Gender (non)Conformity

Not long ago, someone told me that she was still learning to be a woman. This person was over the age of 15, so it struck me as a particularly interesting comment.

Actually, it reminded me that when I was about 15 I’d told someone that I wasn’t very good at being a girl.

“What does that even mean?” they’d appropriately responded.

It also reminded me that in my early 20s I went out and bought a bunch of “sweaters with weird necks” (I now know them as “cowl necks”) because, “that’s what women wear.”

To be fair, there was an element of class identity to that last one, as I struggled to fit into my first office setting. But still, that feeling of gender identity was there.

And it was interesting that we’d both had this experience of having to “learn” to be our gender.

Of course, our experiences have been different – I am a cisgendered woman (unless I lose points for being “bad” at it), and the person I was talking to is a transgendered woman.

I certainly don’t mean to claim understanding or familiarity with another’s experience, but I’m honestly not sure why either of us need to “learn” to be like our gender.

Yet somehow it seems reasonable to imagine a transgendered woman saying she needs to learn to be a woman, even as it sounds absurd to hear a cisgendered woman say so.

I wondered if anyone had ever questioned her comment they way someone had once questioned mine.

No, but seriously – what does that even mean?


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