It seems to be becoming more and more difficult to navigate our ways around traditional gender roles and identities. It’s amazing to see that more people are questioning gender politics and social constructs around it, however for me personally this has led to both discovering a new identity, and at the same time battling with the loss of a forced identity.
I’m starting to question if I was ever a woman, or if I would have ever been one. The idea of womanhood and womanliness is almost impossible for me to navigate around. It seems like I never fitted into the right categories. Having always aspired to be a woman, but now being nearly 22, I realise that the day may never come. The ideology around being a woman is white washed, heteronormative and ableist and people like me struggle to fit the criteria.
Of course there’s no right way or wrong way to be a woman. However, I feel that I waited for womanhood to happen to me, but it never did. Womanhood as a concept may vary in different cultures, in my own middle-eastern culture to be a woman it means to be married and take care of a family. However the western ideologies around female beauty have also been very dominant on the middle-eastern culture. I feel that for my body to have been seen as a woman was never a possibility. I remember growing up, that I was obsessed with looking at the women in my family, observing their every move and hoping to be like them one day. However, I was one of the darkest girls in the family, so as I grew older I realised I could never be like the women I looked up to, because I could never be as pale, as tall and as beautiful. I guess what I’m suggesting is that the womanly looks dominate the womanly attributes. I say this because as I explained, as a child I learned to distinguish women based on their looks and not their attributes and the labour they have to put up with.
So if the identity of being a woman doesn’t fit me, then what does?
Having been in the process of discovering my new identity as genderqueer, this identity for me is not just about gender, but also my race. Calling myself genderqueer, gives me the freedom to not confirm but also play with my gender through a creative vision. It allows me to come up with an idea and vision of a woman that fits me best and at the same time rejecting gender as a whole.
It’s not always easy having a complicated relationship with your gender. Once I was told I shouldn’t use They/Them pronouns and call myself genderfluid, because I also identified as a woman on some days. This was very hurtful, but a friend reminded me of the importance of fighting for our identities, no matter how multiple and complicated they are. Being genderfluid means some days I may identify as a woman, and some days I identify with no gender, or a neutral gender. However in my own recent experience the second category is starting to dominate my identity as a woman more frequently, however this doesn’t make me any less of a woman or any less genderfluid.
It was important for me to write this piece, as a way of giving solidarity to other people who might be feeling the same about their gender identity.
Shades of Noir offers more reading material on this subject. Read our Terms of References from past events on the subjects of gender and queer identity:
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Words By Katy Jalili.