Monday, 15 March 2021

To be or not to be a woman, a man, non-binary, gender-fluid...

What do you do when it is International Women's Day and you don't necessarily identify as a woman?

As a child I was often mistaken for a boy even being accosted outside of female toilets and told I had been in the wrong one.

I was the first and only girl in a Church choir for over 3 years from the age of 6. I sang, as a boy, in Chester Cathedral Choir with no-one ever suspecting. I sang as a Shepherd Boy in my Junior School Nativity play as all the female parts were given to the girls but they forgot about me!

I spoke about some of these observations and more in my FB 'live' on 11th March having not written anything for International Women's day. You can watch it on YouTube here.

I find talking about gender / sex interesting especially now with teenage kids who have friends who are transgendered, gender fluid, non-binary, have chosen their pronouns, etc. In some ways my children and their peers see the world quite differently from the one I grew up in. However, there are many similarities with how I used to feel as a kid. I feel that growing up I never really identified with being a girl or woman. I just accepted it as something that was but didn't define me. Growing up with 3 older brothers and being mistaken for a boy so often I wonder, was I giving off a vibe of being non-woman or do I feel that way because of how I was treated as a child? 

What I have come to realise for me though is that it doesn't matter. I am Viv. If I really wanted to choose my pronouns I would ask that I be called Viv and not referred to as she or he or they. However, I am not going to ask that of people because deep in my soul I am me and what I am referred to by others will never stop that from being true. I totally understand how empowering making those choices can be and so applaud anyone who has thought about it and asked to be identified as what they need to feel empowered as themselves.

I didn't really go into this in my 'live' but thought it was an interesting observation that I have had over the years and seems to come to the fore when any sort of women's events occur or when there are obvious woman / man things happening around that trigger these thoughts in me. Hence my 'live'! 

What does being a woman even mean? What is it to 'be' a woman? Because my sex is female does that mean that what I do as that is what should be included in the arena of what all women do? Is there a level of woman-type activities that I have to do to qualify as a woman? I don't really know what any of this means as I can only tell you how I feel as someone who lives in a female body. I have questioned these things for as long as I can remember and I have no answer because I cannot live in your head or all the heads of people who are or aren't female or those who identify as womxn. And you can't live in my head either-even if I could decide what my gender is or whether I even need one.

What I do know is I am Viv. I have 2 amazing children and a fantastic husband. You can add any number of labels to me because of those facts but they will not help you get to know me.

I am Viv. I'm pleased to meet you.


  1. I do find that we are railroaded into a concept of what it means to be a woman. If we look at native tribes there is no great distinction in terms of dress, although I do believe the roles and responsibilities are differentiated.
    I have been in health and social care all my life and have never experienced sexual inequality, or maybe I have just not noticed? You are Viv and I’m very glad our paths have crossed on many occasions. When we walk this land in confidence, with purpose, others unsolicited opinions are just that and absolutely none of our business.
    I identify as a woman with the strength of a lion. I chose to experience life in this body and I know that everything is perfect order.

    1. Thanks Susi. Love your description of being a woman in the body of a lion. Hear me roar!!