Gender Expression & Professionalism
This week on The Slut Show Ellen Moore is joined by non-binary fashion diva and psychologist in training Christopher (they/them). They discuss professionalism in the working field, relating to the expression of Christopher’s non-binary gender identity. This week’s Slutty Science contextualizes the struggles of the queer community and the way transgender folks express their gender identity in our hetero- and cis-normative society.
Please note: this article contains information about transphobia, which may be triggering for some readers.
Harry Styles, David Bowie, Billie Joe Armstrong and Damiano David all have one thing in common. They are men who choose to wear make-up, breaking the gender binary . However, these men are all singers and entertainers. Living a life filled with drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll.
Assuming there is more room for gender benders in the entertainment industry could be a plausible theory, but the gap in scholarship that surrounds any all things relating transgender people and the breaking of binary norms, leaves us wondering. One thing, however, we can state with absolute certainty: men wearing make-up is not considered socially acceptable yet - especially in the working field.
“Professionalism” is a noun describing the high standard that you expect from a person who is well trained in a particular job.
When it comes to the professionalism of gay men, studies have shown that these men manipulate their performances of gender and sexuality, adapting the way they dress at work, their body gestures and the way they interact with coworkers and managers. This adaptive behavior was shown to be the result of a variety of factors. From feeling the need to appear more masculine, to attempting to hide their homosexuality, all to adhere to the social rules founded in our hetero- and cis-normative society.
That same study illustrated how these men often fear diverging from the heteronormative expectations of the workplace, as ‘they worry that by doing so, they would be risking differential treatment from employers or coworkers. [These] men [were] concern[ed] that they would be passed up for promotion, or [even] lose their jobs altogether. [...] This suggests that performances of masculinity and straightness are always valued more than performances of femininity or gayness’ (Speice 2020, p.7).
When we take a closer look at privelige, we can conclude that being cis-gendered, white, skinny, male or heterosexual brings you certain priveliges. When you’re skinny, doctors don’t immediately point out that maybe you should lose weight. When you’re white, the police treat you differently. When you’re male, people take you more seriously. When you’re heterosexual, you don’t have to come out, because that’s the norm and when you identify as cis, you don’t have to convince anyone that you really indentify with that gender.
The point we’re trying to make with all of this, is that if skinny, white, cis-gendered men feel pressured into having to behave different from the way they truly feel, then what must it be like for a fat, black, queer, non-binary person, assigned female at birth. How do we treat them? Do we ask them why they are the size they are? Do we doubt their gender identity? With what name do we address them? Do we use the right pronouns? This is a conversation that needs to be held and therefore I am beyond grateful to be able to discuss it in depth with this non-binary pearl of a human being: Christopher.
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‘The Slut Show With Ellen Moore’: A place to speak openly about shit you and I have to deal with on a daily basis. About feminism, insecurities, feeling like a bomb ass bitch and obviously about loads of sex. Raw, real and uncensored, Ellen Moore brings you your weekly dose of empowerment.
- Andas, Christine. 2021. “Male Make Up: 7 Celebrities That Prove Men Can Rock the Look.” Tatler Philippines. June 24, 2021. https://ph.asiatatler.com/style/7-celebrities-that-prove-men-can-also-pull-off-make-up.
- “Professionalism Noun - Definition, Pictures, Pronunciation and Usage Notes | Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.Com.” n.d. Accessed June 24, 2021. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/professionalism.
- Speice, Travis. 2020. “The ‘Okay’ Gay Guys: Developing Hegemonic Sexuality as a Tool to Understand Men’s Workplace Identities.” Journal of Homosexuality 67 (13): 1864–80. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2019.1616428.