Your Gender Expression Is YOURS!!!
For our inaugural post, we asked Ivan Fahy, an androgynous model and gender activist from Galway, Ireland, to tell us what gender expression means to him. This is what he told us in reply. Helpful explanations of terminology used by Ivan can be found at the end.
Gender expression is very important. Your gender is a beautiful part of you. The term ‘gender expression’ is often erroneously associated exclusively with transgender people. Cisgender people express their gender too, though this expression isn’t seen as an expression, and it isn’t often noticed, for it is heterocisnormative and conformative. It is important, in my opinion, to understand gender expression holistically, and not as something only transgender people engage in. I work to free gender, gender identity and gender expression. I want everyone’s gender to be expressed freely and proudly. Just like sex positivity, I believe in gender positivity.
Gender is a positive and beautiful aspect of a person and their life and it shouldn’t be shamed, hated or hidden, it should be embraced, celebrated and loved. I strive for this in my androgynous modelling work. I aim to create images that are beautiful under many different gender perspectives; male, female, trans*, androgynous, gender non-binary, and more. I am human and I am a multitude of things. Gender liberates me, it does not limit me – society and gender norms do. My gender expression is gender non-normative and non-conformative. I identify as male and dress in typically male attire the majority of the time, for this is how I feel most comfortable. However, I love dressing androgynously and in a unisex manner too. I love high heels and skinny jeans. I love dressing up and dressing down.
Gender expression exists along spectrums, ranging from male to female and everything within, outside and other to that, along with different frequencies of such gender expressions. I express the femininity within myself through my androgynous modelling work, a space where it is acceptable and expected. I am safe expressing this part of my overall gender expression here. Society has so strictly gendered objects that to wear an object assigned normative to only one gender when you are not that gender (biologically, psychologically, aesthetically, etc.) is difficult. High heels are gendered as being ‘female’ only. But shoes don’t have gender. We assign gender to shoes. We gender shoes. We socially construct such gendering. We socially construct gender. We are the inventors of gender, but we didn’t all have a say in the making of such an invention. This invention is sexist, transphobic and genderphobic. Shoes are, objectively, gender neutral, agendered.
As I say, if the shoe fits, no matter what kind of shoe it is, wear it and wear it proudly. It’s your shoe, no one else’s. You paid for it, you own it. Society does not own it. You do. And you also own your gender expression. It is yours. It is forever yours. It is yours to engage with, and not to engage with. It is yours to change, design, discover and rediscover. It is yours! My gender expression is mine. My gender expression is me. I am my gender expression. Be proud to be you and be proud of your gender expression. Express YOUR gender!
– Ivan Fahy, Androgynous Model
Glossary of terminology
Normative reflects norms in society. These norms are socially constructed and reinforced; they don’t convey actual human truths. They serve the majority and the privileged. Norms tend to be seen by society as standards or ideals, which results in anyone who differs from the standard being seen as ‘less-than’ and ‘deviant’.
Heterocisnormative means that being heterosexual (straight) and cisgender (identifying with how one was assigned at birth) is the norm, fully accepted and valued by society. This results in assumptions and perceptions that are heterocisnormative or heterosexual and cisgender biased. It renders any sexual or gender variant people invisible, non-normative and less-than.