Students defy gender roles
Towson sophomore Kai Alexander Jacob is a gender nonconformist.
Gender nonconformists are people who do not want to place themselves in the mold of their assigned gender, but rather interchange and explore the multiple sides of themselves.
“The term is called gender queer or gender fluid,” Jacob said. “What that means is your sex is male or female, but [with] gender, you can identify as either male or female, both or neither.”
As a gender fluid individual, Jacob said he feels sexual organs shouldn’t define who someone is as a person.
“I would like everyone to know that you do not have to fit into any type of gender norm that society tells you to [fit] into,” Jacob said. “If you are a man, you do not have to be tall and muscular, strong and popular. If you’re a woman you do not have to have big breasts and wear high heels…you can if you want to, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to.”
Ninety percent of the time Jacob identifies himself as a homosexual male, the other 10 percent he is able to express his female side through the art of Cybergoth.
“I intertwine the both to help express my fluidity the way that I see fit,” Jacob said. “Cybergoth is about the fashion and culture, while they usually do not have anything to do with gender fluidity, I combine them to fit my needs, I have used that as the outlet of expressing the other side of my gender identity.”
Jacob has not shied away from expressing himself publicly in his Cybergoth clothing in public, even on Towson’s campus.
“I like opening people up to the idea of different culture and fashion,” Jacob said. “[On campus], that was more around October time when I was in one of my outfits. It was Halloween people didn’t really care. But when I have when I have worn [the other outfits] in the past, it hasn’t really been that bad. Yea, the stares are there because you’ve never seen it before, but it really hasn’t been too big of an issue.”
Unlike Jacob, not everyone has been as accepting to 22-year-old Noma Dynamyte in her day-to-day life.
“All through middle and high school I was that, you know, butch that everyone hated just because I wore baggy pants, baggy shirts, and not-cute clothes,” Dynamyte said. “I even faced it from adults who told me that I need to dress like a girl…that it was disgusting for me to look like a boy and how I was a stupid [queer], just horrible stuff.”
Because Dynamyte did not conform to the social norms and gender roles of her biological sex, she continuously experienced bullying to the point where she dropped out of high school.
“I was 18 and I was working at Target…when I was working there this woman just told me to kill myself and then something just cracked and I just decided I do not care anymore,” Dynamyte said. “So I went and shaved my head into a mohawk and I just stopped caring what people think and ever since then it has been amazing.”
Dynamyte had struggles fitting into the “status-quo” female role, as she detested the idea of having to be a certain way. Dynamyte identifies herself sexuality as a queer, she is romantically interested in females, but does find herself sexually attracted to men sometimes.
“For the most part I can be typically feminine, I don’t feel comfortable saying that I am 100 percent a female because [with] that comes all these expectations, society’s expectations that you need to be a certain way and its not comfortable,” Dynamyte said. “Even my girlfriend, who is actually gender queer, I’ll call her my girlfriend but sometimes she’ll feel more boyish and she’ll want to dress like a boy and behave like one and she’ll get really upset because she’s not one gender.”
Twenty four-year-old Laura Rogalski is a self-identified pansexual.
“If someone were to date me, they don’t just have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, they have both,” Rogalski said. “I express my masculinity in a couple of different ways. Sometimes I just sort of dress down and wear guy clothes, I’ve been wearing guy clothes since I was in middle school. There are days where I have to professionally dress like a woman, but I feel like a man inside. I feel more like a man than a woman 70 percent of the time.”
She has two separate identities, one is Laday Godvixen, which she uses to express her feminine self when dressed in Cybergoth, and the other is Luka Geromino that helps her explore her masculine side.
“I consider myself pansexual, I don’t care what you are, if I find you attractive, and there is chemistry between us, I will let you know,” Rogalski said. “Some mornings I wake up and I feel like I just want to put makeup all over my face and I want to be super girly and frilly.”
Although Rogalski has a stronger masculine side versus a feminine side, she dresses up in Cybergoth when she wishes to express her femininity.
“Obviously [as Luka] I cannot grow facial hair, because I am physically female, but I can put on enough makeup to where it looks like peach fuzz. I’m still learning how to express my masculine side by fully dressing as a man,” Rogalski said.
As for the gender fluid and gender queer community on Towson’s campus, Jacob said he wants nothing more than to raise awareness.
“If you see someone expressing themselves outside of what society says the gender norms should be, treat them the way you want to be treated,” Jacob said.