Gender nonconformity is the extent to which someone’s gender expression, gender identity, or other gendered traits go against society’s standard of what is masculine or feminine. Everyone has some degree of gender nonconformity and this can be visible in many ways. Someone can have a neutral appearance with no obvious masculine or feminine features but still express their own sense of masculinity or femininity. Some people may be more obviously gender nonconforming through their dress (more on that later) or by openly defying traditional definitions of male and female behaviour. The extent to which someone’s gender expression goes against society’s standard of what is masculine or feminine is known as their Gender NonConformity (GNC). Someone can have a neutral appearance with no obvious masculine or feminine features but still express their own sense of masculinity or femininity. You can read more about it here
What is Gender Expression?
Gender expression refers to how someone visually communicates their gender. This includes factors like what people wear and how they groom themselves as well as how they move their bodies. Gender expression can also be about how people talk or act in certain ways that society associates with masculinity or femininity. People will have their own unique blend of masculine and feminine traits in their gender expression, but often one will be more dominant than the other. And the blend will change over time, as people grow and change. Most people have a gender expression that is consistent with their gender identity, but some people have a gender expression that goes against their gender identity. This is known as being gender nonconforming. But being gender nonconforming doesn’t mean a person is trans or that they are going to transition.
Butch, Femme, and Androgynous Gender Nonconforming People
Butch women and feminine men are usually the ones we think of when we talk about gender nonconformity. But people who are butch or feminine can be any gender, including trans or non-binary. Butch is an identity that is often associated with masculinity. Butch women can be any gender, including cis women, trans women, and non-binary people. Butch is also used as an adjective for gender nonconforming people who express masculinity. Butches are sometimes called “male-identified women” or “female masculinity,” but many people find these terms confusing and offensive because they imply that being butch is a negative thing or that butches should identify as men. Androgynous people have a blend of both masculine and feminine traits in their gender expression. They may not be visibly gender nonconforming in every aspect, but their gender expression is still a blend of both masculine and feminine traits.
Trans and Gender Nonconforming People Are Not All the Same
Many people who are trans and gender nonconforming want to be seen as simply “trans”—and not as gender nonconforming people. However, there are many gender nonconforming people who are not trans. Trans people are people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex. If a trans person’s assigned sex is female, they may identify as a woman; if a trans person’s assigned sex is male, they may identify as a man. Trans people are not the same as gender nonconforming people, although there are some overlaps. Gender nonconforming people who are not trans may be genderqueer, non-binary, or any other gender identity. Like trans people, gender nonconforming people may have a gender identity that is different from their assigned sex.
How Is GNC Associated With Sexual Orientation?
Gender nonconforming people are often linked with sexual orientation as well, but again, these are not all the same. People who are butch or feminine and straight are known as “straight-identified.” (They may also identify as “bi-sexual-identified.”) People who are butch or feminine and gay are known as “gay-identified.” People who are butch or feminine and bi are known as “bi-identified.” People who are butch or feminine and lesbian are known as “lesbian-identified.” People who are butch or feminine and queer are known as “queer-identified.”
Gendered Behaviour and Society’s Standards of Masculinity and Femininity
All cultures have some standard of what is masculine and what is feminine. We often call this “gendered behaviour.” Behaviours that are associated with femininity include things like being gentle, caring for others, and avoiding conflict. Behaviours that are associated with masculinity include things like being strong and confident, and striving to achieve. Gendered behaviour can change over time, and even within a single culture. It is possible to see aspects of both masculinity and femininity in a single person, although they may be more dominant in one or the other. People who go against the cultural standard of their gender may be targeted or harassed. As a result, many people are careful about how they engage in gendered behaviour.
How Does Gender Nonconformity Cause Problems for Transgender People?
Gender nonconforming people who are cisgender may have a more positive experience because of their gender expression. But for most transgender people, being gender nonconforming can lead to serious problems. In many places, it is against the law to be transgender, so there are legal consequences for being visible as trans. Being visible as trans could lead to being fired from a job, kicked out of a rental home, or denied medical care. It is much easier to be fired or evicted if people know that you are trans. People may also attack you, or someone you love, because they know you are trans.
Why Is GNC Important to Know About?
It is important to know about GNC because it is an important part of understanding trans and non-binary people. GNC can be a trait of many non-binary people and it can be an important part of the experience of being trans. GNC is also an important part of seeing people as individuals and not just as “men