What is gender? What is a gender?
gender (plural genders)
- One who gends.
Okay, so, that wasn’t terribly helpful. What does it mean to gend?
gend (third-person singular simple present gends, present participle gending, simple past and past participle gended)
- (transitive) To identify with and/or behave in accordance with, and thereby in turn shape, (a social notion, role, or aesthetic that is typically related to or opposed to traditional versions of masculinity and femininity).
- (intransitive) To enjoy one’s own identity or behavior in accordance with (a social notion, role, or aesthetic that is typically related to or opposed to traditional versions of masculinity and femininity).
Yeah, I’m gending right now. I’m gending non-binary. I’d also say that I’m gending orb, which is a term coined by my buddy for non-binary folks. So, if I’m gending, I am a gender. I gend.
You can gend too. You don’t have to. Or, if you do it, it doesn’t have to be that important to you. You can do it consciously, subconsciously, you can ignore it, whatever. You can gend masc, you can gend fem—fuck it, you can gend robot. It can be persistent, it can be fluid, you can gend the same every day, you can change up how you gend, you can gend one way your entire life and gend another way for one day.
(And you may not always be gending. When I asked my partner to read over this blog post, I asked her what she was gending, and her answer was excellent. She said she didn’t really feel like she was gending—she was working. So, as a verb, you can gend, you can gend while doing something else, or you may not really be gending at all. And, like I said, you don’t have to gend at all!)
It’s similar to performing. One can perform masculinity. It’s similar to presenting. One can present fem. It’s similar to -moding. One can girlmode. It’s similar to giving. One can be giving rockstar.
Why change up the terminology? I’m not a huge fan of labels, so I think turning this kind of an identity from a noun into a verb that a person does can maybe feel freeing.
Also, I’ve found “gender” to be confusing. Let’s say a “guy” wears a skirt and nail polish. Is he expanding what masculinity can be? Or is he moving outside of the binary? Is being nurturing a feminine thing? Should men seek to incorporate feminine traits? Or are men expanding what it means to be a man by being nurturing yet still masculine? And there may be some folks who feel confident in their answers for these questions! But I’m not.
I just think it’s way more comfy (for me) to imagine gending as something that I do as opposed to gender being something that I am or that I have. More of a “How are you?” as opposed to a “Who are you?” More of an estar than a ser, ya know?
Everyone has a height, so it seems fairly easy to ask about someone’s height. It’s a scale, a spectrum—it’s fairly easy to figure out of someone is taller or shorter than someone else, and there are certain ideas of tallness/shortness we mostly share to decide if someone is tall/short. We can measure it, find an average, and go from there.
My height hasn’t changed in quite some time. However, the way that I gend seems to change way more often. If it feels more flexible, I’m not as preoccupied with my presentation. If I wear my purse, what does someone think I am? But, if I’m wearing a purse, then what I am is wearing a purse, and that makes me a purse-wearer—at least for the time being or with enough habit.
Less prescriptive, more descriptive.
(And what of genitals? Well, yeah, I mean, I have a penis and balls, but those really aren’t that important to me. I don’t really feel like I gend penis. If I pee standing up, am I gending penis? If I’m penetrating someone during sex, am I gending penis? I mean, I might be, and I’m not saying people don’t, but my penis doesn’t play that large of a role in my life. Like, I have a nose, but I’m not really gending nose, ya know? And I could, I guess, but I don’t have to. It’s hard for me to imagine gending nose because my nose is very far removed from how I gend.)
These blog posts are never as short as I want them to be.
Please, if you like gend, then take it and run with it. My hope is that it might help others than just myself feel just a bit more comfortable with themselves.
On the other end, the idea of gending is open to critique!
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