The Metaphysics of Gender Non-conformity

I first became aware of the issue of gender non-conformity a number of years ago when I saw straight boys with their girlfriends walking around Little Five Points with sundresses pulled over their t-shirts and jeans. At this same time, I was doing volunteer counseling with homeless LGBTQ young adults, and they were giving me an education into the rising awareness of transgender people and their needs and what they face societally. Awareness of and respect for the transgender community has been growing, rightly so. It has sparked culture war battles over who can use what bathroom and issues with transgender athletes and it has led to people of all stripes specifying the pronouns they wish to be addressed by in the signature of their emails or bios of social media accounts.

What I have found most interesting about all of this is the intense focus on living and expressing physical gender with little to no discussion of the masculine and feminine energies that we all possess. These energies have NOTHING to do with stereotyped sex roles. They are about complementary energies at work in each of us that need to find a balance that leads to wholeness as a human being.

Jung talked about them, I believe, as inner opposites. In my opinion, they are not. Ancient Chinese philosophy, more correctly, talks about them as part of a dualism – complementary, interconnected forces within each of us. With dualisms – light and dark, summer and winter, expansion and contraction, etc. – you can’t have one without the other. More closely aligned with our purposes here are thinking and feeling, heart and mind, doing and being.

The masculine energy aligns with will, while the feminine energy aligns with imagination. Imagination is a sense that is common to us all. Think of how dreary and empty life would be without it. What you can imagine for yourself and your life is unlimited. Who you can be and become, places you can go, experiences you would like to have, and things you would like to do for yourself and others is all within the province of your imagination.

Can you imagine yourself being wildly successful? Can you imagine being a great parent? Can you imagine being loved and cherished? What would that be like for you?

But how do you bring all of that into manifestation in your life? Those things won’t just walk up the driveway. It takes will to make things happen; otherwise, all of the wonderful things we can imagine remain flights of fancy. But when our will, our determination, our focus, our perseverance are applied, we can move mountains.

The feminine energy aligns with being, and the masculine energy aligns with doing. I ask this question constantly: who are you? That is a question about being: your goals, hopes, dreams, desires, beliefs, choices, what you imagine for yourself and your life. However, most of us are way more comfortable with doing. It has become a badge of honor, at least until the COVID pandemic, to be constantly busy. “I have to be wired into work 24/7. I must stay on top of growing my personal brand on social media. I have things to do, kids to raise, aging parents to take care of, projects to finish. Who the hell has time to worry about being? Piffle. I’m busy doing. Besides, how ‘do’ you do being?”

I keep reading about the rising number of people who are really questioning whether they want to return to the pre-pandemic rat race. There is no right or wrong answer here, the only right answer is what works for you. But as some got the opportunity to put down all of that doing, they finally got in touch with just being. They became closer to what they wanted more of in their lives, and for many business wasn’t on that list.

It is the feminine energy that creates the space in which something can happen – the womb of creation, if you will. If there is not the space nor the place for something to occur in your life – “Well, I just don’t have time for a relationship right now,” – it won’t. “It isn’t the right time or place for me to seek a new job, start a new career, go back to school, start painting again, get back to baking.”

The masculine energy fills that space. It brings the activity of job seeking, career switching, firing up the oven to bake. But without the space being properly prepared, we may start something with the best of intentions but never see it through. Our goals can never fully come to fruition.

The feminine energies also align with conception and perception. To conceive of something new – a new idea, a new project, a new way of doing things, a new goal, a new hope, a new dream, a new way of expressing something creatively that has never been done before – is feminine. Feminine energy also rules how we perceive something to be: What we perceive of our past, our present, and the future we think or hope is coming. How we perceive ourselves through our own experience of ourselves.

We perceive through our five familiar senses, yes. We talk about the range of light or sound that our human senses are able to perceive. But we also perceive through unfamiliar senses as well. Perception is about the mental and emotional impressions that we get.

These are balanced by the masculine energies of meaning and understanding. Who decides what things mean to you? You do. “What if I get it wrong?” There are no right or wrong answers. However, you can always change your mind about what something means to you. What does it mean that some of your shirts have started coming back from the laundry with cracked or broken buttons? Could mean it is time to switch your dry cleaner.  Could mean they are just being careless, and you need to point it out to them. Could mean you’ve had those shirts since the dinosaurs roamed, they’ve been laundered and pressed a thousand times, and it’s about time for the whole shirt to give out.  Whatever meaning you assign to anything is A) your choice and B) a masculine energy.

There is a real crisis in the world right now of understanding. Nobody wants to try to understand anyone else. They want to be understood first. The act and process of really understanding yourself or someone else is a masculine energy. And it has a number of components to it, as understanding is a process. For our purposes here, I want to focus on the three final components of the process as I understand it.

What can you infer from the thoughts, feelings, facts being supplied to you? We can gain a deeper level of understanding through something that was not directly said. You may tell me you don’t like shopping malls, but I can infer you don’t like crowds.

Then comes appreciating the other person’s point of view, lived experience, and meaning they have assigned to things, just as you are able to assign meaning to things in your life.

And finally, the understanding process concludes with valuing what you have learned and giving that new level of understanding meaning and significance.

Will and imagination. Doing and being. Creating the space for manifestation and taking action to bring into manifestation. Conception and perception and meaning and understanding. All important things that all of us do. So maybe the next time your physical gender identity isn’t resolving life’s dilemmas, consider starting here with these eight things. Begin bringing them into balance. The gifts you find along the way can be priceless.

Living Skills offers positive psychology counseling, spiritual counseling and life coaching services in Atlanta for the LGBT community. Also available by Skype. If you have questions, comments or want to find out about our services, please email us at or visit