Non conforming means refusing to adapt to certain standards or norms. Gender nonconforming refers to the expression of gender in a way that deviates from societal norms, exhibiting behavioral or cultural qualities that do not typically correspond with those associated with one’s sex at birth.
What does it mean to be gender non conforming?
Gender nonconforming is a term used to describe individuals who do not follow standardized gender norms or stereotypes about how someone should act based on their sex at birth. It is intimately linked to a person’s gender identity and involves a deep internalized experience of what it is like to be male or female.
Gender nonconformity can have varying degrees with respect to a person’s individual appearance, dress, behavior or subjective self-image. This generally differs from conventional norms for masculinity and femininity. Simply put, gender nonconforming people tend to challenge the conventional gender norms that society expects of them.
What are gender expectations?
The opposite of gender nonconformity is “gender conformity,” which means adherence to societal gender norm expectations.
It could also be explained as conforming to gender-based stereotypes, whereas non conforming individuals choose to ignore these stereotypes. In reality, most people are more or less gender nonconforming and very few conform fully to gender expectations.
Some common gender stereotypes are:
- Women are more emotional than men
- Girls wear pink, boys wear blue
- Men do hard physical work
- Women are natural caretakers
- Women should choose marriage and children over careers
- Women wear nail polish
- Men should be stoic and suppress emotions
- Women are not as competent in leadership roles
- Men are naturally better at math and science
Examples of gender nonconformity
Gender nonconforming is an aspect of an individual’s self-expression rather than a mirror to their gender identity.
Some examples of everyday gender nonconformity are:
- A bride who wears a suit instead of a dress to her wedding
- A man who is openly emotional
- A man who wears makeup
- A woman who chooses her career over children and marriage
- A man who shaves his legs or armpits
- A woman who does not shave her legs or armpits
- A stay-at-home dad
- A man who wears pink
- A person who chooses a gender-neutral style of clothing
The difference between Non Conforming and Gender Fluid
Gender nonconformity is more about gender expression than gender identity. Gender nonconforming people might be genderfluid, but this is not always the case. In fact, a gender non conforming person might identify fully as a woman or a man.
However, some people do use the term “gender nonconforming” to describe their gender identity. In this sense, a gender nonconforming individual might be gender fluid or genderqueer as well.