I have just finished reading CN Lester‘s book Trans Like Me, which I highly highly recommend. Really interesting and gives some useful insights into the experiences of those who don’t fit gender norms, in all the different subtle ways that can manifest.
I met CN Lester / saw them perform in London a few weeks ago and they were great (they don’t identify wholly with either male or female).
If you’re new to these concepts, it can seem quite confusing. Somebody I know asked the following question:
“Does ‘not identifying as wholly male or female’ mean that they reject the whole premise of male/female archetypes, or that they accept it but don’t identify with either of them particularly?”
My response, as I understand it:
It’s not about archetypes so much as simply not believing yourself to be fundamentally one or the other.
It goes beyond gender stereotyping and coding. You can reject gender stereotypes but still co-exist peacefully with your body and happily define yourself as “a woman” (or man).
But the important thing to understand is that there are no clear dividing lines. There are people who are 100% clear that they were born in the wrong body. There are people who refuse to conform to gender stereotypes. But there are also all shades between, and the distinction between sex (physical sex organs) and gender (socialised traits) is by no means as clear cut as people believe.
One of the many interesting things about CN Lester’s book is their examination of all the different ways people have sat outside the gender norms historically. There are so many different ways this can happen! Some accepted to some extent or other (eunuchs and castrati for instance), some not.
CN Lester has suffered significant bodily dysphoria (not to be understated – causes actual pain, both physical and mental) but does not see themself as either a woman or a man.
I really do recommend you read the book. I can’t do it justice here.
It really made me think about my own gender identity. I do not fit gender stereotypes in so many ways, and I absolutely reject them on several levels, but I still do identify as a woman.