Feminity & Gender Identity: A Conversation

Coming to terms with my gender identity has been a wild trip. I kept flip-flopping between am I a cis woman? and am I genderless?

Asking myself these questions had made me overwhelmed. It made me realize how quick I am to label myself, but on the other hand I enjoy giving myself the vocabulary and the range to look at myself subjectively.

My entire family is made up of women. Fathers were non-existent. Growing up I wasn't forced to conform to a certain identity, but my mother always hinted at being 'girly.'

"You should wear dresses."

"Close your legs."

"Why don't you paint your nails?"

The idea of being a woman wasn't even in my mind, but whenever my mother made small remarks regarding girly things (and the things I thought were girly) I felt a need to reject them. When I did enjoy "girly activities" my family would be in shock and wonder why I'd started caring about my appearance, painting my nails, and getting my hair done. That also tied into being sexually shamed and never given the opportunity to explore my sexuality or talk about it. As I got older, I started to embrace femininity, because dabbling in it didn't hurt. 

How does femininity play a part in your gender identity now? Does it have a positive or negative impact?

I lean more towards having feminine traits. I was told to be more feminine when I grew up, and that shows up a lot in my personality. I don’t think it necessarily has a positive or negative impact, but it does affect how I am given respect and power. On the other hand, being raised that way lead me to be more vulnerable and open, which I think is good.

Have you ever felt victimized by femininity? Have you ever felt the need to portray feminine traits to feel accepted?

I do feel victimized by femininity. I feel as if I need to have feminine traits to be beautiful or wanted. When my mental health is better, I feel more sure of myself, and therefore feel that I can present myself as more masculine. But, as my self-confidence gets worse and mental health declines, I feel that I have to present myself [in a] more feminine [way] for people to value me.

By Blair Moore

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