Normalising Femininity

Hello again,

Yes, I am still alive.

My latest quibble is that femininity still isn’t quite ‘normal’ for me. As it turns out, nineteen years of exclusively masculine gender presentation can be a difficult series of personal norms and comfort zones to work out of oneself. Indeed, I’m in one of the most tolerant, open-minded environments in the world – a university English course full of friends across a range of sexual and gender identities – but it’s still not easy. Damn entrenched gender norms.

For instance, when I get dressed in the morning – provided I’m not feeling aggressively masculine or aggressively feminine, in which case all logic goes out the window and I dash for the nearest pair of tracksuit trousers or heels respectively – I float towards jeans and t-shirts. Putting on a skirt involves some additional effort, some conscious decision to ‘be more feminine’; more feminine than what? I’m currently naked, don’t have a lot of facial hair and was probably dreaming about nail care products; yet even when I am at my least obviously masculine, engaging with femininity is still a bit of a challenge.

Obviously, this is something that will improve with time. There was a time where the thought of doing injections before every meal terrified me, and now I’m honestly so used to diabetes that sometimes I take dosages of insulin, and then forget to eat after them; if self-medication can become more normal than even eating, wearing eyeliner should become normalised fairly quickly.

The end goal to all this is a paradox of the critically important and the completely meaningless. I want to be more feminine, sure, and that’s important to me. But I don’t want to be seen and valued exclusively as such; whether I’m in a dress or jeans, I’d like people to talk to me because I have interesting things to say, not for how I’m dressed. This exact thought led to a lot of insecurity around this time last year; if you just want to be exactly the same person, but dressed differently, why is this so hard? my subconscious would ask, why can’t you just wear a dress and be done with it, why the change in name and pronouns, the self-absorbed blog post and the angry emails to UCL to get them to change my ID card?

Honestly, that voice speaks a lot of sense, and I can’t say with any certainty if I completely agree or disagree with it. But I do know that what makes me comfortable, and has made me more willing to see my friends, and get out of bed in the morning, and generally be proud of who I am, is a wardrobe that includes a few more cute skirts, and a morning routine that is just about long enough to allow me to wear eyeliner most days.

And so in the absence of any grandiose conclusion, about the nature of gender and its relationship to human identity, I’m just doing what’s comfortable. Admittedly, what’s comfortable is still a bit weird, but not as weird as it once was; when I started wearing heels, every step was a physical reminder that something was different, that I was different, and that this was a novelty to be savoured; but now I accept that heels are heels, they’re pretty, they’re painful, but they oughtn’t reshape my whole perception of myself.

So I’ve started wearing skirts around the house, and garish colours of nail paint, or makeup when I know I won’t go out. Because, for me, masculinity isn’t the default, and femininity not an acceptable, but ultimately mostly sidelined, set of values reserved for special events and big nights out. I’m slowly shuffling towards the centre of the gender spectrum, it’s just taking a while.

And doing it in heels will, for the first time in human history, get me there faster.

Author: JP Casey

They/them. Chaotic gender neutral. Straight Edge. Writer. Journalist. User of full stops.

9 thoughts on “Normalising Femininity”

  1. Sorry to be pinging comments at you (WordPress still isn’t ma thang much and well, funny story! I booked myself a place at a UCL Open Day and sat for a good 10-15 minutes wondering why “UCL” made me go “ah! I’ve read that name quite a few times, I wonder where?” And then I was like “Zat blog…HAVE THEY POSTED! Are they still utilising the frickity-frak in the place of fuck” blah blah blah.) That was a big bracket – please don’t judge me, o wise English stoodent. Ever since I confirmed my A Levels and let English kiss my ass goodbye I feel so inferior/as if I can use this as an excuse.

    I actually had a point to make, really I did. Well, it was more of a question. Please feel free to refuse to answer it because this is quite a, I don’t know the word for it but like I’m not really familiar?, but yes, it was at the top-ish of the post where you talked about feeling aggressively masculine or aggressive feminine. This is where I’m wondering how much emphasis you feel there is for you on the aggressive bit. The strength. Severity seems – well- a bit severe here. But do you get my drift? Like *how* do you feel!
    Please, as I said, feel free to ignore this comment should it be too personal. It’s cool 🙂
    Hope all is well! It’s been a while. Dis reader feels so behind on your life.

    (Lol I feel like I need to re-introduce myself it’s been so long. Z/BP, fleece-clad maths addict.)

    1. You may ping all the comments you like :3 Are you thinking of going to UCL?? I will forgive your mathsiness if you come here :p

      The question isn’t too personal :)) I think I know what you mean, and I kinda feel like there’s a certain way I ‘should’ or shouldn’t be? Like I’ll look at my wardrobe and see a skirt and that makes me think of being affectionate and emotionally close with my friends, or I’ll see a hoodie and it makes me think of being open and unguarded. And I want both of those types of thing in my life, just on different days and at different times. Does that kinda make sense or answer what you thought about? :p

      1. Yees.
        I mean something that’s a touch off-putting is the STEP paper (this HORRID maths paper) which some unis including yours want but…I mean I’ve done some research (a bit early but hey it’s Year 12 why not) and it does offer a good course. I figured I’d drag a friend to an open day and have a nosy. Plus like, I mean, I’m happy with my A Levels but I’m confused at what “they” want and whether I should or shouldn’t drop one and oh JESUS choosing to do F. Maths is confusing! Why am I growing up? Why am I thinking about these adult things? Why do I have a bank account?

        That answered half! The remainder is still linking more to the choice of words. Like. Is the, I know it’s a desire, right? Like you want to dress a certain way etc depending on how you feel at the time. But does it like, not to sound so tumblr-y, but well, “hurt” as such? Like say maybe you feel restricted, for example, in certain situations?
        Sorry, when it comes to serious topics sometimes I can’t really phrase this shit right.

        1. Mate you’re not old yet, I spent the day chasing a mouse around my flat with a bucket XD Also it’s great that you’re looking this early you responsible person you >< What course would you apply for? And oh yeah it feels super restrictive sometimes. I've run home from socials because I've suddenly been dysphoric and idk I tend to feel less versatile when I'm presenting femme? Like I'm comfortable when I'm with friends or in a social situation I've planned already but if I were to meet someone randomly in the street idk if I'd be comfortable in a skirt.

          1. HAHA OH YEAH!
            Mathematics BSc. Before you say it YES I’ve considered with Stats or Physics and currently nooooo. Personally I prefer the Pure side to maths (to put it bluntly it’s just easier to wrap my head around theorems as opposed to actual situations – I don’t “do” real life). But nevertheless I do appreciate the usefulness of the Applied side hence not wanting to do specifically Pure Mathematics. Eh I could change come Year 13 though. Not like, drastically – did you ever have that tiny phase where you thought you could do a subject but realised it wasn’t the best way to go? Like at one point I was considering Classics. Never discussed it with anyone but it actually lingered in my head for a bit. Even though Greek was tough. I think it was Latin that misled me, o wicked, wicked Vergil.

            There we go! I understand more now. I don’t think it’s right to say “I get you” because only you get you! But I understand. With this kind of thing do you think there’s any other approach to take other than to just go ahead and “bam bam turkey and ham let’s be femme” in the street? Do you think there’s progress in the community around this, especially as it’s like, 2016. Times are changing and all that jazz.

          2. Hey nothing wrong with pure maths :p I mean I know nothing about any of this but you’ll enjoy it at least which is kinda all that matters! Yeah I wanted to be a chemist for a bit. A very brief bit XD Also Classics, from the little I’ve read, sounds like great fun :3

            Eh, maybe? Like I was comfortable just doing it and there I was but for others it might take more time or more subtle means – I wore nail paint for a few months before coming out, for instance. And I’m shamefully not that clued-up about the community, which I shall rectify in the new academic year :3

  2. A chemist! That is different! I didn’t expect that! Was English some flickering flame that just would not die out/”frak” off or..?
    Ah yes Classics is very interesting indeed! Homer writes woefully. Like, Agamemnon you meanie. You keep the gift of honour for yourself having stolen it!
    Here’s to a new academic year *gulps at the prospect of scary sixth form next Wednesday*

Leave a Reply to JP Casey Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *