Identity is ever-changing, it may be difficult to understand where you stand and that is totally okay! Sexuality and gender is fluid, the most important part is letting yourself explore and learn what you feel the most comfortable with.
In this article, we’ll tackle what it means to be gender fluid and what it entails to be a part of this community.
What does being gender fluid mean?
The term gender fluid refers to someone whose gender identity is not fixed. This means that this individual is flexible when it comes to how they present their gender. For example one day they might feel extremely feminine, but a week later feel much more masculine in their gender presentation. Of course this idea of “masculine” and “feminine” are rooted in the binary that society presents, for many gender fluid individuals the concept of gender is not relevant to their identity.
It is important to note that gender expression/identity is different from sexuality, while sexuality defines your sexual orientation (who you are attracted to), gender identity defines how you express yourself gender-wise. There is also a difference between gender identity and gender expression. Identity is the gender identification the person chooses, versus expression, which is the way people express said gender identity whether that be feminine, masculine, both, or none.
Learning that you might be a part of the gender fluid community might be scary at first, but there are many ways to plug yourself into the community and learn to be comfortable with yourself.
if you’re curious about how you might identify, here’s what you should know about what being gender fluid means:
History of the word gender fluid
The word gender fluid first came into play in 1980 alongside other terms such as transgender and gender queer. The understanding of the word was influenced by figures such as Philosopher Judith Butler who popularized the idea of gender deconstruction and brought to light that idea that gender does not have to be binary (male or female.)
Like most terms that were popularized during this time, the Internet was responsible for making them known and more commonly used. Because communities formed on social media websites such as Tumblr and Twitter members of the gender fluid community began using the word more frequently in the early 2000s putting the term on the map.
In 2014 Facebook and OKCupid added gender fluid as an option to their gender selection. Of course these kinds of additions helped the word become popularized and more individuals were able to put a label to how they felt. A variety of celebrities such as Janelle Monáe and Sam Smith came out as non-binary and this opened up the conversation of gender fluidity further and made it in a way mainstream.
Alternatives to the word gender fluid
Because identity is personal and different people are comfortable using different terms there are a variety of ways to say the word polyamorous, including:
Over time language evolves and this creates new words derived from a multitude of historical nuances. Labels and terms can also carry connotations, bad or good, which is why one might identify more with one term over the other despite them meaning the same thing. It is also important to note that the gender fluid community can encompass homosexual, nonbinary, trangender individuals, and so much more.
What NOT to call gender fluid people
Hateful words that refer to the gender fluid community should always be erased from conversations and speech. The term gender fluid has a variety of definitions and usages, but negative connotations and stereotypes remain. offensive words should be avoided at all costs, as they are derogatory.
It is also critical to note that members of the gender fluid community have begun to reclaim derogatory terms to take back the oppression they have faced. Although within the community this is acceptable it is still not okay to refer to gender fluid people with a derogatory term if one is not a part of the community themselves. Always ask before assuming someone’s gender identity.
What makes someone gender fluid?
If you think you might identify as gender fluid try asking yourself these questions: Do you feel like there is not one set gender that describes you? Does the idea of identifying with more than one gender resonate with you? If you answered yes, you might be a part of the gender fluid community.
To further understand gender fluidity it is critical to know that it sits under the non-binary umbrella. Under the non-binary umbrella we find a variety of identities such as agender, demigender, genderqueer, and of course gender fluid. All these identities have one thing in common: not conforming to the traditional binary ideals that society imposes. Within the gender fluid world there is also diversity amongst how one expresses themselves. For example gender fluid people can use they/them pronouns or they could use he/him pronouns, they can be homosexual or they can be asexual. There is not one right way to be gender fluid.
The timeline may also vary. For instance, for some people being gender fluid is temporary until they find a gender identity that matches them, others are indefinitely gender fluid and don’t see themselves becoming fixed on one gender. The way in which gender fluid people express themselves also changes from person to person, some may seek gender-affirming medical treatment to better captivate their identity while others might fluctuate their wardrobe choices. It’s needless to say that the approaches to gender fluidity are endless.
It’s always a great idea to trust that members of the community know more about their identity than you do. Listen to gender fluid people when they speak about their identities.
Perspectives on being gender fluid
Fortunately for the gender fluid community, society is beginning to embrace the idea of dismantling binary ideals. Fashion runways and beauty brands have taken it upon themselves to be less gendered and more inclusive. That being said there are things that we must do ourselves to allow for the normalization of gender fluidity in a gendered society. For example the use of pronouns. An easy way to make gender fluid people feel heard is to share your pronouns and ask them what theirs might be before initiating a conversation, this way everyone’s gender identity is taken into consideration and there is no room for hurting feelings.
Because not all people are considerate of gender identity, there are many times when gender fluid people may feel what is called gender dysphoria. This refers to the distress one might feel regarding the mismatch between their gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria can cause dissatisfaction, depression, and anxiety, and This is why many gender fluid individuals seek gender affirmation whether that be changing their name and pronouns or performing medical procedures. Things such as using someone’s dead name or the wrong pronouns can cause extreme gender dysphoria which is why it is critical to listen to people when they speak about their gender identity and how they want to be referred to.
The gender fluid flag
The gender fluid flag was created by JJ Poole in 2012. The stripes on the flag represent as follows:
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- Blue: Masculinity
- Pink: Femininity.
- Purple: Both masculinity and femininity.
- Black: Lack of gender.
- White: All genders.
The bottom line is that gender fluidity comes in a variety of fonts, the spectrum regarding gender identity will always be never ending. The concept of gender itself should be dismantled. The binary world we live in does us all a disservice as there is no real “right” or “correct” way to express gender. Colors, products, and activities don’t have genders and they should never be restricted or limited to one gender identity. Gender and expression can fluctuate from day to day and there is nothing wrong with that, there is no need for gender to be fixed. It is important to explore the ways in which we express gender.
If some of the ideas above resonate with you and you’re thinking of coming out, make sure the conditions are safe and have a plan of action regarding housing and food if things don’t go as planned.
In addition, be sure to learn about the other identities that make up the LGBTQ+ community on our website or subscribe to the INTO newsletter to learn more.
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