Social Question

ETpro's avatar

[NSFW] What is your gender identity?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) January 30th, 2013

Gender identity—how male, female or neuter you feel in your heart of hearts—is an extremely personal and complicated thing. Society, particularly in the past, wanted to deal with it in binary fashion. There’s F’s and there’s M’s and you’re either 100% one or 100% the other. But the reality is that men who are 100% he-man male and women who are utterly girly-girl female are the rarity, not the rule. In fact, there’s probably something closer to a standard distribution than a dichotomy, and those who are the 100 percenters are out at the 3rd deviation.

To further complicate matters, some people have little interest in taking up any permanent position on the curve. They are epicene and like that scene. Still others are closer to neuter—just a human being who, though they may have a particular gender’s equipment between their legs, aren’t much concerned about using it. They have little to no interest in presenting as male or female. Being human is enough for them. There are the transgendered, who feel internally that they are one gender, but carry equipment between their legs placing them in the other gender. There are true hermaphrodites, fully or partially equipped with the sexual parts of both genders. Then there is the term, genderqueer, for gender identities that don’t really fit any one neatly defined spot on our bell curve of masculine/feminine behavior.

We’ve had the following series of questions that touched on gender identity, transgenderism, etc. as of late.
•     How much of your identity is tied up with your gender?
•     Is Body Integrity Identity Disorder as genuine in your mind Gender Identity Disorder?
•     Am I Genderqueer?
•     What did gendering (or not) your kids teach you about your own gender identity?
•     Will society ever come to be so unconcerned with gender identity that males who don a feminine garment will be viewed no differently than females who wear men’s items?
•     What makes someone a man or a woman?

Most of the above questions have produced discussions that grew animated. I’m not looking for argumentative answers here, but how each of us actually view ourselves on the gender identity continuum. Forgetting what class of plumbing your were born with; what, if any, gender do you feel fits you? What would you be if you could just shape shift to the perfect body for you?

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53 Answers

Leanne1986's avatar

I identify as a female, I have always like being a female and have never felt anything but female.

syz's avatar

I identify as female, but I don’t necessarily fit the societal norm for female. For example, my grandmother (admittedly the product of another time) would often say things like “That’s a man’s job” or “Can’t you get a man to do that for you?”.

When I was married, I was often frustrated by expectations placed on me by family, friends, and even strangers (“When are you having children?”, “Your husband let’s you go on road trips without him?”). I hated it and found it incredibly restricting.

I have been accused of being a “tomboy” for my entire life, mostly because I like to participate in a wide variety of physical activities.

I am bisexual, so gender has never played much of a role in who I am attracted to or relationships.

While I empathize, I have never understood comments from women along the lines of “If I had a mastectomy, I’d no longer be a real woman”. My identity doesn’t have that much to do with secondary sexual characteristics. (Honestly, the damn things just get in the way most of the time.)

I have spent most of my life with only 1 close female friend at a time and just a few other casual friends.

We haven’t ever really discussed it, but I think my partner would be comfortable identifying as “butch”, and I suppose I am slightly closer on the sliding scale to butch than to femme.

Overall, I’d say that gender doesn’t play a very pivotal role in my existence.

Sunny2's avatar

I never identified as anything but female, but I always preferred the company of males. As a child I preferred the activities of boys, but I was definitely a girl. I didn’t want to be a boy, but I wanted to be liked and accepted by the boys.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Like @syz I am not the societal norm. I am the main bread winner and have been since my husband’s health declined six years ago, I’ve never NOT had a job and supported myself, I can change my own oil, tighten my own battery cables, etc… I wanted to take shop in school but they didn’t allow girls to at the time.

I’m definately not a girly girl but I do have two or three pink items in my wardrobe and I wear make-up and cook, and consider myself a good wife. My family raised me to be all I could be, regardles of gender and my grandpa treated me like a boy taking me fishing, we built benches together and I helped on the farm.

downtide's avatar

Oooh I love questions like this.

I identify as male, despite the fact that I have a normal female body. I’ve always felt that I was a boy, and then a man, not necessarily “trapped in the wrong body” but having a body that had the birth defect of the wrong anatomy. For various reasons I delayed starting to transition but it was inevitable in the end, and I began the process about 18 months ago.

bookish1's avatar

I’m a feminine guy, but it took me a long time to figure that out. In large part because I felt I should have been male, but I never felt like a ‘man’ in relation to the limited and oppressive examples of ‘man’ I had while growing up. Performed some interesting psychic jujitsu on myself for years to get by, before I learned it was possible to transition, and that it was possible to be a feminine trans guy, and even (is your mind melting yet?) a fem trans guy who’s gay.

I don’t really like how the term ‘gender identity’ is often used. Most often, I hear it presented as something special for trans people, that non-trans people don’t have to think about. (Because, ya know, they just get to be their ‘gender.’)

So thank you, @ETpro, for getting people to think about this.

Coloma's avatar

100% hetero female.
Actually, sexually retired in the moment. lol

wundayatta's avatar

I’m a boring old heterosexual male. There was a time when I thought I should force myself to be open to other forms of sexuality because it would be the politically correct thing to do. There were a lot of women around me who were political lesbians. So, I reasoned, shouldn’t there be political gays?

Unfortunately for my politics, I had no desire to have a male lover. So, after I while, I realized I was just a man who liked women, exclusively. Eventually, I decided that was ok. I didn’t have to take a male lover to prove my politics. However, for many years, my best friends were gay men. I decided that I liked feminine energy the most, but I didn’t really care if it came from women or men who could express what is sometimes called their feminine sides.

I don’t think of it as a feminine side, though. I think of it as a caring side. Perhaps an emotional side. A nurturing side. Unfortunately, my male friends abandoned their nurturing sides after a while, at least in terms of me, and after that, we weren’t friends.

I have to say this gender vs sex stuff confuses me. I guess we’re saying gender isn’t sex. But it is sort of sexual orientation? But is it only sexual orientation in terms of who you want to have sex with, or is it sexual orientation in terms of who your friends are, as well?

bookish1's avatar

@wundayatta : Interesting story. And good point, I’ve never heard of political gays… Maybe because the militant separatist political lesbians wanted to isolate themselves from a male dominated society with enforced heterosexuality, etc. What kind of sexist oppression would straight men need to get away from?

Sexual anatomy, gender, and who you want to have sex with are all different things. I know it’s hard to get your head around, because this is the exact opposite of what we all learn growing up.

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 Yeah, I think we should drop away body image and gender image and relate to the inner beings and truth of all PEOPLE. I will always be most attracted to a persons personality and spirit regardless of the rest of how this human mess shows up externally.
I’m fast becoming the “invisible” woman, ageism is my fear right now.

deni's avatar

I’m a female and never questioned it. I like Steve Brule’s take on it.

Seek's avatar

Ah, hell if I know. Labels are silly.

Sure, I like to dress like “a girl” – I enjoy big skirts and corsets and pretty dresses. I also do a lot of cargo shorts and t-shirts. Whatever. Today I’m dressed like a 12 year old boy.

I cook and wear makeup and play with frogs and collect swords and prefer Conan to Carrie Bradshaw.

I’m attracted to minds more than bodies, but can certainly appreciate a beautiful form (be it male or female), but I’ve only had one sexual partner in my life – my husband. Most of my hardcore crushes have been on gay men. Figure that out.

So… body says “girl”. Brain says “Eh, who gives an eff?”

DominicX's avatar

Well, I’m not a “he-man”; I like many stereotypically feminine things and I am a homosexual, but that doesn’t make me less male. As far as I’m concerned, I am 100% a man/male, even if I don’t fit all the stereotypes.

jonsblond's avatar

I’m female and feel like one. I enjoyed being pregnant and I enjoy being a mom and wife. I love having sex with my blue collar husband. I think men who get dirty when working are sexy. I like to look pretty when I’m wearing a hoodie and jeans. I like to garden. I enjoy the hell out of the NFL.

meh. I hate labels too

Aster's avatar

Female, 100% hetero but not a girly girl. I say that because I don’t go in for constant pedicures, feeling comfortable wearing lacy stuff , wouldn’t buy flowered wallpaper but most of all I don’t defer to males. I speak my mind, always have and don’t care what they think. I like, “feminine with rough edges.” Where did I hear that ? I have an independent streak but I feel ok with asking men to open jars . LOL And I love the ability of males to fix cars, appliances and to move heavy objects. I don’t mind telling them that, either.

muppetish's avatar

There’s an image floating out there of the question “Male or Female?” with a response that reads “No, and you?” and that’s about where I feel in response to this question.

For me, it’s not about being neutral in the sense that there is a middle ground. It’s not about being balanced or about picking what attributes that are associated with one gender that I identify with while also accepting attributes from the “opposite” gender that also apply.

Gender construction didn’t make sense to me as a child and it makes less sense to me as an adult. Now that I have the language to utilize, I can say that I do identify as being genderqueer in the sense that I feel gender is such an arbitrary way to categorize who I am. I don’t want society’s views to own me. I own me (usually.)

As for my physical sex, I am comfortable with the body I was born in (with objections, both minor and major, every now and then.) However, I don’t believe my physical body is the way to configure how I might act, dress, or behave.

And my gender identity, or lack thereof, does not configure my sexual identity. I don’t really know how to answer the question “What is your sexual orientation / preference?” I usually just shrug that one off.

Shippy's avatar

I am born female and I love being a woman. My mind works a little different to how women are stereotyped to think. For example when I say “Calm the fuck down” I’m seeing as unstable and aggressive. Because I am female. Oh hell, I could go on for days about this. I always took male jobs, I also took male roles, I also acquired male characteristics. I raised a kid on my own and supported a family of three members at one time. I love to do other things though, cook, make a home, paint my toenails. I wasn’t raised to polarize to one particular pole. I always envied girlie girls for some reason.

When I was much younger, I wore suites, cut my hair short and spiky and kicked ass. I was very political, I was studying Sociology and I loved Marxist Theory. I was radical in all I did. I was also in South Africa in the apartheid days. I was a member of the Black Sash. Which could mean prison, even if you had literature. I was followed by cops all around town, for having black people in my vehicle. my girl friend and I were also followed for being Gay. In those old days (25 years ago) I loved farting against the wind. At university I wrote a paper on “Housewives – Paid Prostitutes”. I got a firm warning, but an A for research and effort.

As I have gotten older, I have changed. I see value in lot’s of things I didn’t see before.

I’ll shut up now, since I really have gone off the rails regards answering your question!

Seek's avatar

@muppetish I like the way you think.

Unbroken's avatar

I swing toward female generally it depends on the definition. If I had an opportunity to try out the other sexes equipment body for a week I would.

But I love the body I was born in, it is me and I don’t want to alter it much.

As to roles or attraction well meh that is never clear and based on opinion. I am comfortable in own sexuality and that is all that matters to me.

burntbonez's avatar

I’m male. I like women. I’m straight. I’m that boring.

ucme's avatar

I’m a bloke, my swinging dick tells me so, love football/sex & beer, but i’m definitely in touch with my feminine side & can actually be quite camp when the need arises.

Carly's avatar

I’m masculine, and I love masculine people (men or women).

tups's avatar

I’m female. I was born with female anatomy and I have always been a female. I never heard of gender identity growing up. I didn’t know it was possible to even question the sexual anatomy you were born with.
Then when I was still a child I heard about this sailor who had gone through a sex change from male anatomy to female anatomy. I thought it was weird and so did the people I knew. Because I didn’t understand it. My mom said she didn’t think it would make him happier to go through a sex change.

But I’ve learned a lot since back then. I’ve opened up my mind because I have grown up and I’ve seen more of the world. The majority of people don’t know about this either. The people who are born transgendered face a life of difficulty in a society where no one understands this (now this is true about a lot of things, not only transgendered people). So I think it is important to fight against bigotry and fight for knowledge and open minds. Well, that was just a little site note.

So yes, I’m female. I don’t like stereotypes either. I don’t try to fit a stereotype, I just try to be me and that’s a hard job itself.

flutherother's avatar

I am 100% male and always have been but I am not a macho male as I couldn’t be bothered with all that posturing. I find women more interesting than men.

Mariah's avatar

I identify as female, and while I don’t feel I fit the female stereotype, I believe that is because the stereotypes are crap, not because I am any “less of a woman.”

I like being female, I feel secure as a female, and I enjoy and appreciate my femininity.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

May I just echo @jonsblond‘s answer? I was going to say pretty much the same exact thing. Well, not about having sex with her husband. :D

woodcutter's avatar

I’m a old school male. I’m not sure what has gotten into the modern male but it is actually revolting when I attempt to shake hands with a guy and he offers his hand knuckles up. It completely does not mesh and when I am successful in a sold grasp the dude’s hand collapses like a hand full of spaghetti.

Ok progressive’s; school me.

Eggie's avatar

Im definitely a male 100% male and I love being a man. For me, being a man is so much fun and simple. It can be really tough sometimes but I must say that I love my gender and I am proud of my gender.

woodcutter's avatar

@Eggie Brings up the memories of that Monty python song, “Men Men Men”

tinyfaery's avatar

Sex and gender are two different things.

My sex is 100% female. I have all the female parts.

My gender is fluid I guess. These days I have an attitude that if a male or female portrays any characteristic then they are the gender they assign themselves. For example, if any male, be it related to sex or gender, is sporty, then males are sporty. I guess I go along with those stats.

I’ve never felt like a woman/girl, but I certainly don’t feel like a man. I, too, am bi. My sexual partners have nothing to do with my sex or gender. I’m not a tomboy, but I only occasionally wear make-up or frilly clothes.

Hmm. I really don’t give it much thought. I’m just me.

cookieman's avatar

Physically, I’m a guy. Got the schmeke to prove it.

According to American society, I’m more feminine than is desirable. Don’t like sports, do like cleaning. Don’t like alcohol, do like musicals. You get the idea.

I’m very attracted to women, but can certainly appreciate a good looking man.

woodcutter's avatar

Ok I’ll ask, th hell is “schmeke?” spell check gives me “schmoe.” Joe Schmoe?

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter I think that was a typo for schmekel.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks to all. This discussion has helped me get to know quite a few if you better than just interacting ever did. I’m very glad I asked.

Since so many of you have shared, seems incumbent on me to do as much. I’m completely agree with @bookish1, @Seek_Kolinahr, @muppetish, @tups & @tinyfaery that labels or sterotypes are too confining and inaccurate to be of any use in defining me. I guess for me, genderqueer is the closest to an accurate term. As a tiny child, I loved how pretty girls were, and how their clothes looked. I wanted to be able to wear those clothes.

I wasn’t old enough to even think about sexual partners, but I knew that I liked being penetrated. It was much later that I learned what hormones could do for a male member, and when I learned, I liked that too. I liked that a lot! If it felt that good to me, I was OK with giving that thrill to another male. And knowing that penetration felt good AND let my male equipment have fun too, I was definitely OK with making a female happy.

I like to cook, to clean, to nurture. But I also like to build things. I’ve been a first class carpenter, a welder, and an engineer. Out of necessity because of my femininity, I’ve learned to fight.

Despite all that apparent machismo, I came very close to male to female sex reassignment surgery. I lived and worked as a woman for the required 1 year to prove to the shrink managing my case that I could make it. I was cleared to have surgery, but then demurred. I decided that I wanted to be a real, XX chromosome female if I was going to switch. And even if I’d been able to achieve that unreachable goal, I would still have loved building things and being strong enough to open a jar for “the little woman”.

Since giving up the idea of transsexual surgery, I’ve built up this male body till it’s reasonably formidable for my age. But there is still the female me inside.

How do you hang a label on all that? Hence my distrust of labels.

@Leanne1986 Wow, that’s cool. Even when I was at my most feminine, I couldn’t go there.

@syz I completely understand. Thanks. Great answer.

@Sunny2 Sounds like we’ve got a bit in common. I just felt driven to explore it more.

@KNOWITALL I love your answer. Sounds like you had an incredibly enlightened, loving grandfather.

@downtide I love answers like that, as well. I never liked that “trapped in the wrong body” meme either. I’m sure it fits some people, but it was far too simplistic to fit me.

@bookish1 Thanks. Maybe I’m a masculine girl. Because of my own failure to fit the mold, I completely understand yours, and support whatever resolution to the problem you decide works for you.

@Coloma Understood. And what would it take to bring you out of retirement?

@deni OK, but I decidedly dislike Steve Brule’s take on it. He’s pontificating on something he has no personal knowledge of, and making a living by pandering to what he knows to the the misinformed majority opinion.

@Seek_Kolinahr I generally agree with your statement that minds are more attractive than bodies. But bodies do come into the equation for me. Someone that’s completely let themselves go and is butt ugly thanks to it may be fun to hang out with if they are interesting enough, but they wouldn’t attract me as a sexual partner.

More tomorrow. For now, the hour is late.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I am heterosexual, but I was always raised that women were better then men. In the worldview I was raised in, the only function of men was to protect women from uninvolved men, and women, left to their own devices. would naturally be lesbians. My father actually told me if I scored with a lesbian I should consider that as a compliment.

downtide's avatar

I find it interesting how many people here have included a description of their sexual orientation within their gender identity. They are actually two distinct things, and yet people seem to confuse them all the time and find it hard to separate them. This is one of the hardest struggles us transgendered people have in educating non-transsexuals about it.

Transsexual =/= gay.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@downtide I want to hear how you cut these things up in your head, Otherwise I will never hear you.

downtide's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought The very simplest way to divide it up, is to think of gender-identity as being your perception of your own gender, and sexual orientation is the gender of people you are attracted to. The easiest way to do that is stop thinking with words like “gay” and “straight” but instead think “I like men” or “I like women”. Once you start thinking that way, it’s easier to separate them.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@downtide Honestly I never had that talk nor did it factor in my head. My gender was the gender who takes care of those who need help. It was always weird when conservatives talk about traditional marriage.

I think the majority of men have never given two craps about homosexuality, and it has always been those who hate themselves for liking men driving the problem. I never sit around with straight men discussing homosexuality.

downtide's avatar

I think you’re right, it’s a small but very vocal minority, raised to believe that homosexuality is evil, who obsess about it and fear that which they see in themselves. Because if they make enough noise about hating homosexuality, no-one will suspect.

Seek's avatar

@ETpro – Oh, hygiene and personal care certainly factor. I simply meant that I’m no more or less likely to desire a female-shape than a male-shape. But self respect is definitely sexy.

Seek's avatar

@downtide – It’s interesting.
To be honest, I don’t really know what it is like to ‘feel’ like a ‘girl’, or like a ‘boy’.

As a child one of the worst things that happened in my school life was being told I couldn’t play little league baseball because I was a girl. My dad was furious. My solution was to take karate instead and beat up the kids who made fun of me for not making the team.

I always hated girly activities, but I always assumed that was because girl stuff was stupid and boring. Easy Bake Oven? Dad has a real oven I can cook on.

On the other hand, it could be said that my dad had ‘feminine’ traits. He was the one that stayed up all night with me when I was sick. He introduced me to musical theatre and stage acting. He cared meticulously about his appearance, though it was the early 90’s and the grungy flannel look wouldn’t betray the secret.

So… If there is something to feeling like a certain gender that is unrelated to sex organs or sexual orientation, I haven’t found it. That’s all i’m saying.

FutureMemory's avatar

I identify as a male, and am attracted to females exclusively.

Not sure what else to add.. that seems to sum it up for me.

Leanne1986's avatar

Was I meant to mention which gender I am attracted to? The answer is both. I am currently in love with a male but I am sexually attracted to and have had sexual experiences with men and women.

downtide's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I can’t pinpoint what it is that makes me feel male. It’s not a particular personality trait or interest such as the ones you describe. I have some traits that are masculine and some that are feminine. It’s something much deeper and more “primal” than that. At my core, no matter how I act, dress or think, I am still a man.

While we’re tallying sexual orientation too, add me to the “any” list.

Seek's avatar

@downtide Thank you.

Maybe I just lack the emotional connection to myself to recognize such feelings. Damn INTJ personality.

ETpro's avatar

@DominicX Thanks. Shows how complicated this can be, doesn’t it?

@jonsblond I don’t think there is anything inherently male about loving the NFL.

@Aster Great, definitive answer. I like being able to move heavy objects—and I’d like it even more if I could do it like Yoda did.

@muppetish We sound like kindred souls.

@Shippy There is no off-the-rails in answering this question. Each answer, if honest, is the right answer for you. Your answer certainly sounded honest. I’m glad you didn’t end up as a political prisoner in the right-wing apartheid South Africa of your youth.

@rosehips Kudos for being the first to pick up on the shape-shifter portion of the question. I would so love to do that.

@burntbonez There are no wrong answers to this, and no boring ones either. Granted some of us, yours truly included, are strange enough to attract sometimes unwanted interest. But I just wanted to get to know you, and any honest answer is what I was looking for.

@ucme That seems entirely consistent with the persona your many questions and answers here project.

@Carly Cool. And it isn’t even on your list of ways to be cool—unless I read between the lines.

@tups Indeed, just being yourself is tough enough, regardless. And when that self lies well outside societal norms and expectations, it’s particularly difficult. Glad you found your place, and have been willing to stick with it.

@flutherother Thanks for a succinct and clear answer.

@Mariah Thanks. It’s gratifying to see how many of us are happy with who we are but turned off by trying to fit society’s stereotype of who we should be.

@WillWorkForChocolate Yes, you may echo @jonsblond‘s answer. And it is wise to exclude the part about having sex with her husband.

@woodcutter I would call myself a progressive, but I shake hands like you do. I just asked who you are. It’s not my intention to teach anyone to be someone they are not.

@Eggie Cool. Thanks.

@tinyfaery Great answer.

@cookieman I’m assuming that @jerv is right that you meant schmekel. Sounds like you self define as a metrosexual male.

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Funny that. I too was reared in a time when conventional “wisdom” was that women were better than men. They were the fairer sex. Funny thing is they weren’t treated fairly and didn’t get a better deal.

@downtide Thanks for a thoughtful and thought provoking answer.

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought & @downtide Thanks for a very informative back and forth on just what this topic of gender identity really is.

@Seek_Kolinahr I completely agree. And thanks for your contribution to the discussion noted above.

@FutureMemory Thanks.

@Leanne1986 Never hurts to advertise, just in case your current love leaves. :-)

woodcutter's avatar

Well anyone then. Whats up with the wimpy handshake happening now? I gotta know. Should I try google and what would the search be?

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t feel that extreme masculinity nor extreme femininity are good characteristics. We all need some balance to be mentally healthy in my opinion. I look at myself as James who happens to be a guy, not a guy who happens to be James.

tups's avatar

@Paradox25 That’s a great answer. The person comes before the gender.

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