Darlings let’s go on a trip. If you have kept up with all my previous episodes and managed to stay on board, you will be aware that this LGBTQIA+ platform is somewhere where I don’t only discuss LGBTQIA+ issues, but explore them and constantly allow my thoughts to be challenged, changed and informed to ensure that I am not only constantly evolving, but sharing my thoughts, findings, and experiences with you to make sure that we can learn as much as we can TOGETHER! (I’m so nice). Now that leads me onto this weeks topic of gender identity vs gender expression.
Gender expression and gender identity are two different things, and I thinks it’s important that this is discussed when we talk about gender because it’s often forgotten, which has two effects. Firstly, when we discuss gender identity – for example if somebody is transgender and their gender identity is male – this comes with a hypermasculine, heteronormative presumption that this person is going to ‘look male’. The persons gender identity may be male, however their gender expression can be completely isolated from the ‘male’ identity that they class themselves as. Gender expression is more of a physical, and literal way how one person displays their gender in the way they dress, look, and well… PRESENT.
For example, my identity is non binary and basically… a huge yellow blob of a person. However, my gender expression is different, and is actually independent and unique to myself. I personally don’t subscribe to the conformed notions of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ gender expressions because it still connotes the idea that whatever I’m doing is related to a binary gendered system. For example, some people would say that because I wear fish nets and heels and a face of porcelain fresh makeup, this could be seen as as a feminine gender expression. However, for me, I express my gender in MY way and don’t subscribe to a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ outlook. HOWEVER it’s important that just because someone’s gender expression may be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, there is not necessarily a correlation or connection between this persons gender EXPRESSION and this persons gender IDENTITY. They’re to autonomous things.
For example, recently I have been feeling like I want to express my gender in a way that is different to the ways that I have normally been doing so just because I want to see how socially it makes me feel and how it makes OTHER people feel because I think it’s really important to show ALL sides to a non binary gender identity, and not erase the fact that if I’m saying that clothes have no gender, that INCLUDES traditionally ‘masculine’ items of clothing, as well as ‘feminine’ pieces.
Today I am wearing a suit and no make up and this is a great thing for me because it’s me taking steps forward to be at one with my skin and help my skin breathe, explore and rejuvenate. I personally started wearing make up as a way to cover up my skin, and NOW it’s as a tool and form of art and expression, however the fact that it started from a place of insecurity is something that I am working on and improving and I’m proud of that so !!! GO ME !!! The suit was inspired by my love of sociology and in a way, I enjoy seeing the reaction towards me when my gender expression is more cisgendered and heteronormative (someone who’s gender expression is expressed in a way that matches their sex at birth… or a white conservative would say …”normal”). My sociological brain is interested in how socially I am interacted with when looking like how I do today, compared to yesterday when I was wearing a full face of makeup and a dress. It’s interesting to me to see this shift, but also to see the shift in socialisation in myself and to see how I feel and interact with others, and to break down my OWN walls and to be able to discuss my own confidence, gender and identity when I am expressing it in a new way that I haven’t experienced before.
Today my experiences have been different. I have still felt confident, however alongside this confidence is a new found vulnerability and rawness to myself that I feel is exposed and… this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it’s just new and another side to myself. It’s me learning to live with myself in a different expression of my being. I am still Jamie, I am still nonbinary and I still think and feel the same emotions and loves and thoughts, but I just look different. It takes getting used to and it’s nice to try and get to know myself more over the course of my 20s, which I am rapidly approaching.
We all need to be aware of the gender identity and expression difference in the world we live in because we live in a visual arena where people judge books by their covers. I am commonly mistaken for a woman because of my gender expression, and my gender identity is erased. It’s seen as irrelevant. It’s so important that again, as I have said in like EVERY single gender post, IF YOU ARE UNSURE. ASK. It’s not offensive to ask. I was recently at a job interview and they were clearly alluding to my gender identity, however literally didn’t want to say the word and mumbled “transgender” under their breath as if it was a swear word or something they thought I would be offended by. ASK ME, ASK OTHER people and ASK in a mature way, that shows you care because we will know when it’s sincere and when it’s not.
Be open, be honest, broaden your mind and just educate yourselves ladies via this website, which I am really grateful and privileged to write because so may people around the world don’t get the opportunity to voice their lives and their journeys so I am really privileged to be able to do this so thank you. Let me know your thoughts and experiences on gender identity vs gender expression, and I want you to all try and learn something new about yourself this week. Trust me. It’s freeing and eye opening, and you will thank yourself for the fact that you’re evolving as a person right before your own eyes.
Lots of love,