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Androgyne 101: What does it mean to be androgyne?
Androgynous does NOT mean androgyne.
Before we get started
There are a few things that simply must be clarified right off the bat. Someone who looks androgynous is not necessarily androgyne. One is how a person appears physically. The other is how a person identifies their gender. Someone who looks androgynous might only identify with one gender. Someone who is androgyne definitely identifies as outside of the gender binary. Casually tossing around the word androgyne is hurtful to people who identify as such, because it reduces their gender to nothing more than a fashion statement.
Someone who identifies as androgyne is allowed to dress to match their assigned birth gender, or to dress as the opposite of their assigned gender, or to mix the two together, and it’s not okay to tell them otherwise. The presentation they chose may also change from day to day, depending on if they feel more masculine or feminine, so if they wear a skirt today and then a suit tomorrow, don't make a big deal out of it and make them feel uncomfortable in their own skin, okay? That's not cool.
Also, pro tip, because androgynous/unisex fashions have become big, lately, please note that they are not the same being androgyne, as one is a fashion statement, and the other is a gender. I know I touched on that earlier, but it is such a critical distinction that it warrants repeating.
Now, on to the finer details.
So...are they boys or girls?
Let's pause a moment and discuss the differences between gender identity, gender presentation, romantic attraction, sexual attraction, sexual practice, sexual identity, and sex. Yes, they are all totally different, but definitely overlap.
There are a lot of terms out there that can be kind of hard to understand at first, especially if you've never been exposed to them before. So, let’s start with the basics.
What’s the difference between gender and sex? Aren't they the same?
False! Let’s first explore the differences between sex, gender identity, and gender expression through these handy dandy diagrams!
Awesome sauce. So there’s just masculine and feminine for genders, right?
Actually, not quite! That’s kind of like saying there’s only one type of red and one type of green (screw you, sexist gender color typing), when in fact, there are different shades of those two, and tons of other colors, besides! Check it out!
Okay, so then what’s the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction?
It’s actually quite simple:
Can you be romantically attracted to someone, but not sexually attracted to them?
The simple answer is: YES. Humans are very complicated creatures, after all!
Wait, what? There are more sexual orientations than gay and straight?
Yup! There sure are! Sexuality is a complicated thing- it’s not ever quite black and white, we have some lovely shades in-between (and outside) of the two!
*These are not all of the possible orientations- just some of the more common ones!
So, those are some of the basics. Hopefully this will help you understand a little bit more about others (and possibly yourself!). Feel free to do more research on any of these topics, and don’t forget to share with me!
Now, onto androgyne!
Whoa, okay. Lots of info. Let's narrow it down.
- An androgyne is allowed to identify as more feminine if they feel that way (femandro). They are also allowed to identify as more masculine if that makes them most comfortable (butchandro). They, additionally, can identify as equally masculine and feminine (versandro or nutrandro). And, coolness, they can identify as out of the gender binary entirely, because androgynes are non-binary to begin with. Another thing- androgynes are commonly listed under the trans* umbrella because of the non-binary nature of said gender. See that little asterisk? That means it includes not only transmen and transwomen, but also the other non-binary genders, too.
- People of any birth sex (male, female, or intersex) can identify as androgyne.
- Androgynes can choose to transition much like people in the trans community do, but can still identify as androgyne. And, those who do choose to transition, may not want a complete transition. Things can get a little blurry between non-binary genders and gender fluid, so don't try to label others. Respect the label they have chosen for themselves.
- Someone who is androgyne is not automatically bisexual. As described above, biological gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation are all different things. Are they interconnected? Yes. But don't assume you know everything about a person after they decide to come out as androgyne to you. That's the fastest way to lose their trust.
- Androgynes may not feel comfortable using gendered bathrooms. So if you see someone who looks pretty feminine or pretty masculine using a genderless bathroom, or a restroom that doesn't seem to match their outside appearance, don’t you dare make them feel bad, and don’t you dare ask them rude, invasive questions, got it? (This goes for all trans* peeps. Just don’t be human scum.)
- Male lesbians exist, and not as a joke some disgusting straight guy makes. Yes. This is possible. Androgynes whose biological sex is male can absolutely identify as lesbians. However, they catch a lot of crap when they call themselves lesbians because of ignorant cis people, so they may choose to instead call themselves gynephiles. THIS IS NOT A TERM TO BE APPROPRIATED BY CISHET MEN. I will destroy you if you do this, I am so serious. On the flip side, androgynes whose biological sex is female can identify as gay, which doesn't receive as much negative feedback, but can still be awful because of rude people, so they may chose to call themselves androphiles.
- Again, tied to the last bullet- androgynes who identify as either of the last two may appear straight, but they are absolutely not part of the cishet group. So, once again, don’t be a human cockroach and tell someone they are straight if they say they're not. Chances are, you have no idea what you're talking about. Really, rule of thumb, don't assume stuff, okay?
Androgynes. Pretty rad, right? Yeah learning!
So there you go. Androgyne 101.
I hope this has sufficiently expanded your minds. And if I sounded angry, it’s because it sucks when you are constantly misgendered without a second thought, so let’s use that cool thing called empathy that separates us from animals and not be total assumptive jerks to each other. If you want more information on androgynes, sexual orientations, gender identities, romantic orientations, etc.- here are some cool links for you socially aware bamfs:
Aww yiss. Resources!
Androgyne Resources and Info:
More on the Androgyne
Are you Androgyne?
What it means to be Androgyne (article: andro pov)
Practical Androgyny (article: non-gendered pov)
Confessions of a Tantric Androgyne (article: poc andro pov)
Gender Confusion and Love they Androgynous Self (article1: genderfluid pov) (article2: andro pov)
Gender and Sexuality Resources:
Lovely infographics on gender and sexuality
Genderqueer Identities and Terminology
Sexual Orientation and Gender Idenity 101
The Genderbread Person (cute infographic of gender)
But in all seriousness, there are so many resources out there- Google is only a tab away. Do a little research. Expand your world, and help someone else feel more comfortable living in theirs.
Quick tips for meeting someone for the first time so you don't misgender or offend them!
- Introduce yourself like people do. Names and stuff.
- DO NOT ASK IF THE NAME THEY GIVE YOU IS THEIR REAL NAME. For real.
- DO ask them what their preferred pronouns are. (he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/their/theirs etc.)
- If they are part of the LGBT*QIA community and they choose to come out to you immediately, DO NOT ASK INVASIVE QUESTIONS. (ex. "Do you have a penis/vagina?" "How did you know you were xyz?" "Do you pee standing up or sitting down?" "Just how gay are you?"etc.)
- Compliment something about them. It's just a nice thing to do!