From the beginning of time until recent years, the junk or lack thereof between your legs has been the dividing factor, the fork in the road, for how your life would be expected to play out. Weird social experiments aside, people tend to be named and raised based on the physical attributes assigned at birth. While I don’t think there’s anything overtly wrong with this (as I’m not a doctor or a parent but I would imagine for the first few years of a child’s life it must be nigh impossible to determine a child’s leanings in terms of gender preference), I do think there is a problem in resorting to stereotypes and unnecessarily gendered products, commercials and media to form a child’s idea of who they are and their place in society. Also, I think if a kid wants to play and/or express themselves in ways that deviate from their physical/biological sex it should be encouraged but not forced.
I also think most of the hurt people feel when they deviate from these norms come from too many people being raised on the same misconceptions and stereotypes. Because people aren’t being opened up to the possibilities everyone possesses as human beings, we try to limit each other to our expectations of them based on nothing more than the skin we see before us.
Hit me like a man (Love me like a woman):
Growing up, I did not relate to the feminine.
In my adolescent mind, to be a girl was to be weak, secondary. The Damsel in Distress.
As a result I got heavy into sports, I wore boys clothes, I hung out with the boys; hell, I beat up the boys (sorry Sam for all the kicks to the balls I thought were so funny in the 4th grade. Not sorry to Josh and Darren who bullied me in 7th grade until I experienced my first ever rage-induced blackout, picked Josh up by his shirt and almost clocked him in the face. Seriously, you got so lucky I never hit you dude. You might not have a nose today if I had.)
I went into martial arts and weight lifting, I cut my hair and dismissed all the things I thought would make me seem girly. Even if I secretly liked them, I thought giving in to the female would make me weak, would make me somehow less-than to the males.
I realize now that I never wanted to BE a boy. I just wanted to be on the same playing field. I wanted to project strength, and to do that I thought I had to reject beauty.
That, to me is what needs to change. The expectations placed on people based on what they look like. Because that is all gender is. It’s what you look like. It’s how you present yourself to the world and it’s quickly becoming an outdated, limiting concept.
It’s time we change how we treat people when they express themselves. People are more than what the look like. We all have the capability of being multifaceted. Boys can dance, girls can fight. And just because (s)he does one of those things doesn’t mean (s)he can’t do the other as well. I’m glad the youth of today (at least in this part of the world) are being introduced to more varied concepts of gender identity. I hope it’s leading us to a better and more understanding future.
Man, I feel like a woman (and vice versa):
Transgenderism is in the headlines a lot lately. People, when they say they’ve been born into the wrong body above all else need to be believed. They should have every right to change their bodies to match who they want to be.
- Schools and workplaces should be inclusive of trans-gendered people. (and it seems like the kids are ahead of the grownups in understanding this)
- Children should be able to express the gender and sexuality they identify with.
- It’s not difficult to ask someone what pronouns they prefer in reference to themselves.
- I think the gender-neutral bathroom issue can be dealt with better by working to prevent rape and bully culture and violence than by forcing people to use “special” toilets. It’s not OK to attack people. Period. Got it? People just need to pee and get on with their lives.
I can’t imagine the hardship that would come from truly living in a body that did not correspond to my brain and heart. Especially as a child trying to find where you fit in in the world. I think if a biological boy wants to wear a dress and play with the girls (s)he should be able to without discrimination. Same with a biological girl who wants to wear boxers and rough house with the boys. A child should be allowed to live the life they understand and feel comfortable in. This documentary from 2007 is a really great example of the impact that acknowledgement of gender-identity and positive parenting can make on a young trans-gendered children. And this follow up shows why people try to get treatment started before puberty.
That said, I understand the fear people have about these things. It’s an expensive, permanent change that is essentially being thrust into the hands of children. People we don’t trust to get a tattoo or even be alone in the house for an hour, are being given the decision to alter their bodies forever.
I honestly don’t know what to say about this, other than the fact these kids have their own journeys and I think it has to be obvious at some point if a kid REALLY believes they are in the wrong body or if it is just a phase like I went through. I think that once a child’s determination has been set and they’ve been through therapy and they know what they want, society should be as accepting as possible. It is important too though, to maintain a healthy skepticism about crazy parents who just want to alter their children’s gender for their own purposes.
Some kids may get a psychiatric diagnosis when they are just hugely uncomfortable with narrowly defined gender roles; or some may be gay and are coerced into treatment by parents more comfortable with a sex change than having a homosexual child, said Moon, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.
If your gender is hurting you, change it. If your sexuality is hurting you, change it. If your misconceptions are hurting your friends, family and the people around you… I think you fucking know what to do.