One of the most useful things for me to understand each of the zodiacs was by learning the different categories they can be grouped in as this allowed me to break down their energy.
You can break down the signs into dualities: masculine and feminine, elements: fire, earth, air and water, and the modalities: cardinal, fixed and mutable. When I refer to masculine and feminine this is not boy verses girl or pink versus blue. Masculine energy is what we have to project into the world the masculine strength comes from what we physically do. Masculine signs tend to be more extroverted whereas feminine signs tend to be more introverted. Feminine energy is the energy that lies within, it is our inner strength and these signs usually need more downtime to recharge their energies.
The masculine signs are Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius.
The feminine signs are Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces.
By understanding which duality the sign is, you can understand which field the energy works on. If we are talking about Capricorns for example, this is about an inner discipline that will take you to the top, but if we're talking about Sagittarius we are talking about the outer exploration of the world.
Everyone has both masculine and feminine energy within whether you're male, female, both or neither. We all have inner strength and physical strength. We have the ability to have an inner and outer world as we have the energy needed to explore both.
A lot of people question whether gender plays a role in astrology. A lot of people are quick to say gender doesn't matter, however, this is ignoring how the gender we are raised as impacts the way we express our energy.
Think of a Pisces man for instance. Growing up he may have been very vulnerable to negative energy around him. Pisces energy is sensitive. It feels and understands subconsciously and that is its inner feminine strength. When a Pisces learns how to master this energy it is amazing. However, if growing up the Pisces boy was always told to toughen up and quit being sensitive, he will grow up to suppress his feminine energy. Rather than using his gift of understanding to help others, he begins to use it in a more negative expression. He learns to use manipulation, even if on a subconscious level, to get what he wants. Rather than embracing his feminine energy, the Pisces man tries to fit it into a masculine mold and it just doesn't work.
I believe the clash between female gender expectations and masculine energy is a little easier to deal with than a male as a feminine sign. Most women will find that they are perfectly happy as a Gemini or Sagittarius however, there is still room for tension. Aries is the sign that may have the most problems, Aries is ruled by Mars which represents pure masculine energy. Thinking of a young Aries girl with a mother who tries hard to get her to be feminine. She signs her up for female-orientated clubs, buys her dresses and makeup. The Aries does not want to be dainty, she wants to be passionate and competitive. If the Aries finds resistance, she will learn to use her Aries energy for War. Aries will use anger to get what they want, this child would learn to be aggressive with her wants so that she can be heard.
This doesn't mean that every female masculine sign and every male feminine sign will express their energy negatively, it is something we need to consider. Our environment can dictate which route we take, the lack of understanding of the energies that we hold due to our natal chart can lead to damaging effects. Feminine energy will have a better chance of expressing positive traits when allowed to show its strength in a feminine matter. At the same time, masculine energy shines best through a masculine outlet.
This does not mean you should exclude yourself to only feminine energy if you are a Cancer and only Masculine energy if you are a Leo. We all have a mixture of energies within us. You may be a Leo Sun, so your ego expresses itself in a masculine way, but you have a Scorpio moon so your emotional strength will be feminine. You like to be the life of the party usually, but when it comes to your emotions you like to be very private.
I have found that men have more struggles relating to integrating their feminine side. In today's society, it is okay for women to wear pants or a skirt but a man mus only wear pants. We live in a society that values masculinity, men are expected to act like men. Men are expected to only rely on their masculine energy. This can cause problems when there is an imbalance. The universe will keep sending obstacles their way until they learn to embrace the feminine energy as well. For women, it's becoming more acceptable to embrace both sides so there tend to be fewer complications here.
If you don't identify as the gender you were raised, you may be wondering how gender and astrology play out for you. Don't be quick to discredit any influence on your biological gender. Even though you don't identify or express yourself as that gender now, it is still influenced by how you were raised. If this had a conflict with the energy you express now, you would experience similar conflicts to that of the Pisces man or Aries woman example. If you identify as a female now but were raised as a male then you may have struggled with how you expressed your feminine energy. If you identify as a male now but were raised as a female your struggles may have been with masculine energy.
If you don't identify as any gender or both that is fine too! It is important to focus on how the masculine and feminine energy express themselves, not what gender norms are associated with the words masculine and feminine. I do find that people who transition or are gender fluid usually have influences of Neptune, Pisces or the twelfth house as indicators. Neptune usually blurs boundaries and creates a fog, so that people see what they want to see, not what is truly there.