The word identity comes from the Latin word Identidem, which meant “repeatedly.” As in, what
we do repeatedly defines us, identifies us, makes us who we are, so a person who works as a blacksmith, pounding metal into useful shapes day after day, year after year, had the identity of a blacksmith due to the repeated actions they took.
My own reality, of course, and one of the reasons I have always been fascinated by gender fluidity, even before I knew such a term existed, is because I have always been in flux, have always felt I was constantly shifting from one place to another. Some days I was quite content to do activities that the world considered boy activities, to dress and play the part.
But other days, I would have an urge to indulge in things that were “only for girls,” and I grew up in a household where exhibiting any interest in girl things was a sign of weakness, a failing, something that made me a bad person. I can distinctly remember the times I got caught; Once, I decided to play with a Barbie make-over toy my sister had; it was a large Barbie head you could put make-up on, do her hair. What I remember most is laughter, a kind of harsh, angry laughter, and being sat and talked to, told that boys don’t play with make-up.
Another time I got caught playing with an easy bake oven, as much because I wanted to eat the food as anything else, but my parents reacted in horror at the thought I was playing housewife, and again I got talked to despite the fact that even my young mind grasped the fact that the baker at the bakery we sometimes visited was a man, and that no one seemed to feel he was broken.
I have tried to man up at times in my life, suspecting that I could be happier if I were more “normal” but it just isn’t in me. And I feel very fortunate to live at a time when it is becoming more and more acceptable for people to express themselves without regard to gender norms. I am able to go to the gym wearing tights, or a “woman’s” tank top if I feel like it, or throw on my dude shorts when that mood takes me. I no longer feel as ashamed of my tendency to talk with my hands, smile too much, use phrases like, “Oh my God,” that do sometimes get me odd looks.
I continue to shift and slide and morph day to day. I don’t know if its the phases of the moon or the positioning of the stars, but some days I sit and look at wedding dresses for hours. Other days I watch football all afternoon and don’t think at all about anything else, and yet other times, maybe the best times, I watch football, feel all butch and think about how cute the cheerleader’s outfits are all at the same time. More and more, I don’t worry about what the world might define as masculine or feminine hobbies or interests. I only concern myself with what I find interesting.
What I do repeatedly, what identifies me, is I accept what I feel, and embrace the fact that I don’t belong to any specific gender check box. My identity is fluid, and that doesn’t make me a good or bad person. It just makes me.