What does being feminine mean to you

It’s lots of things; feminine refers to gender, which has a social component. Basically, this means that society and culture deem some certain things to be feminine, such as the color pink, and clothing like skirts, stockings, and high heels.

But those things are very time and context-dependent: a little over 100 years ago, pink was a masculine color, and a few hundred years ago, skirts, stockings, and high heels were the height of men’s fashion.

So obviously, objects cannot be innately feminine, as the same object could be considered either masculine or feminine, depending on the time and place.

“Feminine” can be a label that society and culture determine collectively.

But being a transgender woman, I’ve experienced what it’s like to be held to standards of both masculinity and femininity, and I know that femininity feels more natural to me. This tells me that there’s something inside of us that informs our senses of ourselves.

Whatever that is, I know that it’s innate – at least for me – as I tried my best to quash those feelings and senses within myself; I tried to be masculine – I tried to be a man – but it never fit, despite everything I tried.

“Feminine” can also be an innate sense of oneself.

When I began my transition, I didn’t know I was a woman. At that time, I just knew I wasn’t a man – at least, I wasn’t only a man.

I thought I was genderfluid, where my experience of my own gender changed over time between masculine and feminine and back again.

What I didn’t understand at that time was that what I was perceiving as times where I felt “feminine” was the times when my gender dysphoria was elevated, and the times I felt “masculine” was when my gender dysphoria was low. I was assuming that “masculine” was my default state.

So when the dysphoria was low, that must be what it feels like to be masculine. When I realized that what I had been experiencing was gender dysphoria.

The pieces of the puzzle quickly fell into place, and I realized that my default state was never that of a man – I had just thought that because I lacked the context and experience to know any better.

But this period where I believed that I was genderfluid was a gift. As I began my transition since I didn’t know where I’d be on the gender spectrum at any given time.

I focused on authenticity; with everything I did or said, I first asked myself “am I doing this because this is what feels right and natural, or because this is what is expected of me?” If it was the latter, I rejected it and found whatever felt right and natural.

The result was that I learned to just listen to my instincts and my feelings, and then to follow them. Instead of my transition being focused on being “feminine” (or “becoming a woman”), it was focused on being authentic. Because of that, I am living authentically, and it makes all the difference in the world.

By taking this path and focusing on authenticity, what I have discovered is that my authentic self aligns with what others call “femininity” or “woman”.

It was this discovery that allowed me to finally realize and embrace that I am a woman. I am not a woman because I pursued femininity, but because my authentic self matches what is considered “woman”.

“Woman” is a description, not a prescription, of who and what I am. I apply that word to myself because the word matches me, and not because I am trying to match the word.

“Feminine” is a description of a person, qualities/traits, and feelings/senses.

While decisions about what is “feminine” are largely decided by societies and cultures at large, those decisions are mostly reflective of the people, qualities/traits, and feelings/senses of people who understand themselves to be women, yet those decisions are also informed by prevailing attitudes and customs within the society or culture.

This is where gender stereotyping comes into play, and where enforcement of “masculinity” and “femininity” become tools of oppression.

All humans have a mixture of “masculine” and “feminine” qualities/traits (as well as feelings and senses), and that’s natural.

The problem comes when “masculine” and “feminine” are used to force people to embody or perform qualities/traits/behaviors just because those people are assigned a specific gender.

It is healthy and natural for women to have masculine traits, and to express them as they see fit. It is healthy and natural for men to have feminine traits and to express them as they see fit.

There should not be any expectations that, because somebody is a specific gender, they must conform to specific qualities/traits/behaviors associated with that gender.

“Feminine”, when enforced, can lead to pain and/or oppression.

So what do we make of all this?

“Feminine” is both innate and socially constructed. “Feminine” is descriptive, yet is often used prescriptively.

“Feminine” is complicated and messy. “Feminine” is capable of both good and bad. “Feminine” is a product of both individuals, and of societies as wholes.

“Feminine” is different things to different people; it changes depending on the time and context. “Feminine” can be beautiful, and it can be ugly. “Feminine” can be healthy, and it can be harmful.

How do we put all of this into a single definition? To answer this, I ask: what else do we have which embodies all those things? Ah, yes!

“Feminine” is like humans themselves – complex and full of contradictions, messy, sometimes beautiful, sometimes not, and is dependent upon the observer’s own contexts, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences.

It is not one single thing for all people, but personal and intimate. It changes over time and with new things. It is a distinctly human experience – something all humans know, yet different for every individual.

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