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Living with Finesse: Managing Gender Identity

If there is one thing we all should have learned by now, it’s that none of us fit into neat little categories.

There are so many variables that make us who we are. Every single detail of our life experience plays into it.

The demographics of our age, location, and gender factor in. Cultural norms and values contribute. And the genetic program that informs our very beings; all of these factors create our unique selves.

What a time to be alive. We are in a period of cultural evolution in which our differences are more openly celebrated.

Diversity is no longer a swear word.

Being gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender is part of the open dialogue of our culture. It is celebrated in many circles and has evolved as just part of the norm in the public purview. Finally. There are adversaries to these different walks of life, things aren’t perfect by any means, but the climate is much more welcoming.

Our culture is releasing fear in favor of love. We are evolving into acceptance and appreciation of the genuine self.

In spite of these areas of cultural growth, day to day life for a person who is navigating gender identity fluctuations can be challenging. In supportive, loving circles, gender identity and the fluidity of gender is welcomed. When dealing with people who are less knowledgeable and accepting, it can be even more of an issue.

Whether they are employers, family members, friends, or even strangers, people who are ignorant of gender fluidity can pose a lot of problems. Maybe it is naivete or willful closed-mindedness that is causing the ignorance. Both groups bring their own set of challenges around which to navigate.

Managing it. And Then Finessing It

Learning to manage these situations can be tricky, but learning to finesse your way through them is an art. It may be that some days you kill it; you navigate your gender identity with confidence and finesse. There will be days in which you are solid within the framework of who you are. Those days you will be self-possessed, relaxed in your you-ness and unflappable.

Other days, you may feel ill-equipped to handle people’s ignorance. It may feel like a never-ending battle for acceptance and equality. Some days you may conclude that people are just closed-minded and stubborn.

While neither of these states of mind are wrong, certainly managing and finessing feels far better than futility. It is fine to feel futile at times, but if that is the predominant feeling it may be time to take action to reclaim your life.

Assess your energy:

Take a look at your energy level right now. Are you in a place in which you need to simply manage your own internal resources? If your energy is high and you are feeling confident, it may be a good opportunity to self-advocate and educate those who are willing to learn.

If energy is low, stick to self-care and the nourishment of your psyche. You don’t need to be the poster child for confident gender identity issues, nor do you need to hide who you are. Listen to your own needs and use your energy level as a guide.

Accept others’ limitations:

We’d like to think that everyone is capable of loving acceptance. Unfortunately, it isn’t the truth. Some people are simply unable or unwilling to look beyond their own understanding of the world in order to embrace differences in others.

It breeds hatred, fear and ignorance. Be glad you’re not one of those people. But also know that you cannot teach that out of someone. Often it is willful and comes from a deeper emotional limitation that cannot be changed until the person is ready. In some cases that never happens. It is pointless to waste your energy and resources.

Be yourself and live your life, accepting others’ limitations in the same way you would like others to accept you for who you are. Be grateful that you are not entrenched in the same self-limiting thoughts and feelings that keeps them stuck.

Stand up for your rights:

If you are dealing with a difficult work setting, talk to the Human Resources and your supervisor to learn your recourse for inappropriate comments and behaviors by co-workers. Do not accept harassment of any kind.

Even if you feel defeated and tired. In situations like this, it goes beyond just you and your experience; harassment sets a precedent and needs to be fought against. Every. Single. Time.

Embrace your culture:

When things are going well we may forget that it took a lot of guts, stamina and persistence to get where you are. Gender identity and gender fluidity are not easy concepts to explain to the people in your life who may not ‘get it.’

You did that hard work and stood up for who you are. Rock on! If you have reached a more comfortable place in your development, it may be tempting to allow yourself to become a bit too introverted and complacent. Don’t forget your need for connection with like-minded people. Stay involved in transgender community and culture.

Even if you are doing well and are in “finesse” mode with your gender identity, others can use your knowledge and support. And you will have days in which you still need the support, too.

Identify and honor your needs:

Part of managing gender identity with finesse is to keep your eyes open to your needs. What do you need to nurture within yourself to stay emotionally healthy and grounded? Are the facets of your life balanced?

As we become busy with daily life it is easy to lose ourselves in the details and forget the larger picture. What have you done recently to honor your needs in mind, body and spirit? Dedicate time in your life to care for the varying parts of yourself so that you can live a life that is in line with your values and worth.

Gender identity can be difficult to explain to those who do not understand. Love yourself enough to embrace your identity.

Self-advocate, protect yourself, live your life freely and get support from those who know and love you. You deserve love, support, compassion and respect. A good way to get what you deserve from others is to give it to yourself first. Finesse will be yours, and you have earned it!

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