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Not-so-strong gender identity

I’ve spoken about this to a bunch of people, but realized I never actually wrote about it on Livejournal. So, for the record, I’m doing that now.

I remember reading a while back—on what I believe was Ozy Frantz’s now-defunct blog —the theory that not everybody’s gender identity is strong. That some people had a strong attachment to their gender identity— those people were cis because their body matched it, and those people were trans because their body didn’t match it —while others did not, and were cis by default because they had no issue with the sex of the body they were dealt. The test proposed for this was to ask yourself, if there were no accompanying problems in your life when it happened, nothing meaningfully changed for you, your significant other was still attracted to you, and you had a closet full of clothes to wear, how would you feel if you suddenly woke up one day a different gender?

I ran myself through this test and I was surprised to find I don’t think I’d be that bothered. If I were a dude, I’d be completely fine being a dude. I am completely fine with the fact that I currently am a woman, I’m in fact a fairly gender-conforming femme woman in a lot of ways. But while I feel like that’s completely the descriptive truth of me, I also feel no attachment to that fact. There’s nothing untrue about it, but if elsewise was true, I’d be fine with that too.

Since realizing this, I’ve found it’s become one of my favorite thought experiments to wonder what I’d be like if I were a man. Bernie calls this theoretical me “Dude-be.” iagotolycus asked me what my favorite male name was— it’s Alexander —and so refers to this me as “Xander.”

I like to wonder what would be different about me if I were a man and had been raised like one. Because I think I’m not terribly bound to gender norms, but a lot of my interests and habits are stereotypically feminine. Take for example cooking, sewing, and ballet. If I were a man and had been socialized like one, would the qualities about those pursuits that appeal to me lead me to be interested in more stereotypically masculine activities that include the same things? Would my fascination with the design and construction of beautiful and functional clothing manifest itself in a stronger interest in, say, architecture if I’d been socialized male? I like to think I wouldn’t be one bit bothered by liking stuff like cooking, sewing, and ballet if I were a guy if that’s what I ended up interested in, but would my socialization have meant my attention ended up elsewhere?

I know what my personal style would be. I would definitely present as very masculine as opposed to my current very femme look, but I think I’d still try to dress well. I wouldn’t be obsessed with being thin if I were a man, I’m certain of that, but I think my same impulse toward wanting so badly to look fit would result in me being even more of a gym rat, determined to get ripped. I’d probably be one of those dicks who went for runs on busy streets with his shirt off so everybody could see how good he looked. Would I be as small for a man as I am for a woman? My brother is six-one, so maybe not. I get bugged enough now that I’m a bit on the short side, I would probably be even more annoyed if I were a short man. And nobody likes a guy with a chip on his shoulder for being short. :-P

One thing that I find both amusing and rather surprising is that while I have no strong attachment to my gender identity, I am extremely attached to my sexual preference. And I don’t even mean my attraction to men, I mean my straightness. If I were a man, I would most certainly be a straight man. I can’t imagine myself as any other way. As much as I intellectually know that gender and orientation are two totally separate issues, it just seems so funny to be that I could be like, yeah, whatevs, I could be a dude or lady, I don’t care, BUT NO SERIOUSLY NO QUEER SEX FOR ME PLEASE. There will be one dude part and one lady part involved, I don’t care who they belong to!

I wonder if my aesthetics about people would be the same. My ideal men tend to have pretty extreme waist-shoulder ratios, though I know I don't have the genetics to be that kind of guy; my dad's fairly big, but my brother's a beanpole. As for women, I attempt to present myself as my preferred feminine aesthetic— lean, fit, petite. Would Dude-be/Xander be attracted to women who look like that? I know that currently I have a standard of what I consider to be a beautiful man that’s pretty specific, but when it comes to actual prospective romantic partners, the person they are supersedes anything about my standard. Probably he’d work the way I do, generally—he’d have a very firm notion of a theoretically “beautiful girl” that matches my current one, but none of that would matter on the right person. Or would his male socialization make him place more value on initial aesthetic impressions? I hope he wouldn’t be that kind of jerk. :-P

I very much enjoy pondering what I would be like if I were a man. I feel totally comfortable in my feminine identity, but it’s just really fun to think about. I’m not sure what that means. I am certain I am cis. It probably doesn’t mean anything other than I’m comfortable enough that there’s no harm in letting my imagination run.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
jducoeur
May. 6th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC)
I like to wonder what would be different about me if I were a man and had been raised like one.

Keep in mind that, like all normative stereotypes, "raised like one" is more a theory than a reality. I got my cooking background entirely from my father (my mother is a fine person, but cannot cook to save her life), and ballet was his preferred outing into the city while I was growing up. (Kate's been improving my background in musical theater; I still need to introduce her to the classic ballets.)

Granted, nobody would call my family typical. Still, it illustrates the problem with these sorts of contrafactual questions: to get a meaningful result, you actually have to get pretty deeply into the background details. Which, I suppose, is not so different from designing any other fictional character...
twilighttremolo
May. 6th, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
I have some musings of my own on a similar topic; I'm saying this out loud (as it were) to remind myself to come back and write about them when I have more brain. My dude-self's name would be Will.
emp42ress
May. 6th, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
I've often thought I wanted a "cis-female and it doesn't matter" option on things, the same way that it can sometimes have options for how much you care about your religious identification, astrological sign, etc. I fall pretty much in the same boat on this test. I've always basically thought that if I woke up tomorrow as male (with the same caveats) I'd be confused, but fundamentally wouldn't care that much.

No way to know without experiencing it, but really gender isn't a big part of my identity. My body is, but many of the things I care about most in my body are fairly gender neutral.

My male name is definitely Steven, because that's what my parents had in mind for a boy.

Edited at 2014-05-06 07:41 pm (UTC)
londo
May. 6th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
I've often thought I wanted a "cis-female and it doesn't matter" option on things, the same way that it can sometimes have options for how much you care about your religious identification, astrological sign, etc.

You are not alone in this.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:



MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3


at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM

and

Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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