Final notes on appearance (for now)

Finally wrapping up the series that’s been going since I started blogging! I’ve enjoyed writing about appearance from multiple different angles, but after ten posts on the subject (eleven if you count the linkspam), I’m ready to move on to other topics. First, though, here’s a quick recap of the series and a few more stories of my recent experiences with my appearance.

In the first post, I noted that I don’t prioritize my appearance very highly, and wondered why other people do. I explored this idea in several of the following posts in the series, discussing the relationships between my appearance and my gender and my appearance and my asexuality, and pondering the connection between people’s appearances and the level of worth we ascribe to them as human beings. I also wrote about how mirrors inform our interactions with others; discussed the policing of appearance based on gender; talked about what that looks like for women specifically, both in general and within Christianity; and critiqued the notion found within some strains of feminism that everyone should love their bodies.

Now a few random stories… Having short hair (at an awkward growing-out stage, before I buzzed it all off) got me misgendered once, and while I know that can be an upsetting experience, I actually enjoyed it. I was at a busy market wearing gender-neutral clothing, and as someone moved past me from behind, they said, “Excuse me, sir.” Having come to the realization that I don’t feel very feminine, I was excited to have that mistake made, even though I hadn’t been intentionally going for a male presentation. Messing with the gender binary a little, and not looking obviously feminine, just made me happy.

…But, apparently, even wearing jeans and a unisex hoodie and with a hat on my obviously-nearly-hairless head, I’m still feminine-looking enough to be referred to as a “cute girl” by a random old guy. *sigh*

Soon after buzzing off my hair I saw multiple branches of my extended family, and had to explain over and over again why I did it. While I got that same question after going from long hair to a stylish short haircut, it wasn’t to the same extent or in the same slightly baffled way. One reaction I got when I pulled off my hat was, “You did that willingly?” This article describes very well the reasons why women might not feel free to cut their hair (I didn’t really see it as an option for a long time), and the author’s experience of having her desire to go from long hair to a pixie cut be met with surprise and disapproval, as well as the reactions I received to my buzz cut, emphasize how women’s appearances are commodified, their capacity for being attractive valued above all else.

That article also articulates one reason why short hair is actually perfect for me: “[L]ong hair has always been perceived as the pinnacle of a woman’s femininity and sex appeal. A woman who cuts her hair is cutting herself off of her own femininity and from being seen as sexual.” Kind of exactly what I want.

That’s it! Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and stories with me during this series, and comments on old posts are always welcome if anyone wants to discuss any of the specific topics further. :) There are also many areas I could have covered but didn’t, so I also welcome any further appearance-related thoughts or links on other topics.

Advertisements

Appearance, part 8: Appearance and Christianity

Christianity isn’t the only religion that places restrictions, implicitly or explicitly, on the appearances of its adherents—Islam, predictably, is another that springs to mind—but it’s the only one that I have personal experience with, and I ended up with enough to say about it alone to fill a whole post. Also, I should note that my experience is with Protestant Evangelical Christianity, but I’m sure at least some of this applies to Christianity in general. This topic overlaps with appearance and sexism in that Christianity has much stricter appearance rules/guidelines for women than for men (although there are some conservative Mennonite and Amish groups that regulate men’s facial hair and everyone’s clothing), and because these rules are often, if not always, for the benefit of men. The main one that I have in mind is the idea of modesty.

Once a year, my high school Sunday school class would split the guys and the girls (because of course certain things apply to girls only and certain others to guys only), and while the guys learned about not lusting, the girls learned about helping them out by dressing modestly (among other sexual purity-related topics). Of course, what is and isn’t modest is subjective, but we were taught various modesty tests, like, “Does your shirt still cover your midriff when you raise your arms above your head?” and “Do your shorts go past your fingertips when your arms are at your sides?” If the answer was no, your clothing was immodest and you shouldn’t be wearing it around guys—because guys are visual, and even a glimpse of a girl in supposedly immodest clothing could cause them to commit the sin of lust (an idea that made me kind of afraid of men).

I went to Christian camps where two-piece swimsuits were banned; if a girl had brought one, she had to wear a t-shirt over it when she swam. The tightness and lowness of girls’ shirts and pants was also monitored, and the shortness of dresses… you get the idea. If you want to see exactly what lengths some people went to to try to define modesty, check out this post that discusses a survey where teen Christian boys gave their opinions on the modesty or immodesty of different items of clothing, as well as postures and actions. Reading through that survey made the post’s author conclude that to be modest, you basically have to not be female—because every single thing that was asked about, from wearing jeans to stretching, was considered by some guys to be immodest.

As the author of that post says, this is a really harmful attitude because it implies that women’s bodies are bad, the source of men’s sin—and that when a man lusts after a woman, the woman is at least partially to blame. And what is that but rape culture? The idea also has the effect of making women feel bad about their bodies. At a youth retreat, I witnessed one of the other girls crying when a (female) youth leader pulled her aside and asked her to change her shirt because it was short enough to sometimes reveal her belly. The youth leader did it in a really kind, gentle way, but that didn’t change the fact that a girl was being told that her stomach was a problem—or that she was in tears over it.

The woman who wrote this article has experienced even worse situations, and received reprimands that aren’t nearly as gentle or well-intentioned. The article is somewhat upsetting (because of how badly she’s treated by some people, and the effects their words and attitudes have on her; content warning for internalized fat-shaming), but definitely worth a read because it shows what this stance looks like when taken to the extreme, and what a harsh toll it can take on women and girls.

Christianity seems to have kind of an obsession with women’s appearances; besides modesty, there’s the idea of fighting vanity—the point of the mirror exercise I mentioned in this post was to help the female participants not focus on outer beauty, a goal that people support with Bible verses directed to women, like “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self” (1 Peter 3:3-4)—and also the idea that women owe their husbands attractiveness, which I mentioned in that post as well. In contrast, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Evangelical Christians discuss men’s appearances. My youth group had no rules for guy’s clothing (swimming shirtless was fine); there was no such thing as male modesty (although now there is, at least in parody articles).

I want to end with a quote from an article on modesty by Rachel Held Evans, a Christian author I admire and whose blog and books I enjoy (even if I disagree with her on some things):

While popular culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to get men to look at them, the modesty culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to keep men from looking at them. In both cases, the impetus is placed on the woman to accommodate her clothing or her body to the (varied and culturally relative) expectations of men. […] Women are left feeling ashamed of their bodies as they try desperately to contort around a bunch of vague, ever-changing ideals.

The article goes on to try to hash out a more biblically-accurate idea of modesty (and it’s worth reading if you’re interested in a re-examination of modesty within a Christian context)… but I’m going to end there.

Read the rest of my appearance posts here.

Am I non-binary? A disclaimer of sorts before my January 2015 Carnival of Aces post

This post is somewhat of a repeat of parts of this post; I kept the repetition because I like having a more succinct summary of my experience of gender (this post is 1,000 words shorter than that one!). This post is also somewhat of a follow-up/addition to that one.

When I saw the topic for the Carnival of Aces this month, which is Nonbinary People and Asexuality, my first thought was, “Do I count as non-binary?” I only recently came to the conclusion that I’m genderless—you can read all about my process of coming to identify with that term in the post linked above if you’re interested—and being so new at this, as well as being an atypical genderless person as far as I can tell (more on that below), I’m a little nervous about assuming that I qualify as non-binary. Of course there’s the idea of one’s self-identification being the most important and that other people don’t have the right to label-police you, but if a member of a privileged group started going around saying they identify as a member of a marginalized group, that would obviously be problematic and could be hurtful to actual members of the marginalized group, and I definitely don’t want to do that by claiming “I’m non-binary too!” when maybe I really shouldn’t.*

My reservation comes from the fact that, while I do identify as genderless, I still see myself as a woman, and at the moment don’t desire to change that. The reason is that who I am and my life up to this point has been significantly impacted by always having viewed myself, and always being viewed by other people, as female. I want to acknowledge that; I don’t want it to disappear. I don’t want to get rid of that part of my identity. Also, being a woman makes feminism personal to me in a way it can’t be to cis men. And so I’m currently identifying as a genderless woman.

It follows that, unlike most of the neutrois or other genderless people whose accounts I’ve read, I don’t desire to alter my body to make it gender (or sex) -neutral. Rather, my body and my internal sense of my gender are somewhat disconnected. While if I could magically have a sexless body I might consider it (and I know I would choose to do so if I lived in a different world, a world without compulsory sexuality and a patriarchy to fight against), for now it is important to me to continue to be seen as a woman. If I’m a woman, I can show the world that you can be female and have hairy legs. I can show society that being a woman doesn’t have to mean being girly, or going all the way to the other side and being masculine. I can feel solidarity with other women worldwide who face the oppression of the patriarchy, because I’ve felt it myself. Losing my femaleness would mean losing all of that.**

So while I’m maybe not non-binary in a typical way (although maybe there isn’t a typical way to be non-binary!), I think the descriptor does fit. For one thing, I’ve realized that calling myself non-binary is important to me (just as being a woman is), because the more self-identified non-binary people there are, the more the gender binary—which I believe is a false construct—will be called into question. And, when it comes down to my internal sense of my gender, I’m definitely not masculine or feminine. And that’s the definition of non-binary.


*Pegasus’s discussion of the term “cis” is relevant here—some people would say I’m cis, while others might say I fall under the trans* umbrella.

**For a similar-but-different perspective, read Rotten Zucchinis’s musings about specifically not wanting to change hir body to match hir gender and being torn between feminism and a non-binary identity in “Body Politics: With(out) Gender”, found on page 7 of the zine that can be downloaded here (it’s formatted for printing so you have to jump around to read it in order, but it’s worth it). In another piece in that zine (“Invisible Monster Hiding in Plain Sight”), ze writes, “Gender—the way people usually think about it—is just another dimension of the human experience that doesn’t apply to me. And that isn’t because of my body. I don’t have a problem with my body—I have a problem with what my body means to other people,” which is quite similar to how I feel (see this post and this one where I talk about my discomfort with being read as feminine).

Appearance, part 5: appearance and sexism

In the last post in my appearance series, I talked about how the patriarchy makes it hard for men to deviate from a masculine gender expression. Men are seen as the norm in our society, and if a man deviates from looking like society’s conception of how men should be, he’s seen as foolish or weak. Because of this, women are able to present in a somewhat masculine way and receive less backlash than men would for appearing feminine. But even though this is the case, there is still a lot of societal pressure on women to look feminine—which often requires much more effort than looking masculine does.

Putting aside whether or not being feminine actually means wearing makeup and shaving your legs, our society at least has an expectation that women will do these things. In general, men don’t have to remove their natural body hair or add color to their faces to be socially accepted. However, how often do you see a woman walking around with hairy legs? What sort of reaction would one get if she did? Women are told that, because they are female, they must do certain things to their bodies—things that have no purpose other than for looks (and why are women’s looks so important? Because men want to enjoy them, of course!), things that take time, effort, and money. Things that men do not have to do. In one of the articles I linked to in the last appearance post, a boy who showed up at the DMV with makeup on was accused of wearing “a disguise”. No one looks at makeup on women in this way; it’s seen as natural, and if a woman doesn’t wear it, that’s what’s considered strange.

I’ve never actually worn makeup, and have mostly been able to avoid any pressure to do so. But as soon as I began growing leg hair, I was anxious to start shaving it off. I saw the smooth legs of my female peers and didn’t want to stand out for not looking like them. I was nervous about asking my mom if I could start shaving, though, so I went to camp at age 12 with hairy legs, and wore jeans all week and just shrugged when people asked, “Aren’t you hot?” I listened to a girl in my cabin call herself a “hairy ape” because she hadn’t shaved for a few days. My camp counselor said she wouldn’t bother shaving except that “it’s not socially acceptable not to.” And then I had to stand with all the other campers in a big circle around the pool before we all jumped in for our early-morning polar bear swim, with my hairy legs on view for everyone to see, and feel an agonizing shame over them. They were ugly. They were wrong. They made me a social aberrant.

When I finally did start shaving, it was wonderful to be able to show my legs without fear or shame. I fit in! I looked okay! But… I kind of hated shaving. I didn’t want to spend money on nice razors, so I ended up with painful, bloody nicks or razor burn. My showers now took twice as long. I let the hair grow out over the winter, since I wasn’t wearing shorts at all then, and that made the first shave of the summer take forever. But I still kept doing it, because, like the author of this article (which provides a great rundown of the ways the stigma surrounding female body hair is harmful, and ways to combat it), I saw it as necessary for my self-esteem and social acceptance. I felt embarrassed for my mom and sister, who weren’t shaving at the time (they’ve both since started), because they were violating a social norm.

But then last year, after 10 years of removing the hair from my legs and armpits, I read Ily’s posts detailing her experience with quitting shaving, which she dubbed the Hobbit Acceptance Project (she actually says she didn’t directly receive any negative reactions to her hairy legs, which is awesome, but she also mentions how there are certain settings, like work, where she doesn’t display the hair because it wouldn’t be acceptable). In one of them she included two links—one to the Hairy Pits Club Tumblr, which showcases images of women with unshaven armpits, and one to a post on the blog I Blame the Patriarchy, which was one of several posts on that site declaring that feminists must eschew traditional markers of femininity (F-word warning for that link), like shaving.* And those three things—Ily’s posts, Hairy Pits Club, and the I Blame the Patriarchy post—combined were enough to get me to finally put down my razor. Whether or not I shaved was suddenly not an issue of social acceptance, but one of feminism. Society said, “People with vaginas must shave the hair off their legs and armpits.” I said, “That’s bull—-.” (Unfortunately, though, as soon as I started letting the hair grow, I took pains to cover it up, because I was still embarrassed. So sure, I had stopped shaving, and I told a few people I knew, but I didn’t show it off in public. Which kind of defeats the purpose. I’ll try to work on that this summer.)

When I pulled up my pant leg in front of my sisters (one of whom used to not shave—but she had blond hair while mine is dark) to reveal my hairy legs, they reacted with shock, and one with laughter. Women don’t see hairy legs on themselves or other women, because they’re constantly shaving the hair off. So when they do see it, it looks wrong and unnatural, even though of course natural is exactly what it is (Ily points out in one of her HAP posts that nobody knows what’s “normal” when it comes to body hair, because we’re always removing it). But when it comes to women’s appearances, unnatural has become the norm. Of course a million things humans do are “unnatural”—brushing our teeth, living in a house. So my point isn’t that natural is automatically better, but that the standards of what’s acceptable are different for men and women. It’s okay for men to let their body hair grow, and to show their natural faces to the world. But that’s not the case for women.

I think this is why, as I mentioned in the last post, there are more feminine-gendered aspects of appearance than there are male. If men are the norm, then to be feminine, you have to deviate from that norm by modifying your body and wearing clothes that men don’t wear, clothes that are impractical in a lot of situations. Dresses and skirts require you to be careful with your movements and not do anything active, and in a comment on my last appearance post, luvtheheaven mentions her difficulty with finding shoes because of the requirement, in certain situations, that women wear high heels. These are shoes that are hard to walk in if you’re not used to it, and that can cause damage to your feet, legs, and back. But in some situations, it’s practically mandatory that women wear them—while men are always allowed to wear comfortable, flat shoes.

I’m not trying to say that high heels are evil or that no woman should ever look typically feminine (the I Blame the Patriarchy article I linked to does explicitly say that, but I don’t agree and you can read why in the footnote)—just that the expectations and requirements our society places on women, saying that there’s only one right way to be a woman, which requires doing things to your body that range from annoying to downright harmful, is a problem, and that men don’t have to deal with this in the same way. Society is obsessed with women’s appearances, and policing them; it seems like the most important thing about a woman in our culture is her looks, while with men, we focus on personality and achievements. How often have you heard a woman introduced as “my beautiful wife” or “the lovely so-and-so”? Now imagine a man being introduced as “the handsome Mr. whoever”—it does happen occasionally, but it sounds like you’re talking about a little boy, because it’s kind of diminutive to call attention to someone’s appearance like that, especially in a professional context. And how often have you seen women and girls greeted, or been greeted yourself if you’re a woman, with, “You look so nice!”—whether it’s on a date, at work, or in the hall at school. In contrast, men aren’t expected to be noticed for their appearances, so if you greeted a guy with “You look so good today!” he’d probably be flattered but a little surprised and confused, maybe even self-conscious, because he wouldn’t be expecting it.

Women do expect it, though, because to be a woman is to be subject to an intense appraisal of your appearance, all the time. No woman is exempt—when a president’s wife appears in public, the talk is all about what she’s wearing, even though unlike with an actress or model, there’s no reason her appearance should matter. People dissect Hillary Clinton’s appearance, when it has nothing to do with her as a politician. Men just aren’t picked apart like this. Compare this article, in which a female comedian details being cruelly criticized for how she looked at an awards ceremony, particularly her choice of dress, to this one, about a male television presenter wearing the same suit to work nearly every day for a year and never once getting noticed for it. The double standard is painfully obvious, and has painful results when women are pressured, ridiculed, shamed, and condemned, all because of how they look.


*The link included above is the author’s most in-depth post on this subject, but here’s the one Ily linked to, and this is another one where the author, Twisty, lays out her opinions of femininity very clearly. In these posts, Twisty asserts that femininity is “for smushing women”, saying that all typical expressions of femininity degrade women and play into the interests of the patriarchy, and that to be a feminist you have to liberate yourself from feminine-gendered things. I read that post and was inspired by it, as I said above, initially feeling inclined to agree, since I’m not typically feminine and don’t understand the appeal of dresses and makeup—saying, “Yeah, these things are bad, and getting rid of them is one way to fight the patriarchy!” sounded good to me. But after thinking and writing more about feminism and gender, I can’t agree that a woman who enjoys wearing skirts is harming other women. My problem with skirts isn’t that they exist, but that it’s only socially acceptable for one sex to wear them.

There was also one major thing in Twisty’s article (the one I linked to in the body of the post) that didn’t sit well with me from the beginning. She says that if a man would look ridiculous doing something, that proves “how f—ing stupid” it is, and that femininity as typically expressed makes women sub-human. But… doesn’t that just contribute to the setting up of men as the norm? She is explicitly saying that we should judge everything by a standard of maleness, which means that men are right, and women are wrong, and that women should be like men. That sounds pretty anti-feminist to me.

Appearance, part 4b: appearance and gender (society)

Finally returning to my appearance series. This is part two of the last post.

Society encourages, and perhaps even created, the connection between appearance and gender. Whether you’re male or female, your hair is going to grow long if you don’t cut it, and at one time it was common for men to have long hair—but at some point in history long hair became a woman thing, and short hair the appropriate look for men. Men and women used to wear similar clothing, but then it was decided that dresses and skirts were the only acceptable clothing for women, while men wore pants, and it was a big deal in society when women finally gained that freedom.

In western society now, people have much more liberty when it comes to personal expression than they were allowed in the past—but society does still place limitations on people’s appearances according to their sex and gender. Walk into any clothing store and you have to choose a side—the women’s section or the men’s. I’ve admired clothing in the men’s section before, and thought about shopping there, and when I was a teenager I bought a few pairs of guys’ shorts, because they were comfy and long. But I only had the courage to do that after seeing my camp counselor wearing boys’ shorts and hearing her say she’d gotten them from the boys’ section at Walmart (which is a store I no longer frequent), and I still felt self-conscious venturing into that territory where I didn’t belong, looking at and trying on clothes that the store and society said weren’t for me.

Another obstacle to crossing clothing sections is the size issue—I can wear shorts meant for 12-year-old boys, but I’m not going to fit into much of anything made for adult males, and conversely, a lot of men are going to have a hard time fitting into most women’s clothes. So even if I were to be bold enough to seek out more gender-neutral clothing options in the men’s section, I probably wouldn’t have much luck finding items that fit. So besides the issue of cross-dressing not being socially acceptable, it’s also just hard to do from a practical standpoint.

However, I mostly dress in fairly casual clothing (since my office had a very relaxed dress policy and I now work from home), and so I can easily find fairly gender-neutral options while staying inside the women’s section. Sweatpants and t-shirts are basically gender neutral, with only colors or relative tightness marking them as for women versus men. But clothing gets more gendered the more formal you get (ignoring summer clothes, that is, which for women at least can be quite gendered no matter how casual). The next step up, jeans, comes in masculine and feminine styles but does still retain some overlap (e.g., both men and women wear skinny jeans). Business casual  creates more of a distinction; while women can wear pantsuits, they don’t wear ties, and they could also wear skirts and dressy tops (if they wanted to, or if it was expected/required), and men and women wear different styles of shoes at this point. Then you get into cocktail/formal wear, and it’s dresses for women and suits/tuxes for men. At this level you’ve lost the gender-neutral options, and people are forced to take on either a masculine or feminine look. There’s no middle ground.

The most formal events that I’ve been to are weddings. In the one I’ve been in so far, dresses were mandatory for the bridesmaids (not that the bride specifically said, “You must wear a dress”; it was just assumed that we all would)—and, speaking of weddings, of course in traditional ones the bride is always in a dress, and the groom and groomsmen in suits. As a  wedding guest in the future I plan to try get away with wearing pants as much as possible, but if I’m ever in another wedding I’ll almost definitely be asked/told to wear a dress—and I will likely do so, even though it would go against my preferred mode of expression. I just wouldn’t want to create an issue or upset the bride (or call attention to myself), and what would my other options be, anyway? Women have worn suits in weddings, but a suit is still coded as masculine in our society. I wouldn’t have a gender-neutral option to turn to; I would have to either blend in by dressing in a traditionally feminine way, or stand out by dressing in traditionally masculine clothes.

It is at least conceivable, though, that I could request, and be granted the request, to wear a suit in a wedding. But imagine if a groomsman wanted to wear a dress, or even if a male guest were to show up wearing one (in certain communities of course this would be fine, but in most it would not). Most men probably wouldn’t step outside the gender boundaries in this way, even if they wanted to, because of the negative attention it would earn them. Society says dresses are for women only, and it would be really hard to defy that rule at a big social event.

I think the reason it’s more acceptable for women’s dress to cross into men’s territory than the opposite is the patriarchy. Thinking beyond appearance, it’s more acceptable for women to do things that are typically coded as masculine than for men to do anything deemed feminine—because femininity is considered inferior. So a man wearing women’s clothing or doing something “womanly” is going to get mocked for being girly and weak, while women are able to get away with doing/wearing masculine things, because masculinity is seen as the norm, something that people, including women, should aspire to. While sometimes women are still mocked or derided for straying into masculine territory, to get that response their behavior often has to be more extreme than it is for men. For example, women can wear men’s shorts (like my camp counselor and I did), and most people probably won’t take much notice or think it’s that weird, and other women specifically won’t care or make a big deal about it. But if a man wore a skirt…

Another idea related to appearance, gender, and sexism is that it’s easy to look at someone and peg them as looking “girly” based on specific elements of their appearance, but harder to define someone as looking “manly”. I can think of a variety of different looks that could be coded as feminine, but not nearly as many that are definitely masculine-looking. The main image that comes to mind is a guy with a beard and big muscles, which are things associated with male bodies, rather than superficial elements that anyone could put on if they chose, like a dress or makeup.

So a skirt and nice top could be seen as a typical feminine outfit, but what would a typically masculine outfit be? At most, a male-coded look (one possible for anyone, regardless of physical sex or body type) might consist of the few items of clothing men typically wear that women don’t, like baggy jeans or cargo shorts. Otherwise, most clothes in the men’s section could be worn by a woman, and that woman wouldn’t be seen as presenting a masculine gender identity, because most men’s clothes are actually pretty gender-neutral. So masculinity equals the norm, the standard, and deviating from that is being feminine—which, as I said above, is seen as a bad thing. (I’ll address these ideas further in the next post in the series, which will be on appearance and sexism.)

One example of this idea is this article, which describes an incident where a DMV forced a boy to remove his makeup before they would take his driver’s license photo, because he “didn’t look like a boy should”. What could a woman do that would get her the same reaction? I can’t think of anything. With my super short hair, I’ve been told I look like a boy, but haven’t received any comments specifically policing me for not looking feminine enough.

Another example is this article, in which a genderqueer man talks about the difficulties he faces expressing himself in the professional world:

I thought back to all of the times that people had told me to “tone it down for work.” I thought back to conversations with my father, where he told me to put away the “flamboyant shit” if I wanted to be respected. I thought back to former internship supervisors who told me that I would not be respected around the office if I chose to express my gender identity. I thought back to the countless memories from childhood of being mocked for being a “sissy.”

So while women have made many gains when it comes to crossing gender boundaries, our society still has a ways to go before it’s socially acceptable for men to do the same.

Sadly, it’s not just mainstream society that polices the appearance and gender expression of men and women. As Alice writes in this post, the trans* community does the same. For trans women specifically, “If you don’t dress and present in an expressly feminine way – party dresses, false lashes, nails that could hold up the Forth Bridge, enough makeup to keep the Kardashians in business for five years – then you’re ‘not properly transgender’ and just putting it on, seeking attention.”

Being a woman or a man doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way. I wish people would stop insisting that it does.

Figuring out my gender, and trying to figure out gender in general

While writing the last post, I jotted down some other thoughts on gender in general and my gender specifically. One sentence I wrote was, “I don’t know if that makes me agender or gender-neutral or neutrois, but right now I’m not worried about figuring out which label makes the most sense for me.” But, perhaps inevitably, I then got curious about which one would be the most accurate, and after rereading this post and this post (I’ve somehow ended up considering these two to be THE posts on alternative genders, but I’d love to read others if anyone has recommendations!), both of which I’d related to somewhat when I first read them, I concluded that “genderless” is probably the best term for me. Continue reading