Growing up, I had no concept of gender. When my brothers begged for me to give them makeovers, I was always overjoyed. Then whenever my father told me to remove their nail polish before school, I couldn’t comprehend the concerns. Even in recent years, I began contemplating what it means to be a man or a woman, female or male, feminine or masculine, and I realized these were concepts I could comprehend externally, but they weren’t concepts that I embodied internally. Initially, I performed outside the gender social order. I performed my truth through queering. Yet, agency shaped an experience which I felt pressured to conform within performativity.
I was told time after time that I portrayed masculine characteristics. My friends, their cousins, my brothers and their friends constantly pointed out that I was more like a ‘man’ in my demeanor. I wasn’t afraid to get dirty; wasn’t afraid of burping in public; have been called psychotic or crazy when I geared more towards reason than emotion/empathy; was told I am too confrontational; too stubborn when I didn’t change my opinions; yet, I never considered these to be masculine traits. I just considered these traits to be me.
Similarly, my presentation rarely fit the feminine mold. My brothers have described my aesthetic as ‘wack’, whereas others have used the term ‘creative’/’unique’. Although I have always passed as a cis-gendered woman, I rarely displayed the idealized feminine beauty. I would wear an assortment of patterns and cuts – the clothing never complimented my feminine curves. Also, I wore a variety of edgy, shorter and colourful hairstyles. Through my observation, Western feminine beauty is physically manifested through long, glowing hair, clear skin, and a small frame but with accentuated curves.
Eventually, I tried aligning my presentation to balance in the equation: sex = gender = sexuality. Scott Turner Schofield debunks the equation, stating that it is established through heteronormative terms. Consequently, I thought that since I identify as a cisgendered woman who would like to establish a hetero-romantic sapio-sexual relationship, I needed to present myself as the ‘ideal’ feminine. I decided to tone down my wardrobe and choose articles that were more mainstream with subtle unique details, and I started growing my natural hair.
Dr. Roth brings our attention to Lorber’s concept of gender conformity as being completely impossible; no one wholly fits into the gender molds. Likewise, I am reminded that “the emphasis on agency, impression management, and presentation of the self in the guise and costume most likely to produce, parody, or confront conformity implies that people are free to consciously and deliberately construct the gender and sexuality they want” (Lorber, 289). In reality, I have oppressed my truth thinking that it wasn’t worth being noticed. Considering that sex does not equal gender does not equal sexuality, each identification stands separately. I can use my wardrobe as a creative outlet, and I can continue to embody a masculine demeanor because my presentation doesn’t dictate my sex nor my sexuality. In order for me to combat the oppression which lies in performativity, I need to acknowledge my truth; I need to acknowledge my worth.
Courtesy of Hickerson, S. (2019, May 3).