Gender Expression

Submitted by Anna Loy on Thu, 10/24/2019 - 11:58 - 0 Comments
Gender expression has evolved as society has become more accepting of people who do not conform to
gender binary norms. In the late 1900s, celebrities like David Bowie and Prince defied gender norms, making waves when they chose to wear dresses and makeup as a form of self-expression. Their legacy has been upheld by stars like Jaden Smith, Angel Haze, Amandla Stenberg, Miley Cyrus, Ruby Rose, and Sam Smith, who have spoken out about their gender identities despite being under public scrutiny. The international nonprofit organization GATE works to create a world “free of human rights violations based on gender expression, gender identity, and bodily diversity.” It is voices like theirs that help combat gender stereotypes and make society more accepting of those who don’t identify with traditional gender norms.
 
At Lincoln, gender expression varies with each student. Sophomore Julia Calvin talked about her experiences with gender expression. Though Calvin identifies as a cis-gender girl she chooses to wear stereotypically masculine clothing. Growing up, she said, “People were very confused and always thought I was a guy, they didn't know what to think about it. They were not accepting, especially as I got older.” She added that now she is a teenager people “are more accepting.”
 
Another student, who would like to stay anonymous, said “I express myself through clothing. I use the label gender fluid, so it kind of changes. When I feel some dysphoria I dress differently to hide the things I want to hide.” When asked about their experiences expressing themself, they said, “I am lucky because I am mostly aligned with my birth gender, so it’s not as big of a problem for me to feel safe expressing myself.”
“I express myself through clothing. I use the label gender fluid, so it kind of changes.”
Junior Bella Bravo talked about her experiences with gender identity, saying “I have gone on my own journey in figuring out that I don’t have to be feminine to be a girl, and that I can identify how I want to identify. Just because I do somethingthat is typically masculine, that doesn’t change my identity, my identity is who I’ve decided to be.” She also added that she dresses to make herself comfortable, not to conform to society’s standards.“I still feel that, even though I’m still comfortable in my clothes, I’m not being feminine enough. It should just be what I define as being a girl” she added.
“I don’t have to be feminine to be a girl, and that I can identify how I want to identify.”
Senior Riley Kowalski reflected on his journey with gender identity, saying “It took me 17 years to figure out I am not exactly that, I am this. It took me coming out 4 different times as 4 different things to figure out that I am a pansexual guy.” Later, he talked about coming out to his family, saying, “My experiences have not always been good. I was kicked out of my dad’s house because I came out as transgender to him because he is not very supportive of it.” When asked about how he expresses his gender Kowalski said, “ I do what is known as stereotypical guy things, I dress like a guy and I lower my voice a little bit.”
 
When asked about how celebrities opening up about gender identity makes an impact, the anonymous student said “It’s nice to feel more represented. I also think it’s really nice to see that this isn’t a fake thing. It’s nice to prove the people wrong that think non-binary identities are all special teenagers.”
“It’s really nice to see that this isn’t a fake thing It’s nice to prove the people wrong that think non-binary identities are all special teenagers.”
Bravo added that “Celebrities coming out and being accepting and being role models does help with acceptance. Even if you don’t identify that way, seeing celebrities come out normalizes it.” She thinks that
celebrities sharing their experiences has helped open up conversations about gender expression among teenagers.
 
When asked about how Lincoln students interact with different gender identities, Calvin said that “People don’t really care as much here, [different gender identities] are more common here.” Calvin also pointed out that “the norms for feminine and masculine are different and more flexible now.” The anonymous student said that “For the most part Lincoln students are accepting, but when it comes to using the right pronouns and not assuming gender, students haven’t been very good.” They said that one of their biggest struggles is not having a non-binary changing area right now. They said, “I have to wear underclothes to put my pe shirt over.” They want students to respect pronouns, saying “I don’t know if people just forget, or assume or don’t care.”
 
Bravo thinks that at Lincoln, “there is more breaking of the norms, but at the same time there is a pressure to go with norms and still meet beauty standards, you still feel that in the school.” She also said, “I have noticed that people will stereotype based on an outfit, and a lot of my friends are misgendered because people assume. When gender expression doesn’t match up people get confused.”
 
Kowalski thinks that “[At Lincoln] nobody really cares [about gender expression]. They care about you, but they don’t care if you identify as a guy or a girl, or if you go by them. You’re just a person.” He also commented on Lincoln’s support system, saying, “The first GSA meeting had around 45 people there. That’s a lot of people. That’s a whole bunch of people who are straight allies that are there to
support. It shows that a lot of people here are going to be there for you.” Kowalski added his opinion on how Lincoln students could make school a more accepting place. He said, “Don’t put someone down for what they’re wearing because of stereotypes. Don’t follow stereotypes or hold someone to a box, because the entire reason some in a box, because the entire reason someone is coming out is to break out of the cis-gender box and become who they actually are.”
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About the Author

Anna Loy's picture

I am a sophomore and this is my first year on Beyond the Flock staff. I am really exciting to be writing this year.