The landscape of gender

My preferred metaphor for gender is a scatterplot (not a spectrum). If one’s assigned gender is at point (a,b) but one’s actual gender is at point (q,r) then one needs to change to match one’s actual gender. If one’s actual gender is at point (c,d) it’s quite near one’s assigned gender, so the person is cisgender.

If we model gender as a spectrum, it suggests that male and female are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and supports the gender binary, hence positioning genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender fluid people somewhere on that spectrum, whereas they might be outside it. A line is a one-dimensional model. We have more dimensions available to us than that.

Perhaps we could reimagine gender as a landscape. The mountains of the Fierce Femmes. Little Cisgender on the Wold. The village of Enby. The river of Genderfluid. Much Genderqueer in the Marsh. The valley of the Otters, near Bear Forest.

There is actually a village called Sant Boi near Barcelona. I took a photo as we went past it on the train.


There would be the villages of Upper and Lower Butch, and the district of  Femmeville on the other bank of the River Lipstick.

The patron saint of many of these villages would be Wilgefortis (whose feast day is on my birthday, as it happens). Wilgefortis is pretty much the ultimate queer saint – and there’s some fairly strong competition. Many other villages would be devoted to Joan of Arc.

The village of Transgender-am-berg is located in the Transalpine region, and is known for its fresh air and brave mountain climbers.

People can of course move from one village to another whenever they like.

Meanwhile, the TERFs have isolated themselves on a small, barren, and rocky island in the middle of the Straits of Bigotry. Those who wish to join them there have to get in a small boat and row alone across the perilous waters.

The ordinary folk of Cisgender on the Wold are a bit baffled by the TERF wars, and love to visit Transgender-am-Berg for its exhilarating vistas over the foothills.


My Twitter friend Dru Marland has drawn a beautiful map of the landscape of gender.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like my books.

12 thoughts on “The landscape of gender

    • @Yewtree – That may be. Vocabulary has always been the area where most misunderstandings occur, followed by how we paint the pictures.


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