Questioning Gender

This article is for allies and trans people and most important people who are or are willing to question their gender.  Questioning gender is something everyone should do critically, with an awareness of how we are affected by the systems around us.

The devaluation of femininity, toxic masculinity, and restrictive gender roles hurt everyone.  Some of us find we can challenge these categories from within, and some of us find that the categories just don’t fit.

I think it’s so important to recognize that assigning people cis by default, and placing the onus on those of us who are not, makes it more difficult for us to exist as ourselves.

As an ally, it’s important to question our assignment even if we do conclude we identify as cis, in order to destabilize the normative power. It’s also helpful to reject the notion that gender identities are inherently stable or permanent.  They are very much constructed in relation to our social space and our internal narratives and these change over time.  If you always reflect on yourself and find that it always brings you to the same gender, that’s great!  However, that isn’t the case for everyone.  That is part of the dominant discourse as well is reason enough to demand that this not be the default. It’s perfectly legitimate to experience change in your own identification, and this is not a threat to anyone else’s identity that is more or less stable unless we accept certain modes of existence are only deviations from the norm rather than comprising of a more nuanced universal experience erased by the hegemony of certain cultural systems.

As an AFAB femme agender and genderqueer person, I often struggle with how certain things, among my dress, my appearance, etc., especially those I cannot change, are gendered without and against my consent. However, I embrace my femme expression in opposition to femme erasure, just like I claim woman-ness in spaces where women are erased or pushed out, because my presence as AFAB is part of my contribution, just like my presence as a genderqueer person.  I still struggle with this at times, and for a while I was perhaps more accurately describes as an agender woman.  (I have included a great article from another person who identifies this way).  My entire life I politically identified with women, and did not relate to gender otherwise and struggled to understand and deal with people’s expectations of this.  Because of that, and a better understand of who I am and how I feel, I now identify as agender and nonbinary trans person, and connect to anti-misogyny via my femme identity.  The main reason?  I feel more comfortable and genuine this way.  Being accepted and supported as agender and in various expressions was neccesary for me to reach this point.  That process is what I need to “transition” to my more authentic self.  I am listing resources for people in that process, and discussing my own in the context of needing all of these voices in order to exist.  Many thanks to everyone who has contributed in many ways.

This contains articles written by people from all different backgrounds. Personal accounts, individual approaches to justification and lots and lots of resources. Please reply with questions or for any topic you’d like to see covered.

good starting point: I Think I Might Be Trans: 8 Important Notes On Questioning and 50+ Resources to Get You Started
-I don’t endorse all of these links, but it has a ton of really good ones.

this is a very popular resource, by a prominent nonbinary trans activist. if you can afford it, you should buy a print copy!
Kate Bornstein’s Gender workbook

coming out as nonbinary

Femme and Genderqueer

great conversation and lots of links

an agender woman’s narrative

why gender is/only a performance is cissexist


which also has a ton of links and resources

simply put, why “matching” is problematic:

one of the best glossaries I’ve seen (not comprehensive, but very useful)

different ways of conceptualizing different parts of gender identity

On needing justification: you are enough

The most important thing might be, how do you know you’re cis?  This is the assumption we start with and are taught.  The only deciding entity is your own experience, which can change over time.

The science: (my interpretation of a tiny handful of studies.)

There is also some research suggesting that many people experience gender dysphoria to some degree, with women reporting higher rates than men, and queer more than straight people.  This may also have to do with how social pressure affects people who may not fit into gender roles that are narrower for women and non-hetero people, so again this should probably not be generalized to make any absolute statements.  The research is very limited and I update as I find more information.



2 thoughts on “Questioning Gender

  1. Very wonderful post, I absolutely agree.

    “This research looked at people pre medical transition, to avoid the effect of hormones, but also doesn’t take into consideration factors such as baseline hormones”

    I think this is an important point. My partner is AMAB but has so many feminine traits, and can pass as female without trying, that I sometimes wonder if they’re intersex. Without first testing their hormone levels, simply doing a brain scan and comparing it to a more typical AMAB person won’t necessarily be a mark of trans-ness.

    It is possible that different hormone levels are part of what causes transgenderism. I’ve seen some people hypothesize (no idea if it’s been proven) that sexuality and gender are impacted by hormonal variations while in the womb. I don’t think that’s the be-all-end-all, hormone levels can vary among cishet people just as much, but you can’t say “X is a trait of trans-ness” if “X” is actually a trait of hormone levels.


    • Thanks Dreki, and if you’re interested there’s some great and more recent research suggesting that even the impact of various factors varies between people. There’s always greater variation within the group than between the groups.


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