There is a difference between gender identity and gender expression – gender identity is how you identify, whilst gender expression is how you choose your gender expression (so for example, someone may identify as nonbinary (this would be their gender identity) but may express themselves in a more masculine way (this would be their gender expression). I also want to talk about how this may positively impact body positivity and gender euphoria. I wanted to write this because firstly I am interested in gender and because I wanted to share my experience with gender identity and expression, and how it effects me. I will provide two YouTube videos which I find useful, as this is an interesting topic, much like my posts about labels and self-identification – as well as my blog posts surrounding trans topics. I will also provide a picture of what my current hairstyle is!
Everyone has a gender identity, and this means that everyone expresses their gender differently – this can be from anything from clothing, haircut, whether or not you wear makeup, or your voice and speech patterns. So for example, when I wear more typically masculine clothing (e.g. a suit or a flannel top), this will have a positive output on me because it will affirm my gender identity and how I choose to express it. This also makes me feel body positive because whilst I do experience gender dysphoria, expressing my gender in a more masculine way does help to relieve it. I also think that it is not a requirement to have gender dysphoria in order to fall under the trans umbrella – so if you experience little to no dysphoria and still identify as trans, that’s also fine, as the only requirement of being trans is not identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth (which also differentiates from gender identity and expression). So if I were to wear a dress, this would have a negative impact on me because it would cause me to have gender dysphoria, as I would not feel affirmed in my gender identity and gender expression (Sidenote #1: If you identify as transmasculine and choose to present in a more feminine way, that’s fine!)
If you compare this to what I was like when I was much younger, there has a significant change – so for example, when I was younger I enjoyed stereotypically feminine things like the colour pink, Sylvanian Families, and My Little Ponies – and I also dressed in clothes that were ‘designed for girls’. Obviously, there have been some changes – my favourite colour is yellow, and I no longer play with Sylvanian Families and My Little Ponies – and I now dress in more masculine clothing, which I remember starting at some point during secondary school.
I have also recently chosen to have my hair styled differently – the back/sides have been shaved, whilst the top remains longer – this also makes me euphoric because I can choose to wear it in a ponytail or not, plus I feel as though it is more masculine/androgynous. (Side note #2: I know that hairstyles have no gender, I still feel more masculine with this particular hairstyle). Plus, my current style is just aesthetically pleasing to me, and I can’t explain why.
This also links in nicely with my hair experience – I used to have long hair when I was younger, but my mum and I would always fight when I had to have it brushed, so I got it cut short – like short. Then, as I got older, I had a pixie hairstyle for a long time, and now I have the hairstyle I have now because I wanted a change for my hair. Speaking of hair, dying your hair can also be a part of gender expression – in terms of colours, I have only had my hair blue and purple. I dyed my hair blue at the end of my GCSEs, and the purple hair was a result of going to my cousins wedding.
In terms of pronouns, they have definitely seen a change – before I started to question my gender identity, I used she / her pronouns, because, at the time and not even realising it, I identified as a cisgender bisexual female. Then when I discovered that I was a demigirl, I used she / they pronouns, because I still partly identified as a girl, but not entirely. But overtime, that term didn’t feel right – so when I found the term non-binary, it fit, and while it still does, I still want to express myself in a more masculine manner. So that’s why I like the term transmasculine so much. I wanted to include pronouns because they can also be a part of someone’s gender identity, and obviously, anyone is free to any pronoun they want, and all you have to do is respect that, as well as use them. (Side note #3: Anyone of any gender/sexuality (which are two different things) can use whatever pronouns they want! So this could include nonbinary lesbian who uses they/them pronouns for example).