How my coming-out and job-out led me to Hyper-Gender

Part 1 - Exploring identity and society beyond stereotypes

Caption: Stromae — “Tous les mêmes”

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 get out of our bubble, face the reality of society and make a choice: pursue our love or honor our cultural roots? We could either 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 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.”

In the meantime, while I was trying to figure out my life without her, I switched my career, starting with my « job-out » 3 years ago from a senior consultant in a large consulting firm in Paris, to a « change-maker » of the new economy. I discovered and explored “Neo-Tribes” practices: new organizations (intentional communities, hacker & art collectives, co-working spaces, ephemeral experiences, eco-villages, entrepreneurial hubs, and other grassroots movements) where everything was possible. Becoming part of these innovative ecosystems and living a nomadic life put me at the forefront of society to observe the systemic changes and alternative value operating models the world is shifting to.

It also made me realize that while many are analyzing and debating a paradigm shift in businesses and new power structures, no one has been yet talking about one of the biggest shifts happening: that of gender in the New Economy. In a beautiful combination of respect and genuine curiosity about one’s authentic self, we have slowly been able to create certain safe spaces that allow people to explore and accept the complexity and multiplicity of their true identities.

One reason why I feel so happy and fulfilled in these communities, is that I am accepted for who I am. Nobody expects me to behave this or that way because I am a woman, or dating a woman or a man or a couple. This authentic and holistic approach to what I have been calling hyper-gender is perhaps all the more noticeable for me after my complex long distance relationship, and my experience of working as a consultant in a mainly male heteronormative environment where despite French liberal values a conservative mentality remained.

“For me hyper-gender is about letting go of labels, dissolving the male-female binary, and exploring our capacity for new forms of relationship.”

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 relationship. 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 happily living. Allowing me to break free from all the expectations of what it means to be successful, the process of the past years helped me become the explorer and evangelist for freedom and authenticity I am today.

This article is the first of a series of articles that explore the concept of hyper-gender in its various manifestations. You can read the next one about what hyper-gender means for our identities, relationships and sexuality — here.

To find out more about Hyper-Gender, join our conversation here!

NB: A special thanks to my friends who have been crucial to the start of this conversation: Marie ChartRon who initiated the reflexion with her interrogations about why gender was so little discussed in our OuiShare book "the end of "hierarchies" (in french http://magazine.ouishare.net/…/05/livre-societe-collaborat…/), and Aurélie Salvaire, Aline Mayard, Michel Bachmann, Alexa Clay, Francesca Pick, Soukeina Hachem, Adam Yukelson, John Toutain who have been discussing “neo-feminism” and sharing content in private streams with me for a while, before we called it ‪#‎hypergender‬ (merci John!) — and of course thanks to the amazing editor Bianca Pick ❤