Tag Archives: gender expression

reclaiming my femininity

i’ve worn clothes from the “boys’” and “men’s” sections** for most of my life. those are just the clothes i like and they make me feel comfy.

sometimes i wonder, though, if maybe i like those clothes cuz society tells me they’re for “not-girls/women.” like, how much of my gender expression is mediated/informed by society? i occur in this societal framework and it’s not like i can just fuck off and live in a vacuum. i definitely need to examine the ways i construct my gender expression.

i spent a long time trying to live as a tomboy/butch-y woman. i experienced very little backlash (no bullying, no parental pressure, etc.), but it wasn’t right for me cuz reasons. old gender things i’d forgotten/buried started to unbury themselves, so i went looking for something.

i went through a phase where i presented as a femme-y woman. it was weird. i mean, i wore whatever clothes i wanted to wearyou look so goood, just like i always had, but it turned out that i just wanted to wear femme-y clothes for a while. and people kept telling me i looked pretty, that they much preferred my new look, that i looked funky and fun (i’m always fucking fun, k? i’m fucking fun even when i’m wearing plannel*** and work boots.), and that they were glad i’d finally “found myself.”

holy fuck, right? i was experimenting with my gender expression and all these people came outta nowhere to “reward” me for finally expressing my gender in a way that made them comfortable. so i ended up deciding to wear my old clothes again (stuff “for” boys/men). sure, i often wear fishnets under my torn-up jeans, but that’s nothing. not much, anyway.

i do love my fishnets, though. just sayin’.

maybe i should go to school wearing a tutu over some skinny jeans. or something. just to fuck with people and to show them (and myself) that i can wear whatever the fuck i want. that i’m not a dfab trans* stereotype, ya know? cuz i’m starting to feel a little trapped by people’s expectations.

thing is, i’m also trapped by my tits. that probably sounds totes weird, but it’s true. i can’t wear shit that emphasizes my tits; the dysphoria is crippling. as it is, when i get dressed, i’m always searching for the magic shirt that’ll make my tits look flatter. as though i can hide triple d tits even with binders. (spoiler: nope.) so i don’t really know i’d go about reclaiming my femininity even if i decided i definitely wanted to.

i mean, how do we go about reclaiming our femininity or masculinity? how do we reclaim our stories? the way society is set up, we have to “prove” the validity of our gender(s)/genderlessness; when we don’t dress “right,” that gets used against us. how the fuck do we navigate this toxicity? i don’t have the answers, lovelies; i think this is one of those things that needs some serious conversation. so, thoughts?

**i don’t think clothes should be gendered at all. there is nothing inherently masculine about dinosaurs and dark colors. there is nothing inherently feminine about flowers and pink. this is the paradigm i’m living in, though, and just ignoring it won’t solve anything.

***plannel = plaid + flannel

reader question: gender-quest!

so somebody messaged me with some questions about gender and such– and i tried my very best to answer their questions to the best of my abilities.  i decided to share our conversation with you neon cats cuz a) you might have some rad advice for the op and b) other people might relate to the op’s gender-quest.  (i certainly do!)

so here’s the message:

Hi Mx. Punk!

I have a question for you.  I’ve identified as pansexual for about a year, and before quite recently I never thought one lick about my gender identification.  It was mainstream socialization, I suppose, to assume that I was a cis female. But having thought a lot about how everyone assumes they’re straight until… they’re not (at least, in my experience), I wonder if the same thing is happening to me with my gender identification.

I mean, I enjoy a lot of things stereo-typically referred to as “girly” (makeup, fashion, gossip, I dunno what the fuck else), but  at the same time I know that those things aren’t just reserved to girls, and that not even all girls like them.

I was just wondering, I suppose, how you knew that you were non-binary.

I mean, I like the things that I like.  I know that I’m not male, and I have no desire to change my body as such (I like my body a lot!), but I don’t quite know how to tell if I’m female or not.  I mean, is there something I do that makes me female?  Something I like?  That sounds so terribly sexist, which I hate, but I don’t know another way to phrase it!

If I want to keep my physically female body, but act however the fuck I want regardless of gender, does that make me genderfuck?  Does it make me non-binary?  Or am I still female?

I am so confused as to all of this, and I’m asking you because you seem like a kind, non-judgmental person.  Please give me some advice, and please please please correct any mistakes I made in this post! I’m trying so hard not to offend anyone, but learning  all these new terms is hard!

Thanks a ton!

hi!

so, there’s no single path to realizing that you’re trans*; i think it’s pretty unique for everybody.  i think it’s pretty common for trans* people to assume they’re cis for awhile due to social conditioning.  some people don’t realize they’re trans* til they’re getting rather elderly, actually.

personally, i knew i wasn’t a girl or a boy when i was in kindergarten (preschool, too, i think), but i was bombarded with binarist and cissexist messages until i began to seriously doubt my own feelings.  society basically convinced me that i was a cis girl; i believed i was a cis girl for YEARS, despite having known the truth as a small child.  so, yep, i think it’s absolutely possible (and even common) for trans* people to be convinced to not even question their assigned gender.

i think that’s a good comparison between “assumed heterosexual” and “assumed cisgender”.  as to whether you’ve been assuming you’re cis when you’re really trans*– you’re the only one who can answer that question.  i know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.  i guess the upside of that is that if you DO decide you’re non-binary trans*, nobody will get to contradict you.

so you mention liking things coded as feminine.  i think you’re absolutely right about guys and non-binary folks getting to like things coded as feminine; gender expression stereotypes are ridiculous.  they are mutable; they change from culture to culture and from year to year.

to me, that means that we drew the line between “girl stuff” and “boy stuff” in some random place; we could’ve drawn it anywhere.  so, yeah, i don’t think your appreciation for things coded as feminine necessarily has anything to do with your actual gender.

i think it’s important to think about the difference between gender and gender expression, ya know?  here’s a rad article, actually.  natalie reed (the author) is pretty much brilliant and she’s a much better thinker/writer than i am.  <3

so, basically, there’s only one way to KNOW your gender; it feels right to you.  i wish there were some magic test (like, everyone who loves wearing fishnets and plaid flannel at the same time is non-binary!  yay!), but there totally isn’t.  either you just know your gender or you go off searching for whatever fits you the most awesomely.  i’m just going to send some more reading your way: because i choose it by zinnia jones.  if you don’t just know your gender, there’s nothing invalid about saying, “i LIKE the way this feels.  i choose THIS one!”

you also mention not wanting to alter your body.  contrary to what the gender police may tell you, you DON’T have to experience body dysphoria and want surgery/hormones in order to be trans*.  personally, i love my non-binary clit and i just laugh at people who tell me that makes me female.  i just want to stress that lotsa non-binary trans* folks and lotsa binary trans* folks feel no need to alter their bodies.  you probably already know that, but i just wanted to stress it just in case.

how did i know i was non-binary?  when i was a little kid, i knew i wasn’t a girl or a boy in the same way i knew i wasn’t a dandelion or a fork.  it isn’t always so readily apparent to other people, but it was to me.  that doesn’t make me “more trans*” than someone who thought they were cis til they hit 30 (or 40 or 85 or 90), btw, though the gender police will tell you otherwise.

but then, after a couple of years of parents and teachers and society telling me i was a girl and that gender is binary and that gender-assigned-at-birth is everything, i started doubting myself.  i convinced myself that i was a girl and i think i sorta… forgot that i’d ever thought differently.  even when i learned trans* people were real, i still doubted the existence of non-binary gender.

eventually, i discovered maddox and other online non-binary cats– and that’s what convinced me to look into the whole non-binary trans* thing.  i started reading blogs written by neutrois folks and genderqueer folks and i started thinking, “hey!  that sounds like ME!”  something resonated and began to feel more and more RIGHT as i kept reading.

i eventually remembered what i’d known as a kid; that i’m not male or female.  i made a choice to id as non-binary trans*– and it just keeps settling onto me like a shirt that fits better and more comfortably each time i wear it.

what i didn’t do was take stock of my traits and hobbies, assign each one an “f” or and “m,” and tally them up.  as i think you know, that would never work.

you wrote: “If I want to keep my physically female body, but act however the fuck I want regardless of gender, does that make me genderfuck? Does it make me non-binary? Or am I still female?”

so, i think we’ve established that your body doesn’t have anything to do with it.  that you could be any gender at all and be totally satisfied with any configuration of body parts.

as for acting however the fuck you want regardless of gender, i think you might be entangling gender and gender expression.  because really, no matter your gender (trans* or cis), you can still express that gender however you please.

and genderfuck means that you love playing with gender expression (combining a fishnets and a dress with a beard, for example), so you could be a genderfuck cis woman/girl, you could be a genderfuck (non-)binary trans* person, or you could just id as “genderfuck.” you get to name your gender however you please (and you get to change your gender id at any time).

i’m totally flattered that you thought to ask me, honestly, and i reallyreally hope i’ve helped you out a little.  i wish i could just tell you what your gender is, but i can’t.  i think reading, thinking, and writing are the best ways to figure this stuff out– and talking, of course.  my blogroll has some pretty good links, maddox at neutrois nonsense is fucking AWESOME, and the felt fedora is a must-read.  natalie reed always a lot to say about gender issues, too.  you’re always welcome to ask me more questions or to just let me know how you’re doing.  anytime you wanna chat, i’ll be up for it!

i wish you some serious awesome!

splendidly,
mx. punk <3

ps: sorry for all the tl;dr.  i’m long-winded.  lol.

*   *   *

any thoughts, readers?  you cats are full of rad advice and wisdom-nuggets; you’re on!

makeup is not inherently misogynist

fem(mes) who think fem(me) might be a misogynist identity, i got some stuff to say to you.  i know it’s cliche, but i wanna say it anyway.  here goes.

be fierce (if you like), be proud.  wear your makeup as loud as you please (or not) and read this article.

you are not the sick product of the patriarchy; you are unique and dazzling fem(mes)!  the notions that all fem(mes) are women, that all women are fem(mes), and that all fem(mes) are passive and weak are the sick products of the patriarchy, not your subversive femininity.

cuz femininity can be subversive.  every time a fem(me) decorates themself with the trappings of their dazzling choosing for THEMSELF, they tell misogynists to fucking get over their shit.  cuz fem(me) is the reclamation of pride in femininity, isn’t it?

*   *   *

fem(mes), please tell me if this post is problematic in any way.  I don’t id as fem(me) and I’d love some feedback.

the gender anarchist STRIKES! ta-daaaa!

look! no pants!

this post was inspired by alexthesane (read original post).  check it out.

peoples of all creeds, aliens of all planets, i would like to tell you the veryvery sillyful tale of mx. punk and pants.  this story involves pants-dilemmas, pants-removal, and general pants-related tom-foolery.  to be fair, i must warn you that this post contains “graphic” pictures of mx. punk without pants.  ready?

once beneath a time, i, mx. punk, pull on a pair of baggy guys’ jeans.  they’re super comfy and they take me back to the days when i actually got read as a guy.  i, mx. punk, ponder why i ever stopped wearing guys’ clothes exclusively and how i arrived in this timespace where i always get read as a woman, if not always stereotypically feminine.

i wear guys’ almost shirts every day, but i have this silly, spiky haircut and i almost always wear chicks’ jeans— until now.  so i slide into these faded black jeans and i feel something shifting.  something is remembering that people used to relate to me in a different way than they do now.

before i found my love, i was terrified of the way people tried to lock each other into these tiny fucking boxes— “oh, you’re wearing a cap-sleeved shirt; now you’re a girl FOREVER.”  but my sweetheart accepts fluidity in other people, so he’s sorta been my talisman against erasure as i’ve explored endless sides of myself.

see, i’ve been exploring stuff for the past 3 years.  like boot cut jeans, lacy bras, giggling, and bracelets.  i’ve felt safe enough to try out traditionally feminine things because my sweetheart knows who i am and is not confused about my gender.

i’ve been exploring stuff for three years, but now i’m putting on these guys’ jeans and they’re hooking into my flesh.  they’re gossiping to the something that keeps circling inside me like it’s trying to get comfy.

so i go to school; i’m wearing guys’ clothes, but i don’t pass as a guy.  nothing weird about that; this isn’t the first time i’ve worn guys’ pants since i started exploring more stereotypically girly things.  something feels different, though.  i, mx. punk, feel like parts of me are at war and hissing.

i check myself out when i walk past the office windows; these pants do NOT make my ass look hot.  i mean, they make it look like i don’t even HAVE an ass, let alone a hot ass.  this makes the something very smug; it thinks that women care about having hot asses, but that WE don’t need to care.  we’re just awesome.

(the above paragraph clearly reveals the silliness of the something.  for starters, lotsa men are concerned with their asses and lotsa men wear jeans to show off said asses.  the something is not concerned with logic.)

however, wearing tight, chicks’ jeans for years has led me to expect that my ass will look reallyreally good all the time.  part of me doesn’t want to wear comfy jeans if they don’t make me look good in a stereotypically feminine way.  i realize that i’ve been judging my appearance based on stereotypically female standards.  i mean, fuck, right?

have i become the enemy?  have i really been holding myself up to certain stereotypical standards based on my genitals?  why does my ass have to look good?  and, on the off-beat, why don’t i want to just shave my head again and be all soft and snuggly-headed?  i’ve been exploring stuff, sure, and i certainly don’t look (stereotypically) GIRLY, but does it really matter if i wear jeans that are physically and emotionally comforting if aesthetically disconcerting?

when i get home from school, i tear off my pants, even though they feel all mx. punky.  they make my gender identity (the something, i think) feel safe and somewhat genuine, but they piss off the thing in charge of my gender expression.  they make it feel all ugly and shitty.

so i pull on these torn-up boot cut jeans.  they fit my ass and my thighs, but they’re still mx. punky.  they feel ok for awhile, but the something starts shifting again and grumbling and mumbling things about copping out to fit a stereotype.

so i, mx. punk, hatch a splendid plan.  my plan will stop all bickering between my pieces.  my plan will give me time to shout at all my pieces to just shut the fuck up and to grasp that pants are just pants— nothing more, nothing less.

i will tell my pieces that i don’t have to bind my tits when i wear guys’ jeans— even though that’s what i thirst to do.  it’s what i used to do, but i don’t have to go back to where i used to be.  i, mx. punk, am allowed to move to a new timespace that has less (stereotypically) girly explorings than this timespace does, but that isn’t my oldold timespace.  it’s ok, really, to get read as a woman sometimes, even though i’m not a woman.  i’ll tell my pieces that there’s time to figure all this shit out.  pants are only the symbol, so don’t fret about them.  we’ve got real things to think about, my mx. punky pieces.

and my plan?  it’s this: no pants.  fuck ’em.