In-between worlds

Someone wrote…

I’m a cis-woman that wears “guy” clothes. I say this haltingly, because I don’t think of myself as a cis-woman, but I am definitely not trans*. My friends say I’m too feminine to be anything other than a cis-woman. I’m not though!

I live in-between the worlds of masculine and feminine, but everyone only sees my femininity. I don’t understand why my friends won’t believe me when I say that I’m genderqueer. Not every cis-guy is “masculine.” How masculine does one have to be to be able to claim space in the grey area that is genderqueerness?

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on May 4th, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 5 comments »

5 Responses to “In-between worlds”

  1. Medusa Hirsel

    When I first came out as genderqueer, I was told the same thing – that I’m too femme to be genderqueer and I just wanted attention. That fear/doubt kept me basically closeted for 10 years. So, here’s my take on this.

    There is an inner and an outer aspect to gender. The inner aspect has to do with your relationship with yourself and your body. The outer aspect is performative. It has to do with the way you present your gender and your body to others and the way you’re perceived.

    Your inner and outer gender do not have to match.

    Your inner and outer gender should both be comfortable for you to live in.

    You should never have to be shamed or put down for expressing, talking about or experimenting with any aspect of your gender.

    IMO, your relationship with your own gender and your own self should always take precedent over other peoples’ opinions of same. You know yourself better than they could know you. The only person you have to listen to is yourself. Building a good relationship with yourself and your inner gender is important for your health, mental and physical.

    Other peoples’ perceptions are a sort of minefield we all have to navigate. I have a lot of trouble with this part of it. But what I try to do is ask myself, does this make me happier and why? I have very long hair, which is a large contributor to people misgendering me. But I really like my hair, so I’m keeping it. Sometimes presenting as cis makes me feel more comfortable in social situations. But I’ve recently realized that femininity is like defensive camouflage for me, which goes back to being bullied as a child for not being feminine enough. That makes me unhappy, so I am struggling to think of ways to present more androgynously, while keeping things about my appearance that I like.

    The main thing I’m trying to say is listen to yourself and trust yourself. And, also, anyone who is shaming you or trying to talk you out of being genderqueer should have their hurtful and/or bullying behavior pointed out to them. If they won’t acknowledge that they’re being jerks, stop hanging out with them. Having a supportive and understanding community makes a huge difference!


  2. kaberett

    I am so sorry that you’ve got stuck with people who are this keen on gender-policing.

    You don’t have to be “masculine” to be genderqueer. You don’t have to be “masculine” to be a trans dude. Some of the highest femmes I know are trans dudes; feminine gender expression is exactly as valid for all genderqueer people, regardless of whether they were assigned male or female at birth. Nobody else gets to tell you whether you’re “trans enough” (which is a toxic concept in and of itself).

    I hear you and I believe you and I support you. ♥


  3. Wiley

    I think it may also be important to distinguish here between gender identity and gender expression, as I get the impression Madusa Hirsel was explaining. If you identify as a cis-woman, you can express that part of who you are in basically endless ways. Women in general come in all sorts of packages, so to speak…That is to say, women are women in all sorts of ways. Likewise, you can be a genderqueer person in all sorts of ways too.

    I mostly bring this up because sometimes it seems that women who are being women in non-traditional ways feel invalidated because they don’t fit the stereotype, and in the same vein, trans* people (trans men, genderqueers, etc…) feel like they can’t possibly be trans* because they “aren’t doing it right” or “aren’t trans*-enough.” Both of these situations are kind of sad. I believe that no one should have to express themselves a certain rigid way to “qualify” as a gender.


  4. Ryan

    I love this and I can powerfully relate to it. My sex is male, my appearance is male, and I’m comfortable with that and even like it for the most part. But I’m really uncomfortable with thinking that my gender is male or that other people see me as cis-male. I don’t want to be overtly feminine, I just don’t want to be limited by other people’s definitions of masculinity. I’m tired of people telling me that being sensitive, compassionate, gentle, nurturing, and empathetic are qualities that men shouldn’t have, or that I specifically shouldn’t have because I’m otherwise masculine. I’m not interested in “normal” masculinity, and quite honestly, I find it disgusting. Does this make me genderqueer? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.

    Regardless of how one defines “genderqueer”, I think there’s still a space in the hearts of most people here to love and validate your sense of gender the way you find liberating and fulfilling. I, for one, feel affirmed after reading your comments by the fact that I’m not the only one struggling with this, that I feel “on the fringe” of even a fringe subgroup like genderqueer. I hope my willingness to share can help you feel affirmed, too.


  5. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for posting. This rings so true for me. I’ve been out of the closet as pagan and as bisexual for years. I am nervous about telling people I’d prefer to be considered pansexual. I’m absolutely terrified to come out as genderfluid. The primary reason is that I present as cis-female, and have for the thirty years I’ve been alive. I’m happily married to a heterosexual cis-male. I don’t want to permanently alter anything about my appearance. I’m so afraid that that means I am not allowed to identify as genderqueer, or genderfluid which is the term I personally prefer. I don’t really mind being referred to with traditionally female pronouns, and I’m afraid my friends and husband will either not believe me or be offended if I express that I want to dress and smell male sometimes. I’m very grateful for all the people who posted on here.


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