Hyper-Gender Part 1 – Exploring identity and society beyond stereotypes

edited by Bianca Pick

Six years ago, I fell in love with my soulmate, who happened to be a woman.

Like myself, she had grown up in Morocco and came to study and work in France. We spent 3 beautiful years together in Paris, until the reality of life caught up with us. She had to go back to Morocco unexpectedly, meaning we had to reshuffle our relationship — from our romantic paradise in France to a long distance secret relationship where I was working in a country that just passed gay marriage rights, and she went back to her family in a country where our love is considered a crime.

The situation forced us to leave our bubble, face the reality of society and make a choice: do we pursue our love or honour our cultural roots? We could fight and struggle to build a family, but face ostracism from society and our loved ones, or we could end our relationship because there’s no hope for a real future together where we could find acceptance. It took us over 2 years to make up our mind and be able to choose the latter. Because our love was so strong, we tried everything to save it: soft break-up, open-relationship, polyamory. But anything we did only brought suffering.

Why am I telling you this story? Because when your love life becomes political, it makes you reflect about all the different perspectives of your life.

It was during this time without her that I switched my career, starting with my  ‘job-out’ 3 years ago from a senior consultant in a large consulting firm in Paris, to becoming a ‘change-maker’ in the OuiShare community. I discovered and explored “Neo-Tribes” practices, discovered many new organizations, hacker & art collectives, co-working spaces, ephemeral experiences, eco-villages, entrepreneurial hubs, and other grassroots movements, where everything seemed possible. Being part of these innovative ecosystems and choosing to live a nomadic life  allowed me to observe some of the systemic changes happening in society and explore new alternative value distribution models.

I realized that while many are analyzing and debating a paradigm shift in businesses and new power structures, few have been talking about what I consider one of the biggest shifts currently happening: that of gender in the New Economy.

Indeed, beautifully combining respect and genuine curiosity about one’s authentic self, it seems that in the organisations in which I have been circulating, we have slowly been able to create certain safe spaces that allow people to explore and accept the complexity and multiplicity of their identities.

One reason why I feel so happy and fulfilled in communities like OuiShare, is that I am accepted for who I am. Nobody expects me to behave this or that way because I am a woman, dating a woman or a man or a couple. I appreciate this authentic and holistic approach to what I call ‘hyper-gender’ perhaps all the more, after my complex long-distance relationship, and having worked as a consultant in a mainly male heteronormative environment where, despite liberal French values, a conservative mentality remained.

My endeavour towards more freedom cut across many aspects of my life. I went from being a mainstream business consultant to a freelancer, from living 12 years in Paris to becoming a digital nomad, to going from labeling myself as heterosexual to a lesbian, then bisexual, and finally now, hyper-gender.

For me hyper-gender is about letting go of labels, dissolving the male-female binary, and exploring our capacity for new forms of relationships. And although it may seem paradoxical to create this new label when my main mission is actually to overcome labels, it is something I deem necessary in navigating the social transition towards a new understanding of identities and gender.

Painful as this journey may have been, it brought me to the life I am now happily living. Allowing me to break free from my  expectations of what it means to be successful, the process of the past years helped me become the explorer and evangelist for gender fluidity and authenticity I am today.

This is the first of a series of 3 articles that explore the concept of hyper-gender in it’s various manifestations. The next will explore the meaning of hyper-gender in our identities, relationships and sexuality — so stay tuned!

Join the conversation on Hyper-Gender here!