I’m having a few gender identity issues. I’m quite happy in my female body, but even when I was a kid, I would spend every spare second getting covered in mud, stuck in trees, and even once got my bridesmaid dress covered in grass stains. I abhorred the color pink simply because I was expected to wear it (and still do!) . Now, at sixteen, I’m less tomboy and more stubbornly unfeminine. I never wear skirts, & you’re far more likely to find me rooting around topman (yay) than topshop (ew).
Although I’m in a steady relationship with a wonderful guy who I love deeply, my ex-best friend (female) is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m quite at peace with my sexuality (somewhere between pansexual and hetero-flexible), but as for gender identity, I just don’t know. I want to hang around in guys clothes and not be expected to wear makeup. The closest thing I’ve found so far to what I feel like is androgynous, but people I’ve talked to feel hugely uncomfortable in their bodies.
Thank you for your question.
I have some questions for you as well – why are these gender identity issues bothering you? Do you feel that you need to have a label for who/what you are? It seems that you understand pretty well what it is that you feel comfortable with and the kind of things and people you are attracted to. I think we sometimes spend so much time searching for a label for what we are that we forget to be “merely” happy with whom we are. You want to wear “guys” clothes (which more and more are “girls” clothes as well) and not wear makeup, which is very acceptable and done by a large percentage of females in this day and age. Many women preferred to play outside with boys rather than inside with barbies when they were young, which is very normal. Just because society has created a typical role for each sex, does not mean that you need to play that role.
Biological factors have created you as a female, i.e. you have two X chromosomes, which allows you to experience certain things in life that a male can not experience. But the formation of a gender identity is also affected by social factors, i.e. your family, friends, society. In western cultures, it is becoming more accepted that there are more than just two gender identities, i.e. male and female. Those who identify as transgender, androgynous, and other categories are becoming more accepted. There are other societies, as well, for whom there exists a third gender identity. For example, in India there is the hijra, who is considered to be neither male nor female. They are usually biologically male, but may be biologically female. However, they take on a role that is unique to that of the role of males and females.
Androgyny is the belief that maleness and femaleness exist along a spectrum and one can fall anywhere on this spectrum, some being very “female”, some being very “male”, and others falling in-between. Again, this all depends on how the particular milieu you exist in defines male and female. If you had been born a Viking, your role as a female would have been very different than if you had been born in 18th century England.
Some of the people you have spoken with may feel uncomfortable with the male or female bodies they were born into. This is another issue and some people feel compelled to have surgery to change the outer expression of their gender identity. However, you can still identify as androgynous while feeling great in your body. If you feel most comfortable describing yourself as androgynous, than I would say: “That’s great!” Go with what makes you feel happy and comfortable. Kiss your boyfriend, admire a picture of your ex-best friend, and dress in the latest topman styles!
Good luck and take care,
-Lorin, for Alterheros