Question: How to explore my gender identity

kyle asks…

I’ve been thinking I might be an androgyne, but there’s so much information and different ways to be classified that I’m not entirely sure if I am one. I’d like to know how I can figure this out.

I’m biologically female, but I think I can say that I feel ‘without gender’ as I don’t feel like I fit into the same category as women and have never thought myself as a man. I’m fine with having a female body, and have no desire to change it (although, I’m very curious of what it would be like if I was a man). When I see myself in a mirror, I never think ‘woman;’ it feels inaccurate and borderline uncomfortable, even though I have no issue with ‘female’.

I don’t really have any real urge to dress like a man (but it’s fun when I do, and I will if I feel like it or if I have the clothes for it); nor do I feel comfortable dressing overly feminine (although, I sometimes dress very sexy for the bar with no problems). I normally just wear tomboy kind of things. I don’t have ‘girl’ days and ‘guy’ days, like most gender fluid people seem to do, and I’m attracted to men, but curious about women (I’ve never been with one yet, so I can’t say for sure).

I’d like to know how I can explore this further. The only ideas I have to express myself is through dress, but I’m sure there are more ways to explore and feel out my identity than deciding to wear boy or girl clothes (which poses another problem: how do I ‘dress to express’ if I don’t feel like I’m neither a man nor a woman?) I’d like to explore my masculinity and femininity if I have any, but I don’t know how to do it.

If anyone has any ideas, that would be great. 100% beginner here. Any advice will do.

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on April 5th, 2012 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 10 comments »

10 Responses to “Question: How to explore my gender identity”

  1. Cameron Joel

    I can’t say what your identity is, just that you’ll work it out in time. :)

    On gender expression outside of clothes/appearance: there’s plenty! I find that mannerisms and attitudes can be very gendered things–and like all gendered things, can therefore be opportunities for queering gender. Some examples would be…
    -how you carry yourself: when walking, standing, sitting; how much space do you take up and how assertive is your presence
    -language: are your words coarse, ‘vulgar,’ formal, flowery; do you speak calmly, aggressively, gruffly, high-pitched
    -how you interact with others: do you hold doors, do you smile, do you make eye contact, do you move out of people’s way (or make them move for you), etc.

    Some of these things are integral parts of one’s personality, and some are just habits. You can’t change all of them, though i think the changeable ones vary by individual. Manipulating them and their combinations has been pretty cool for me (but a heads-up: some combinations will inspire contempt in narrow-minded individuals).


  2. Bamwas

    Just do as me, i’m a man. I Wear a man shirt, and i wear à woman skirt. It shows my twitter gender


  3. j

    It sounds like you’re doing awesome! Maybe don’t worry so much about labelling or identifying yourself, if you’re having trouble finding labels that suit?

    I’m also biologically female, and didn’t feel like I belonged in the “women” category. But then I decided that “woman” can mean whatever the fuck I want it to mean, and that there are woman-identified people who act in all kind of unladylike and unfeminine ways. And now I’m happier with it. But maybe it is not for you!

    Maybe experiment with some things that are slightly outside of your comfort zone w.r.t. gendered presentation? Like if there are clothes that you feel slightly uncomfortable or scared about wearing, maybe try it out and see how you feel. I learned some things that way. Or try moving your speech patterns in different directions and see it feels, like Cameron suggested above. Experimentation is fun! And scary sometimes!


  4. lunasphere

    You’ve described almost exactly how I’m feeling and what I’m trying to figure out right now. I’ve always run away from labels, and it’s only just recently that I’ve tentatively tried any on as a way to understand myself and find some people with similar feelings and experiences.

    Right now, I tend to think that androgyne is the best label for me. I never felt like I totally belonged in the “man” camp, but don’t think I’d feel any more at place in the “woman” camp either. I do relate well enough to both of them that I can drift back and forth to the outskirts of each, and in that regard I feel like a pretty good interpreter between the two and a bit of a shapeshifter as needed, but never completely an insider either way.

    And I have no real issue with my body itself (though the male pattern baldness thing is a bit of a kicker) – even though some of my gender expression does leak out into my external presentation. I’ve shaved all my body hair for 15 or so years, sneak some colorful or otherwise feminine clothing into the mix (I do love a nice skirt when I get the chance!), wear earrings all the time, and play with nail polish sometimes. It’s not like I’m trying to dress as a woman in particular — just being open minded enough about my need for expression and this wild gender place I’m in. I think that my mix just ends up coming off as eccentric, and I think I’m cool with that.

    More so than any sort of external presentation is the freedom that accepting gender variance has given me to embrace the parts of me that I am most proud of, without feeling the need to conform so closely to tired gender norms. It’s taken a long time, but I’m seeing a lot less of a conflict between my “masculine” and “feminine” traits. I’m a total science and computer geek and can be very focused and result-oriented when I need to be, but I’m also one of the most sensitive, nurturing, and emotional people I know. Giving myself permission to let myself be the complete person that I am proud of, rather than trying to fit expectations of what makes other people comfortable, has really allowed me to blossom in the last year, and I’m actually making a lot of great new friends in the process of being authentic. I think that it helps me be an even better parent as well, though I think being a parent in itself has helped “force my hand” in terms of accepting myself.

    As labels go, I’m not sure how hard to embrace them, as there does seem to be a lot of overlap and confusion there. I started off for years just considering myself “weird” and an outsider without much understanding why, or much of any understanding of gender issues. Then eventually I started realizing that there was a gender component to it all, and just figured that I was a rather feminine man or at least had a strong feminine side.

    Most recently, though, now that I’ve paid more attention to it and learned more, I seem to agree with you that I’m not really a man or a woman but feel more like “androgyne” seems to be the most specific fit I’ve clicked with. I’m cool with “genderqueer” too — that seems less specific but allows a bit more wiggle room to work with. And I’m still mulling over whether to consider myself “transgender” — a lot of explanations I’ve read treat that as an umbrella term that includes genderqueer and androgyne, but other people seem to think otherwise, and it feels like a more loaded term; the more I explore, though, the more I feel comfortable with including myself in that umbrella.

    I guess as far as advice for how to explore your androgyne identity, I would have to suggest this thought experiment as a kind of summary of what I’ve been thinking through lately:

    Take some alone time to really think about what it is that makes you most proud of yourself on a deep personality level. What inspires you, how would you like to inspire others, what’s at the core of your beauty as an amazing person? Has there ever been a time where expressing any of that has been difficult because of what seems expected of you as a woman? Think of women you respect and admire; think of men you respect and admire; these can be real people or people you’ve come to know in your imagination. What traits do those men have in common? Those women? How many of these traits match up with the ones in your ideal view of yourself? Are there any of those traits you are holding back or hiding because you don’t think they would be well accepted as something that women do? Would you feel more complete by expressing any of those more freely and strongly?

    In my case, I realized that I was holding back a whole wide range of “feminine” emotion and expression that was desperately trying to burst out — not because I wanted to, but because I was so used to living my life trying to make other people happy. It was strong enough that I eventually came to realize that I am at least as feminine as I am masculine and that identifying as androgyne or genderqueer allowed me to give *myself* the permission to express myself as a complete person.

    I’m still working on how that expression manifests, but I’ve noticed that I already feel much freer, have cut way back on the self-censoring, and am starting to feel like a beautiful person again. I’ve had more than one person tell me that I seem to be blossoming, and it really does feel like it.

    Does this kind of opening up and changing of expression count as “transitioning”? I know it’s nothing like the journey that a MtF or FtM person may embark upon, but even though I don’t really know the destination, it still feels like a significant and frightening journey that is an amazing and necessary adventure to take.

    Expression through clothing and appearance is wonderful, but expression in your own ideals and your personality are even more important and amazing.

    These suggestions may seem more abstract and less concrete than the suggestions you’re looking for — but I hope this gives you some good things to think about, and maybe something will resonate with your own experiences.

    Love to you and all of the beautiful people who have inspired me here. Brightest blessings and best of luck no matter what identity you settle with.


    epistemicmurk replied:

    Posts like the above are why I keep on coming back to Genderfork.


  5. Ragini

    Wow, I loved your post. I am born a guy, but am pretty much in the same boat as you are.

    I am quite OK with my body, and am also fine with being thought of as a man, I am attracted to women, but I feel like my spirit is primarily a female spirit (sorry for being abstract).

    I am probably not a candidate for a gender change, but the lack of being able to express and experience the feminine part of my self, does cause pain and discomfort.

    I have been trying to explore various ways in which I can express and experience the feminine side of my self. Here is a list of things through which all of us can explore gender (whichever one is important for us…)

    1. Choice of music

    2. Literature

    3. Clothing

    4. Hairstyles & makeup

    5. The way we sit, walk etc

    6. The way in which we interact with people

    7. Activities (sports, hobbies, etc)

    8. The way in which others interact with us (if a friend interacts with me like I am a girl, it just totally makes my day)

    9. How we interact with ourselves

    10. How we feel about ourselves

    Another thing I am trying is simply to make a list of things that make me happy… give me peace, without trying to put them in any particular gender box. Once you have this list, you will realize that it will probably contain things of both genders. This list is what makes you happy, and probably what you might want to pursue.

    Hope this helps. Good luck and love to you.


  6. MelDrake

    I’m very similar. No problem with “female”, but “woman” doesn’t fit, and I’m pretty new to the whole world of nonbinary identities. I usually go with the term “genderqueer” since it’s pretty open-ended, haven’t found another label that sticks. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I also use “tenorette” but that comes from musical theater, no one in the trans* community seems to officially use it.). Labels are hard, and I really don’t like calling myself transgender because even though everyone in the trans* community use it as an umbrella term, I feel like the general public really only think of it in the terms of FTM or MTF, still binary but switching over. And I have no desire to do any pronoun-switching, name-changes, or hormones/surgery which all fit the typical trans narrative, so I don’t call myself transgender. As a result of not being sure of my label (and not wanting to EXPLAIN everything all the time because to many people don’t even realize nonbinary gender is actually a thing), I am having a hard time coming out except to a few close friends who I’ve been able to have a lengthy conversation with.

    At the moment, I’ve been exploring more with clothing, I also typically wear a comfortable tomboy ensemble but have been starting to accumulate more masculine clothes. My advice if you want to learn to “dress to express” is to first off wear clothes that fit. Beyond that, have fun, and go slow. Try new things, or wear old things, I think if your style is more tomboyish anyway it’s easy to add some more actual men’s clothing to your wardrobe rotation, little by little. Try a button-down over a t-shirt, or something like that. I also bought a few pairs of superhero boxer shorts that I will wear underneath a skirt on the occasions that I have to wear one. It feels sneaky and rebellious without being too public.

    I think my social interactions have always been more masculine-ish, and I do find myself more inclined to join the guys in social situations where sometimes the genders self-segregate, and I do try to be seen socially as a boy. I’m not sure HOW I do it, I just seem to gravitate towards it. *shrug*

    And yes, I know this post is 2 years old but I just discovered Genderfork yesterday and I thought I’d throw a few comments around in case other people are archive-browsing too.


    Anonymous replied:

    I feel the exact same way! Tenorrette is the best lable i have seen for it. One of my main issues with acting the way i feel is that wherever i go there is a HUGE gender divide! And lots of times the guys see me as like some knat, but i dont connect with the girls, exept a freind of mine who has recently told me she’s confused about her identity. Anyway, the “Girls” treat rhe fuys in a specific way and treating anyone else luke that to them is like dipping a toe in bird shit mixed with horse pee, bug guts and dog shit all liquified into a pot that is currently boiling. So all this to say… I want ti figure out how and where i fit in the spectrum witch for whatever teasin is just a bunch of boxes and sub boxes, dor me, if i fit into a box it tends to get filled with holes. Where I proceed to fall out after it colapses. I mean eavan with tenorrette i feel akward with my hips and breasts yet have no issue with any other physical aspects. So that doesnt quite work fir me.


  7. Victoria

    I’m glad that I have foumd so,e other people who feel this way. While I have no problem with my female body, I just never felt much like a woman and always felt more comfortable with my guy friends. Man, gender is so complicated. My aunt assures me that she went through a phase life this and it’s normal for a teenager, but I just feel like there is more to it. I’m happy the intrnet is here to help though.


  8. Orian

    I can relate to that first part, about identifying with “female” but not “woman.” I hate being addressed as “ma’am,” “miss,” or a “lady” or anything like that, but I’m fine with she/her pronouns. At least as to the last part of your question, I have a suggestion: look for images of “androgynous looks.” (go to for some examples.) It’s a type of in-between look that’s supposed to make it so that you can’t really tell if someone looks masculine or feminine, based on clothing and hairstyle, among other things. If that isn’t what you’re looking for, then don’t do it, but it could be worth looking into for ideas. I know it has helped me feel better about myself so hopefully it can help someone else but of course everyone’s different so do what feels right to you.


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