Question: Genderless?

Jen asks…

Is it possible to feel gender-less? Or just lacking a gender completely?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on January 27th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 20 comments »

20 Responses to “Question: Genderless?”

  1. AgentRusco

    I feel that way nearly every day.


  2. Charlie

    Yes, of course it is!
    I, personally, identify as non-gendered; genderless.
    I feel like neither a girl or a boy on any given day, I just feel like a human being.


  3. Boston

    Agreed with Charlie.
    I, too, feel genderless almost every day.

    If you can feel it think it, fathom it, then it is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise just because they can’t. That’s something I had to learn.


  4. Billie

    I feel that way. I mean, I can see that I look gendered, and that I present as one gender most of the time, and I have qualities of either gender. But I feel completely gender-neutral all the time, when I’m honest with myself.


  5. Nicholas

    I’m going to go against the grain here and say no, you cannot be genderless. Gender is that lovely social construct… which means if you’ve been socialized, you have a gender. You might be other-gendered, but you’re not free from gender unless you hatched out of an egg somewhere in the forest with no other human contact for socialization. It would take a conscious effort for any socialized person to remove themselves from gendered activities, picking a bathroom, shopping for clothes, personal pronouns, interacting with other people who believe you to be of a certain gender—conscious effort to change oneself that would invalidate the “natural-ness” of gender. Gender is part of human culture, and while I can imagine a lot of people would think they were genderless, they are more likely gender-fluid than devoid of all gender.


  6. Epochryphal

    Re: Nicholas:

    Uh? You say gender is a social construct (so it’s constructed for us, based on assigned sex) – and then that it possesses “natural-ness” (so it’s innate). This is a huge debate, and I don’t think we can say it’s one or the other, but – contradiction?

    I do think it’s impossible to avoid gender altogether forever amen; however, as you say, through conscious effort one can indeed express themselves as non-gendered. I myself use only gender-neutral restrooms, clothes, and pronouns. Difficult? Yes. Possible? Why yes. And I firmly believe these are conscious efforts not to change myself, but the way society interacts with me. Nor am I being fluid: I don’t really change, but am me all the time.

    Finally, I don’t see how socialization –> gender. (Isn’t the whole idea of transpeople that the gender we were socialized into is incorrect in some way?) So, while we are socialized to behave as a binary gender, that does not necessarily create a gender identity in us.


  7. Nicholas

    It is a social construct, meaning, it is something that exists in society, in our culture. Being a “man” and being a “woman” mean different things in different cultures, yes? And as we grow up, we’re taught as our culture dictates, things like “boys don’t cry” is commonplace where I grew up. It is “natural” to share culture with newer generations, it occurs in every culture and is the reason we have “traditional” gender roles. Gender itself is not innate, that is a misunderstanding, but socialization itself is natural. Passing of values and beliefs is the backbone of culture, and every society does it.

    This is where I base my statement that no socialized person lacks gender. The values are taught to us as part of our upbringing include concepts of gender, how you and I “should” and “should not” act. We develop a sense of self early on, who we are, where we belong–certainly including where we don’t belong as well. We form our beliefs, our gender, with respect to what we have been taught. Whether we conform to gender roles or not, those ideas and norms of gender proliferate throughout common culture, we pick and choose how to maneuver the whole “gender dance.” Gender roles become more refined as we interact with other/similar-gendered people as part of ongoing socialization. Everyone makes these choices, has these ideas about themselves, thereby meaning everyone has a gender. Our self-concept includes gender to manage these everyday situations, you yourself actively choose to distance yourself from the gender binary by opting out, choosing a more gender-neutral approach. That is your gender-expression. It may not exist in the gender binary, but it exists nonetheless.

    As for the transfolks: It depends. Transpeople come in a wide array of “flavors” and the whole “trans-” prefix itself is kind of nebulous. For those that feel their assigned (usually by sex) gender-role is insufficient, they wish to make some change, to some other gender that is more congruent with their self-concept.

    Expected gender via socialization doesn’t “grow” a person’s gender, but rather gives them experiences by which they pick and choose what is “comfortable.” A male may very well be comfortable with the expectations (of masculinity) society has of him, and the masculine identity fits. But some may deviate from what is expected of them. They may not be masculine completely (most aren’t superheroes you see on TV), but they certainly have a gender. Someone may be much less comfortable with societal expectations, and has their own gender “comfort-zone” that would be their gender-expression.

    To have a set of beliefs on how one should conduct themselves in “gendered” situations entails that those beliefs are one’s gender. Everyone has a gender identity, just like everyone has a sexual orientation, even if they have no interest in sex.


  8. Anonymous

    i think this is a really good theoretical conversation. I will say that, for me, genderless being exists not in my social relationships but in my internal awareness of my body.

    I am trying to figure out my gender. So, when I was doing yoga the other day I asked myself, “what gender does my body feel like?” I thought maybe my body would give me some feedback. When I meditated with that question, the response I got was a feeling of strength in my legs, a feeling of openness in my chest, a feeling of constriction around my shoulders, a feeling of energy in my hips.

    So my question didn’t deliver an answer in social terms. I guess my immediate experience of myself is more like as a force of nature or a feeling of energy and constriction, a movement of energy through space, rather than a gender. As soon as I encounter myself in relationship to others, or have to make any choice about self-presentation at all, I encounter myself as gendered in all the ways Nicholas describes. And of course socialization is natural.

    I’m just saying there exists a field of pure perceptual awareness, that i have encountered, that does not present itself in gendered terms.

    Now I’m curious about whether i could access that state of pure perceptual awareness, while having sex. is it possible to have sex without experiencing oneself as gendered?


  9. Kai'enne

    There’s even a term for it: Neutrois.


  10. Epochryphal

    Nicholas: Well, I disagree. I think gender identity, expression, and roles are much more distinct than you’ve expressed, and I suspect I see them differently.

    Also, I happen to identify as asexual (and neutrois and agendered), and there is much debate as to whether or not asexuality constitutes a sexual orientation. After all, what does it mean to have a sexual orientation if you aren’t sexual?:

    Ultimately I think the whole idea of gender identity, or sexual orientation, is about self-identification and, as the original question suggests, feeling. And I certainly feel like I have a gender of null.


  11. dayita

    Anonymous #8 – in answer to your question, the best I can say is “maybe”. I’ve come close in spontaneous experiences a couple or three times, and I hope to experience it more deliberately and completely in the future.

    Yes, I am fascinated by all varieties of Tantric practice. I suspect that ultimately the masculine/feminine dynamic disappears in the flow of energy between like-minded people. I just haven’t yet managed to arrange the right confluence of people and circumstances to explore at the depth of my desire.


  12. Ebenezer

    Ditto Billie. I have no sense of gender identity whatsoever, and that doesn’t make me uncomfortable.


  13. Nicholas

    Epochryphal: I guess I was arguing an entirely different point! Anyone can feel anyway they like, and nobody can tell another how they’re feeling at any point in time. I’d go as far as to say, for this question, it happens all the time. When stuffing an apple in my pocket when I leave the house, I have no feelings about gender, just tummy grumbles! :P


  14. Logan

    If you feel it; it is possible.


  15. Andy

    ^_^ It’s called neutrois.


  16. Regis

    I’ve always felt genderless. Regardless of society and culture, or the large debate above :p


  17. Lilybean

    Every morning, I wake up, and for just a few seconds (or minutes on a bad day) I am completely genderless. In some ways, I’m almost personality-less… for those first few seconds I am nobody, with no past. Some days it’s freeing, especially until the realisation of what body I have comes back.


  18. Louche

    I’m not going to call myself “neutrois.” Just what I need to describe myself is not more jargon. There is nothing scientific about my dis-identification with gender. If someone wants to use that word, I have no problem with that, but why would I call myself “neutrois” when I could just say I’m genderless? It’s not much of a category in my mind. It’s more like a non-category. And I really think of everyone as genderless on some level anyway.

    Of course, I don’t think I or others are genderless in every sense of the word. Gender is indeed socially (and mentally) constructed. But the thing is, I just don’t see it as anything essential, and I especially don’t identify with some gender defined by society. I can’t identify with anything as monolithic as gender, even if I know that subconsciously others are identifying me with gender… personally, no matter how hard I try, I can’t fully avoid seeing gender when I look at other people either. But so what? I may identify someone as a woman subconsciously, but in fact they identify as a man, or maybe they’re intersexed, or actually I’m not attracted at all because the only “woman” is not enough of a quality to attract me even though I’m attracted to what I perceive as “women”! It’s more nuanced than that, somehow.

    Anyhow, cool to see others who don’t identify with gender! :)


  19. Beth

    I personally feel like I have no gender. I’m biologically female, and at this point in my life do not have a desire to transition (to a male). I am not terribly uncomfortable with my female body, but I may have some bias there as I look decently androgynous. I don’t find myself more drawn to hanging around with males or females, and my sexual orientation is almost seemlessly avoiding in the aspect of gender being a filter (though I am happily with my girlfriend of three years).

    This question all really depends on your definition of gender. To me, I take it as “do you internally feel male or female, regardless of society’s standards and the like”, and to that, I can say I do not. It doesn’t change day to day for myself either as some people have touched on before (the idea of gender expression being fluid). Of course, there are some days I may want to “dress up” and maybe take a bit more of a “feminine” look to what I throw on, but other than that, I express (through clothing choice and the like), usually as gender-neutral and feel the same internally.

    Great question c:


  20. Em

    I find myself feeling this way a lot. Googling it is how I got to this page actually :) It can be quite irritating, because it’s mentally comforting to put myself in boxes. I have the body of a female, so I can’t be male (and have no wish to be). But I don’t feel like a female, so I’m not that either. I’m an intermediary stage =/ It’s hard to embrace your sexuality when you’re like that.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top