28 July 2014 by

Always should be someone you really love

7 comments

Categories: Questions, Tags:

Image is "Sticks" by Anita Berghoef (anitaberghoef.nl) used royalty-free from freeimages.com (http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1441185)

Image is “Sticks” by Anita Berghoef (anitaberghoef.nl) used royalty-free from freeimages.com (http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1441185)

I drove in to the city this morning and there was, just as I was pulling in to my parking spot, a “thing” on the radio about a transgender child from Alberta who is in the process of requesting his legal documents change his gender to represent the gender with which he identifies (male). I remembered reading an article about a family who opted not to reveal their children’s gender until the child themselves decided which gender they wished to identify as. I also remember that family being vilified as child abusers. And that brought me to this question:

What is so terrifying, so reprehensible, about allowing a child to express themself as whichever gender they choose?

That ultimately leads to this question:

What makes gender so damned important anyway?

I mean, what is “female-ness” or “male-ness” other than a group of behaviours and, ultimately, fashion choices? Why do so many people feel threatened – actually *threatened* – when faced with questions regarding gender?

I just keep coming back to this one question: what’s the big deal?

If someone wants to change their identification to reflect the gender they choose to display (rather than the one with which they were born, say), what’s the big deal? Surely there are better ways to classify and identify people “for national security reasons” than a box that says “m” or “f” on their passport or birth certificate. What are the important things that the government needs to know about you?

I guess that depends on what they’re going to use that information *for*. And, knowing bureaucracies, making a change to an OFFICIAL RECORD probably requires seventeen different people working on eight files in triplicate in order to change one tick mark from an “m” to an “f”. Ultimately, though, if the government wants to keep track of you, surely to Christmas they have better ways of doing it than the emms and effs on your passport.

This is actually a legitimate question. I don’t understand, and I’m trying to.

Why is it such a big deal to let a child (or an adult, really) what gender they wish to display? Where is the harm in letting (and encouraging) a (chromosomally-determined) girl to dress as, act like, use the same loo as, the boys? And what’s wrong with a (chromosomally-determined) man, who identifies as a woman, transitioning their life to live it as a woman? Is that child hurting you and your family in some way? Are they coming to your house and taking money out of your bank account? Are they eating your food and threatening your children?

I’d like to leave out the religious arguments, because…and I’m not sure here, but I THINK none of the ten commandments say “thou shalt, if born with one X and one Y chromosome, live thine entire life after the fashion of a male; likewise as a female when thou hast two X chromosomes. More than that and We Don’t Even Know”. I’m pretty sure there aren’t a whole lot of passages in the Torah or the Qu’ran that deal with gender expression. Ultimately, though, I think the religious argument that “we are made in God’s image” is silly. I’m sorry, I know that’s inflammatory and probably insulting and seven ways from “not socially/politically appropriate”. Here’s my reasoning, though: I don’t know what God looks like, and neither do you. For all we know, WE ARE ALL SUPPOSED TO GROW MAGNIFICENT BEARDS and something went wrong with the females. Or we’re all supposed to have enlarged mammary glands and something got cocked up with the males. Figuratively. Since there are no (that I’m aware of) passages in major religious texts that deal with the expression of gender, and since nobody (NOT EVEN JESUS) knows what “in God’s image” really means, let’s leave the religious arguments for now.

I want to know, socially, legally, bureaucratically, ethically. What is the problem with letting people – children especially – choose the gender they wish to express? Tell me. Let’s talk about this. Because it bugs the crap out of me when I don’t grok something.

cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and Twitter addict from Saskatchewan, Canada.

7 Responses to Always should be someone you really love

  1. Jim

    How do we know who should be treated as people and who should be treated as possessions if we let everyone switch from one label to the other all willy nilly?

  2. Raven

    I remember reading an article which shed an interesting light on homophobia. That it was really “the fear that some man might treat you, the way you treat women.”

    I suspect the “big deal” over allowing someone to identify as whichever gender they chose, is that people like to know who they have power over, and who might have power over them. It makes you question your place in society, and your relationship to others, and how you treat women as different from men… and that’s really uncomfortable for some people.

    For example: You can cat-call a woman.. but if that woman is actually a *man*?!?! Then He might punch you in the face. Or your friends might laugh at you for being gay. Or you might feel ashamed for thinking a guy is hot and start to question your own sexuality. You need a dependable binary system of identification before you can discriminate against “the weaker sex”.

    I was talking with a close female friend about the same Alberta case you mention, and she was rather appalled. She said if we start letting people just *decide* their own gender, then what’s to keep women from just *deciding* they want to be men, so they can get better jobs or more respect. It’s not fair to the women who aren’t comfortable pretending to be men, that those other women would take advantage of it.

    That last bit threw me for a loop. The idea that (a) someone would decide to go through the difficulties of gender reassignment for the *perks* and (b) that women who choose to identify as women are somehow choosing a lesser role… or at least, that they are accepting their culturally defined positions instead of demanding the same advantages given to men. She didn’t say it outright, but it felt like she wanted to say “I had to put up with being treated as a woman all my life. Why should someone else born with two X chromosomes get better treatment than me?

    It’s the same reaction as the homophobe. Society teaches us what to expect, and we should take that role to heart. Trying to change things makes others uncomfortable, and makes us uncomfortable about ourselves and our place in this binary system.

    Bit of a ramble, I know… but the same questions have been on my mind too.

    – Raven

    • cenobyte Post author

      Excellent post, Raven.

      Another big question your friend’s comments prompt is “how horrid is it that women should have to dress like a man in order to be paid the same as men and be treated the same as men?”

      It’s pretty horrid.

  3. ravensmarch

    I was reading a transgender person’s blog a while ago, and apparently one of the great objections may be stated thus: That man has only submitted to tedious bureaucracy, angry taunts, possible assault, and painful, expensive reassignment surgery… so he can peep at girls in a public shower. It’s just a ploy!

    …which makes about as much sense as any other objection.

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