Previous Versions of the
Androgyne Online
homepage essay
 
  • The very first version of the essay, from April 20, 2001 (directly below)
  • Versions of the essay from November 16, 2001 to April 26, 2006 (these include the long Links sections) [opens in a new window]
  • The essay is it appeared up until February 28, 2007
  • The February 28, 2007 version compared with the March 1, 2007 revision
                 §   the unused, expanded Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne section
  • The March 1, 2007 revision (the first major re-write since 2001)
  • March 14, 2007 tweak of the March 1, 2007 revision
  • The essay as it appears as of March 14, 2007
  • October 22, 2007 Comments on Androgyne Online: main essay Revisions (reasons for the March 2007 revamp) [opens in a new window]

  • a glimpse inside Stephe's head from 2002 (vis--vis psychological androgyny)

    The very first version of the essay, from April 20, 2001:

    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    Androgyny is a State of Mind

    Androgyne (pronounced ANDRAjine) is the term used to describe persons who are androgynous. Androgyny, first and foremost, is a state of mind, not just an attitude or fashion statement. The notion that only androgynous-looking people can be or are androgynous is a misconception. Androgynes can be said to have the gender identity of both a man and a woman -- or neither. That is to say, some androgynes consider themselves to be bigendered in that they identify with both traditional genders, while others see their identity as more of a synthesis and consider themselves to be "other" -- hence, agendered.

    Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender

    The term transgender has led all too many androgynes to confusion in that generally, transgender is polarized into transvestite crossdressers on one side and transsexuals on the other. Setting the two categories up as opposites implies that transgender individuals either want to wear the other sex's clothes or else want to change their anatomy to match the other sex. Androgynes, however, may well want to wear the other sex's clothing, but they do not want to change their anatomy to match the other sex -- at least, they don't think about having the other sex's anatomy often enough to resolve to do something about it. What differentiates androgynes from transvestites and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either in the middle of the two or consider themselves to be another thing entirely. Other names for androgyne (Greek for man/woman) are hijra, Two Spirit, the third sex, gender gifted, bigendered, intergendered, ambigendered, nongendered, and agendered.

    The terms transgender and queer are way too inclusive and vague. The term transgender is misleading in that is implies that one changes from one gender to another, which in the case of androgynes generally does not apply: once an androgyne finds themselves, masculinity and femininity often cease to be polarities for them. At first, a newly self-aware androgyne may feel a need to explore those aspects of their self that they have long repressed due to peer pressure or self-censure, but once indulged sufficiently, they tend to be re-incorporated into the individual's identity -- which is a solitary persona.

    Sex, Sexual Preference, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things

    It is important to recognize that sex, sexual preference, and gender identity are three separate and different things. Sex denotes one's gonadal makeup. One can be male, female, or intersex (previously called hermaphrodite). Sexual preference reflects whom one chooses as a partner for sexual purposes. One can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Gender identity refers to how one views oneself. A person can consider themselves to be a man (masculine), woman (feminine), or androgyne (man/masculine and woman/feminine simultaneously, or neither).

    Although sex and gender identity are two very different things, it is interesting to note that androgyny (a/k/a intergender) can be seen as the psychological counterpart to intersex. Androgynes can be both genders, while the intersexed are both sexes.

    Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite"

    It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender- based opposite," that they are therefore attracted to each other/one another. While this may be generally true, the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction. (In fact, many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. they are neither male nor female -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women -- so it could be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

    Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Trannychaser" at the Same Time

    Interestingly, the lack of a gender opposite frees androgynes to be both "tranny" and "trannychaser" (a/k/a T admirer) simultaneously. For example, when an androgyne male who doesn't know that he is androgyne finds himself attracted to drag queens and/or transsexuals and yet daydreams of dressing like a woman himself, the nature of this attraction can be very frustrating because drag queens and transsexuals are generally attracted to single-gendered straight males. The androgyne mistakenly thought that he was attracted to TG (transgendered) males when, in reality, he is not attracted to TG males but to androgynes like himself. In many such cases, it turns out that an androgyne male is more attracted to androgyne females than to TG males.

    In truth, there are quite a few transsexuals who are androgyne but don't realize it due to pressure from within themselves and from without -- in the transsexual community -- that after SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery, formerly called a "sex change operation") they are "supposed to be" heterosexual for the first time in their lives -- since they are now presumably the sex into which should have been born in the first place. The fact that some people use the wrongheaded term GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) only complicates matters

    If You Think You Are Androgyne, You May Well Be

    How does one ascertain whether or not one is androgyne? It really boils down to what you yourself think. Do you consider yourself to have masculine character traits and feelings as well as female character traits and feelings to the extent that you feel repressed if you deny either of these for any extended period of time? If so, you may well be androgyne. It is a common truism that no one is entirely masculine or entirely feminine, yet androgynes' feelings of identity run deeper than this. For them, it is not a vestigial or incidental overlap of traits, but an inherent, vital component of their being.

    There is a test for androgyny at http://transsexual.org/TEST0.html called the Combined Gender Identity And Transsexuality Inventory (COGIATI) which you might consider taking. While this site does not endorse this test's findings, it is nevertheless an interesting tool for helping one have something to go on in the quest to find oneself's gender identity.

    Androgynes May Be the Invisible Majority of the Transgender World

    There are many, many androgyne people in the world -- many more than anyone currently realizes, because they are not easily quantified due to the fact of the vagueness of their nomenclature: no one seems to be able to agree what to call them, and not much research has been performed nor much literature been published on the subject. Although androgynes may prove to be the invisible majority of the transgender world, they are not acknowledged as such. Not only are the talk shows unaware of them, but most androgynes themselves are not aware of who or what they are. This must change. It is okay to be a man. It is okay to be a woman. It is okay to be intersex. It is okay to be transsexual. And it is okay to be androgyne.



    The essay is it appeared up until February 28, 2007:

    [ February version | comparison | March 1 version | tweak | March 14 version || return to top ]

    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    Androgyny is a State of Mind

    Androgyne (pronounced ANDRAjine) is the term used to describe persons who are androgynous. Androgyny, first and foremost, is a state of mind, not just an attitude or fashion statement. The notion that only androgynous-looking people can be or are androgynous is a misconception. Androgynes can be said to have the gender identity of both a man and a woman -- or neither. That is to say, some androgynes consider themselves to be bigendered in that they identify with both traditional genders, while others see their identity as more of a synthesis and consider themselves to be agendered, as in "other" or "none of the above." Some go as far as to call themselves "gender outlaws."

    Not All Androgynous People Are Androgynes

    Contrary to popular belief, having an androgynous appearance does not necessarily make a person an androgyne. Many transsexuals are transsexual without looking at all like the opposite sex, and many androgynes are androgyne without looking the part. The word androgynous can apply to both superficial and psychological characteristics, whereas the word androgyne pertains almost specifically to gender identity, not to looks. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all androgynes are androgynous but not all androgynous people are androgynes.

    Many psychological androgynes do not understand who and what they are. They may agonize for years, wondering how it is that they can feel androgynous if they don't look that way. Self-perception and self-identification are often problematic for androgynes because, in many cases, their androgyneity is not readily apparent.

    Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender

    The term transgender has led all too many androgynes to confusion in that generally, transgender is polarized into transvestite crossdressers on one side and transsexuals on the other. Setting the two categories up as opposites implies that transgender individuals either want to wear the other sex's clothes or else want to change their anatomy to match the other sex. Androgynes, however, may well want to wear the other sex's clothing, but they do not want to change their anatomy to match the other sex -- at least, they don't think about having the other sex's anatomy often enough to resolve to do much about it. What differentiates androgynes from transvestites and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in the middle of the two or consider themselves to be something else entirely. Other names for androgyne (Greek for man/woman) are nongendered, agendered, epicene, gender gifted, intergendered (a term coined by intersex people), ambigendered, two-spirited, bigendered, the third gender, the fourth gender, the third sex (a misnomer, really) -- and gender outlaw. Related but non-synonymous terms would be hijra, neutrois, and transgenderist.

    The terms transgender and queer are way too inclusive and vague (although the terms gender variant and genderqueer are helpful). The term transgender is misleading in that is implies that one changes from one gender to another, which in the case of androgynes generally does not apply: once an androgyne finds themselves, masculinity and femininity often cease to be polarities for them. At first, a newly self-aware androgyne may feel a need to explore those aspects of their self that they have long repressed due to peer pressure or self-censure, but once indulged sufficiently, they tend to be re-incorporated into the individual's identity -- which is a solitary persona. But of those that do alternately identify as men and women, it could be argued that they are only transgender relativistically, because when they are in their natural state, not thinking about their place along the gender continuum, they are transcending gender.

    Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things

    It is important to recognize that sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity are three separate and different things. Sex denotes one's gonadal makeup. One can be male, female, or intersex (previously called hermaphrodite). Sexual orientation reflects the sort(s) of person to whom one is attracted for sexual purposes. One can be attracted to males, to females, to intersex people, to any combination of the three -- or asexual. (The terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual are problematic for the intersexed because the intersexed are neither male nor female.) Gender identity refers to how one views oneself. A person can consider themselves to be a man (masculine), a woman (feminine), or androgyne (man/masculine and woman/feminine simultaneously, or neither).

    Although sex and gender identity are two very different things, it is interesting to note that androgyny (a/k/a intergender) can be seen as the psychological counterpart to intersex. Androgynes can be both genders, while intersex(ed) folks can be both sexes. Basically, sex refers to what's between your legs, while gender refers to what's between your ears.

    Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite"

    It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender-based opposite," they are therefore attracted to each other/one another. While this may be generally true, the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction. (In fact, many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. they are neither male nor female -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women -- so it can be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

    Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Trannychaser" at the Same Time

    The transgender community's common nickname for transgender individuals is "tranny," which mostly refers to TVs (TransVestites) and TSs (TransSexuals), yet also applies to transgenderists and androgynes. The community's (largely derisive) term for those who are attracted to trannies is "trannychaser," and it is indeed a problematic term in that it seems to imply something akin to "skirtchaser," "ladykiller," "ladies' man," or other such "womanizer," but it has been euphemized as "admirer." The trouble is, there is no term as yet for those who have romantic feelings for transgender people. That said, a partner of a transgender individual is referred to as a TGSO (TransGender's Significant Other).

    Interestingly, the lack of a gender opposite frees androgynes to be both "tranny" and "trannychaser" (aka "admirer") simultaneously. For example, when a male androgyne who doesn't know that sie is androgyne finds hirself attracted to drag queens and/or transsexuals and yet daydreams of dressing like a woman hirself, the nature of this attraction can be very frustrating because drag queens and transsexuals are generally attracted to single-gendered straight males. The androgyne mistakenly thought that sie was attracted to TG (transgendered) males when, in reality, sie is not attracted to TG males per se but to androgynes like hirself. In many such cases, it turns out that an androgyne male is more attracted to androgyne females than to TG males and/or androgyne males. Some androgyne males are attracted to bisexual women and identify as "male lesbian" (or "guydyke"). Likewise, there are androgyne females attracted to bisexual men who identify as "female gay man" (or "girlfag").

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    In truth, there are quite a few transsexuals who are androgyne but don't realize it due to pressure from within themselves and from without -- in the transsexual community -- that after SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery, formerly called a "sex change operation") they are "supposed to be" heterosexual for the first time in their lives -- since they are now presumably the sex into which should have been born in the first place. The fact that some people use the term GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) only complicates matters. (Genital Reassignment Surgery would be a better use of the three letters). It is important to note that transsexuals tend to buy into the "binary" categories of man and woman even more than straight, non-gender-conflicted people do, and that should serve as a warning to androgynes.

    Gender is a Spectrum or Continuum

    In the transgender community, a lot of lip service is given to gender being a spectrum or a continuum, but in reality, it is little more than a politically correct thing to say. This is because most transsexuals (and some transvestites as well) try to avoid contact with and otherwise invalidate androgynes since they view androgyny as an intermediate stage in transsexual transitioning and have a dislike for it. The irony is that androgyny might well be numerically the largest component of a gender spectrum or continuum (or sphere).

    Basically, transgenderists are those who choose to live cross-sex full time without body modification (SRS or hormones), transsexuals are those who choose to live cross-sex full time with body modification, and androgynes are those who choose to live in the "in between" world rather than "cross-sex" -- and body modification (or lack of body modification) is irrelevant to the definition. Some androgynes do opt for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in order to enhance their otherwise not-as-androgynous appearance, but they are in the minority.

    If You Think You Are Androgyne, You May Well Be

    How does one ascertain whether or not one is androgyne? It really boils down to what you yourself think. Do you consider yourself to have masculine character traits and feelings as well as female character traits and feelings to the extent that you feel repressed if you deny either of these for any extended period of time? If so, you may well be androgyne. It is a common truism that no one is entirely masculine or entirely feminine, yet androgynes' feelings of identity run deeper than this. For them, it is not a vestigial or incidental overlap of traits, but an inherent, vital component of their being. There are several online tests for gauging gender identity, but this site does not endorse them because it has been argued rather convincingly that the tests are skewed and deeply flawed. Nevertheless, these tests can be helpful in giving people at least something to go on in their quest to find themselves.

    For female androgynes, it is often difficult to distinguish between "tomboy," "androgyne," "butch," and "F2M" because society's proscriptions against relatively masculine presentation and/or traits have relaxed over the years, as have injunctions against wearing clothing of the opposite sex. When a gender variant female does not think of hirself as being androgyne, sie may nevertheless be androgyne; hir reference points and nomenclature come from a different place. In truth, androgynes of any sex often do not know of the term androgyne and so settle for the terms transgender, genderqueer and/or gender variant.

    Androgynes May Be the Invisible Majority of the Transgender World

    There are many, many androgyne people in the world -- many more than anyone currently realizes -- because they are not easily quantified due to the fact of the vagueness of their nomenclature: no one seems to be able to agree on what to call them. Although androgynes may prove to be the invisible majority of the transgender world, they are not acknowledged as such. Not only are the talk shows unaware of them, but most androgynes themselves are not aware of who or what they are. Much has been written and said about people who want to change their clothes or change their sex now, but very little research has been conducted on androgynes, who really don't want to change anything except how they are perceived by the single-gendered majority.

    In a way, androgyny is a double-edged sword. Those born with androgynous looks -- especially if they are not androgynes -- often wish that their gender presentation was unambiguous so as to not be teased, harassed or mistaken for the opposite sex, while androgynes born without androgynous looks (i.e. psychological androgynes) often wish that their gender presentation was markedly ambiguous so as to convey outwardly what they feel inwardly. It amounts to a case of the metaphorical grass being greener on the other side of the fence, where psychological androgynes and mono-gendered androgynous folk envy each other for attributes they do not share. Some fortunate souls, however, both look and feel androgynous.

    Androgynes Are Not Men -- Nor Are They Women

    It has been argued 1) that androgynes are not transgender(ed) in that they do not change their gender but remain the gender they were born with, 2) that they are not transvestites nor crossdressers in that they do not dress like the opposite sex but sometimes dress like both sexes at the same time, and 3) that if one defines androgyne as someone who identifies as being half man and half woman, that could be interpreted as meaning that the person is neither man nor woman since 50% is an insufficient percentage to define something either way. Curiously, if one were to combine these three contexts, an androgyne would not be a man, woman, TV (TransVestite), CD (CrossDresser), TG (TransGender and/or TransGenderist), nor TS (TransSexual). What they are, however, is uniquely unified human beings of a sort that has been revered in many cultures for many centuries. More than 100 Native American tribes consider(ed) them to be shamans and call them two-spirits.

    Are Genderqueers Androgyne?

    There is the possibility that the term genderqueer might replace androgyne. Like transgender (TG), genderqueer (GQ) can be an umbrella term or it can refer to something more specific. Generally, TG can be said to encompass gender variants from TV to TS, or else it can be used as a synonym for TS. Similarly, GQ can be said to encompass everything from TV to TS, or else it can be used to describe non-binary gender variants specifically. In contrast, androgyne paradoxically plays off the gender binary by both affirming and refuting it simultaneously. That is why androgynes can be both man and woman or neither. Genderqueer -- as a term -- however, cannot "have its cake and eat it, too" in such a fashion.

    What other non-binary gender variants are out there besides androgyne, hijra and neutrois? That's a hard question to answer. Some GQ and gender variant folk argue that there are as many genders as there are people. In the not-so-distant future, androgyne could come to be seen as an antiquated term insofar as it incorporates the Greek and Latin roots for man and woman while genderqueer is an overtly political term which strives to transcend and dismantle the gender binary both in concept and practice. And yet, androgyne has an inherent specificity that genderqueer does not because it directly addresses the man/woman dialectic and could therefore prove to be more durable in the long run.

    [In early 2005, an article about this website appeared in Transgender Tapestry magazine, which is a publication of IFGE (the International Foundation for Gender Education). The article is a more concise version of the essay above.]



    The February 28, 2007 version compared with the March 1, 2007 revision:

    [ February version | comparison | March 1 version | tweak | March 14 version || return to top ]

    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    Androgyny is a State of Mind

    Androgyne (pronounced ANDRAjine AN-dra-jine) is the term used to describe persons who are androgynous. Androgyny, first and foremost, is a state of mind, not just an attitude or fashion statement. The notion that only androgynous-looking people can be or are androgynous is a misconception. Androgynes can be said to have the gender identity of both a man and a woman -- or neither. That is to say, Some androgynes consider themselves to be bigendered in that they identify with both traditional genders, while others see their identity as more of a synthesis and consider themselves to be agendered, as in "other" or "none of the above." Some androgynes go as far as to call themselves "gender outlaws" (a term popularized by Kate Bornstein).

    Not All Androgynous People Are Androgynes

    Contrary to popular belief, having an androgynous appearance does not necessarily make a person (an) androgyne. Many transsexuals are transsexual without looking at all like the opposite sex, and many androgynes are androgyne without looking the part. The word androgynous can apply to both superficial and psychological characteristics, whereas the word androgyne pertains almost specifically to gender identity, not to looks. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all androgynes are (psychologically) androgynous but not all androgynous(-looking) people are androgynes.

    Many psychological androgynes do not understand who and what they are. They may agonize for years, wondering how it is that they can feel androgynous if they don't look that way. Self-perception and self-identification are often problematic for androgynes because, in many cases, their androgyneity is not readily apparent.

    Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender

    The term transgender has led all too many tends to confuse androgynes to confusion in that because it is generally, transgender is polarized into transvestite crossdressers (formerly known as transvestites) on one side and transsexuals on the other. Setting the two categories up as opposites implies that transgender individuals either want to wear the other sex's clothes or else want to change their anatomy to match the other sex. Androgynes, however, may well want to wear the other sex's clothing, but they do not want to change their anatomy to match the other sex -- at least, they don't think about having the other sex's anatomy often enough to resolve to do much about it although some may opt for partial changes to make themselves more physically androgynous. What differentiates androgynes from transvestites crossdressers and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in the middle of the two, or they consider themselves to be something else entirely. Other names for androgyne (Greek for man/woman) are nongendered, agendered, ambigendered, epicene, gender gifted, gender outlaw, intergendered (a term coined by intersex people), ambigendered, two-spirited, bigendered, non-binary gender variant, nongendered, the third gender, and the fourth gender, the third sex (a misnomer, really) -- and gender outlaw. Related but non-synonymous terms would be eunuch, bigendered (which applies mostly to crossdressers), gender bender, genderqueer, gender variant, hijra, neutrois, and transgenderist. the third sex (which is usually a misnomer), transgenderist, and two-spirit.

    The terms crossdresser, transgender, and queer and even the seemingly more focused terms gender variant and genderqueer are way too inclusive and vague (although tend to be too vague in that they all have macrocosmic (umbrella) and microcosmic (specific) meanings. The terms gender variant and genderqueer are more helpful). The term transgender is misleading especially problematic in that is implies it can imply that one changes from one gender to another, which in the case of androgynes generally does not apply: once androgynes find themselves, masculinity and femininity often cease to be polarities for them. At first, newly self-aware androgynes may feel a need to explore those aspects of themselves that they have long repressed due to peer pressure or self-censure, but once indulged sufficiently absorbed, they tend to be the aspects are re-incorporated into the individual's identity -- which is a solitary persona. But of those that do alternately identify alternately as men and women, it could be argued that they are only transgender relativistically, because when they are in their natural state, not thinking about their place along the gender continuum, they are transcending gender.

    Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things

    It is important to recognize that Key to understanding androgyneity is a schema wherein sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity are three separate and different things. Sex denotes one's gonadal makeup., where Oone can be male, female, or intersex (previously called hermaphrodite). Sexual orientation reflects the sort(s) of person to whom one is attracted for sexual purposes., where Oone can be attracted to males, to females, to intersex people, to any combination of the three --, or be asexual. (The terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual are problematic for the intersexed because the intersexed are neither male nor female not always clearly male or female.) Gender identity refers to how one views oneself. A person can consider themselves to be a man (masculine), a woman (feminine), or androgyne (man/masculine and woman/feminine simultaneously, or neither).

    Although sex and gender identity are two very different things, it is interesting to note that androgyny (a/k/a androgyneity, when conceptualized as intergender), can be seen as the psychological counterpart to intersex. Androgynes can be both genders are intermediate in gender, while intersex(ed) folks can be both sexes are sexually intermediate. Basically, sex refers to what's between your legs, while gender refers to what's between your ears. That said, some intersex activists opine that androgynes have intersex brains (and that transsexuals are intersex on account of the relationship between their brains and their genitalia).

    Pinpointing the sexuality of transgender people -- especially that of androgynes -- is so difficult that it really isn't worth trying to explain. No one has a good answer, anyways. Even the 2004 book, Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others, which collects 19 academic papers on the subject, is at a loss to provide a useful understanding, so an explanation won't be attempted here.

    Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite"

    [this text was moved to the Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and Transamorous section:]

    It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender- based opposite," they are therefore attracted to each other/one another. While this may could be generally true, the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction. (In fact, many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. they are neither male nor female -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women -- so it can be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

    There are Four Components of Gender

    Most people don't believe that androgyne is an authentic gender identity because they see no significant evidence of it being the case, so convincing them that it is requires a paradigm shift. Such a shift doesn't come easily, and more often than not, it doesn't come at all. To complicate matters, a misreading of the 1989 book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler is responsible for the widespread misconception among academics and activists that all gender is just a performance. As Riki Wilchins points out in the 2004 book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (pp. 132-34), what Butler really said was that gender is performatively produced. Performative is defined as an utterance that performs an act or creates a state of affairs, an example being the use of the phrase "I now pronounce you man and wife" to create a marriage. Butler herself has refuted the notion of gender being just a performance. The phenomenon of transsexualism refutes it, too.

    There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne
    [ compare with unused, expanded four-paragraph version ]

    [this section used to follow the Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and Transamorous section:]

    There is such a thing as a transsexual androgyne or androgyne transsexual, but they are transsexual by virtue of GRS (genital reassignment surgery), not gender identity. One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne. One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is in deference to different sets of life experience, but another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women.

    Some transsexuals are not actually transsexual but androgyne, yet because they don't realize nor understand it right away (if ever), they view androgyny as little more than a distasteful intermediate stage of transformation, until they discover the underlying androgyne nature within themselves, which often causes them to reevaluate their situation to the point of renouncing transition.

    Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Trannychaser Transamorous" at the Same Time

    The transgender community's At one point, the common nickname for transgender individuals is was "tranny," which mostly refers to TVs (TransVestites) and TSs (TransSexuals), yet also applies to transgenderists and androgynes but the term has since split, creating a situation where most people use the term to describe gender variance in general, whereas TSs (transsexuals) tend to think the term applies only to them. The T community's (largely derisive) term for those who are attracted to trannies in the wider sense is "trannychaser," and it is indeed a problematic term (especially since it has been theorized that chasers are transgendered themselves) in that it seems to imply something akin to "skirtchaser," "ladykiller," "ladies' man," or other such "womanizer," but it has been euphemized as "admirer." The trouble is, there is as yet no commonly accepted term as yet for those who have romantic feelings for transgender people., although the term "transamorous" seems viable. That said, a The partner of a transgender individual is referred to as a TGSO (TransGender's Significant Other).

    [this paragraph of text is from the deleted Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite" section:]

    It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender-based opposite,." they are therefore attracted to each other/one another. While this may could be generally true, the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction. (In fact, In light of the fact that many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. (they are neither male nor female, -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women), -- so it can be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

    Interestingly, the this lack of a gender-based opposite frees androgynes to be both "tranny" and "trannychaser" (aka "admirer") transamorous simultaneously. For example, when a male-born androgyne who doesn't know that sie is androgyne finds hirself attracted to drag queens and/or M2F (male-to-female) transsexuals and yet daydreams of dressing like a woman hirself, the nature of this attraction situation can be very frustrating because drag queens and transsexuals are generally attracted to single-gendered straight males. The androgyne mistakenly thought thinks that sie was is attracted to male-born TG (transgendered) males people when, in reality actuality, sie is not attracted to male-born TGs males per se but to androgynes like hirself their androgynous aspects. In many such cases, it turns out that an androgyne male is more attracted to androgyne females than to TG males and/or androgyne males. Some androgyne males are attracted to bisexual women and identify as "male lesbian" (or "guydyke"). Likewise, there are androgyne females attracted to bisexual men who identify as "female gay man" (or "girlfag"). It's not unusual for an androgyne to confuse a TG's external traits with idealized internal traits.

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    [this section has been moved to precede the Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and Transamorous section:]

    In truth, there are quite a few transsexuals who are androgyne but don't realize it due to pressure from within themselves and from without -- in the transsexual community -- that after SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery, formerly called a "sex change operation") they are "supposed to be" heterosexual for the first time in their lives -- since they are now presumably the sex into which should have been born in the first place. The fact that some people use the term GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) only complicates matters. (Genital Reassignment Surgery would be a better use of the three letters). It is important to note that transsexuals tend to buy into the "binary" categories of man and woman even more than straight, non-gender-conflicted people do, and that should serve as a warning to androgynes.

    Gender is a Spectrum or Continuum
    [this section was deleted entirely]

    In the transgender community, a lot of lip service is given to gender being a spectrum or a continuum, but in reality, it is little more than a politically correct thing to say. This is because most transsexuals (and some transvestites as well) try to avoid contact with and otherwise invalidate androgynes since they view androgyny as an intermediate stage in transsexual transitioning and have a dislike for it. The irony is that androgyny might well be numerically the largest component of a gender spectrum or continuum (or sphere.

    Basically, transgenderists are those who choose to live cross-sex full time without body modification (SRS or hormones), transsexuals are those who choose to live cross-sex full time with body modification, and androgynes are those who choose to live in the "in between" world rather than "cross-sex" -- and body modification (or lack of body modification) is irrelevant to the definition. Some androgynes do opt for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in order to enhance their otherwise not-as-androgynous appearance, but they are in the minority.

    [An attempt was made to combine the Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne section with the Gender is a Spectrum or Continuum section, but was ultimately abandoned, due to its length and lack of concision. The results were interesting, though, and contain some important ideas that would have been good to have included in the essay, so they have been presented here for those who might benefit from them. The final, two-paragraph version is viewable four sections above.]

    Unused Expanded Version of
    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    [ compare with final, condensed two-paragraph version ]

    There is such a thing as a transsexual androgyne or androgyne transsexual, but they are transsexual by virtue of GRS (genital reassignment surgery) or full-time cross-sex living, not gender identity. One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne, because androgynes are of a third gender: they are either a combination of the two binary genders or the absence of both of them. They can't be just one of the two binary genders.

    One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is to recognize the impact of past social and physical influences. Another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women. (Curiously, hijras and two-spirits, both of whom are of a third gender, refer to themselves as "not men, not women.")

    Transgender activists often describe gender as a spectrum or continuum (or sphere), but this inclusionary gesture has little practical effect on most day-to-day relations between non-binary gender variants and others in the transgender community. This is because most transsexuals (and some crossdressers) who pursue assimilation worry about passing. They avoid contact with androgynes because they view androgyny not as a legitimate gender but as a distasteful intermediate stage in transsexual transitioning and are afraid that association with androgynes could out them.

    Androgynes make many transpeople uncomfortable because they refute the gender binary and the rationale for complete physical transition. In fact, discovering an underlying androgyne nature within themselves has caused some transsexuals to reevaluate their situation to the point of postponing genital reassignment surgery indefinitely and maybe even suspending their cross-living. Some androgynes and intersex people don't consider transsexual transitioning to be the sole solution to gender dysphoria because they know that man, woman, male, and female aren't the only valid categories.

    [ Return to Top ]

    If You Think You Are Androgyne, You May Well Be

    How does one ascertain do you know whether or not one is you're androgyne? It really boils down to what you yourself think. Do you consider yourself to have masculine character traits and feelings as well as feminine character traits and feelings to the extent that you feel repressed if you deny either of these for any extended period of time? If so, you may well be androgyne. It is a common truism that no one is entirely masculine or entirely feminine, yet androgynes' feelings of identity run deeper than this. For them, it is not a vestigial or incidental overlap of traits, but an inherent, vital component of their being. There are several online tests for gauging gender identity, but this site does not endorse them because it has been argued rather convincingly that the tests are skewed and deeply flawed. Nevertheless, these tests can be helpful in giving people at least something to go on in their quest to find themselves.

    For female-born androgynes, it is often difficult to distinguish between "tomboy" "androgyne," "boi," "butch," "genderqueer," and "F2M" (female-to-male transsexual), "queer," and "tomboy" because society's taboos against relatively masculine presentation and/or traits among females have relaxed over the years, as have injunctions against their wearing clothing of the opposite sex. When a gender variant female does not think of hirself as being androgyne, sie may nevertheless be androgyne; hir reference points and nomenclature come from a different place from that of male-born androgynes. In truth, androgynes of any sex often do not know of the term androgyne and so settle for the terms transgender, genderqueer and/or gender variant. One would think that there would be more commonality between male-born and female-born androgynes, but the two groups tend to grow up with different life experiences and perspectives.

    Androgynes May Be the Invisible Majority of the Transgender World
    Androgyne Awareness is Elusive

    There are many, many androgyne people in the world -- many more than anyone currently realizes -- because they Androgynes are not easily quantified due to the fact of the vagueness of the nomenclature: no one seems to be able to agree on what to call them., but the terms genderqueer and non-binary gender variant are gaining prominence. Although androgynes may prove to be the invisible majority of the transgender world, they are not acknowledged as such. Not only are the talk shows unaware of them, but most androgynes themselves are not aware of who or what they are. Much has been written and said about people who want to change their clothes or change their sex crossdressers and transsexuals, but very little research has been conducted on androgynes, who really don't want to change anything except how they are perceived by the single-gendered majority.

    In a way, androgyny is a double-edged sword. Those born with androgynous looks -- especially if they are not androgynes -- often wish that their gender presentation was unambiguous so as to not be teased, harassed or mistaken for the opposite sex, while androgynes born without androgynous looks (i.e. psychological androgynes) often wish that their gender presentation was markedly ambiguous so as to convey outwardly what they feel inwardly. It amounts to a case of the metaphorical grass being greener on the other side of the fence, where psychological androgynes and mono-gendered androgynous folk envy each other for attributes they do not share. Some fortunate souls, however, both look and feel androgynous.

    Androgynes Are Not Men -- Nor Are They Women

    It has been argued 1) variously that androgynes are not transgender(ed) in that they do not change their gender but remain the gender they were born with, 2) that they are do not transvestites nor crossdressers in that unless they do not dress like the opposite sex but sometimes dress like both sexes at the same time men or women, and 3) that if one you defines androgyne as someone who identifies as being is half man and half woman, that could be interpreted as meaning that the person is neither man nor woman since 50% is an insufficient percentage to define something either way of one thing and 50% of another is neither. Curiously, if one were to combine these three contexts, an androgyne would not be a man, woman, TV (TransVestite), CD (CrossDresser), TG (TransGender and/or TransGenderist), nor TS (TransSexual). What they are, however, is uniquely unified human beings of a sort that has been revered in many cultures for many centuries. More than 100 Native American tribes consider(ed) them to be shamans and call them two-spirits.

    Are Genderqueers Androgynes Genderqueer or Two-spirited?

    There is the possibility that the term "genderqueer" might replace "androgyne." Like transgender (TG), genderqueer (GQ) can be an umbrella term or it can refer to something more specific. Generally, TG transgender can be said to encompass gender variantsce from TV crossdresser to TS transsexual, or else it can be used as a synonym for TS transsexual. Similarly, GQ genderqueer can be said to encompass everything from TV crossdresser to TS transsexual, or else it can be used to describe non-binary gender variants specifically. In contrast, Many argue that androgyne paradoxically plays off reinforces the gender binary by both affirming and refuting it simultaneously invoking the two polar genders in its very name. That is why androgynes can be both man and woman or neither. Genderqueer -- as a term -- however, cannot "have its cake and eat it, too" in such a fashion. [paragraph break removed] What other non-binary gender variants are out there besides androgyne, hijra and neutrois? That's a hard question to answer. Some GQ genderqueer and gender variant folk argue say that there are as many genders as there are people stars in the sky. In the not-so-distant future, androgyne could come to be seen as an antiquated term insofar as it incorporates the Greek and Latin roots for man and woman while gGenderqueer is an overtly a political term which strives to transcend and dismantle the gender binary both in concept and practice. And yet, androgyne has an inherent specificity that genderqueer does not because it directly addresses the man/woman dialectic and could therefore prove to be more durable in the long run. Non-binary gender variant is more specific, but it's a mouthful and pre-supposes familiarity with academic concepts.

    The non-native temptation to use the Native-American term two-spirit (instituted in 1991) is great, but has generally been frowned upon by Native Americans, even though the term was created in tandem by native and non-native anthropologists. Historically, most two-spirits (then referred to indiscriminately as berdaches by non-native anthropologists) had the gender identity of an androgyne, displayed the gender presentation of androgyne, and lived in an androgyne gender role, and some even exhibited androgyny in the remaining component of gender (gender performance). Maybe sometime in the future, after the term's misappropriation by the native and non-native gay communities is sorted out, Native Americans will come to recognize non-native androgynes as two-spirits, even though the shamanic elements of the term tend not to be embodied by non-natives.



    The March 1, 2007 revision:

    [ February version | comparison | March 1 version | tweak | March 14 version || return to top ]

    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    Androgyny is a State of Mind

    Androgyne (pronounced AN-dra-jine) is the term used to describe persons who are androgynous. Androgyny, first and foremost, is a state of mind, not just an attitude or fashion statement. The notion that only androgynous-looking people can be or are androgynous is a misconception. Androgynes can be said to have the gender identity of both a man and a woman -- or neither. Some identify with both traditional genders, while others see their identity as more of a synthesis and consider themselves to be agendered, as in "other" or "none of the above." Some androgynes go as far as to call themselves "gender outlaw" (a term popularized by Kate Bornstein).

    Not All Androgynous People Are Androgynes

    Contrary to popular belief, having an androgynous appearance does not necessarily make a person (an) androgyne. Many transsexuals are transsexual without looking at all like the opposite sex, and many androgynes are androgyne without looking the part. The word androgynous can apply to both superficial and psychological characteristics, whereas the word androgyne pertains almost specifically to gender identity, not to looks. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all androgynes are (psychologically) androgynous but not all androgynous(-looking) people are androgynes.

    Many psychological androgynes do not understand who and what they are. They may agonize for years, wondering how it is that they can feel androgynous if they don't look that way. Self-perception and self-identification are often problematic for androgynes because, in many cases, their androgyneity is not readily apparent.

    Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender

    The term transgender tends to confuse androgynes because it is generally polarized into crossdressers (formerly known as transvestites) on one side and transsexuals on the other. Setting the two categories up as opposites implies that transgender individuals either want to wear the other sex's clothes or else want to change their anatomy to match the other sex. Androgynes, however, may well want to wear the other sex's clothing, but they do not want to change their anatomy to match the other sex -- although some may opt for partial changes to make themselves more physically androgynous. What differentiates androgynes from crossdressers and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in the middle of the two, or they consider themselves to be something else entirely. Other names for androgyne (Greek for man/woman) are agendered, ambigendered, epicene, gender gifted, gender outlaw, intergendered (a term coined by intersex people), non-binary gender variant, nongendered, the third gender, and the fourth gender. Related but non-synonymous terms would be eunuch, bigendered (which applies mostly to crossdressers), gender bender, genderqueer, gender variant, hijra, neutrois, the third sex (which is usually a misnomer), transgenderist, and two-spirit.

    The terms crossdresser, transgender, queer and even the seemingly more focused terms gender variant and genderqueer tend to be too vague in that they all have macrocosmic (umbrella) and microcosmic (specific) meanings. The term transgender is especially problematic in that it can imply that one changes from one gender to another, which in the case of androgynes generally does not apply: once androgynes find themselves, masculinity and femininity often cease to be polarities for them. At first, newly self-aware androgynes may feel a need to explore those aspects of themselves that they have long repressed due to peer pressure or self-censure, but once absorbed, the aspects are re-incorporated into the individual's identity -- which is a solitary persona.

    Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things

    Key to understanding androgyneity is a schema wherein sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity are three separate and different things. Sex denotes one's gonadal makeup, where one can be male, female, or intersex (previously called hermaphrodite). Sexual orientation reflects the sort(s) of person to whom one is attracted for sexual purposes, where one can be attracted to males, to females, to intersex people, to any combination of the three, or be asexual. (The terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual are problematic for the intersexed because the intersexed are not always clearly male or female.) Gender identity refers to how one views oneself. A person can consider themselves to be a man (masculine), a woman (feminine), or androgyne (man/masculine and woman/feminine simultaneously, or neither).

    Although sex and gender identity are two very different things, it is interesting to note that androgyneity, when conceptualized as intergender, can be seen as the psychological counterpart to intersex. Androgynes are intermediate in gender, while intersex(ed) folks are sexually intermediate. Basically, sex refers to what's between your legs, while gender refers to what's between your ears. That said, some intersex activists opine that androgynes have intersex brains (and that transsexuals are intersex on account of the relationship between their brains and their genitalia).

    Pinpointing the sexuality of transgender people -- especially that of androgynes -- is so difficult that it really isn't worth trying to explain. No one has a good answer, anyways. Even the 2004 book, Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others, which collects 19 academic papers on the subject, is at a loss to provide a useful understanding, so an explanation won't be attempted here.

    There are Four Components of Gender

    Most people don't believe that androgyne is an authentic gender identity because they see no significant evidence of it being the case, so convincing them that it is requires a paradigm shift. Such a shift doesn't come easily, and more often than not, it doesn't come at all. To complicate matters, a misreading of the 1989 book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler is responsible for the widespread misconception among academics and activists that all gender is just a performance. As Riki Wilchins points out in the 2004 book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (pp. 132-34), what Butler really said was that gender is performatively produced. Performative is defined as an utterance that performs an act or creates a state of affairs, an example being the use of the phrase "I now pronounce you man and wife" to create a marriage. Butler herself refutes the notion of gender being just a performance. The phenomenon of transsexualism refutes it, too.

    There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    There is such a thing as a transsexual androgyne or androgyne transsexual, but they are transsexual by virtue of GRS (genital reassignment surgery), not gender identity. One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne. One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is in deference to different sets of life experience, but another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women.

    Some transsexuals are not actually transsexual but androgyne, yet because they don't realize nor understand it right away (if ever), they view androgyny as little more than a distasteful intermediate stage of transformation, until they discover the underlying androgyne nature within themselves, which often causes them to reevaluate their situation to the point of renouncing transition.

    Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Transamorous" at the Same Time

    At one point, the common nickname for transgender individuals was "tranny," but the term has since split, creating a situation where most people use the term to describe gender variance in general, whereas TSs (transsexuals) tend to think the term applies only to them. The T community's (largely derisive) term for those who are attracted to trannies in the wider sense is "trannychaser," and it is indeed a problematic term (especially since it has been theorized that chasers are transgendered themselves) in that it seems to imply something akin to "skirtchaser," "ladykiller," "ladies' man," or other such "womanizer," but it has been euphemized as "admirer." The trouble is, there is as yet no commonly accepted term for those who have romantic feelings for transgender people, although the term "transamorous" seems viable. The partner of a transgender individual is referred to as a TGSO (TransGender's Significant Other).

    It has been observed that androgynes do not have a "gender-based opposite." In light of the fact that many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender (they are neither male nor female, and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women), it can be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.

    Interestingly, this lack of a gender-based opposite frees androgynes to be both tranny and transamorous simultaneously. For example, when a male-born androgyne who doesn't know that sie is androgyne finds hirself attracted to drag queens and/or M2F (male-to-female) transsexuals and daydreams of dressing like a woman hirself, the situation can be frustrating because drag queens and transsexuals are generally attracted to single-gendered straight males. The androgyne mistakenly thinks that sie is attracted to male-born TG (transgendered) people when, in actuality, sie is not attracted to male-born TGs per se but to their androgynous aspects. It's not unusual for an androgyne to confuse a TG's external traits with idealized internal traits.

    If You Think You Are Androgyne, You May Well Be

    How do you know whether or not you're androgyne? It really boils down to what you yourself think. Do you consider yourself to have masculine character traits and feelings as well as feminine character traits and feelings to the extent that you feel repressed if you deny either of these for any extended period of time? If so, you may well be androgyne. It is a common truism that no one is entirely masculine or entirely feminine, yet androgynes' feelings of identity run deeper than this. For them, it is not a vestigial or incidental overlap of traits, but an inherent, vital component of their being. There are several online tests for gauging gender identity, but this site does not endorse them because it has been argued rather convincingly that the tests are skewed and deeply flawed. Nevertheless, these tests can be helpful in giving people at least something to go on in their quest to find themselves.

    For female-born androgynes, it is often difficult to distinguish between "andro," "boi," "butch," "genderqueer," "F2M" (female-to-male transsexual), "queer," and "tomboy" because society's taboos against relatively masculine presentation and/or traits among females have relaxed over the years, as have injunctions against their wearing clothing of the opposite sex. When a gender variant female does not think of hirself as being androgyne, sie may nevertheless be androgyne; hir reference points and nomenclature come from a different place from that of male-born androgynes. One would think that there would be more commonality between male-born and female-born androgynes, but the two groups tend to grow up with different life experiences and perspectives.

    Androgyne Awareness is Elusive

    Androgynes are not easily quantified due to the vagueness of the nomenclature: no one seems to be able to agree on what to call them, but the terms genderqueer and non-binary gender variant are gaining prominence. Not only are the talk shows unaware of them, but most androgynes themselves are not aware of who or what they are. Much has been written and said about crossdressers and transsexuals, but little research has been conducted on androgynes.

    In a way, androgyny is a double-edged sword. Those born with androgynous looks -- especially if they are not androgynes -- often wish that their gender presentation was unambiguous so as to not be teased, harassed or mistaken for the opposite sex, while androgynes born without androgynous looks (i.e. psychological androgynes) often wish that their gender presentation was markedly ambiguous so as to convey outwardly what they feel inwardly.

    It has been argued variously that androgynes are not transgender(ed) in that they do not change their gender but remain the gender they were born with, that they do not crossdress unless they dress like men or women, and that if you define androgyne as someone who is half man and half woman, that could be interpreted as meaning that the person is neither man nor woman since 50% of one thing and 50% of another is neither.

    Are Androgynes Genderqueer or Two-spirited?

    There is the possibility that the term "genderqueer" might replace "androgyne." Like transgender, genderqueer can be an umbrella term or it can refer to something more specific. Generally, transgender can be said to encompass gender variance from crossdresser to transsexual, or else it can be used as a synonym for transsexual. Similarly, genderqueer can be said to encompass everything from crossdresser to transsexual, or else it can be used to describe non-binary gender variants specifically. Many argue that androgyne reinforces the gender binary by invoking the two polar genders in its very name. Some genderqueer and gender variant folk say that there are as many genders as there are stars in the sky. Genderqueer is a political term which strives to transcend and dismantle the gender binary both in concept and practice. And yet, androgyne has an inherent specificity that genderqueer does not because it directly addresses the man/woman dialectic and could therefore prove to be more durable in the long run. Non-binary gender variant is more specific, but it's a mouthful and pre-supposes familiarity with academic concepts.

    The non-native temptation to use the Native-American term "two-spirit" (instituted in 1991) is great, but has generally been frowned upon by Native Americans, even though the term was created in tandem by native and non-native anthropologists. Historically, most two-spirits (then referred to indiscriminately as berdaches by non-native anthropologists) had the gender identity of an androgyne, displayed the gender presentation of androgyne, and lived in an androgyne gender role, and some even exhibited androgyny in the remaining component of gender (gender performance). Maybe sometime in the future, after the term's misappropriation by the native and non-native gay communities is sorted out, Native Americans will come to recognize non-native androgynes as two-spirits, even though the shamanic elements of the term tend not to be embodied by non-natives.

    [In early 2005, an article about this website appeared in Transgender Tapestry magazine, which is a publication of IFGE (the International Foundation for Gender Education). The article is a more concise version of the essay above.]



    March 14, 2007 tweak of the March 1, 2007 revision

    [ February version | comparison | March 1 version | tweak | March 14 version || return to top ]

    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    [. . .]

    There are Four Components of Gender

    Most people don't believe that androgyne is an authentic gender identity because they see no significant evidence of it being the case, so convincing them that it is requires a paradigm shift. Such a shift doesn't come easily, and more often than not, it doesn't come at all. To complicate matters, a A misreading of the 1989 book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler is responsible for the widespread misconception among academics and activists that all gender is just a performance. As Riki Wilchins points out in the 2004 book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (pp. 132-34), what Butler really said was that gender is performatively produced. Performative is defined as an utterance that performs an act or creates a state of affairs, an example being the use of the phrase "I now pronounce you man and wife" to create a marriage. Butler herself has refuted the notion of gender being just a performance. The phenomenon of transsexualism refutes it, too.

    There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

    Getting People to Accept Androgyne as a Gender Identity Isn't Easy

    For most people, the idea of an androgynous gender identity goes in one ear and out the other; it simply doesn't register. They see no evidence of it, never heard of it before, and assume they never will again, so the concept is rejected almost as soon as it is articulated. This cannot be emphasized enough. Even when the idea is reiterated, the reaction is usually the same: it is assumed to be faulty data. Society at large dictates that gender is binary, and androgyne is not one of the two binary genders. Convincing someone that androgyne is an authentic gender identity is difficult because people are programmed to believe that it isn't.

    Even LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) people tend to assume that a third gender does not exist. Hate crimes against LGBT people are primarily based on perceived violations of gender norms, not sexual transgression, so you'd think that convincing LGBT people would be easier, but it's often not because they tend not to see the connection. Even androgynes have trouble discovering and affirming their own nature, no thanks to society's insistence on the gender binary.

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    There is such a thing as a transsexual androgyne or androgyne transsexual, but they are transsexual by virtue of GRS (genital reassignment surgery), not gender identity. One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne, because androgynes are of a third gender: they are either a combination of the two binary genders or the absence of both of them. They can't be (just) one of the two binary genders. One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is in deference to different sets of life experience, but another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women.

    Some transsexuals are not actually transsexual but androgyne, yet because they don't realize nor understand it right away (if ever), they view androgyny as little more than a distasteful intermediate stage of transformation, until they discover the underlying androgyne nature within themselves, which often causes them to reevaluate their situation to the point of renouncing transition.

    [. . .]



    The essay as it appears as of March 14, 2007:

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    ANDROGYNE ONLINE
    by Stephe Feldman

    Androgyny is a State of Mind

    Androgyne (pronounced AN-dra-jine) is the term used to describe persons who are androgynous. Androgyny, first and foremost, is a state of mind, not just an attitude or fashion statement. The notion that only androgynous-looking people can be or are androgynous is a misconception. Androgynes can be said to have the gender identity of both a man and a woman -- or neither. Some identify with both traditional genders, while others see their identity as more of a synthesis and consider themselves to be agendered, as in "other" or "none of the above." Some androgynes go as far as to call themselves "gender outlaw" (a term popularized by Kate Bornstein).

    Not All Androgynous People Are Androgynes

    Contrary to popular belief, having an androgynous appearance does not necessarily make a person (an) androgyne. Many transsexuals are transsexual without looking at all like the opposite sex, and many androgynes are androgyne without looking the part. The word androgynous can apply to both superficial and psychological characteristics, whereas the word androgyne pertains almost specifically to gender identity, not to looks. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all androgynes are (psychologically) androgynous but not all androgynous(-looking) people are androgynes.

    Many psychological androgynes do not understand who and what they are. They may agonize for years, wondering how it is that they can feel androgynous if they don't look that way. Self-perception and self-identification are often problematic for androgynes because, in many cases, their androgyneity is not readily apparent.

    Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender

    The term transgender tends to confuse androgynes because it is generally polarized into crossdressers (formerly known as transvestites) on one side and transsexuals on the other. Setting the two categories up as opposites implies that transgender individuals either want to wear the other sex's clothes or else want to change their anatomy to match the other sex. Androgynes, however, may well want to wear the other sex's clothing, but they do not want to change their anatomy to match the other sex -- although some may opt for partial changes to make themselves more physically androgynous. What differentiates androgynes from crossdressers and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in the middle of the two, or they consider themselves to be something else entirely. Other names for androgyne (Greek for man/woman) are agendered, ambigendered, epicene, gender gifted, gender outlaw, intergendered (a term coined by intersex people), non-binary gender variant, nongendered, the third gender, and the fourth gender. Related but non-synonymous terms would be eunuch, bigendered (which applies mostly to crossdressers), gender bender, genderqueer, gender variant, hijra, neutrois, the third sex (which is usually a misnomer), transgenderist, and two-spirit.

    The terms crossdresser, transgender, queer and even the seemingly more focused terms gender variant and genderqueer tend to be too vague in that they all have macrocosmic (umbrella) and microcosmic (specific) meanings. The term transgender is especially problematic in that it can imply that one changes from one gender to another, which in the case of androgynes generally does not apply: once androgynes find themselves, masculinity and femininity often cease to be polarities for them. At first, newly self-aware androgynes may feel a need to explore those aspects of themselves that they have long repressed due to peer pressure or self-censure, but once absorbed, the aspects are re-incorporated into the individual's identity -- which is a solitary persona.

    Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things

    Key to understanding androgyneity is a schema wherein sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity are three separate and different things. Sex denotes one's gonadal makeup, where one can be male, female, or intersex (previously called hermaphrodite). Sexual orientation reflects the sort(s) of person to whom one is attracted for sexual purposes, where one can be attracted to males, to females, to intersex people, to any combination of the three, or be asexual. (The terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual are problematic for the intersexed because the intersexed are not always clearly male or female.) Gender identity refers to how one views oneself. A person can consider themselves to be a man (masculine), a woman (feminine), or androgyne (man/masculine and woman/feminine simultaneously, or neither).

    Although sex and gender identity are two very different things, it is interesting to note that androgyneity, when conceptualized as intergender, can be seen as the psychological counterpart to intersex. Androgynes are intermediate in gender, while intersex(ed) folks are sexually intermediate. Basically, sex refers to what's between your legs, while gender refers to what's between your ears. That said, some intersex activists opine that androgynes have intersex brains (and that transsexuals are intersex on account of the relationship between their brains and their genitalia).

    Pinpointing the sexuality of transgender people -- especially that of androgynes -- is so difficult that it really isn't worth trying to explain. No one has a good answer, anyways. Even the 2004 book, Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others, which collects 19 academic papers on the subject, is at a loss to provide a useful understanding, so an explanation won't be attempted here.

    There are Four Components of Gender

    A misreading of the 1989 book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler is responsible for the widespread misconception among academics and activists that all gender is just a performance. As Riki Wilchins points out in the 2004 book Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer (pp. 132-34), what Butler really said was that gender is performatively produced. Performative is defined as an utterance that performs an act or creates a state of affairs, an example being the use of the phrase "I now pronounce you man and wife" to create a marriage. Butler herself refutes the notion of gender being just a performance. The phenomenon of transsexualism refutes it, too.

    There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

    Getting People to Accept Androgyne as a Gender Identity Isn't Easy

    For most people, the idea of an androgynous gender identity goes in one ear and out the other; it simply doesn't register. They see no evidence of it, never heard of it before, and assume they never will again, so the concept is rejected almost as soon as it is articulated. This cannot be emphasized enough. Even when the idea is reiterated, the reaction is usually the same: it is assumed to be faulty data. Society at large dictates that gender is binary, and androgyne is not one of the two binary genders. Convincing someone that androgyne is an authentic gender identity is difficult because people are programmed to believe that it isn't.

    Even LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) people tend to assume that a third gender does not exist. Hate crimes against LGBT people are primarily based on perceived violations of gender norms, not sexual transgression, so you'd think that convincing LGBT people would be easier, but it's often not because they tend not to see the connection. Even androgynes have trouble discovering and affirming their own nature, no thanks to society's insistence on the gender binary.

    Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne

    There is such a thing as a transsexual androgyne or androgyne transsexual, but they are transsexual by virtue of GRS (genital reassignment surgery), not gender identity. One cannot claim to be a man or woman and still be (an) androgyne, because androgynes are of a third gender: they are either a combination of the two binary genders or the absence of both of them. They can't be (just) one of the two binary genders. One reason why the terms male-born and female-born are applied to androgynes is in deference to different sets of life experience, but another is to differentiate them from post-operative androgynes, who are not (trans)men and not (trans)women.

    Some transsexuals are not actually transsexual but androgyne, yet because they don't realize nor understand it right away (if ever), they view androgyny as little more than a distasteful intermediate stage of transformation, until they discover the underlying androgyne nature within themselves, which often causes them to reevaluate their situation to the point of renouncing transition.

    Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Transamorous" at the Same Time

    At one point, the common nickname for transgender individuals was "tranny," but the term has since split, creating a situation where most people use the term to describe gender variance in general, whereas TSs (transsexuals) tend to think the term applies only to them. The T community's (largely derisive) term for those who are attracted to trannies in the wider sense is "trannychaser," and it is indeed a problematic term (especially since it has been theorized that chasers are transgendered themselves) in that it seems to imply something akin to "skirtchaser," "ladykiller," "ladies' man," or other such "womanizer," but it has been euphemized as "admirer." The trouble is, there is as yet no commonly accepted term for those who have romantic feelings for transgender people, although the term "transamorous" seems viable. The partner of a transgender individual is referred to as a TGSO (TransGender's Significant Other).

    It has been observed that androgynes do not have a "gender-based opposite." In light of the fact that many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender (they are neither male nor female, and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women), it can be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.

    Interestingly, this lack of a gender-based opposite frees androgynes to be both tranny and transamorous simultaneously. For example, when a male-born androgyne who doesn't know that sie is androgyne finds hirself attracted to drag queens and/or M2F (male-to-female) transsexuals and daydreams of dressing like a woman hirself, the situation can be frustrating because drag queens and transsexuals are generally attracted to single-gendered straight males. The androgyne mistakenly thinks that sie is attracted to male-born TG (transgendered) people when, in actuality, sie is not attracted to male-born TGs per se but to their androgynous aspects. It's not unusual for an androgyne to confuse a TG's external traits with idealized internal traits.

    If You Think You Are Androgyne, You May Well Be

    How do you know whether or not you're androgyne? It really boils down to what you yourself think. Do you consider yourself to have masculine character traits and feelings as well as feminine character traits and feelings to the extent that you feel repressed if you deny either of these for any extended period of time? If so, you may well be androgyne. It is a common truism that no one is entirely masculine or entirely feminine, yet androgynes' feelings of identity run deeper than this. For them, it is not a vestigial or incidental overlap of traits, but an inherent, vital component of their being. There are several online tests for gauging gender identity, but this site does not endorse them because it has been argued rather convincingly that the tests are skewed and deeply flawed. Nevertheless, these tests can be helpful in giving people at least something to go on in their quest to find themselves.

    For female-born androgynes, it is often difficult to distinguish between "andro," "boi," "butch," "genderqueer," "F2M" (female-to-male transsexual), "queer," and "tomboy" because society's taboos against relatively masculine presentation and/or traits among females have relaxed over the years, as have injunctions against their wearing clothing of the opposite sex. When a gender variant female does not think of hirself as being androgyne, sie may nevertheless be androgyne; hir reference points and nomenclature come from a different place from that of male-born androgynes. One would think that there would be more commonality between male-born and female-born androgynes, but the two groups tend to grow up with different life experiences and perspectives.

    Androgyne Awareness is Elusive

    Androgynes are not easily quantified due to the vagueness of the nomenclature: no one seems to be able to agree on what to call them, but the terms genderqueer and non-binary gender variant are gaining prominence. Not only are the talk shows unaware of them, but most androgynes themselves are not aware of who or what they are. Much has been written and said about crossdressers and transsexuals, but little research has been conducted on androgynes.

    In a way, androgyny is a double-edged sword. Those born with androgynous looks -- especially if they are not androgynes -- often wish that their gender presentation was unambiguous so as to not be teased, harassed or mistaken for the opposite sex, while androgynes born without androgynous looks (i.e. psychological androgynes) often wish that their gender presentation was markedly ambiguous so as to convey outwardly what they feel inwardly.

    It has been argued variously that androgynes are not transgender(ed) in that they do not change their gender but remain the gender they were born with, that they do not crossdress unless they dress like men or women, and that if you define androgyne as someone who is half man and half woman, that could be interpreted as meaning that the person is neither man nor woman since 50% of one thing and 50% of another is neither.

    Are Androgynes Genderqueer or Two-spirited?

    There is the possibility that the term "genderqueer" might replace "androgyne." Like transgender, genderqueer can be an umbrella term or it can refer to something more specific. Generally, transgender can be said to encompass gender variance from crossdresser to transsexual, or else it can be used as a synonym for transsexual. Similarly, genderqueer can be said to encompass everything from crossdresser to transsexual, or else it can be used to describe non-binary gender variants specifically. Many argue that androgyne reinforces the gender binary by invoking the two polar genders in its very name. Some genderqueer and gender variant folk say that there are as many genders as there are stars in the sky. Genderqueer is a political term which strives to transcend and dismantle the gender binary both in concept and practice. And yet, androgyne has an inherent specificity that genderqueer does not because it directly addresses the man/woman dialectic and could therefore prove to be more durable in the long run. Non-binary gender variant is more specific, but it's a mouthful and pre-supposes familiarity with academic concepts.

    The non-native temptation to use the Native-American term "two-spirit" (instituted in 1991) is great, but has generally been frowned upon by Native Americans, even though the term was created in tandem by native and non-native anthropologists. Historically, most two-spirits (then referred to indiscriminately as berdaches by non-native anthropologists) had the gender identity of an androgyne, displayed the gender presentation of androgyne, and lived in an androgyne gender role, and some even exhibited androgyny in the remaining component of gender (gender performance). Maybe sometime in the future, after the term's misappropriation by the native and non-native gay communities is sorted out, Native Americans will come to recognize non-native androgynes as two-spirits, even though the shamanic elements of the term tend not to be embodied by non-natives.

    [In early 2005, an article about this website appeared in Transgender Tapestry magazine, which is a publication of IFGE (the International Foundation for Gender Education). The article is a more concise version of the essay above.]
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    This page first created 2/28/07. Copyright Stephe Feldman, 2007 and 2010. Last update: 6/22/10.