My gender identity is confused and I'm okay with it

February 16 | Guest post by SonyaG
Fuck Your Gender Norms Hoop Art by Etsy seller Femmebroidery

I should probably start by identifying my gender, but that is… complicated. I am a female, physically. What I identify as is where it gets blurry.

I like "non-binary." But most people aren't satisfied with the term because it's a label-that-isn't-a-label and it doesn't help them place me in a box.

One thing that is certain is that I am not transgender, and I am not cisgender. Trans rights are being more and more recognized and accepted. Yeah! But I have read, and agree, that what seems to be happening is that a new binary is being created. Before it was male or female. Now it's trans or cis, depending on wether you identify with your physical attributes.

I don't like "bigender," because I feel it implies a scale from one to the other, blue-to-pink. I am not a shade of purple.

I feel both pink and blue, always. It's just that sometimes I dip my paint brush more into one or the other. (Okay, rather more often into the blue than pink.)

The only gender identity that feels right is "Two-Spirit." However I don't like to use it because it is linked to Native American culture and traditions that I don't feel entitled to.

Gender dysphoria is what happens when your body/appearance does not match how you identify.

Body dysphoria, however, is worse, and in my case pretty mild. (My boobs are the plague of my life. They don't belong on me. I've had fantasies of double mastectomies. However at the moment, I don't feel the actual need to go through surgery.)

So… I am still not anywhere on this (new and improved) scale! I dress like a man, but I still like my feminine pronouns. As stated earlier, it's not either/or for me. It's both.

And all this is not even a new thing for me. As a teenager, in the early nineties, I had no internet to help me figure it out. And, as a broke young adult in the new millenia, I still didn't have the amazing resources and web connection of, "Hey, my specific gender identity has a name and I'm not alone!"

But don't worry about me and my lack of labels.

I am not still trying to figure myself out. I am not a confused teenager anymore. I am close to forty, so I am practically ancient! And if this gender blurriness has not changed in the past twenty years, I doubt it will in the next twenty.

So I say… eff the [any] binary. Just take people as they are.

Who else has gender identity confusion? Have you ever found a label that worked for you? If so, what is it? If not, what are your experiences?

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  1. I get you. But with people is always labelling… Even languages are formed of words that are labels for objects. So you see, you can't escape from this. It's better to educate people to accepts diversity, rather than forget about labelling. 'Cause it's not about the words, it's about what stays behind them.

    3 agree
  2. I'm wrestling with this at the moment. Currently heading towards 'agender' on the grounds that I don't feel like any of the standard options apply.

    5 agree
    • I feel you on this. Can I just be "Gender Annoyed?" or maybe "Gender Indifferent?" In elementary school when the kids were grouped (for one occasion or another) into boys and girls, I would always rather be neither, and instead in my own corner, reading a book.

      4 agree
  3. wow, this hits close to home for me! I'm 36 and AFAB, but never quite comfortable with it. I don't have a problem with she/her pronouns, and I like finding community with other women, but my gender expression has tended more often than not to be somewhat masculine. I have gone through phases where I felt like presenting more feminine (wearing some makeup, more delicate jewelry, dressing in feminine-styled clothes) and other phases where I felt like presenting in a very masculine way (all men's clothing, no makeup, minimal jewelry). My ground state is usually a mix of men's and women's clothing, very relaxed, no makeup.
    I have a complicated relationship with my body. My breasts are small and don't bother me much – more often than not I wear a sports bra and they're out of the way, but if I'm feeling girly I have a couple of cute underwires in the back of the drawer. My hips, however, are wide enough to cause me much despair when trying to fit into men's clothing the way I really want to. And I have no fondness for my uterus & would love for it to magically go away… I viscerally dislike having periods and never plan on bearing children.
    I've never really spent a lot of time analyzing my gender identity. I got away with being thought of as a "tomboy" when I was younger, and as an adult am generally friends with the kind of people who don't give me grief for the way I dress. I have had some friends at different times who tried to talk me into being "girlier" but those relationships didn't last long. I usually skew my work clothes a little more to the feminine than I dress otherwise, but it's not a big deal to me.
    I don't really have any close friends who are anything but cis, just a few vague acquaintances. I grew up in a fairly liberal environment, but while when I was younger discussions of sexual identity were not uncommon, gender identity didn't really come up beyond occasionally hearing about or meeting someone who was trans. In recent years I've been hearing and reading a lot about gender identity, though and I am really enjoying the fact that it's being explored much more openly. I have been liking the term genderqueer, and feel that it fits me pretty well. Calling myself non-binary kind of makes me feel like some kind of alien? I know it's weird.
    I think it's fantastic that young people today have more resources to explore with regards to gender expression – to be honest though, I'm not sure how much it would have impacted me to have more information available to me as a teenager about exploring my gender identity? Part of me thinks it's silly that I didn't start really examining this part of my identity until I was in my mid-thirties, but I don't know how capable I would have been of understanding it back then. I mean, I still haven't totally gotten a handle on my sexual identity and I've been pondering that one since about 1996. The term "asexual" has been on my radar since high school, but I've only really started understanding myself as being on the asexual spectrum in the last year or so. I've never been big on labeling myself, but sometimes it's nice to find an identity that fits right if I choose to use it.

    5 agree
  4. Wow, others are out there too! I'm short and cute with hips and boobs and I like wearing skirts and dresses just as much as I like shorts and jeans. I've never even felt the desire to try kissing anyone not typically male. But it feels like my outside don't match my inside. Not because I want to be male/trans/cis, but because I feel… androgynous inside. I've accepted my body's chubbiness and brokenness, but not its femininity. I also have intense fantasies of double mastectomies and hip reductions! While I love babies, I've never wanted to care for one and therefore despise having to deal with my uterus and milk containers. However, I wouldn't want to deal with that uncomfortable looking male member either. I want a plain body. One unmarked by gender expectations and biological responsibilities. Just an unencumbered, healthy container from which I can comfortably live in the world.

    12 agree
  5. some people think i am kidding when i tell them my gender is "purple". back in my mid-twenties, i was helping an acquaintance out with a film project/documentary on gender preferences for their final grad project. they (i do not know what gender they prefer currently, we have lost touch over the last 8 years, but at the time, they were a "they") followed about a dozen people around in social settings for a day while we, the subjects, had honest conversations with our friends about gender, performativity, and the like.

    i remember at one point, my friend asked me, "so…what DO you identify as?" and i was like: "purple. my gender is purple." colour seems more appropriate to me when considering how i identify as, and to further complicate matters, my sexuality is on the grey-a spectrum. my really really really close friends (who i feel close enough to share this UNIQUE gender identity with) have embraced it to the point of referring to me with "pur" and "ple" pronouns. as an example- Ple went to the coffee shop for pur cappuccino.

    tl;dr: your gender *IS* whatever you know it to be.you can name it whatever you wish. or it doesn't have to have a name. it is you!

    1 agrees
    • That is certainly unique! Strangely, I DO get the visceral reaction to color to describe gender, even though I never thought of it. As I said in the text, I am strongly NOT purple! I don't feel like a blend of blue and pink. Just because I paint with pink, does not mean the blue pot stops to exist. Does that make sense?

      Anyway, it's rather interesting that I singled out purple as NOT identifying my gender, while the same color out of the whole rainbow resonates with you! Might be we're on to something! Colors are easy to understand and remember. Maybe the whole gender thing could be simplified for the general public using colors. (Or maybe I just need a coffe before writing posts at way too early in the morning )

      2 agree
  6. I'll answer to "androgynous". My style has always been "princely"–in high school I wore a lot of ruffles, lace, and balloon sleeves but I wore them like a pirate, musketeer, or a swashbuckling poet. As a child I played both army and house (and yes, pirate!) I do have an eye for the ladies, but the person I happened to fall in love with happens to be male and I married him. I don't really fit stereotypes, old or new. I don't define my gender by who I canoodle with but more who I see in the mirror. And I see a dashing androgyn.

  7. Thank you. Today I needed this, I think you've put into words some of the thoughts I have never been able to express.

    1 agrees
  8. I identify as non-binary and use the pronouns they/them. I don't feel like I'm a woman or a man. I think it could be more satisfying to have a gender label that isn't just pointing at binary gender and saying "that's not me," but non-binary is the best fit for now. I feel like I'm more /me/ than I am a man or woman, although I like some things that are traditionally feminine and some traditionally masculine. I keep my hair short and usually wear sports bras, although I own both pushup bras and binders.

    I distinctly feel I am not cisgender. I feel that growing up AFAB, I've been pressured to assume an identity as a woman, but I don't understand what it's like to be a woman (or man.) I think there could be someone who dresses exactly like I do and still identifies as a woman, but it's frustrating for me that I can identify traditional masculine or feminine characteristics, but not really define how they add up to a given gender identity. It makes me just wonder if I'm missing some critical set of experiences that would have led to me saying, yes, I am a woman or I am a man. I don't really like certain parts of my body. I feel weird having hips and boobs, like nobody asked me whether I wanted these, why do I have to have them. I feel the same about having a menstrual cycle. I just feel weird about my body doing these things on its own, without my say. I get very frustrated with my body fat accumulating the way it does, and I still have a lot of negative feelings about my body to work through.

    I don't really know if I identify as trans. I usually think, "I guess I'm trans, if I'm definitely not cis." But it seems that trans usually means binary trans, although I've seen a few instances of people transitioning to neutral. I don't really feel the need to transition, although I would like to decrease the size of my thighs and gain some muscle mass. Basically, I just don't want people to assume that I am a woman just by looking at me, or assume that I'm going to dress a certain way or want certain things out of life, or have some kind of biological imperative to use my body a certain way. I am just a person with my own goals and experiences.

    3 agree

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