In recent years, the transgendered have become a major recognized identity but they are a tiny fraction of the population. As far as gender differences are concerned, subgenders are much more important because people belong to subgenders within their cisgender genders much more than are fully transgender. I am a male so I will mostly speak about being male for this piece. Soft masculinity, hard masculinity, betas, alphas, and tomgirls are all different descriptors of the different subdivisions of the Y chromosome. Our culture regularly broadcasts its stereotyped ideas about what men want or what men are like when, usually, they’re only describing hard masculinity and alphas. I am a tomgirl, a boy who has girly tastes, prefers the platonic friendships of females, and would be easily the token male of a girl clique. The parts of me that are masculine are beta and soft. Almost none of what the culture says men want are what I want.
I have no desire to be and have a strong inclination against myself becoming transgender but not being transgender makes it difficult to convey what’s inside of me out. If I want to join a sorority, it’s not like I can explain to them that I’m a tomgirl and it fits with my personality. Fraternities wouldn’t let in tomboys. If those classes of organization did eventually allow for such types of inclusion, I would propose they have annexes, rather than include the toms in their main body. The presence of tomgirls at sorority functions would be very useful in terms of averting various forms sexual misconduct. Even small and girly phalluses (such as my own), are enough to ward off dark and spooky attention. They would also be good for fraternity functions as known male sorority allies at events to just be present.
One assumes many potential friendships or inclusions in groups have been impeded by the lack of recognition of subgenders. I’m not exclusively oriented toward female friends and certainly would prefer to have a coed repertoire of friends, just one that leans toward and is majority female. I prefer diversity in most ways, including in my friend group. I’m certainly not goth and while my politics and social views are hipster, I’m not a hipster, although I would want to have both subcultures counted among my circle as well as many others. That said, diversity requires that members of groups be able to express themselves and not having subgenders is an obstacle to self-expression for reasons previously alluded to. I can’t join girl organizations or be girly and on the chance I can manage it, I compromise the other aspect of my identity, the being male and possessing the soft and beta masculinity I do have. My gender identity cannot be fully realized until the niche that it would occupy is opened by my culture.
Society will be much more beautiful when many of the unrecognized nuances within it are given a platform to present themselves. I’ve written in an earlier article on being a heteroromantic asexual, the link to which is at the bottom of this piece, and combined my being a heteroromantic asexual tomgirl places me in a sexual and gender minority that society is blind to. Society assumes a number of inaccurate traits about my personality and character merely because I find women attractive and have a penis. It assumes I want strippers, beer, and want to be macho. I don’t want any of those things but because there is no differentiation within the male gender, when I talk to a stranger, they will assume I want those things by default because I am male and don’t come off as gay.
We need to add to the movement toward greater gender and sexual diversity. We need to begin to subdivide straight, gay, male, and female because those monolithic labels fail to adequately relate the information needed to allow for niches for all significant minorities within those macro identities. It will make many lives easier and facilitate many beautiful connections that would otherwise go unfulfilled. Our world will be more beautiful when the nuances of its human landscape are seen for what they are and not overlooked as a part of some larger topography. It is not at the microscopic level, we may never and perhaps shouldn’t accommodate that with the whole of society, but the mesoscopic level is large enough that it can be and should be done and everyone will be better for it.
2 thoughts on “Subgenders within Genders: Tomboys, Tomgirls, Betas, and Alphas”
I think people, in the desperate attempt to appeal to a vocal minority, are labeling anyone with a hint of gender variance as “trans” now. That’s why I think informed consent should be disbanded in favor of returning to older WPATH standards of counsel and RLE before allowing to undergo HRT and SRS.
True, although, as a tomgirl, I would say that just recognizing the existence of subgenders would be a huge step. Many people who go transgender may just want to be in a subgender but don’t because they don’t think the category is a thing.