Gender Fluidity and Labels
Hey Readers. Things are happening. This week is the week before Halloween, which means in terms of college students that all of your professors will load you up with essays, exams, and homework. Nothing like Hell Week to celebrate Halloween. But right now I’m avoiding writing one of my papers so I can write on here, and rather than go into all of the ups and downs in my personal life, I’m going to talk about a different topic today: gender fluidity!
Now before you get really excited, let me explain a few things. I’m not one of those queer people who think they know everything about everything when it comes to gender identity or sexuality. Nah. I’m just some random asshole, who likes to write about their experiences online, so if you’re looking for an academic discussion you’re in the wrong place.
It’s been a good 8 months into being out as bisexual, and during this stage I’m starting to notice some other changes going with me. Since dating my ex-girlfriend, who could be described as “butch” or masculine, I’ve been more open about pushing the boundaries of gender expression in my fashion choices. (I use the term fashion choices loosely…I’m not stylish, but I do have a style, I guess). I got used to shopping with her in the men’s sections, and not being feminine anymore once I cut off all my hair, so I started experimenting with my style. I chose more loose pants over tight skinny jeans, baseball hats and beanies over “doing my hair”, I grew out my armpit hair, I didn’t bother with jewelry. I still looked like a girl/woman, just more of a tomboy, more stereotypically gay. And I didn’t mind at all…in fact, I felt confident. I finally got to take advantage of all of my clothing options instead of saying, “If I were a guy, I’d wear that.”
But it wasn’t all that simple. I received more ridicule from my family for “looking like a boy” and I noticed people acted a lot friendlier when I choose feminine outfits over masculine ones. Guys ignored me when I dressed “gay”, and women ignored me when I dressed “straight”—unless they were straight themselves and obviously uncomfortable around non-hetero people. I began to see the stark difference between myself and my roommates whenever we went out, and realized that our femininity had made us closer in ways that I hadn’t recognized before.
When I did dress “gay”, I wasn’t necessarily let into my college’s gay clique, either. There was more notice of me, but not necessarily in a welcoming way. It was more like, “Oh, you’re on our side. For now.” Though I was expressing my queerness externally, I still felt like an outsider for being “half straight”.
And so here I am readers, pondering what all of this means. Am I gender fluid? Does enjoying a more androgynous style automatically mean I don’t want to be perceived as a “girl”? I know I’m a cisgendered woman, and am comfortable with that. So what does it mean that I won’t conform to my feminine gender role? Does that just make me a rebel, or am I something else?
In case you aren’t in tune with the lingo going on here, I’ll explain to the best of my knowledge. Someone who is gender fluid typically uses “they/them” pronouns, and don’t identify as a man or a woman, but something between the two/a third option (gender neutral?). Their style can range from masculine, feminine, androgynous and can either stay in one of those categories, or change from time to time. There’s very little representation for them in the media, but I believe Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose identify that way.
But do I? I’m not a lesbian, and I’m not straight, but from day-to-day I can fit my appearance into these stereotypical looks. Does that just mean that my style is “bi” as well as my orientation?
Part of me doesn’t want to mess with this stuff. “I dress the way I dress,” it says. “Who cares.” But another part is curious. Everyone at college is stuck on their labels, and so the pressure is on to define yourself. But I don’t need another bomb to drop on my family and friends. Or myself, for that matter.
What do you think, readers? Does any of this matter in the long run, or is it all an experiment? Am I just looking for the key into the gay club, or the key to another part of my identity?
Ugh, these labels are killing me. 😛