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Identity vs expression


Katelyn

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I've just been wondering about some stuff lately, but among them is a question regarding how ones gender identity relates to your preferred expression (hobbies, appearance, possessions, etc). 

 

What I'm getting at is essentially a bunch of what appears to be contradictions in my own logic. 

Often I read people saying that there's nothing wrong with a man wearing a dress, it's just clothing, same as a woman in pants, it's not as if the clothing is gendered. It's just down to society and expectations. 

Hobbies and activities for instance as well, why can't a woman enjoy riding motorcycles or playing video games or reading comics and men enjoy knitting and shopping. 

Being emotional, why can't a woman be logical and a man emotional? 

Why does it feel feminine to create cute art pieces or play with your hair? 

Favourite colours, hair length, etc. 

 

Why I ask this is because if the only gendered things as such are your sex and gender, why does the steriotypical expression thereof matter so much? Why do these things feel reaffirming or in some cases like invalidation? 

 

Sorry if my ramblings seem confusing, that would be an accurate depiction of my mental state right now. 

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To me, it's not the expression, it's the name, pronouns, and hormones. If you feel most comfortable being called a different set of pronouns, then you are trans. If you experience dysphoria with your body and the hormones currently coursing through it, you are trans. Whether or not you enjoy the color pink or motorcycles doesn't matter. For example: I LOVE leggings and jeggings. I am a man. I am fairly confident that I'm a man, lol, but I love leggings!! It's only because they're SUPER comfortable and make me feel confident. But, because I feel that way towards leggings doesn't make me less of a man. They're just clothes. As long as they cover up my stuff like they're designed to do, I'm fine. There are VERY VERY RARE occasions where I'll put on a dress and like the way it looks on my body, but that's because I've always had this experience that I'm in someone else's body. It's not that I like wearing dresses, because I would NEVER wear one out in public, they just aren't me, but it's because the body that my brain and soul is currently in looks good in the dress, if that makes sense.

 

So, bottom line, those things don't matter a bit as long as I and a few other people are concerned. As society's concerned, those things DO matter. But, hopefully, that'll change. What matters is the name, pronouns, and hormones. (And don't forget dysphoria!)

 

My messages are ALWAYS open!!

 

Stay safe and stay alive,

Aiden

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Thank you Aiden, 

 

It just seems like we often validate the gender we identify as using these things. Like saying we always enjoyed more feminine activities or prefer feminine clothing or like feminine things or have female friends and thus it makes sense in retrospect but if those are all up to the individual and aren't an indication of your gender per say, why do we go there? Is it because the expression and participation in those conventions helps us "bring out" that side of us?

 

I mean if a cis woman wore a man's clothing and serviced a car and preferred sports to nail painting, it would be fine but she wouldn't necessarily question her gender because of it. Yet it feels like that's what I, for one, try to do. I am born male and my interests don't align with conventionally male or female activities but I have this nagging identity that keeps me feeling like I'm supposed to be a woman, and I validate that using my love for womanly fashion and more compassionate personality, with not liking sport for instance. But that's also not a means of identifying a gender  identity, right? 

 

As I said though, just like a thought I can't puzzle out. Why can't this stuff come with like a manual?

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LOL! I and many other people wish this stuff came with a manual! But, yeah, I don't know. We can be a bit hypocritical sometimes, I suppose. We're wrestling with such a big topic and a big society that it's easy to slip. Also we're still part of society, and no matter how much we hate it, we have to somewhat give in to norms. Some of those being "using our interests AND pronouns to show how we're trans."

 

This is a very deep topic. Definitely lots to think about!!

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Katelyn, the reality is that what we like to do and what we like to wear as individuals are simply our preferences.

 

Society as a whole has some very definite unwritten rules about what things are boys and what things are girls - it isn't that liking polished nails makes you girly and liking motorbikes makes you a boy, any more than what colour the bedroom wall is painted determines a baby's gender - it is simply that you are using those common measures to try and help justify your other (probably big) feelings about your gender.

 

By wearing makeup and clothes designed for women I feel more like the woman I want to express myself as at the time, if I could look in the mirror and see the same thing in my guy clothes - with or without stubble, then I would have no doubts at all about my need to transition. I can present as a man to a function in a kilt and woman find it attractive, even though technically it is a pleated skirt - if I turn up at that same function in an obviously female skirt I will either be laughed at or beaten up.

I would dearly love an instruction manual or some kind of A to Z of "how to know if you are trans and what to do about it". That's why I am here - I figure if anyone is likely to know if I am genuine or not it is a place where other people are asking or have asked the same types of questions.

 

Theoretically how you choose to express yourself should make no difference, but as Aiden says, we are just as susceptible to the hypocrisy and pressure of wanting to fit in to societal norms even if we know they should not matter. ?

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Thank you Aiden and DD. It is a rather complicated topic. Your exiplinations definitely resonate with my own thoughts. I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine today. 

 

There's a friend of the family who spent a lot of money on an expensive designer dress and he wears it publicly but it's just because he likes dresses so he doesn't feel any form of femininity in it. But he's fine with it. While to me it's a way of expressing something else, a way for Katelyn to step out. Which is why I visited her and her boyfriend today, they encouraged me to dress however I'd like to and decided to treat me as if I were a girl. And it wasn't weird or uncomfortable. I almost felt like I was cross dressing when I got back in my male garb to go home.

 

Fun part is this friend of mine is of opinion that women should do whatever they like be it play video games and ride bikes or do make up or love art. She's kinda cool that way. She was encouraging me that I should do whatever I feel I must and want to and let society and its norms be damned, very much the individual character with a strong personality and provides great support. She's even willing to accompany me to group therapy of I decide to look for something like that. 

 

Anyhow, I told her too that I dont feel I have to dress up and be pretty for society, I want to because it helps express myself and makes me feel closer to the womanly identity in a way. Its not validating the gender maybe but more complying to what makes me feel in tune with it according to the standards society has instilled. 

 

Definitly hypocritical. 

 

Hugs

Katelyn 

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Hi Everyone,

 

I must admit that I have worried about the fact that most of my interests would be considered masculine, even though I feel feminine.

 

One of the reasons for this is because I was obviously brought up as a boy, and I got involved with hobbies such as classic cars, because that is what my father and my brother were interested in, so that was a logical thing for me to do.

 

I have noticed that when some people transition, they wish to forget their past, and start again as a different person.  I enjoy my hobbies and they are part of who I am,  so I don't want to give them up, even though some people might think that my interests contradict my gender identity.

 

Robin.

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  • Forum Moderator

I worried about this Robin but it soon passed as meaningless.  I have not given up my hobbies but I do participate in new ones now 

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I don't think one should give up on them. Your hobbies are part of your identity, not gender identity specific, individual, so do what you like. My very vocal female friend would say society be damned, be a strong, independent woman and enjoy your hobbies, masculine and female alike, confidently. You are valid and worth while and are allowed to be happy, as long as you're not hurting someone else. And the more time I spend around her, the more empowered I feel and I tend to agree with her more. 

 

It's cool to find friend or supportive people who don't just wish you well, they straight up encourage you and make you feel like you can do anything. 

 

Hugs 

Katelyn 

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The affirmations and invalid feelings come from social construct. Beat something into your head long enough and you start to believe it. But it’s a poppycock. We can all look, act, feel, do, and be whatever we want. But social construct has led us to believe certain untruthful ideas such as women wear dresses, men wear pants, or any other idea that has been cooked up over the years. 

Keep your hobbies. Do what you enjoy. I will say some of my interests have shifted because some things I’ve always liked but wasn’t supposed to do, I do now. So some other space filler hobbies have ended for me. But try not to let these silly things decide what you like and don’t like. You’re only hurting yourself cause you can most definitely do whatever you want. 

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Without attaching them to my gender identity, I've always enjoyed traditionally feminine activities and interests. I played sports in high school, but so do girls. If I could have transitioned much younger, my lifestyle and activities would have been more congruent with who I am. I hated playing the male role and suppress my non-male interests. That's what it was, a culturally acceptable role play. So, in my case, my gender identity and interests have always aligned with culturally determined roles, not something I consciously decided to do in order to feel more affirmed as female.

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