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The Missing Identifier

19 Nov Posted by in Genderqueer | 4 comments
The Missing Identifier

I consider myself gender fluid or gender neutral; a little of both and a lot of neither. Some days I am in the men’s pants, some days I am in the pumps.  Most days I should be wearing both (not a good look mind you). If I choose the pants I am denying the pumps and vice versa. If I walk into a room, in what was given to me at birth, people would see a woman. If I dressed with a male flare, they might see me as a butch. Immediately my femininity is stripped from me, because they think that is what I want. I have shown an identifier. If I walk in with my pumps on, most people would just take me for a woman wearing pumps; hardly out of the norm, but still identified. In both cases I have been misrepresented.

I have always had a difficult time feeling comfortable in any stereotypical fashion. Not because I don’t want to be stereotyped, but because gender queer doesn’t seem to have many stereotypical identifiers. How could it?

As stereotypical as it may seem, identifiers within communities are apparent and sometimes necessary to be recognized. Most people would not argue the fact that the woman in men’s jeans, cropped hair and no makeup could be taken as a butch; the woman with the red lipstick, high heels and fancy dress on her arm, her femme. Those of us that wear labels, whether we embrace them or not, usually have fairly distinguishable identifiers making it easier for those outside of our circle, but within our community, to recognize us. Many identifiers are simple products of the similar likes and dislikes our personalities and labels have created; other times our elders have paved the way and inspired certain traits and looks. Stereotypes are not always a bad thing. They have been created because a particular group has found commonalities in things and adapted them to their culture. Stereotypes enable like minded people to come together in places that aren’t always a typical gathering environment. I am a huge believer in gaydar, but I also appreciate not having to use it to acknowledge someone I know fits into a group I associate with.

Gender is so often mistaken for sexuality.  I happen to identify as a lesbian because people have given me that label.  If I am truly not any concrete gender, how can I have a sexuality label? I like women. All parts of me like women. I am a lesbian because my genitals are female in nature and I like women.  But inside (not literally), I have the genitals of both sexes. I have the hormones of both sexes, I feel like both sexes. Am I straight sometimes and a lesbian others? I don’t think so.  I think I just like women.  I have a preference that is as complex as the rest of me.

Finding a gender fluid identifier is like trying to find a straight line in a circle. It truly can’t and doesn’t exist. No matter what I choose to look like, I will always be slighting another part of me.  Gender neutral clothing and androgyny seem to make me feel most comfortable within myself, but still doesn’t tell the rest of the world who I am. It still doesn’t give other gender queer and gender fluid people a way to identify me and find me.

Echo Brooks (pseudonym) is a 40+ genderqueer writer. Read her/his/other blog at

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  • Nicole says:

    Wow, to see this in words after trying for so long to try and pin-point them in my head is almost surreal. It scares me to be nearly 30 and not have any idea just who I am. This could possibly help point me in the right direction… or at least a direction in this crazy thing they call life. Thank you!

  • Echo Brooks says:

    Hi Nicole.

    I am glad you can relate. It took me until I was almost 40 to realize who I was and embrace my fluidity. I am just now writing about it because I know how hard it was to find any information out there. It helps to know that I am not alone either.

    Feel free to check out my blog for more genderqueer thoughts or drop me an email at

  • liza says:

    I’ve never thought of myself as butch or femme, I like “men’s” clothing and I adore lipstick. I won’t wear dresses, but I am nuts about perfume. I wear men’s shoes but women’s shirts. But isn’t this what Lesbian Feminism was about? Jettisoning the gender roles we were raised to believe in, throwing out the stereotypes and claiming that as women we could be anything we wanted to be, dress any way we wanted to dress. I’m gender fluid if you think of gender as something fixed in our bodies. But if gender is just a social concept, which I think it is, then I’m just as much a woman when I’m wearing the clothing that was marketed for men as I am wearing clothing marketed for women. Everyone’s gender is fluid because gender is a social construct that changes over time and culture.

    As for the world knowing who I am, some do, some don’t and the rest can ask if they are curious. I’m happy to discuss it, but frankly I look like most of the women in Vermont, straight, queer or in between.

  • Echo Brooks says:

    Hi Liza,

    I too consider myself gender fluid and I agree many people would fit that category if you removed the social construct you speak of. However I do not consider myself a woman, yet I certainly am not a man. I consider myself a little of both and a lot of neither. I have attributes of both but do not feel comfortable being considered either. I have learned to live within the confines of the label society has given me based on my genitalia. But no matter what clothing I choose to wear, even if those designed for my assigned gender, it will always be a misrepresentation of who I am. I am free to wear what I want, but people will always create the picture they choose based on my assumed gender and the clothes I choose to wear that day.