Gender Expression and Gender Identity
What is it?
It is talked about so much now and so often we find people needing more information about gender and its different facets.
I am writing this as a way to help create some clarity surrounding gender, gender conformity, and gender expression – I hope it helps!
What is Gender?
Gender is a social construction that we focus on how we show our gender which stereotypically is man/boy or girl/woman.
As we have progressed in the understanding of gender, many are able to see that gender is beyond the binary of man and woman.
Gender is how we express our experience of being male or female regardless of natal (birth) sex.
Reminder: sex and gender are different.
Gender is something we express to those around us, it is not something we are “born with.” Without gender expression people would not necessarily know our gender because again sex and gender are different.
Gender expression is how we show our gender through clothing, what we wear, jewelry, make up, art, hair style, colors, etc. Gender is not tied to our genitals or physical body, we are assigned a gender at birth based on our “natal” or birth sex.
As we age, we learn to express our gender in what feels comfortable for us. Many people are influenced on what society prescribes us to where based on our assigned genders.
Others express their gender based on what feels most right for them regardless if that is within societies standards of expression of gender or not.
Gender conforming individuals are people who adhere to “normative” cultural standards surrounding gender expression.
This would be a woman dressing in feminine attire or what our culture would consider acceptable for a woman (dress, leggings, certain colors, etc.) or a man dressing in “masculine” attire (pants, athletic gear, polos, tshirts, etc).
The majority of our culture is “gender conforming” because that is what is expected and acceptable.
People, generally, like to feel connected and accepted in our culture so most people will follow or conform to what is “in style” or “appropriate” for their gender.
Gender conforming can also be defined as following the “rules” to your assigned gender at birth or your natal sex.
Some would not consider transgender people to be gender conforming, even if they are wearing clothes that match their gender.
Most of the clients and people in our world are gender conforming.
What I work on with these clients is challenging these “normative” beliefs in order for them to assess what truly is comfortable for them so that it is a conscious choice rather than an unconscious one.
So often when we conform, we do not think, we just do without being conscious. Whatever your choice is, I want you to realize it is a choice.
Gender Non-Conforming or Gender Creative
Gender Non-Conforming or Gender Creative are people who’s gender expression does not follow the stereotypical “rules” surrounding what is expected in male or female attire.
Additionally, individuals who are gender creative may have a different style completely or may fluctuate between what the culture considers masculine and feminine.
Some people may present more neutral or androgenous while others may shift their gender expression based on activity, crowd, emotion, or internal desire.
People who are gender creatives may identify with their assigned gender or may identify with other identities such as non-binary, gender queer, gender fluid, gender bending, gender non-conforming, or something else.
For the clients that I work with who are gender creatives, often have a strong sense of internal identity and also really connect with the spectrum of masculinity and femininity. Others do not connect to either at all.
Gender Identity and Gender Expression are NORMAL!
To be clear, there is nothing clinically problematic or concerning about gender expression or identity AT ALL.
The individuals who see me and are gender non-confomring or creative are either seeing me for a completely different reason (and just want an identity affirming therapist) or are wanting to work through how to manage the difficulties within our society with “non-conforming.”
As you may imagine, someone who is not conforming to societal norms experiences a lot of unique stressors, and with gender expression being something that you “show” the world – it creates a lot of difficulty due to people’s hate and inability to learn and grow.
Regardless of how you express your gender, whether you conform or not, at LCAT we see you and we are here to help provide a safe, comfortable environment for you to explore yourself and learn and grow to be in your best empowered self!
We are here to help at LCAT, we have various therapists who have training and understanding in all the A/a’s. Please join us on your healing journey!
YouTube page where she provides free information at The Sex Healer.
If you know someone that would benefit from this information, feel free to share it.
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