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This term refers to the conscious effort to mock or "fuck with" traditional notions of gender identity, gender roles, and gender presentation[1] Broadly speaking, traditional notions of gender assume that one's gender identity, role, and presentation is determined by one's biological or physiological sex: Female-bodied people are expected to identify, behave, and present in a way that conforms to the normative conceptions of femininity; male-bodied people are expected to identify, behave, and present in a way that adheres to the normative notions of masculinity.

Genderfucking can also fall under the umbrella of the transgender spectrum, which includes a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups that tend to deviate form the traditional gender expectations, but the two terms are not synonymous. Genderfucking is based in the concept of gender as a performance (see Gender_performativity). It can be achieved through physical presentation (e.g. clothing, hair, make-up, and secondary sex characteristics), as well as behavior. Because much of gender performance is expressed through clothing, in societies where a [gender binary] can be observed, there is an established, widespread notion that some clothes are “masculine” and should be worn only by male-bodied individuals, and others are “feminine” and should be worn only by female-bodied individuals. Hawkes, sociologist and author, addresses this “dress code” and the opportunity for a resistance: “The universality of [dress] codes and their meanings allows for the [subversion of] the mainstream ‘messages’ they convey and through this to illuminate the existence of alternative [gender] identities.”[2]

Often, parody and exaggeration are used to transgress gender roles, usually to expose them as artificial.[3] For example, a person who engages in genderfucking may purposefully exaggerate conventional notions of feminity, or masculinity. Genderfucking can also be achieved through cross-dressing and androgyny, both of which challenge and contribute to dismantling the gender binary by separating expression or performance of gender from perceptions of biological or physiological sex.[4] Thus, genderfucking protests gender [[essentialism]. This concept is protested not only through non-normative appearance, but by challenging normative gender roles, characteristics, or behaviors as well – for example, a female-bodied individual who is purposefully assertive and nondomestic in order to challenge the notion of essential femininity.


Genderfuck is a politics of identity stemming from the identity politics movements of the 1950s and 1960s, a guiding principle of which is the idea that the personal is political.[4]

The term dates at least to 1979, when an article by Christopher Lonc, entitled "Genderfuck and Its Delights", appeared in the magazine Gay Sunshine. Lonc wrote "I want to criticize and poke fun at the roles of women and of men too. I want to try and show how not-normal I can be. I want to ridicule and destroy the whole cosmology of restrictive sex roles and sexual identification." [5]

Gender Binary[edit]

To "fuck with" gender, one must have an expectation to be able to rebel against. These expectations are socially constructed so that in the United States it is only acceptable to have one of two genders. These genders are based on the sex organs a person is born with; female sex organs or male sex organs. These organs determine whether or not a person will be treated as feminine or masculine and also determines who a person couples with later in life.
Gender roles are explained throughout life, based on the sex a person is raised to be. These roles have changed over the years but still when asking children in the U.S., even now, who cooks and cleans and stays at home, most will answer with something similar to "the mommy," and when asked who goes to work, drives the car, and watches or likes sports and they will say something to the effect of, "the daddy."

How People Genderfuck[edit]

Cross Dressing and Androgyny[edit]

Cross-dressing would be a form of genderfucking because the purpose is to "fuck with gender" roles and presentation. Androgyny is not specifically genderfucking, but it can be considered genderfucking if someone is being androgynous on purpose, but is more of a sign of genderfucking since many people who are androgynous may not make a conscious effort to look so. There have been many famous people who have been accused of cross-dressing and many famous people now who are androgynous.
For instance, J. Edgar Hoover had been seen wearing a fluffy pink dress and many other "feminine" garments and at homosexual orgies[6] [7][8]
The Rock star, Prince (musician) was very well known for his cross dressing or androgynous look.
Shakespeare used cross dressing in his performances. Over the centuries some readers have posited that Shakespeare's sonnets are autobiographical, [9] and point to them as evidence of his love for a young man. With this said, Shakespeare had characters in his writings that were considered cross-dressers. The four of the five main female characters in his plays were seen as women who cross dress as men or boys; Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Protia in The Merchant of Venice, Rosalind in As You Like It, Viola in Twelfth Night. Genderfucking is seen through many forms of life. One of these forms is Drag.


Drag shows are the performance of gender using music and dress to accomplish a specific look. To accentuate the traditional “feminine and masculine” characteristics that society has decided that makes a person female or male.
"In order to understand the differences and similarities between gay male drag queens and female-bodied and transgender drag kings and bio queens, we consider how the personal gender and sexual identities of drag performers affect and are affected by their gender performances in drag.[10]
A typical drag performer is a person who “impersonates” a member of the opposite sex/gender than their day to day identified gender/sex. The performer dresses to accentuate the gender they are portraying. The makings of a Drag King or a Drag Queen.

Faux Drag[edit]

Faux drag performer is a person who performs as their gender they identify as in day to day life. For instance a female bodied person who performs as a drag queen is a faux queen/bio queen or the other way around for a faux king.

Judith Butler and Gender as Performance[edit]

Judith Butler is one of the most well-known theorists regarding the idea that gender is something that is performed by individuals. Her concept of Gender performativity is the idea that people choose to perform gender in a context in which we are given very little socially acceptable choices, but can be explained as being similar to what actors do in front of the camera. Due to the importance we place on the belief that men need to act like men and women need to behave like women, it is often believed that gender is an innate attribute and not a social construct. In her article Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory, Butler explains that if gender is something that sexed bodies assimilate to in order to follow the societal codes of what is appropriate behavior, then those actions can be conceptualized differently to allow more flexibility for individuals. In the same article, she asserts that in U.S. culture, the gender binary and its strict social repercussions against those that act against the "normal" script, this script is policed by harassment, parental pressures to fill expectations, and peer influence. All of which are a way to guarantee that the culture will repeat itself from generation to generation.[11]
Judith Butler's theory about gender roles and their social implications and need for reconstruction is more fully developed in her book, [Gender Trouble]. She argues that the limited acceptance of variation in gender roles does great harm to individual expression. With the limited options for both men and women, there is little room for their combined forces, because men are constantly focused on becoming the financial supporters of their families which leaves women with the sole option of being the maternal expert she is expected to be. This idea excludes the masculine women or feminine men from being acceptable parental figures for their children because it may lead to a child growing up and conceptualizing the world differently. [11]

Natural Genderfucking[edit]

Genderfucking is not always a purposeful political standpoint. Gender is something that is performed; it only holds cultural significance to the extent that we allow it.[11] Despite the strict role society tries to impose on everyone there are many ways for individual variation. Just because someone does not conform to the typical roles does not mean that they are trying to be politically radical. They may just be performing their gender in ways that suit them best, be it for comfort or lifestyle, or it may even be what makes a person feel good about themselves. Yes there can be exaggerations and individuals who are trying to make a point about the rigidity of the gender roles but others may just be expressing their personality through the way they dress.

Genderfucking in Children[edit]

According to Susan Witt's recent study parents are typically the first people a child relates to and because of the intensity of that relationship it is from parents that children come to their first conclusions about being male or female. Through this social interaction the parents give children gender specific clothing, toys, and expectations. There are often many subtle messages about what is acceptable or not regarding gender. Studies have shown that children that grow up with more androgynous gendered parents are more focused on achievements and typically have a better sense of self.[12]. According to a recent article by Kerry Robinson parents have no problem loving their children but in cases of gender nonconformity, when a child exhibits gender performances that are atypical of their prescribed gender role that a parental figure may respond with hostility.[13] According to the Official Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, people who do not conform to the gender binary are often subject to more abuse from society within the family and their community. These types of abuse range from physical, sexual, mental and emotional, and are not associated with homosexuality alone.[14]


Pat/ It's Pat[edit]

Pat, a character from the television show Saturday Night Live which served as the basis for the movie It's Pat. The sketches and film feature and androgynous main character, Pat. People are unable to distinguish Pats sex, including one male's inability to determine Pat's gender after having sex with him/her, while stranded on a deserted island.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter/ The Rocky Horror Picture Show[edit]

"Dr. Frank-N-Furter" from the movie, "Rocky Horror Picture Show," is a male bodied person but wears lingerie, clothing, and accessories thought to be feminine. The character also wears make-up. In one of the songs featured in the musical Dr. Frank- N-Furter sings, "I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania."

Lady Gaga[edit]

Lady Gaga is very specific in what she wears and even states that, "But in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way, and I love androgyny."[15]

See Also[edit]

Reference List[edit]

  1. ^ Lawless, Elaine J. (Winter 1998). "Claiming Inversion: Lesbian Constructions of Female Identity as Claims for Authority". The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 111 (439): 3–22. doi:10.2307/541317. JSTOR 541317. 
  2. ^ Hawkes, G. (1995). “Dressing-up – cross-dressing and sexual dissonance”. Journal of Gender Studies 4(3): 261-270.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, Sue and Celia Kitzinger (1996). "The Queer Backlash". In Bell, Diane; Renate Klein (eds) (1996). Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed. London: Zed Books. pp. 375–382.  Quoted in Weedon, Chris (1999). Feminism, Theory, and the Politics of Difference. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-631-19824-5. 
  4. ^ Elisa Glick. Sex Positive: Feminism, Queer Theory, and the Politics of Transgression. Feminist Review, No. 64, Feminism 2000: One Step beyond?. (Spring, 2000), pp. 19-45.
  5. ^ Quoted in Bergman, David (1993). Camp Grounds: Style and Homosexuality. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-87023-878-7. 
  6. ^ Summers, Anthony (1993). Official and Confidential. The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-88087-X. 
  7. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (February 15, 1993). "Books of The Times; Catalogue of Accusations Against J. Edgar Hoover". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2008. 
  8. ^ Claire Bond Potter, Wesleyan University (July 2006). "Queer Hoover: Sex, Lies, and Political History". Journal of the History of Sexuality (Texas: University of Texas Press) 15 (3): 355–81. doi:10.1353/sex.2007.0021. ISSN 1535-3605. What does the history of sex look like without evidence of sexual identities or proof that sex acts occurred? And how might an analysis of gossip, rumors, and perhaps even lies about sex help us to write political history? 
  9. ^ Lee 1900, 55
  10. ^ Rupp, Leila; Taylor, Verta and Shapiro, Eve (June 8, 2010). "Drag Queens and Drag Kings: The Difference Gender Makes". Sexualities 13 (275): 278. doi:10.1177/1363460709352725. 
  11. ^ a b c Butler, Judith. "Performative Acts and Gender Construction: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory". Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Witt, Susan D. "Parental Influence on Children's Socialization to Gender Roles". University of Akron School of Home Economics and Family Ecology. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Robinson, Kerry. "Tomboys and Sissy Girls: young girls’ negotiations of femininity and masculinity". International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  14. ^ Roberts,Rosario,Corliss,Koenen and Austin, Andrea L.,Margaret,Heather L.,Karestan C.,and S. Bryn. "Childhood Gender Nonconformity: A Risk Indicator for Childhood Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress in Youth". Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Journal of Pediatrics. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Walters, Barbara (2009-12-30). "Lady Gaga: 'I Love Androgyny'". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  • Altman, D. (1996). "Rupture or Continuity? The Internationalization of Gay Identities". Social Text 48: 77–94. 
  • Coviello, P. (2007). "review of "World Enough Sex and Time in Recent Queer Studies". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 13: 387–401. 
  • Glick, E. (2000). "Sex Positive: Feminism, Queer Theory, and the Politics of Transgression". Feminist Review 64: 19–45. 
  • McKenna, Jack (2000). "How I Became a Queer Heterosexual", p. 65.
  • Stepp, Meredith (2005-07-15). "Playing our parts in ‘genderfuck’".  Unknown parameter |web= ignored (help)[dead link]
  • Reich, J.L. (1992). "Genderfuck: the law of the dildo". Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 15: 112–27. 
  • Thomas, Calvin, ed. (2000). Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06813-0.