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nonmerci

What is gender?

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Hey everyone!

Sorry if my questions here are rude.

As I said many times here, I have a hard time understanding gender, transgender, agender, and why it matters to people. That's probably because I don't feel dysphoria, but I don't see gender as a part of my Identity. Or maybe I do and I have no conscius of that? Anyway, I know that if I have to list the thing that I feel important for my Identity, gender is not on the top of the list. That's why I have huge difficulties to understand things like gender studies (I have an English teacher who was passionate by "feminine writing" (don't know if that's the term in English), and I really don't get what it was and why women would have a special way of writing, though I'm woman and I write). In other words, I don't feel like my gender affects the way I behave.

 

But it seems a lot of people don't think like me. And how I love to understand how other people think, and that I don't want to offense someone by ignorance, I have some questions here.

 

1. How would you define gender?

2. Does it matters to you? Why?

3. How do you know what gender you are?

4. For genderfluid people, how does it works? (sorry, I think that's what I understand the least, but I hope you can clear things to me)

 

Here, I wish my question don't offense anyone. I just like to understand other people.

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transgender is not its own gender. I am not a separate gender just because I am a trans guy and not a cis guy. It others us, and it makes me dysphoric. I know english is not your first language, but I wanted to point that out. Nous apprenons encore :)

 

To me, gender is the sex of your brain, aka your brain tells you what gender you are based on how your brain is structured - there are biological differences between male and female brains, this is part of what validates transgenderism. One example is the amount of white matter you have vs grey matter. Gender doesn't always match up with your sex (which is pretty rare), but gender is usually very closely linked to your sex. 

 

Socially constructed things such as clothes, makeup, etc. don't matter when it comes to your gender. 

 

Also not caring about your gender as much is really being a normal person. 

 

So I take a pretty factual stance on the matter.

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14 hours ago, TripleA said:

transgender is not its own gender. I am not a separate gender just because I am a trans guy and not a cis guy. It others us, and it makes me dysphoric. I know english is not your first language, but I wanted to point that

Oups sorry, I didn't want to implysm transgender is its own gender, I don't think that.

 

Thanks for your response.

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On 12/3/2019 at 10:06 AM, nonmerci said:

1. How would you define gender?

Everyone uses it slightly differently. It is very mystifying. "Aromanticism" is a straight-forward and simple term compared to "gender"!

 

The only commonality is that gender is some sort of social grouping.

 

But that's not a definition. Because the question arises what kind of social groupings qualify as "gender"? Certainly "Trekkie", while it can refer to a social grouping, is not regarded as a gender - in contrast to "woman", "man" or "kathoey" (I think).

 

So though I've never seen this stated explicitly, gender seems (?) to retain some connection to biological sex*. Like, it has to be inspired by or be in analogy to the social grouping arising from distinguishing people by their biological sex. Maybe like we talk about "parent", which is inspired by biological parenthood, but can also refer to something social and legal, as with adoptive parents.

 

If we drop that, gender can only be accepted as an intuitive, primitive notion (a concept that can not be defined in terms of previously defined concepts).

 

* Some claim that biological sex is socially constructed. This is a very complex question and touches the deepest philosophical issues of scientific anti-realism and the nature of truth. In a mathematical model for population genetics, (binary) biological sex is used and not gender. So isn't biological sex a real, objective, observable property? Yeah, but as we see with superseded scientific theories like classical mechanics, just because a model can be successfully applied and make correct predictions, it does not mean its concepts are real (Newtonian force with its instantaneous action is not real). Still biological sex isn't as abstract and remote as Newtonian force. I certainly think in concepts like "biologically male". It's part of normal life, e.g.: As biologically male I don't need cervical cancer screening. There are exceptions of course, but they're so rare I do not think they apply to me in the absence of any evidence.

On 12/3/2019 at 10:06 AM, nonmerci said:

2. Does it matters to you? Why?

No.

On 12/3/2019 at 10:06 AM, nonmerci said:

3. How do you know what gender you are?

I do not experience any sense of gender. So I go with the biological sex: male.

 

Where I live biological sex is the brand name and gender is the knock-off. 🤷‍♂️

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I think gender is based on what kind of brain you have rather than your body. I've always until recently thought I was cis too just because gender isn't really a part of my identity and how I see myself as an individual.

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22 hours ago, DavidMS703 said:

I've always until recently thought I was cis too just because gender isn't really a part of my identity and how I see myself as an individual.

That's why I identify as cis too, because I have no sense of my gender,  don't consider it as a part of my identity, and don't care about that fact. (And that's why too I have difficulty to understand why people care about it though I am trying)

But if I understand you don't identify as cis any more? Why?

 

 

On 1/19/2020 at 5:28 PM, DeltaV said:

So though I've never seen this stated explicitly, gender seems (?) to retain some connection to biological sex*. Like, it has to be inspired by or be in analogy to the social grouping arising from distinguishing people by their biological sex.

We learn from a very young age that people with a masculine sex behave this way, and people with a feminine sex behave this way. That leads people to believe that our behaviour is somehow linked to our biological sex. Which then leads to suffering and questioning if our behaviour doesn't match what it is expected because of our biology, and then to dysphoria. At least that's how I see it, but I am cis, and not cis people can correct me.

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My main reasons for not fully identifying as cis anymore are based on gender expectations that I want to be free from. For example, the norm for male friendships seems to be for the friendship to only involve doing things with each other and not talking about your lives at all. This isn't my idea of a good friendship, and I've dealt with that norm (mostly subconsciously) by mainly finding female friends, which has in the past led people to try to invalidate my identity as aromantic because they also thought that the only reason someone could be more inclined to make friends with the opposite gender was romantic feelings. The main therapist I see also repeatedly tried to tell me the perfect solution to not being able to find good friends because of people's prioritizing romance and the fact that what I want could be considered an emotional affair by alloromantics was to just try to find male friends, not understanding that it's hard to get the kind of support I want from friends from most male friendships. Also, I'm into some things such as the Frozen movies which are more female-oriented, and on one occasion a while ago I was in a hospital unit with mostly girls and they wanted to watch the movie Ice Princess, which staff there seemed to expect me not to agree to but I saw no reason not to watch it with them. So it's not because I have a problem with male identity labels that I now think I'm non-binary; it's because I'm realizing more and more that I don't fit what society expects from men and don't want to.

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From talking a lot to cis people, many people don't think about it. They are completely fine with the gender they were assigned at birth and don't really question it. For some people, even if they don't "feel" like their particular gender, they still consider themselves to "be" that gender anyway, because they're happy playing that role in their community/society.

 

1. Gender, to me, is a social role. It's a group people fit in with in some way - whether that's based on behaviour, socialization, comfort, etc. For some people (like me!), when they look at the gender roles in society around them (and how people express them in diverse ways), they don't feel like any one of them fits. What social role am I? I don't know. I have some stereotypically 'feminine' traits and some stereotypically 'masculine' traits. I feel awkward at women-only events, like I don't really belong there. I feel awkward at men-only events, as well. For me, gender is something I understand theoretically but don't feel I'm a part of. Especially because many people are breaking down the stereotypes associated with different genders, it's harder for me to know which one I really am.

 

2. Gender does matter to me, mainly because it seems to matter to everyone else. I mentioned that I know a lot of cis people who say they "don't really think about" their identity, but they will always go to events that are for their specific gender. This confuses me, because people simultaneously say "gender doesn't matter to me" and "well, I'm X gender so I should go to X gender event and not to Y gender event." I also find that cis people, when I really question them about what gender means to them, can't tell me what gender is apart from "it just feels right." Because I never "felt right" in the gender I was assigned, or in the other gender available to me, I just opt out of the whole thing. It matters to me because I don't like people putting me in a category just because I act a certain way, one time.

 

3. Honestly, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't! Haha. Sometimes I can very clearly understand that I'm agender, because I don't categorize my actions and feelings based on gender. I'm just me. The stuff I do doesn't have a gender and I don't feel like I fit in with anyone except for other agender, genderqueer, or non-binary people. The queer gender group of people "feels right," but it's hard for me to be more specific than that. Other times I can't tell what gender I am at all, because I don't fit anywhere or only partially fit somewhere.

 

4. For me, being genderfluid means I don't really control which gender group I feel a part of. Sometimes I am very clearly masculine and feel right in a group of men. Sometimes I am clearly feminine and feel right in a group of women. Sometimes I really connect to a non-binary person's experiences on a very personal level, and I feel like they are my in-group, if I had to define myself. Being genderfluid means I identify with different groups at different times, and since I am also agender sometimes, that means that occasionally I don't identify with any groups at all! The key is that it changes, and I can't control it. It's not influenced by me wearing certain clothes, being around certain people or in specific locations/situations, my body/biology, etc. Sometimes I like to use clothing and other ways of presenting to indicate to others that I am part of a particular gender group, but sometimes I don't bother.

 

That's my personal experience. :) Hope that helps. These are good questions, by the way. I was asking similar questions a couple of years ago. Gender is a confusing concept and in different societies it is defined differently (and even different people define it slightly differently).

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On 12/18/2019 at 11:29 PM, TripleA said:

To me, gender is the sex of your brain, aka your brain tells you what gender you are based on how your brain is structured - there are biological differences between male and female brains, this is part of what validates transgenderism. One example is the amount of white matter you have vs grey matter. Gender doesn't always match up with your sex (which is pretty rare), but gender is usually very closely linked to your sex. 

First, I wonder if there's any evidence for the brain having a sex (in the sense of structural differences).

 

Then it would only explain the feeling of being male / female. But there are many more genders. Does "genderfluid", "agender", "bigender", "pangender" etc., which are all supposed to be different, in each case relate to a certain brain structure? It seems more like a social thing to me.

 

PS: if physicalism is true, there would, of course, by definition be a specific difference between the brains of those who identify as "pangender" and those who identify as "agender". But we don't mean that, right? Like we don't talk about the brain difference between Spanish and English-speakers, which is not something on the level of structural difference we can observe with current technology.

On 1/20/2020 at 5:52 PM, nonmerci said:

We learn from a very young age that people with a masculine sex behave this way, and people with a feminine sex behave this way. That leads people to believe that our behaviour is somehow linked to our biological sex. Which then leads to suffering and questioning if our behaviour doesn't match what it is expected because of our biology, and then to dysphoria. At least that's how I see it, but I am cis, and not cis people can correct me.

Not everyone who fails to conform to the assumptions/stereotypes about their sex and has (even serious) problems with that fact has the desire to identify with a different gender. So much is certain.

 

Also I don't know if feeling gender-dysphoria is a necessary condition of being trans.

 

And if it were as you say, then removing the social pressure would mean there wouldn't be any more trans people.

On 1/21/2020 at 1:33 AM, running.tally said:

1. Gender, to me, is a social role. It's a group people fit in with in some way - whether that's based on behaviour, socialization, comfort, etc.

But as said before, that's not a definition. What social roles qualify as "gender"? Only a small subset. Belonging to the demi-monde, being an "IT nerd" or being a healer/shaman... those are all social roles in different cultures, which don't have anything to do with gender.

 

Intuitively it is clear that if we learn what "two-spirit" means we recognize it as gender-related or as a gender. But what might be a precise definition of "gender"?

On 1/21/2020 at 1:33 AM, running.tally said:

(and even different people define it slightly differently).

An understatement, imho.

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I think this falls under my category of "Language is hard"...

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On 1/20/2020 at 4:33 PM, running.tally said:

2. Gender does matter to me, mainly because it seems to matter to everyone else. I mentioned that I know a lot of cis people who say they "don't really think about" their identity, but they will always go to events that are for their specific gender. This confuses me, because people simultaneously say "gender doesn't matter to me" and "well, I'm X gender so I should go to X gender event and not to Y gender event." I also find that cis people, when I really question them about what gender means to them, can't tell me what gender is apart from "it just feels right." Because I never "felt right" in the gender I was assigned, or in the other gender available to me, I just opt out of the whole thing. It matters to me because I don't like people putting me in a category just because I act a certain way, one time.

This is interesting to me because I can relate to the confusion as to why people simultaneously say that gender doesn't matter to them and categorize themselves based off of it, but I differ from you in feelings. I've been gendered every which way, female, male, genderless they/them, and all of them felt right. This leaves me confused as to how I am supposed to categorize myself. I feel okay with my assigned gender, and I can function as such, so that makes me female right? But if I'm equally comfortable as male or non binary, does that make me those things too?

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10 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Like we don't talk about the brain difference between Spanish and English-speakers, which is not something on the level of structural difference we can observe with current technology.

 

Maybe Spanish and English are too similar languages (?), but I did some googling and came across this recent study that compared the brains of Chinese and English speakers and found significant observable differences. Dunno if it sheds any light on the gender question tho ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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5 hours ago, NullVector said:

Maybe Spanish and English are too similar languages (?), but I did some googling and came across this recent study that compared the brains of Chinese and English speakers and found significant observable differences. Dunno if it sheds any light on the gender question tho ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But "significant" here means "statistically significant", which I don't deny. What I mean is that by examining the brain you cannot conclude what the person's native language is. It gives you only a rough estimate better than pure chance.

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20 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Not everyone who fails to conform to the assumptions/stereotypes about their sex and has (even serious) problems with that fact has the desire to identify with a different gender. So much is certain.

I don't deny it. This is my case.

 

20 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Also I don't know if feeling gender-dysphoria is a necessary condition of being trans.

I am confused. Doesn't gender-dysphoria means "being not comfortable with the gender assigned assigned at birth/having a different between the gender you identify and the gender people say you are"? Or am I wrong?

 

20 hours ago, DeltaV said:

And if it were as you say, then removing the social pressure would mean there wouldn't be any more trans people.

I don't know if this is rude against trans people (in this case very sorry, enlightened me), but I actually believe that without the social pressure, there would not be trans because there would not be gender at all. I mean, the behaviour would still remain but would not be seen as matching or not matching our biological sex. After all, the perception of masculine and feminine can vary in different cultures (don't remember when I read it but in some cultures you have way more genders than in Occidental ones for instance).

 

But again, I don't fully understand the concept of gender so if I'm wrong or rude explain why to me please.

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On 1/24/2020 at 5:24 PM, DeltaV said:

First, I wonder if there's any evidence for the brain having a sex (in the sense of structural differences)

I did a whole degree in Cognitive Science and, as far as we can tell from brain imaging studies, there are no structural brain differences between any humans (except in cases of brain injury, malformation, or other birth-related structural differences). Differences in "male" and "female" brains seem to vary because of socialization - when effects of socialization are controlled, differences cease to be significant. For example, for some people who are in the process of transitioning (I remember a study on binary trans people), during their transition, their brain imaging patterns were in between typical "male" and "female." I can't remember if there was also a longitudinal study confirming that social changes spurred physical changes, but that would be something I'd be interested in finding sometime. The physical and social are always very closely intertwined, because we learn from social experiences, and what we learn are habits, which ultimately are stronger/weaker neural pathways. I wish I could remember exact studies, but right now my own brain isn't willing to dive way back into my undergrad notes. All this to say, you're definitely right to be questioning whether differences in studies are inherent biological differences or not.

 

Edit: HERE is an awesome post with some science.

 

On 1/24/2020 at 5:24 PM, DeltaV said:

But as said before, that's not a definition. What social roles qualify as "gender"? Only a small subset.

THE BIG QUESTION lol - I honestly don't have any idea. It's difficult nowadays because the only things I can think of, traditionally, are stereotypes. And, nowadays, those stereotypes are being erased or bent or played with. What I mean to say when I say "gender is a social role" is that it's becoming entirely arbitrary. E.g., "I am a girl because I feel like I belong with other girls I know and I vibe with how they define femininity."
I remember reading an article about how women from the city define "female" gender and how women from the country define "female" gender, and how their definitions were largely incompatible and overlapped little. 

 

On 1/25/2020 at 4:21 AM, NullVector said:

I did some googling and came across this recent study that compared the brains of Chinese and English speakers and found significant observable differences.

I think you're on to it. Different groups may socialize different genders in different ways. That's what I suspect. That'd be an interesting follow-up study. DeltaV is right, though, studies can only show relationships and test causality with a particular rate of error. It is always possible for studies to be wrong (in their design, execution, etc.). But, brain imaging and psychological/cognitive studies are still very new, so who knows what kind of prediction we'll be able to get to in the future (if we can reach predictability at all, even, or if nature is too ever-changing).

 

On 1/25/2020 at 2:15 PM, nonmerci said:

I don't know if this is rude against trans people (in this case very sorry, enlightened me), but I actually believe that without the social pressure, there would not be trans because there would not be gender at all

I agree; some societies might abolish gender altogether. I do think, though, that humans like to categorize ourselves into social groups, and gender may simply be one way of doing that. So, some societies might keep the concept of gender; though, I don't think the concept would be defined the exact same way across all cultures.
Also, don't worry @nonmerci, I don't think you're being rude. I think you're just trying to understand something that, I argue, no one really understands either.

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13 hours ago, running.tally said:

Also, don't worry @nonmerci, I don't think you're being rude. I think you're just trying to understand something that, I argue, no one really understands either.

I hate to hurt people and ignorance can hurt sometimes. Aro know it, with all the things we heard by people who don't mean to be rude but still are.

 

13 hours ago, running.tally said:

I do think, though, that humans like to categorize ourselves into social groups, and gender may simply be one way of doing that.

Very true.

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On 1/25/2020 at 8:15 PM, nonmerci said:

I am confused. Doesn't gender-dysphoria means "being not comfortable with the gender assigned assigned at birth/having a different between the gender you identify and the gender people say you are"? Or am I wrong?

Whatever mismatch is felt here, it might in some (?) cases be just like... noticed ... without any distressing feelings, aka dysphoria.

 

A major problem is the terminology "gender assigned at birth". Because the the state doesn't put "gender" in birth certificates, passports, ID cards. Instead it says "sex" here.

 

So they assign (?) sex. Or maybe they rather determine (?) it. Which complicates everything again. Because would it make you trans if it said "sex: male" in your official documents? Or would you rather think that someone made a rather obvious mistake?


If sex is not real, it would be a strange situation. Like the world's government believing that humans can be classified according to fantasy races. As if they wrote "race: forest elf" in your birth certificate and truly, truly wholeheartedly believed that you are literally, objectively a forest elf.

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On 12/18/2019 at 11:29 PM, TripleA said:

To me, gender is the sex of your brain, aka your brain tells you what gender you are based on how your brain is structured - there are biological differences between male and female brains, this is part of what validates transgenderism. One example is the amount of white matter you have vs grey matter. Gender doesn't always match up with your sex (which is pretty rare), but gender is usually very closely linked to your sex.

I have some doubts about this. This may be a chicken and egg situation: the brain is shaped by the way we use it (our experience) and by our environment (including endogenous and exogenous hormones). A brain could present some gendered traits (if this is really a thing) because the person has been raised for this specific gender.

On 12/18/2019 at 11:29 PM, TripleA said:

Socially constructed things such as clothes, makeup, etc. don't matter when it comes to your gender.

Also not caring about your gender as much is really being a normal person.

I don't know what a 'normal' person thinks. The social expectations linked with my biological sex made me challenge my gender quite early. I chose the gender with the social constructs most compatible with my personality. I ignored the social gendered 'relationship goals' and 'professional clichés. This validated my biological gender but I did not know that agender was a possibility back then...

I notice a lot of people caring about their looks matching their gender to avoid disphoria and for practical reasons (getting the right message accross).

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On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2020 at 8:56 PM, DeltaV said:

Whatever mismatch is felt here, it might in some (?) cases be just like... noticed ... without any distressing feelings, aka dysphoria.

Thanks for the clarification!

On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2020 at 8:56 PM, DeltaV said:

A major problem is the terminology "gender assigned at birth". Because the the state doesn't put "gender" in birth certificates, passports, ID cards. Instead it says "sex" here.

I think it means that your gender is supposed to be the same as your sex here. People doesn't put gender in certificates etc, but when you read the sex given, people expect that it will be your gender too… Which is of course a problem when it is not the case.

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On 1/29/2020 at 6:06 PM, nonmerci said:

I think it means that your gender is supposed to be the same as your sex here. People doesn't put gender in certificates etc, but when you read the sex given, people expect that it will be your gender too… Which is of course a problem when it is not the case.

Likely most people don't think so far and instead simply conflate sex and gender on the concept-level, but okay... now we're back to if gender should be seen as an ascription by society or rather as a self-concept (self-description)?

 

There is an ascription/self-concept-spectrum for social groupings: Economic class is mostly ascribed (with some odd exceptions like Bruce Springsteen is accepted to implicitly identify as "working class" though he's objectively wealthy). Some is more in-between: you can call yourself a "nerd",  and you may be called a "nerd" by others - no matter how you reject that label. Religious group is mostly accepted as a pure self-concept (self-description). Certainly, saying to Tiger Woods that he's not a real Buddhist is regarded as a very aggressive comment, a personal attack, while saying to Bruce Springsteen that he isn't really working class would be accepted.

 

I obviously don't know what every trans person or everyone who deeply engaged with their gender thinks about this. But the current trans mainstream idea is from my observation that gender should be a self-concept (therefore, what TripleA wrote is not mainstream). That is, we should apply neither the idea of a brain sex nor the "if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck" approach (for an extreme example see here. semi-NSFW).

 

Of course, here the usual definitional-loop-problem "Let's X-people decide what 'X' means... doesn't that sound fair? But ... but ... how do we then know who belongs to X in the first place?" rears its ugly head.


In sum, I don't think the trans mainstream idea of gender can be logically defined and defended. Sounds hostile, but

  1. I'm really willing to change my mind, if someone can give me a coherent definition / justification
  2. "It's not logically coherent" is not sooo bad. It's only sounds bad because of the idealisation of Enlightenment rationalism in our culture. It can be like the concept of "free will", which can only be grasped in a mystical sense but then is (probably) too important to be simply dropped.

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On 12/3/2019 at 3:06 AM, nonmerci said:

1. How would you define gender?

2. Does it matters to you? Why?

3. How do you know what gender you are?

4. For genderfluid people, how does it works? (sorry, I think that's what I understand the least, but I hope you can clear things to me)

To me gender is just the expectations society has for us based on our sex.

I don't really believe in gender and don't find it very important. I Identify as non-binary, because being put in either gender box doesn't make sense to me. 

I personally don't understand what it would be like to feel like a gender and I love hearing binary trans people talk about gender cause it's such a foreign concept to me. I honestly have no clue what gender I am. I don't feel like anything so I just identify as non-binary. (I know agender exists, but for some reason the label doesn't click with me)

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1. How would you define gender?

 

An inner sense of self for how you navigate socio-cultural roles and classifications of people in an arbitrary and ambiguous categorical system that's loosely based on a combination of genitalia, body type, presentation, expression, and even personality.

 

2. Does it matters to you? Why?

 

Yes... and no? I don't have a strong sense of gender in and of itself, but I do noticeably navigate the world of gender in an obvious and thoughtful manner that differs from the so-called expected defaults.

 

3. How do you know what gender you are?

 

Introspection, exploration, and gut feeling.

 

4. For genderfluid people, how does it works?

 

Sorry, I actually don't think I understand what this question is asking!

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On 12/3/2019 at 3:06 AM, nonmerci said:

In other words, I don't feel like my gender affects the way I behave.

This sounds like me and from what I've researched, gender neutral fits the closest.

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On 12/3/2019 at 5:06 AM, nonmerci said:

1. How would you define gender?

2. Does it matters to you? Why?

3. How do you know what gender you are?

4. For genderfluid people, how does it works? (sorry, I think that's what I understand the least, but I hope you can clear things to me)

1. For me gender is what I, as an individual, say I am. This is based on the information that I have on the current time, so it may change if new information comes to me. Last year i identified as my birth sex, but i learned about androgynous and it clicked wayyyy more to me than my birth sex (which I questioned through the years but I didn't want to explore that part of me because I was scared that I wouldn't fulfill societys' criteria).  Now the expectations from society matters to me the same a blade of grass matters to Pluto.

2. I partially answered this above. For me, I don't care what people think of me now. My gender identity is for my brain and no one elses, and I am happy with what I am now.

3. I sat down my sweet ass and started researching every terminology I could find about gender identity. A couple of hours later, and about 96 oz of black coffee later I found androgynous and knew it was me. Tldr: self exploration and internet. 

4. Now, I am not genderfluid, but from what I understand, it is different from the normal experience. First, you do not choose, this means that you may wake up and feel more femenine, and then through the day you may change to feeling more masculine. And then again femenine and so on. The time of change can be from minutes to months or years. It is kind of roulette game that you do not know what the prize will be. Also, i used the binary becasue it is easier to explain, I don't know if the persons experience more than male and female, so any genderfluid is welcome to correct me and give light. 

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