Gender Expression

The manner in which people outwardly express their gender through, for example, clothing, appearance, or mannerisms.

The way I want others to see me has to do with gender expression. It’s about externalization. And sometimes externalization helps us get on a clearer path in our journey. Externalization and visibility. Because we can always see this socially as well. Because we are a society that lives with taboos, externalization and free expression helps a lot with visibility and for people still in the “closet”. It always helps to see that there are people like you and they can be who they want to be, so why not you? And it helps people outside the community too. It’s a form of social education. An indirect way of getting the other person to look, to question, to educate themselves perhaps. It has an impact and such a function.”

“We can start talking about stereotypes about gender expression, about the expression of masculinity and femininity. Physical appearance plays an important role. If you’re masc presenting1 they will probably say that you’re a man, that emotions are only for women, that you have to be tough, that you have to be violent, that you have to play sports, and that you’re okay. On the other hand, if you are fem presenting2, they will say that you are a woman, they think that you should be quiet, and cuddly and you should obey the man in any relationship and environment and that the role is to help the man and do his will. These are the most well-known stereotypes we have. They are social constructs of these rules of gender expression. They are what is considered “normal” and “taken for granted”. This traditional one that we have as a gender presentation without the dimensions of masculinity and femininity entering the discussion. We are talking about something purely binary, male-female. There is nothing in between and nothing more than that. Which, however, clashes with the fluidity – the fluidity – that exists and the notion of sexuality and gender identity as a spectrum. And what is a spectrum? That we can’t define precise points and differentiation. So, the transition from one to the other is accompanied by fluidity.”

1masc presenting: a short form of the word masculine. Often used in the queer community to describe an LGBTQ+ person who is masculine in presentation (i.e. masc presenting or masc of centre). Masculine. Describes something society associates with or attributes to men and boys or a state, experience or assignment of being male.

2fem presenting: Having qualities or an appearance stereotypically associated with women or conventionally regarded as female. Femme. A person who is feminine of centre in dress, attitude, and/or presentation. It is often, but not exclusively, used in a lesbian context.