Gender is in the news.
Gender fluidity is a term that is in the news this week. Miley Cyrus has told the world that she doesn’t identify as a male or a female.
She is not the only celebrity to do so. Last year, Ruby Rose made a short film about her identity – also describing herself as gender fluid.
“I didn’t want to be a boy… I kind of wanted to be nothing,” Cyrus told Out magazine in a quote that she then posted to Instagram.
“I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box I get put into.”
For many of us, our gender and our sex are one and the same. I was born a female. Therefore, I am a woman. It is that simple for me. But in fact, sex and gender identity are different things, and for some people the two don’t necessarily align.
Gender is our identity, a construct that’s learned and created. It isn’t “inherently nor solely connected to one’s physical anatomy,” according to Genderspectrum.org.
Gender is a sort of combination of our sex, our internal sense of self (male, female, neither, both) as well as outside influences and expectations.
A solely physical understanding of gender doesn’t really cover the vast spectrum that exists.
In other words, Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose refuse to be categorised by the sex into which they were born. The prefer to shift fluidly between both male and female gender identities.
You might be tempted to view Cyrus’ transformation from Hannah Montana to androgynous, pot-smoking, tongue-wagging wild-child as a marketing exercise.
And you could be right, but whatever is behind it, she has certainly triggered important conversations about gender identity and society’s somewhat rigid definitions.
Ruby Rose has also added to these conversations. Rose, well-known in Australia as a former MTV VJ and model, is about to star in the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black.
Last year she shared an insight into what it’s like being gender fluid in a short film she called Break Free.
In it, Rose starts as a super-feminine blonde, bandage-dress clad, stiletto-bootie wearing woman, before slowing stripping away the hair, the clothes and the make-up. She scrubs her body to reveal her tattoos, binds her chest with bandages and puts on masculine clothes.