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I don't understand gender or pronouns. Help

Community Member

All my life I was raised not knowing the difference in gender. I believed from the start that boys and girls were exactly the same. Mum tried to raise me feminine but I always just sticked to being myself, not seeing anything as feminine or masculine. I knew what tomboys were and girly girls but I also thought that anyone could be girly or masculine without any issue. I was also a shy quiet person but also a huge trouble maker that climbed out of my kindergarten many times lol. Anyway I'm now 18yrs and I realize that gender has difference, however It feels like people decide what gender is based on stereotypes and gender roles, for instance my transmale friend said that if I hate makeup and dress like a guy then I can't be a girl.... and other people have said this to me so now I just wonder "what makes a girl a girl?" If wearing makeup is what makes a girl a girl and I don't wear makeup than who am I? If I don't do anything stereotypically girl like then am I a girl?. I know being a girl is to identify as a girl but what makes someone female? and what makes someone male? I can't help but feel like it is based on what people saw on the media.

A girl cares about looks, seems neat and organized, quiet, soft, feminine. But why is it like that, I thought society wanted me to be myself why do I have to make myself like that just to be a girl? See before this I used to just see gender as labels, like a personality trait, it didn't affect much but suddenly its a huge deal. People say that what makes gender different is the clothes and personality, but I always believed that boys could wear dresses and skirts, I always believed that boys could be feminine same with girls for the opposite, so even with that, I saw no difference.

And the same I feel with pronouns, I never saw gender in pronouns. My friend said to me "I feel like she/her pronouns makes me think of girly women and thats not me" and I just didn't understand what they were saying, society made you think thats what she/her pronouns means? but I thought she/her he/him they/them were just labels, and I always have thought that. I just don't get it. I see gender equality as I guess the literal meaning and I guess I'm wrong for it. I just don't understand why I can't be myself and still be a girl, why I can't prove that girls can be good at minecraft, hate hair, hate makeup ect... but still identify as one? If gender is based on society roles then why do we see it as such an importance? Sorry...

8 Replies 8

Community Member

To add on to this. I never gendered body parts either. I don't get why transmen hate breasts because cismen can have lumps where there nipples are. Like some people get really mad at transmen for not having dysphoria on their bodies but when they do that, its like that they think that cismen can't be feminine or look feminine? Like when people get mad at transmen for wearing dresses and skirts, now you're just assuming that men can't wear dresses and skirts. When I look at my body, I just see it as a body, I don't see gender because I want to believe that anyone can have any body and not have it related to gender. (I got a big problem with seeing the gender equality thing as litteral)

Also, I may be a boy, I may be enby. Not quite sure yet, but what bothers me most of all this is that I will be treated differently based on my gender and that annoys me. I've tested it online, I get so much more appreciation and respect when I present as a boy online and win at a game than as a girl. If people are going to respect me more as a boy or enby then thats just not fair to girls, so then I feel like I should continue to present as a girl just to get society to understand that girls can have my personality and still be girls as well as be good at games. I don't have to be a boy or enby to have this personality and be good at video games right? It shouldn't be my fault if so many people in the world genuinely believe stupid gender roles and apply it to people. I just want people to treat people as who they are with their personality, why focus so much on gender? Why change up how you treat someone based on their gender? Its just so weird.

Smart kitty

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your informative and honest posts.

It is interesting that as soon as many pregnant women find out about the gender of thrift baby everyone around makes assumptions.

I am glad we are having a boy because I can teach him sports or I am glad it is a girl now I can use those pink clothes., are often heard when gender is revealed.

I agree with you just treat us as individuals . I am not a girly girl, but Zimmermann not manly either.

Why do you think you are treated better when you say you are a boy?

Hi thanks!. Its because when I pretend to be a boy online mainly in the video game community, I get signifcantly more respect there than when being a girl online. I have noticed that most people in general watch male youtubers over female youtubers, and the people that watch female youtubers get called simps and sexualize women rather than actually like them for their personality.

I get a lot of mistreatment online when I'm good at video games yet present as a girl, people say I'm looking for attention or say I need a man to help me win. But as a boy I get respect and make more friends... People disrespect women a lot and its annoying.

Community Member

Good morning smartkitty1.

Some time ago I became aware that I need to update myself about gender, sex, and current beliefs about and around those concepts, and most especially language on those concepts.

I have discovered dated terms are offensive to some people, yet fine by others. Yet more people create more terms about their identities and diversity blossoms readily.

Anyways, your opening posts here on bb are to me, so far, the best writings I've discovered about our topic.

ContraPoints is the best influencer on youtube I have so far discovered.

Perhaps you could have a look at ContraPoints and tell me if any of those youtubes are worthwhile for you and/or other Humans in our discussion.

Hi smartkitty1,

Thank you for sharing what's on your mind. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a conversation like this before on the forums but it's so important and I think it's a very stigmatised one that we shouldn't be afraid to talk about.

Personally, I identify as cisgender female (feeling of being the gender I was assigned at birth). I too was raised in a boy/girl culture, and it wasn't until I got older that I learned there was so much more than this. Sadly it's taken a long time for me to unlearn and relearn what gender means and I think I am still learning.

I'm not sure if there is actually or will ever actually be an answer to this. There is certainly a long list of identifiers and pronouns and I'll admit there's some I've never heard of, but one of the conclusions I've drawn is that it's completely okay not to fit in any sort of box. I also think that it's useful for everyone to try and question our assumptions about gender. Years ago only men wore dresses and woman wore pants and now it's considered not 'appropriate'..

I don't know if this reply is going to be helpful, but I hope at the very least I can show you that it is a conversation that we should be having and constantly learning and unlearning all the concepts that's been ingrained in us.


Community Champion
Community Champion


I completely see where you're coming from. I'm a bisexual, cisgender female, so I tend to seek out discussions about gender and sexuality online to better educate myself on the community of which I am a part of. And as a female gamer as well, I've also noticed that there is a lot of stigma surrounding women who game rather than men who game.

To me, I've come to learn that gender is socially constructed. If you look around the world, different cultures have and have always had different perceptions of gender. Let's focus on gender fluidity and androgyny for a moment. These are definitely not new concepts, they've been seen for thousands of years in many different forms, such as in Greek and Norse mythology. While skirts and dresses may be geared towards women in many western cultures, the Scottish kilt is a great example of how these may be socially acceptable for men. In Ancient Egypt, men would wear black pigment as eyeliner, green malachite as eye shadow, and use red ochre as lip and cheek stains; these were all symbols of masculinity, as they were thought to ward off illnesses and exude wealth and class. In Ancient Rome, men would also use powder, red pigment for their cheeks, and even an early version of modern-day "nail polish", made from pig fat and blood.

As you can see, ideals of masculinity and femininity are very much socially constructed, and based on societal norms in a historical context.

It's not unnatural to identify as female but dislike stereotypically "female" activities, like makeup and doing hair. To be honest, labels like "female" and "male" are just that - labels. While in a biological sense, if your sex is female or male it may predispose you to different medical conditions or illnesses, your gender expression is something that should be unique to you. So long as you're comfortable with how you identify, it doesn't matter what prejudiced gamer boys online will tell you. Unfortunately, some people will forever be ignorant and not accepting towards people who are simply trying to exist as their most authentic self. As a bisexual woman, I've experienced this a lot.

If you choose to identify as male or enby, go for it. Experiment with labels. Maybe get some of your closest and trusted friends or family to try out different pronouns for you and see which ones feel the most natural. You can also try and join online groups and find other people with experiences similar to yours. Facebook's a great place to start for this.


Community Member

Hey smartkitty

My situation is almost the exact same as yours. I just cannot understand gender and what it constitutes. If you have any new insights (since it's been a few years since you posted this), I would really appreciate if you could share them with me. Just today my father told me that he only believes in two genders, male and female, and that anyone with the 'third gender' has a mental illness. He told me that I shouldn't be confused about my gender and that I am definitely a girl. This has left me feeling really uncomfortable and more confused about what gender actually means. I have tried presenting as different genders to figure out my gender, but nothing seemed wrong, and at the same time nothing seemed to fit. Actively trying to present as a specific gender didn't feel exactly wrong, but it was kind of like putting on a mask, or acting out a role in a play that isn't really 'me'. I know what gender technically means (a social construct based on masculine and feminine traits), but I haven't ever experienced it for myself. I think the most accurate label for me is agender, but I don't mind being seen as a girl or a boy. It doesn't make a difference to me what other people view my gender as. I've heard of the term gender apathetic, which means being indifferent to one's gender, but I'm pretty sure that's just a form of gender expression and not a gender identity. I wish that gender didn't exist and that the only label we need is 'human' so that there will be no gender inequality and discrimination. I feel like an idiot, as if there is something that everyone can see, and everyone is pointing to it and talking about it, but I can't see it at all. I hope this made sense.



Community Member

Some remarkably interesting thoughts there. I think where people get confused is the difference between sex and gender. Gender is a social construct where males and females are expected to behave, look, and act in a certain way to be accepted as male or female. Sex is harder to describe. We are born male or female, which is our sex. I am in my 60s and I have for as long as I can remember never fitted in with societal gender norms, but back in my day, girls who didn't conform to gender identity were tom boys, and in gay circles, butch. I am and always have been a proud butch lesbian. I do not identify as a male, I do not identify as a cis-female because I dislike that terminology and I don't see why women have to add cis to their description. I identify as a woman first and foremost and a butch lesbian, I am a woman who likes women, I have never felt the kind of angst you seem to describe, I have never had a problem being a woman in a man's world, I was a custodial officer for several years and I learned to hold my own and be a woman amongst men and gain their respect. I use she/her because that is what I am, I dont even like the feminist Ms moniker. I am Miss and proud of it. 🙂 The best thing I can tell you, is this, just be yourself and hold your head high, stop trying to prove you are as good as the boys, because you are as good if not better. Just believe in yourself. 

Cheers Lee