Tag Archives: family

Gender Journey

19 Dec

by Anonymous

This isn’t an argumentative piece or a politically correct one. Actually, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of gender variance in my life and wouldn’t know the proper words anyway. This is just a story really, or several, I guess. It’s my stories, of my life and my feelings. And that’s it. It’s a call to walk in my shoes for five minutes and see a different perspective than you may usually see.

I’m eight, and just starting to question everything. The great WHY. Why are there stars in the sky? Why are some people tall and others short? Why was my soul born in a girl’s body?

I don’t feel out of place in my female body, but I don’t feel attached to it either. If I had been born exactly as I am in a boy’s body, I would live my life as a boy with its privileges and downfalls and not think a thing of it. I mean, even the way I phrase it in my head “my soul……girl’s body” shows that what I consider to be “me” is ungendered, even at this age, even though my mom insists on forcing me into dresses and curlers for church. I didn’t like anything girly, and I think a lot of it was due to the stigma against women in society, so I felt more free to do things as a tomboy that are “unbecoming of a young lady.”

I’m seventeen and getting the hang of masturbation. Over the years, I’ve explored my body and fell in love with the responses I can cause with my own touches. I stop railing against everything feminine and let myself enjoy wearing an occasional skirt or some mascara. This is also the age I first fell head-over-heels for Laura.  From the closet, of course. But loving Laura showed me that liking girly things doesn’t make you less of a person in some way. Femininity isn’t a block you have to accept or reject as a whole. You can like what you like, hate what you hate, leave the rest, whatever.

I’m twenty and at university. As I pass a security guard, he says, “Good morning, sir.” I smile, but he quickly blushes, realizing his mistake. I liked it, though. I don’t even know why, but someone not seeing my gender correctly (according to society) really excites me. It’s like a glimpse of a future where no one really knows a stranger’s gender, but it doesn’t matter. I REALLY DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR GENDER IS. And I know that leaves me open saying to lots of possibly offensive statements, but I like my maybe/ maybe not gender, and I respect everyone’s right to define their own gender (or to purposefully not define it). Whatever floats your boat.

I’m twenty-one and at my grandparents’ house for Christmas. I know they disapprove of short hair for girls and so I wore a purple dress, my girliest clothes to struggle for their approval. I know it shouldn’t be this way, but it’s family, you know? Then my grandfather introduces me to one of his neighbors as “that boy.” This is not how gender fluidity works. I’m still upset about it. I hate when people purposely mess up a person’s gender identity, especially so they can use it as a way to insult them. I HAVE DIGNITY!! Okay, end of rant.

Thanks for sticking through my ramblings to the end. From talking to my friends and peers, I’ve learned that most of us don’t think or talk about gender as much as we should. I mean we talk about the bi-gendered world we live in, and male privilege, and the constraints on women in society, but we rarely talked about our gender, how we feel about gender, if we even feel the need for gender at all. So a strange point-of-view like mine may not be heard so often. So, I hope you got something out of this.

Becoming an Ally is the Most Important Decision I’ll Ever Make

8 Oct

by Jayme Amann

Disclaimer: I’ve told this story to very few people. If you wish to contact me about anything in this article, please message me privately because I don’t want to run into issues with my family. Thank you. 

I grew up in an extremely conservative household. Not only was my mother devoutly Catholic and Republican, but she also had very traditional values that dictated my role in life as a straight, Caucasian female. For the most part, I abided by the rules she imposed on me. By age eight I could cook, clean, iron, and do the laundry. My mother dolled me up in ball gowns and entered me in beauty pageants. To me, this was normal; to me, this was expected.

This is not an essay about feminism. My transition towards becoming a “strong, independent woman” (to quote my sorority) came much later in life and was a logical progression. This is about the moment that changed the entire trajectory of my life and made me rethink everything I knew to be true. When I was twelve years old, my brother came out to my mother as gay.

The typical family reaction in the late 20th century is supposed to be that of support and understanding. The first thing out of my mouth was, “what does gay mean?” At age twelve, I had no notion of gender norms or sexual orientation. My experience with gender did not extend far beyond the bounds of the kitchen, and my religion had failed to teach me that a human could be attracted to the same sex. Instead of sitting me down and explaining this new phenomenon to me, my mother disowned my twenty-year-old brother and kicked him out of the house for coming out of the closet.

At the time, I could not comprehend why she called him “the devil” and “an abomination.” I was only twelve years old, but my mother told me that I could no longer see my brother; no longer say I loved him. But I could see that for the first time in my brother’s life he was unconditionally happy, and I wanted to be happy for him. According to a Q&A by the American Psychological Association, “All young people who come out may experience bias [or] discrimination…Supportive families, friends, and schools are important buffers against the negative impacts of these experiences.” My brother did not have this support. My mother abandoned him when he needed her the most. Further, my mother did not succeed in one of the main duties societally designated to her as a “mother”: educating her children. I could not comprehend what was happening, and she made no effort to alleviate my sadness.

Years of crying myself to sleep later, I now understand that my mother’s judgmental, hateful actions and words were wrong. Thus, when I turned 16 and “came out” to my mother as an Agnostic, Democrat, feminist, and LGBT* ally, my solution was to move in with my brother and his long-term boyfriend. Although it didn’t end up working out (because of the whole minor running away from home thing), I ended up moving in with my father who let me be whoever I damn well pleased.

Everyday of my life I learn something new about myself, my peers, and my notions of society as a whole. I learned the hard way that ignorance is not bliss and that I needed to strive every moment to understand more about this world. Sometimes I slip up. On more than one occasion in the recent past I have said things that I immediately recognize as misinformed notions from my childhood. Breaking down these engrained teachings can be daunting for most people. It took me four years before I began to truly question my mother’s beliefs and became comfortable with who I was as a person.

The most terrifying concept for me to grasp is that my mother is far from alone in this thought process. Thousands of members of the LGBT* community are rejected by their families and have to fight for a support system. There are few things I know for certain in life, but one thing I do know is that sexual orientation is complicated and emotional. The sooner children are exposed to the realities of gender in society, the sooner they are able to understand the importance of supporting those struggling through this transition.