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What Does It Really Mean To Be Gender Nonconforming? Definition + Examples

Trying to determine whether you are gender nonconforming can feel like a daunting thing, but it doesn’t have to be. If the term feels good to you, if it affirms your experience of gender, then it’s worth exploring. Labels are meant to support you in living your life as your best you, not limit you or put you in a box.

Hodder-Shipp says exploring our identity is a process, and there isn’t a checklist that can help people determine if a term applies to them. A lot of the process involves connecting to how you feel in your mind and body when you say and hear these terms, especially when experimenting with using them yourself (and having close trusted friends use them with you).

“Keep in mind that much of this has to do with intention–if you are just being you and you have no connection to intentionally subverting or rejecting gender-related norms, then that’s enough! Just keep being you. There is no pressure to use any terms or labels that don’t feel quite right, even if they sound ‘correct’ on paper,” they explain.

This can be a fluid process full of questions and uncertainty but also with some excitement, curiosity, and euphoria, so take the pressure off and just check in with yourself as you see how words and terms feel.

“Also keep in mind that choosing labels or words is not a requirement, and you don’t ever have to find ones that feel perfect or accurate to describe yourself. If it feels more challenging than empowering to be in this exploratory place, or if the uncertainty feels unsafe for you, I recommend working with a therapist who specializes in gender (ideally someone who might identify as GNC or genderqueer themselves!) who can provide guidance in a safer and more intentional container,” they add.

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