Navigating the world as someone assigned female at birth* can be difficult enough, from understanding society’s expectations of you to learning to stand your ground against them, but throwing in the concept of gender fluidity adds a whole new level to the way we interpret the world, as well as ourselves.
When I first started looking into my gender identity, the prospects of feminism and inherent bias bared their teeth. I asked myself if I thought I might be nonbinary because it's actually who I am, or if it was because I was frustrated with the societal view of women. I couldn’t decide if I liked being “one of the boys” because it was attributed to my real gender, or because it created a space where I was valued more than I usually am as a female. Many questions flitted through my head: “Do I just not want to be a homemaker?” “Can gender really be fluid enough for me to connect to womanhood AND something different?” and my personal favorite: “Is this just internalized misogyny?”
We as a society often have inherently sexist views, whether we like to admit it or not: the ideas that women can’t be the breadwinner in a relationship, that all women must want kids, and that women are too emotional or can’t be assertive. Women are also often sexualized with or without our consent, and viewed as inherently ‘lesser’ than our male counterparts. Adding on to all of that are victim-blaming mentalities in regards to sexual assault and abuse, plus the rise in heat and slander against the feminist movements. It’s a lot to cope with, especially when so many of these perspectives are ingrained in those around us. The idea that we could be carrying these biases within ourselves is not a new one, and certainly not baseless. So do these biases impact how we view our own gender identities? Could these deeply rooted mentalities be causing us to lean away from our assigned gender at birth?
The short answer is, probably not. The longer answer, however, is more complicated than that. Internalized misogyny can play a part for some, with disdain towards assigned gender roles or self-hatred of feminine qualities pushing them to be unlike the stereotypical, one-dimensional view of women (read: “not like other girls”). If this ends up being you, that’s okay. We all have to find ways to navigate this world, and processing and conquering our internal biases is a big and important part of that. However for most people beginning to question their gender, the cause of their uncertainty lies somewhere else. Gender is both an ever changing and inherent part of who a person is. While it may fluctuate over the years, it is not something one can control or decide, meaning that any inklings of change felt are not only real, but worth paying attention to and listening to. If you think you may not be 100% a woman, that is something worth exploring. Regardless of the reasoning, gender exploration and self-identification vastly improve how well a person understands who they are and how their gender works as a part of their overall identity.
To every person assigned female at birth, trying to figure out the details of who you are: your complexities are wonderful, and any questioning or variances in your identity are valid. Gender can be a confusing thing to process, and throwing in sexism and feminism and internalized misogyny and all of that can make things seem so much more nerve-wracking. It’s okay to just back up and take a breather for a moment; there is no limit on the length of personal processes. Honestly, I’m still figuring myself out after years of questioning and self-acceptance.
Some gentle reminders for you: while internalized misogyny may run rampant in our current world, it doesn’t actually tend to affect your gender identity as much as you think. If you’re beginning to question your gender identity or how you express it, there is most likely a larger reason within you pointing you in this direction. Along with this, who you are today does not have to match who you are tomorrow or even next year, and how you express yourself can be totally different too. Gender is fluid. For a long time I identified as a nonbinary woman, because I felt like it reflected me the best; I also know many people that use multiple labels, or even none, and just say “I’m me and I don’t need to define that”. At the end of the day, how you come to terms with your gender, and how that ties into your perception and experiences as someone assigned female at birth, are yours to determine.
*a term/phrase used within the trans-nonbinary community to describe someone who was born physically female, regardless of gender identity.