Although we tend to think of gender as one more attribute of our bodies, gender theory tells us that gender is more of a performance, the iterative and continuous performance and interpretation of gender in conjunction with the physical body. This performance is what ultimately makes gender a social reality.

The philosopher Michel Foucault argued that since the 18th century, practices of self-expression have shifted from a tactic for denying our true nature to a technology for the continual construction of the self. This is echoed in Judith Butler’s theorization of gender performativity.

Through the lens of ​​the performativity of gender, it becomes clear that gender is a social construction that changes with sociocultural context. However, the effects of this social construction are clearly real, and they create the basis for many of the forms of discrimination faced by the participants in this project.

Gender is not inherent or immutable, but is constructed through the relationship between the gendered expectations of one sociocultural group or another and the expectations of the physical body in this same society: Boys like/do that, and girls like/do that.


My fourth year class trip was really my first taste of freedom. I left, I dyed my hair, I had a mohawk! And I went out wearing a tuxedo, and my dad screamed to high heaven because I had gone out in men's clothing.

The line between the purposeful construction of a non-normative self and embodying a novel but increasingly hegemonic gender identity is perilously thin. 

Representations of the self must be read as constantly in flux, oscillating between new forms and ideas of gender, and the adoption and eventual normalization of these once dissident forms of gender identity and expression.

As one definition of selfhood becomes overly rigid, another emerges to destabilize it. That is, there is no inherent, pre-social self, but rather one that is continually and iteratively built over one’s life and in relation to one’s surroundings.


Even though I don't consider myself a drag queen, it still has a lot of influence on what I do (as an artist). And in terms of my somewhat grotesque aesthetic in relation to conventional drag.


So if a woman wants to be a man, she is moving up in status. That's good. She is gaining power; she’s gaining privilege. Now, if a man wants to degrade himself into a woman, which is how the patriarchy sees the issue, it’s like “Dude. Why? You’re losing privileges. You’re moving down the scale. We’re trying to get more, not less."

So, although the physical body — materially speaking — does exist, gender is one of many ways to turn that raw material into an intelligible being for society.