With people like Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose choosing to identify as gender fluid, you may be wondering what exactly gender fluidity means. With societal definitions of gender changing at a rapid pace, it’s important to stay informed and educated. We’ve talked to Lauren Lubin, President and Executive Producer of We Exist – Beyond the Binary, and University of California, Los Angeles alum Loki Leigh to get the low down on what gender fluidity is and how you can be a good ally. Read up, collegiettes!
What is gender fluidity?
Gender fluidity, or being genderqueer, is defined as when a person does not fit into either the male or female category. “Gender fluidity in its most basic definition is redefining gender as something that is not rigid, but rather exists as a spectrum,” Lubin says. “In our culture, predominately we have seen gender as very binary, either male or female. The reality is gender fluidity actually challenges that and says that no, it’s not either one or the other, it could be many different things: either between and/or outside male or female.”
People who identify as gender fluid may fluctuate between genders or feel like neither gender at all. “Gender fluidity is inclusive to everyone, even those who identify as male or female because no one neatly fits within gender constructs,” Lubin adds. “There might be someone who identifies fully as female but for example in a more androgynous or masculine way.” It’s important to remember that a person’s gender does not have to be completely on one side of the spectrum. How people choose to identify themselves is a personal preference.
“I experience gender fluidity as a…flux of my gender identity,” Loki shares. “While, on the average, I generally don’t fell aligned with any particular gender, there are days where I feel more masculine than I do feminine. Some days I wear a chest binder and present more masculine, while others I wear a bra and decide to present more feminine.”
Is gender fluidity an ongoing journey?
People like Miley Cyrus have previously identified as female and are now using the term “gender fluid.” Discovering your gender identity is an ongoing process that can change and evolve throughout your life. “I definitely think that there is an evolution of human identity throughout the course of our lives, and gender is just part of that identity,” Lubin says.
“For some people, even who are transitioning within male or female, there is a time within that transition that the way in which we identify to the world may not be as binary as the world thinks gender is,” they say. “There is a middle ground, and for some people, that middle ground is their home, that’s where they exist and who they are.” Just like a person’s sexuality may change over time, their gender identity can change as well. Be patient with your friends and peers as they continue to discover who they truly are.
“I don’t like the gendering of clothing or make up, and often tend to dress without really thinking much about my gender, but more thinking of how much time I’m interested in putting into my appearance and what I will feel most comfortable in,” Loki says. Since gender fluidity is like a spectrum, there are no set rules for how a person should act or dress. There’s nothing wrong with challenging society’s gender norms!
How should you refer to gender fluid people?
When it comes to referring to gender fluid people, things can get confusing. The pronouns that people choose to use are all about what they prefer, so it’s important to ask someone before using a specific pronoun. “We see in today’s world that ‘they/them/their’ are something that people are coming to embrace more and understand,” Lubin shares. Some other pronouns people may choose to use are “ze,” “hir” or no pronoun at all.
“If someone tells you their pronouns or name, accept that that is the way they identify and refer to them as such, even if it changes regularly,” Loki advises. “Stand up for their names and pronouns when they’re not around. If your friend prefers different pronouns at different times, ask them how they would like to be referred to when they’re absent. Recognize that these changes within yourself can take time, and always strive to change yourself for the better.” Be patient with yourself and your friends, and you’ll be surprised how things will fall into place!
How can you be a good ally?
Being a good ally is extremely important, no matter the situation. Your gender fluid friends are likely going through a lot, so you should do what you can to make them feel more accepted. “Because non-binary gender is still something that’s very new within our cultural conversation, it’s necessary to educate,” Lubin says. “Educate yourself, and educate others. Education is power.” Read up about gender fluidity and find out how you can help your gender fluid friends and peers. Learning terminology and visiting educational websites are good ways to start.
“The second part of that is help,” Lubin adds. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done; people that are gender non-conforming already have to deal with a lot and already have obstacles to overcome, and to be a good ally is to help. Be assertive and supportive.” By staying educated and aware of what is going on in regards to gender fluidity, you are providing a support system for your family members or friends who may be feeling alone.
“Be kind, compassionate, and try to understand,” Loki says. “Listen. Everyone experiences gender differently, and there’s no wrong way to present your gender identity.” Just because you may choose to identify as one gender or another does not mean someone else has to be binary as well. Showing care and understanding is crucial.
Now that you know what gender fluidity is and how to be a good ally, you should be in better shape when it comes to explaining gender fluidity to others or being supportive of someone you know. Be sure to stay educated and remember that a person is not defined by their gender identity; it’s only one aspect of who they are.