Gender roles are not a form of self expression, they are not the authentic expression of gender identity like some will claim, they are instead what gender expression has been reduced to. Gender roles are not even gender roles, they are sex roles and they are assigned based on sex. When people transition they may be expected to fit the new role but still be pulled by expectations of the old sex role, because the chains of sex roles are never fully broken just by the fact new ones are added.
Through different stages in history sex roles have been allowed to lapse and then return, sometimes they are widened so much it looks like they went away but they never did. Their chains are like elastic, they can stretch to the point of looking like they went away, because both sexes are allowed to do more of what the other one does, sometimes as a result of liberal times or the treads of a generation and other times out of necessity like dure in the war. As sex roles feel strain from challenge they stretch so they dont break, shortly after they contact with great force. This is why times of great liberal sex role fluidity are followed by times of extreme sex role rigidity. Masculinity and femininity in accordance with the sex role scripts are like two rubber bands in pink and blue, when they stretch they allow the two corden’s they create to overlap. When sex roles are stretched the signs they still remain are found in the way everything is still coded, all things still remain masculine and feminine but only difference is that in liberal times its becomes ok to express ones “other side” just as long as one remembers thats all it is. The style of ones transgression must be a passing trend, disposable as a sandcastle about to face the incoming tide. Like the trends of the 60 and 70’s, forever buried in history as they were washed away by the incoming tide of change void of progression.
All transgressions of sex roles will be washed away by the same tide, because sex role scripts are not wrote in sand and instead are carved in stone. Even in times when sex roles appear to change all that happens is a greater degree of “masculinity” is tolerated in women and a greater degree of “femininity” is tolerated in men. What never changes is the very definitions of masculinity and femininity itself, the scripts survive all transgressions and the very act of transgression preserves the scripts. Thats because when we agree that we are expressing our masculine side as women or our feminine side as men, or whenever we refer to masculine and feminine in the same context as what’s written in the scripts either as an act of celebration of our breaking of the rules , we still are remembering what the rules are.
True transgression can never be found by crossing roles, reversing roles or widening the definition of who can perform the roles. Letting some men be masculine and other men feminine, some women masculine and some women feminine and other people who are non binary be any combination of masculine and feminine they wish wont destroy the roles. The expectation that all women be feminine and all men be masculine still remains in the shadows, anything else is still seen as a passing act and never the true self. This is because masculine and feminine are built upon the idea of an essential male and female nature, that exist in most even if not present in all males and females. This is why those who transgress cannot ever destroy the sex role scripts because they as individuals are only saying they dont possess that essential nature. Those with an expressive nature are coded feminine, regardless of their sex. Those with an instrumental nature are coded masculine regardless of sex. Those who are female are expected to have an expressive nature, and those who are male are expected to have an instrumental nature. This is because an instrumental sex role script is given to males who are then meant to develop the traits,tastes and behaviours needed to perform it. An expressive sex role scripts is given to females and they are expected to develop the traits, tastes and behaviours needed to perform it. If they cant or wont then they are told they have a masculine or feminine side. They wont have an option of fully embracing that because sex roles are not something people get much say in, the expectations for a person do not change just bc a person does not fit them. A female cannot take the instrumental role as an alternative to the expressive role and stop getting backlash for doing so. She can build a bubble of people who will let her, but its a right that has to be earned and depends on others more than her. She may find over time others come to expect it, and pick her up whenever she does something coded as feminine or even worse it be used as a reason as to why she should be that way all the time.
We could decide the only way to get rid of sex role scripts is by taking the definitions masculine and feminine and saying anything can be masculine and anything can be feminine. Masculine can be instrumental and expressive, feminine can be instrumental and expressive. All things coded as masculine now are also feminine and all things coded as feminine now are also masculine. Doing this would not separate those distinctions from sex or sex identity, as having masc and fem on the front still acts to link anything coded as these back to sex or sex identity and back into a binary. In effect this would be another form of transgression, but this time its not about proving that not all females are feminine and not all males masculine and is instead about proving that masculine can mean more things and so can feminine. For example: saying men can be expressive as men and still be masculine and women can be strong and still be feminine, still in most cases translates to men can still perform their instrumental roles and stay in touch with their expressive sides. He can still show he is tough when expected, even wearing a decorative outfit and minding the kids. Women can still perform their expressive roles and still stay in touch with their instrumental sides, and who knows they maybe can still put up the shelves while they mind the kids and cook tea. All that happens is the original expectations remain, and people get to cross over to do the fun things but this time around they get to do so without being told they are any less feminine or masculine for doing so.
We need to bin transgression and embrace transcendence
The fact we have sex roles is why things out in the world are coded based on sex, its down to the roles needing to code actions based on sex so they can be allocated to sex. Once those roles have gone a collective mental template of whats masculine or feminine wont remain and sex or sex identity wont be linked to personality traits, tastes, interests or behaviours. Its possible some patterns may remain, similar to men being taller than women, but these will be nothing more than patterns and so variable no one would notice on a day to day level.
We really do all need to step into the tide, take with us our sandcastles of transgression and carry with us the sex role scripts written in stone and sink them. Let all the definitions of masculine and feminine be washed away by a tide of progressive change. All that will be left is our sex, and our sex identity which all have many different directions, directions no longer obstructed by the chains of sex role scripts. A landscape where things are no longer coded based on sex and the only thing that will draw us in any direction or towards any thing is interest, and interest not carved into us based on sex or expected based on sex identity.