How Music Helped my Gender Expression.

Pride in bold white text on a rainbow-glitter background.

While rock and metal will always be my preferred genre, I’d be lying if I said it was the only type of music I listened to. In fact, there aren’t many genres of music I won’t listen to, except for country and folk music. I even like to listen to video game scores while working; the Witcher if I need to think, and Doom if I need to get sh*t done. I thought that what I chose to listen to on any given day depended on my mood, until recently that is, when I spotted an odd pattern.

As you may know, I’m non-binary, and if I had to give my gender a specific label, the most precise would probably be “gender-fluid”; sometimes feeling more feminine, sometimes more masculine, and sometimes somewhere in-between. This is reflected in the clothes I wear, whether I choose to wear a bra or a binder, and what make-up and accessories I use. I also wear a they/them pronoun badge, more to help others remember than for my own purposes, although it can be a useful weapon if someone repeatedly misgenders me.

Recently, I went from feeling overtly feminine to overtly masculine in a particularly short span of time, which is not an experience I recommend if I’m being completely honest. It was in masc-mode that I noticed my YouTube suggestions was listing a lot of Lady Gaga and Lizzo, when I wanted Bring Me The Horizon and Fever 333. The penny dropped; it wasn’t my mood influencing what music I listened to, it was my gender.

Now, if you approached this with a logical, analytical outlook it seems ridiculous. Music does not have gender. Plenty of women listed to rock music, and plenty of men like pop music. In fact, bands like Halestorm and Icon for Hire, both of which are fronted by women, dominate my rock playlist. Yet, for some fickle reason I have yet to fully fathom, listening to rock music reinforces feelings of masculinity, and the inverse is true for pop music.

I do have to wonder if this association has come about due to sexism and misogyny, although not directly my own; rock music themed clothes and accessories are notorious for coming in male cuts and sizes only, and so even prior to coming out as non-binary I was regularly raiding the men’s clothes for t-shirts of my favourite bands. It would seem that these clothes, in affirming my masculine side, have created some kind of an association between music and gender.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to spot the pattern, but now I’ve seen it I can’t un-see it. Nor do I especially mind this pattern, as I actually think it’s quite funny. If anything, the only real problem here is the need to provide more feminine options for rock and metal fans, which is something I continue to stand (or sit) by even though I now recognise how important those clothing options have been in regards to my own gender.

Anyway, parents, now you have yet another reason to keep your children away from the heinous metal scene, full of such unsavoury characters such as myself; rock music will make your kid trans.

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