Today I’d like to talk about gender expression. Within the context of a particular culture, gender expression is how a person behaves, their interests and appearance that are associated with gender, specifically femininity or masculinity. To explore this idea, I’d like to tell you about myself because this is an important one for me.
When we talked about gender identity, I mentioned tomboys and girly girls. These are different gender expressions. But we can make the mistake of thinking of it as only the outer trappings of a person: the choices of clothes and hair styles and behaviours. But expression is the outward manifestation of what is within. Growing up, I was a “tomboy.” I don’t know that anyone ever called me that, but that was the closest thing that felt true. I liked American-style football; I wanted to learn to fix cars and do woodwork; I was interested in math and science; I excelled in school; I went through a western cowboy phase; I preferred to hang out with the boys. I never chose pink or lace or frills; I didn’t wear make-up; I didn’t like fancy hair-dos; I didn’t want the things other girls wanted. That is gender expression.
All of these are ways people have devised to (usually derisively) describe people who fall outside the norms of cultural gender expression.
God has one recurring way to describe them: Beloved.
Photo Credit: My Dad, James Frost