A common phrase used in transgender 101 posts is “gender identity,” getting at the idea that gender is an internal thing. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s not just socially constructed (which says nothing about gender “not being real”, which is how “socially constructed” is often taken to mean). Gender is semiotic, a hermeneutic process, like a vast tree of languages. It’s personal, relational, and cultural. It’s as much about how we relate to our surrounding world and society as it is about our inner sense of self or our relation to our bodies. “Man/male” and “woman/female” are some of the most common languages, with plenty of variations like “femme” or “butch” [which isn’t restricted to men or women either!], or “dialects” or “accents” if you will. Our [Western] culture only socially sanctions “man/male” and “woman/female” language, but some of us “speak” our gender differently; for example, I am agender, genderless. While I “understand” gender, I don’t “speak” it natively, if you understand this metaphor (I’ll do a post on this later; it actually took a while to figure this out, namely when I went on testosterone).