Gender-fluid is a gender identity which refers a dynamic mix of male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.
I’m gender-fluid. Here’s what that means to me.
My buddy and I went for a hike the other day, and back in their kitchen we got to talking about gender. They’re changing their pronouns in public for the first time, and they’re not sure if it will go over well, or smoothly, or if their self-description will accurately convey their being.
When I say I’m gender-fluid, here’s what I’m trying to convey:
As a kid, I was occasionally seen as a boy and told that the things I was interested in were boy things. I played a dude, as a dude, in a high school play. I sang with the boys for a few songs in choir. While I don’t feel un-female, I’ve come to understand that my stance shifts relative to the group I’m in and the role I take within that group. So now, when the vast majority of societal messages and cues tell me I do guy things, and act like a guy, I figure, “ok, I’m a guy. This is correct.”
Yet, the skin I wear fits, and I feel no need to change it.
I’ve met women that are tougher, harder, and butch-er that identify 100% as women. My experience doesn’t invalidate theirs, or vice versa. It’s a different mode.
For me, publicly identifying one way or the other helps set the tone. It contextualizes. It arranges for the response I want, and helps smooth interactions based on finding common ground.
That said, how you see me and what you call me has no bearing on what I am, which is why I’m not too hung up on pronouns… but I would feel like less if I were unable to shift. I would feel like less if I were asked to start, or stop, a particular gendered expression.
Identity is made up of a zillion categories and groupings, all of which have varying importance in someone’s life. Gender’s only one, like spirituality, or lineage. It’s not the first thing I’d mention when self-describing. Not because I’m ashamed, or not “out,” but because it’s not the most important lens through which I see myself.
It remains true, regardless.
If you feel like you’re this way, but didn’t have the word, now you do. If you feel like you’re alone in the way you are; you’re not.
While the language and the concepts might at first seem alien, or frustrating, or ridiculous, I appreciate that the conversations are becoming more commonplace. The more language we have, the more specific we can be — the better we’ll be able to understand, and be understood.