery means to me :P

The Pressure to Conform/Compulsory Femininity

For some reason lately I’ve been getting a bunch of (gentle) pressure/encouragement to present more femininely than I generally. It’s not something I’m used to dealing with, to be honest (my mother has gone on occasional “oh, you should wear make-up/do things with your hair/etc” riff, but she’s never particularly pushed it) and it’s been weird, and I have thoughts about it so!

A lot of it has been coming from work, where I am still not out about being non-binary – everyone there calls me ‘she’ and ‘her’. And it’s not as if they are explicitly judging me on my more masc/androgynous presenting days, it’s just that I’ve been getting a weird amount of positive reinforcement on whenever I tip into femme at all (in this case, this mostly means “whenever I wear a skirt or dress”).

And like, obviously I like to be complimented on the clothes I choose to wear. And if the comments were just “Oh, I like your dress!” then I wouldn’t be writing about it at all. But that’s not what they are. The comments I’ve been getting are more like “Oh, you’re wearing a skirt today! You look so nice! You should do that more often!”

And like???? I really just wish they wouldn’t.

It doesn’t come across as a compliment, because it’s clearly not about the particular skirt or dress I happen to be wearing, so much as it is about them, for some reason, wanting me to wear skirts and dresses in general (and I guess any skirts or dresses will do). It is, in fact, mildly insulting instead, since it suggests that I don’t really normally look nice, and makes it pretty clear that they don’t like my style generally.

It is clear that for whatever reason (it would make them more comfortable somehow? Or maybe they are worried about my ability to catch a man (LOL!)? I don’t even know) some of my co-workers are invested in my gender presentation.

And I wonder whether that will go away or just get worse when I do come out as non-binary – I know my mom has repeatedly asked about the change in my presentation over the last 3-4 years or whatever, and that she seems more invested in me presenting as feminine since I came out to her than she was before (though she has told me she noticed the change before I came out, she never pressured me about it until afterwards). If these folks are already taking my presentation somewhat personally, they may very well take my “decision” not to identify as a woman personally (er, see my non-woman-hood as me abandoning their team, I guess?) as well.

I also may just be way over-thinking this all, to be honest :P

We’ll have to wait and see.

How do you deal with gendered things? Clothes shopping, bathrooms, forms, etc.: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 15

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Also, this is week 15, y’all, which means I’m halfway there! This has been a productive journey for me so far, and I hope it is being interesting for you as well!

Today’s prompt: How do you deal with gendered things? Clothes shopping, bathrooms, forms, etc.

As with a few of the previous weeks, this is something I have written about some aspects of before:

  • A few years back, I wrote about navigating binary-gendered spaces as a non-binary person. I will add here that I am less willing to consider myself welcome in any women-only spaces than I used to, for a variety of reasons including the transmisogyny that is often present in spaces that would include me as an afab person.
  • More recently, I wrote about the evolution of my gender presentation as a non-binary person.
  • These days my wardrobe is an eclectic mix of “men’s” and “women’s” clothes (of course, being mine, they are really all non-binary clothes), and my presentation changes more based on the weather than anything else – I like dresses and skirts for hot weather, and love bulky sweaters layered with flannels and button-downs when it’s colder. I am more likely to bind my chest (which usually involves a simple sports bra these days) when presenting more femme, though that it is really something that is only for my own internal comfort rather than because it has any impact on the fact that everyone reads me a woman on those days.

    When I am clothes shopping, I really just look at everything and pick the things I like, without concern for their genderedness.

    I use all-gender or gender-neutral washrooms wherever possible, and pretty much exclusively use the women’s when I have to choose.

    For official forms, I am way more comfortable choosing a binary option when the form explicitly asks for my sex rather than my gender. Since I don’t have dysphoria around my genitals, it is unproblematic for me to identify which of the binary forms I have (though I would prefer for there to be more options). When the form is asking for “gender”, but pretty much actually means sex (because it is a medical form and I know they actually mean to ask a biological question but don’t know how to word it or whatever), I suck it up and pick the most useful answer to the people who need the form filled out.

    When an online form requires me to indicate a binary gender in order to sign up for an account, I almost always decide I don’t want an account on that site any more. Sometimes I send an email to them about it, letting them know they’ve made it impossible for me to sign up, but usually I don’t bother.

    I mostly make all of these sorts of calls without thinking super hard about them anymore. Navigating these things has become habitual for me, so I’m sure I’m forgetting about other places where I make judgment calls around binary gendered things that I have to participate in in various ways, but I can’t think of them right now.

    If there’s something obvious I’ve missed that you’re curious about, feel free to ask in the comments! Or, y’know, let me know how you navigate these things. Maybe you have better methods than me!


    Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

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.

What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 3

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s question: What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking?

The short answer to this is probably “ALL OF THE WAYS!”

I honestly do get a kick out of fucking with people’s ideas of gender and what it means and what gender I am, and what that means, and everything else. But that’s not much of an answer, I guess. So I’ll just give you what jumps to mind immediately:

First, I know that my favourite public moments of gender fuckery are usually the ones when I notice children trying to figure out my gender. For some reason, I put a lot of stock in the fact that children often find me impossible to place within their own sense of the gender binary – I’ve even overheard young siblings disagreeing with each other about my gender. There is something endlessly fascinating about watching them watch me and try to pick up something sort of information that will solve the dilemma for them. But I like it even more when they actually ask. I only wish I could actually engage with them on the question more often, but the adults they are with usually get overly embarrassed on my behalf and try to tell them they’re rude.

I get something kinda similar from moments when adults do something along the lines of calling me “sir… I mean ma’am, sorry” or vice versa. It suggests to me that my efforts to signal my gender effectively are actually working, though I understand that most people don’t know how to read the messages I’m sending, so I take confusion as the best possible evidence that I’m doing it right (in the sense of “how I want to do it”, not in the sense of “this is the sort of response all non-binary people should aim for in their gender presentation” – I see you, femme enbies, masc enbies, and those of you whose bodies get you misgendered against your will no matter what you do, and I love you all!)

The second that that this prompt brings up for me is the way gender (and gender fuckery, specifically) plays a role for me in sex. It’s a thing I’ve never been able to articulate properly, even though I have directly written about it before, but there is a thing where it seems like I can tell when someone who is having sex with me is just interacting with my body as an archetypically “female” one, rather than as my particular, individual, agender/genderqueer body. Even setting aside the cissexism of categorizing bodies this way, if I feel like someone’s interest in my body is directly linked to its “femaleness”, I just can’t.

Maybe it’s that, at some point, if that’s someone’s understanding of my body, then they’ve forgotten about the person inhabiting that body, and are interacting with my parts but not with me (which is just the easiest route to triggering a dissociative episode I can think of!) But also, I do get a kick out of the idea of having kinds of sex that are incomprehensible to hetero-normo folks. Like, my partner(s) and I will fuck however we like, and we will use whatever words to describe the things we are doing that we like, and we will decide what it all means, thank-you-very-much.

…I realize this is part 3 of 30 on this challenge, and I’ve already had two responses that have been semi-coherent at best. This is proving more of a challenge that I thought it would be, and I am hoping that when I am done, I will find that many of these things have percolated themselves into more cogent shapes and I will have more regular-type posts for you on these issues! Onward!

Also, though, seriously, I’d love it if all of y’all told me about your favourite ways of fucking with gender – you don’t have to be genderqueer to answer this question!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!