Gender gets talked about a lot these days, especially when it comes to fashion and the increasing demand for gender-neutral clothing. The future of fashion is looking increasingly gender-free as more young people reject traditional gender stereotypes, but what exactly is gender in the first place?
Gender is a social construct of behavioral expectations and roles set over time by a society. We often think of them as male, female, and nonbinary but in 2021, those three alone don’t feel like enough to accurately express the human experience. This is where gender identity and gender expression come in. Here’s a run-down of the differences:
Gender identity is how someone identifies personally, and is based on a deeply-felt sense of themselves and their individual experience with gender. It doesn’t have to be outward-facing. For someone who is cis-gendered, their gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. For someone who is transgender, their gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth. For non-binary individuals, they don’t strongly identify with a male or female gender, nor the expectations that come with. Agender people do not identify with any gender.
Gender expression is different because this is an outward representation of your chosen gender identity. Gender expression is often seen through behavior, clothing, or makeup, but the lines are blurring there more and more every day as things like dresses and makeup become less and less gendered (we love breaking stereotypes!).
Being mindful of these differences can help us all communicate accurately and respectfully with the members of your community who identify and express themselves in different ways. Education is important to understanding each other, and even ourselves. This kind of empathy promotes equality and acceptance for all.
That empathy made us think long and hard about our collections throughout the years, and how we were reinforcing stereotypes through gendered clothing. Are there really enough differences between men’s and women’s feet or the styles and causes they want to support to justify gendering our clothes? The answer was a resounding no. So, we changed the language around our clothes on our site and continue to design all of our new products to be genderless (hello, sweatshirts)! This way you can shop your style, your color, or your cause because you love it, and not because society told you to.