Gender Presentation or Gender Expression refers to how one's appearance and behavior is categorized by society in relation to the genders recognized in that society. While gender presentation is often thought of as being an indication of one's actual gender, that is not always the case. For example, a woman may present androgynously or masculinely, or a non-binary individual may present masculinely or femininely, etc. Individuals who's gender presentation does not align with their actual gender are known as gender non-conforming. Some individuals may change their gender presentation from day to day.
Since most individuals gender strangers based on external appearance, many gender non-conforming individuals (especially those who are transgender) can get misgendered often. Caution is advised when attempting to guess one's gender based on gender presentation.
Gender presentation is typically described as "masculine", "feminine", "androgynous" or "gender neutral". Masculine and feminine presentations are based on if one looks, behaves, and/or wears clothes, that are traditionally associated with men or with women respectively. What is considered masculine and feminine presentation can change over time and from culture to culture, one's gender presentation is typically judged based on the culture they currently live in or the culture they grew up with. Androgynous presentation typically involves presenting with traits typically associated with men and women at the same time. Gender neutral presentation typically involves presenting in a way that is not strongly associated with men or women. For example, in modern western culture, dresses and skirts are strongly associated with women, and therefore a feminine gender expression. Pants are commonly worn by both men and women so are therefore gender neutral.
The traits typically considered when describing one's gender presentation often include:
- Hair length and/or style.
- Style of clothes.
- Presence and/or style of accessories such as jewelry, scarves, and bags.
- Presence of makeup and/or nail polish.
- Presence of facial hair and/or body hair.
- Having certain personality traits, or interests.
- Having certain professions.
- Using certain pronouns.
There are many terms used within the LGBT+ community to describe gender presentation such as butch, femme, bear, and twink. Non-binary individuals may use the pallet presentation system or the floral system.