Yesterday I watched a new video, ‘The Gender Tag’, from one of my favourite YouTubers, Ashley Wylde. Ashley’s not only a YouTuber, but also a spoken word artist. Her slam poetry is what first made me first discover her – her poetry truly resonates with me, whether I’m reading it or listening to it, and she delivers it with such unbridled passion you honestly can’t help but be moved and inspired. I highly highly highly recommend you go check out her talent here.
The Gender Tag is a tag Ashley’s created so people can answer a few questions about their gender identity and discuss their thoughts on gender and what it means to them. It’s a beautiful and very innovative idea, to get a discussion going among anyone and everyone, on what gender really is. I also think it’s a great way to work through your gender identity yourself, or even let the people around you see into who you really are – I know first hand how difficult it can be to broach that kind of a complex, personal, ‘you might not understand’ topic with people.
Ashley provided a few questions/prompts about gender, and I immediately wanted to answer them. I toyed with the idea of making a video (as most people will) but I really communicate better via the written word, and this is my main forum of discussing gender so it made sense, plus I realised I haven’t made a post for the segment lately and it seemed appropriate. But before you read on, I really suggest you take a look at Ashley’s video here, it’s well worth a watch!
1. How do you self-identify your gender, and what does that definition mean to you?
I identify as female, for the most part. That’s how I’d describe myself to most people in my life. But really I’d say I’m loosely genderfluid, specifically in that some parts of me feel a lot more masculine and some feel a lot more feminine. but I do still identify as female. describing myself as androgynous feels accurate too. I feel how feminine or how masculine I am changes – sometimes daily, sometimes weekly or monthly. My gender identity’s really developed in the past couple of years and I think I’m still in the process of exploring it and understanding it, but more or less I don’t feel truly female or male, so genderfluid is how I identify; tending slightly more towards female in my actual gender, and more towards male in my expression.
2. What pronouns honor you?
I use she/her pronouns, mostly because that is what everyone knows me as using, and at the moment the discomfort of she/her pronouns doesn’t outweigh the effort and disruption changing my pronouns would mean. I’m not exactly ‘out’ as genderfluid to my real-life friends and family, and I’m not bothered by she/her pronouns enough to rush into that. Honestly I haven’t found any pronouns that resonate with me particularly. I’m not really fussed whether people use she/they or even he. So at the moment, I’m perfectly happy with she/her. The thing I really don’t like and that makes me uncomfortable, is when people refer to me as a lady – I don’t really mind girl or woman – but lady (or even sometimes female) is what I’m always called at work by customers, and every time it gives me a little jolt of dysphoria. For titles though, I do really like ‘Mx’ rather than ‘Miss’.
3. Describe the style of clothing that you most often wear.
This one’s tricky – what I wear, and what I feel comfortable in, and what I’d ideally wear are all different. What I wear at the moment is jeans, baggy black t-shirts, and button-ups, button-downs and flannels. I like men’s clothes a lot more than women’s, but I’ll often see a nice dress or top from the women’s section and think ‘wow I love that’ – but not in a ‘I’d wear that’ sense, more in a ‘if I felt comfortable doing so that’s what I’d wear’ way. I love men’s shoes and even though women’s shoes are really similar sometimes, just knowing that my shoes were classed as men’s not women’s makes me feel a bit more secure in my gender expression. I like masculine jewellery, and that’s all I wear really, but I collect a lot of typically feminine/’boho’ jewellery, because I just think it’s really beautiful. I guess my overall style’s kind of… boyish lesbian, haha. If my body matched how I feel I’d like to dress, then I’d wear more classic men’s pieces like waistcoats and suits, and I’d go for a lot of simple masculine outfits. It’s hard to explain, but think like Kristen Stewart and Ellen Page at their most butch – lots of flat caps, beanies, trench coats, denim, pointed boots and lace-ups, simple t-shirts. That kind of stuff.
4. Talk about your choices with body hair. How do you style your hair?
Body-hair wise, I’m typically feminine – I mostly shave my legs and armpits, and when I don’t it’s purely cause I can’t be bothered. But I don’t feel those things are because I identify with looking/feeling feminine, they’re more because I like having smooth skin. My actual hair is cut really short, with one side shaved. If I felt I could ‘pull it off’ I’d have either a very, very short simple cut all round then style it smoothed down, or I’d shave both sides and around the back, so I could curl it on top or tie it up or slick it back. That’d be cool.
5. Do you have facial hair? What do you choose to shave, or choose not to shave?
I don’t really have facial hair, aside from the usual downy hair everyone has.
6. Talk about cosmetics. Do you choose to wear makeup? Do you paint your nails? What types of soaps and perfumes do you use if any?
Cosmetics is a complicated one for me – I love makeup. I think it’s so cool to experiment with and really fun, and I don’t know why I like it so much. I have about fifty lipsticks, and I’ve perhaps worn one or two of them outside. I like looking at, and buying makeup, but I rarely wear it. I normally just wear basic mascara, eyebrows, foundation/concealer, as I’m really self-conscious and that helps me feel a bit better about myself. I like painting my nails, but normally just blue or black, and I don’t really associate that with being feminine – I think it looks awesome when masculine presenting people have painted nails. For other toiletries, I use women’s products as well. I’ve experimented with men’s body washes and deodorants, but they hurt my skin, and I just prefer the variety of scents that women are offered.
7. Have you experienced being misgendered? If so, how often?
Do you experience dysphoria? How does that affect you?
I’ve been misgendered a few times, but more so when I was solely identifying as female, I’d get mistaken for a male, especially when out with my girlfriend. It never bothered me, and in fact nowadays when it happens it’s kind of a guilty pleasure – it’s like ‘yes, they actually think I look like that’. Kinda like when people say ‘oh but you’re so girly’ and it makes your stomach turn but you can’t explain why.
I never used to think I experienced dysphoria, and I’m still a bit loathed to say I do, as I think what I feel isn’t nearly bad enough to label it as dysphoria, considering what some people go through. I do experience a severe dislike for my body (and beyond my usual ‘I hate my body’ issues), and into gender-related dislikes. I wish I were flat-chested, mostly, and I really wish my face wasn’t so unmistakably feminine. These things affect me daily, but don’t – at the moment – affect me focussing on other things, they just make me uncomfortable and wish they were different.
8. Talk about children. Are you interested in having children? Would you want to carry a child if that were an option for you? Do you want to be the primary caretaker for any children you may have?
I’m definitely interested in having children, and part of me would want to carry a child, but realistically I don’t think I would want to go through with that. I’d rather my partner carried the child or we had a surrogate. I’d like to be involved in the pregnancy and caring for the child, obviously, but I think it should be a joint effort, so neither one of us would be the ‘primary caretaker’.
9. Talk about money. Is it important to you to provide for a family financially if you choose to have one? Is it important to you that you earn more than any partner you may have? Do you prefer to pay for things like dates? Are you uncomfortable when others pay for you or offer to pay for you?
It would be important for me to help provide for a family, whatever gender I was, and I wouldn’t really be bothered if my partner earned more than I did or contributed more financially to the household/family. I do like doing stuff like paying for dates, but it doesn’t necessarily make me uncomfortable if someone else does instead. I think I like paying for that kind of thing as it plays into the traditionally masculine role, and I like performing that ‘part’ – whether it be buying flowers, paying for dinner or whatever. But on the other hand, I find that kind of typical role kinda inherently sexist, so I struggle a bit with wanting to do those things. I think ultimately, it’s okay that I or anyone else feel that way, so long as they acknowledge that it’s fine if someone else (whatever gender) does them as well. Idk, that’s a complicated topic for me…
10. Anything else you want to share about your experience with gender?
Just that I think the fact gender is rooted in old-fashioned, sexist ways to ‘measuring’ how masculine or feminine you are is quite problematic. Like I mentioned, the only way I can explain that I feel masculine sometimes is through outdated stereotypes, like what I want to wear or look like or do. That makes it hard for me to express myself, and it also means other people assume someone’s gender before they even find out their pronouns. I guess it all adds to the argument that society and gender would be better if gender was obsolete, and everyone was sort of non-binary, and that way whatever you like or do or present as, you’re not adding to a stereotype or presenting as any one gender – you’re just you.
I really recommend you all do this tag – whether it’s a video on YouTube or a blog post like this, they’re very thought-provoking, complex questions, and it’s great to be able to discuss gender and gender identity like this. So thanks to Ashley for creating such a brilliant concept and tag!
Go give Ashley some love on her social media: YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Website/Wordpress