In class the other day, the topic of gender identity was brought up. At the time I could not put all my thoughts and views on the topic into words and ideas to keep it connected to where our discussion was going, but I wanted to share them now due to the fact that around me, it has become a bigger issue in my mind. It isn’t a big issue like same sex marriage or women’s rights, but it is still a topic that is growing in steam.
To start things off, I grew up with two older brothers. Due to that, I would often be influenced by my older brothers on what was cool and what wasn’t. Growing up, I was a “tomboy.” I hated most things “girly” and played with things considered more “masculine.” My mom had trouble getting me to wear cute clothes and I would often end up with shirts from the boys department. I grew up believing what I liked was masculine and the things I didn’t like, feminine, and I’m sure the same can be said for most of us. There were always clear definitions and if you went too far on the opposite side of the spectrum, you could get made fun of.
Yet, gender isn’t clear cut like that. There is no longer a clear divide between the two, and neutrality has become larger because of it. The fact that people try to stick definitions to such things is, how I see it, trying to force an identity onto a child. I’ve seen many stories and topics about how parents would be hassled because their son wanted to wear a dress or their daughter wanted to play with action figures. Yet, the parents were the only ones with the issues. The kids, more often than not, either cared less, or complimented the other. So, why is it that parents have to make a big deal about masculine and feminine identities while the kids don’t really care? Kids can like what they want. They shouldn’t be hassled and told “no, that’s too girly,” or “why not get a cute doll?” Doing so forces them into an identity they may not want and they’ll fell stigmatized for liking what they do. It’s not going to hurt a girl for liking Transformers, nor a boy for liking the Disney princesses.
Gender identity as a whole is the same sort of idea. There should be no clear cut definition on what makes you a man or a woman. It’s all how you perceive yourself. If you are a woman and you view yourself more as a man, you should be allowed to freely call yourself a male, and the same for men to be called a woman. If you don’t feel you fit either standard, then you shouldn’t have to be forced to fit into either and be agender. Feel a bit more masculine some days and feminine others? That’s the joys of being gender fluid. I have many friends that consider themselves either the opposite gender or gender fluid, and there is nothing wrong with that. People should be able to view you as what gender (or lack of) you identify as and not what sex you were born as. Identifying with people’s body parts is like identifying people with race. Just because they are of a certain persuasion doesn’t mean they share the same identity. There are some cultures out there where there are no issues with identifying as a certain gender or what not. But, choosing to refer to them by their sex and not by their gender can be rather hurtful.
All in all, gender is another fluid topic like race and sexuality. There is no real right or wrong. Sure, there can be extremes of one side or the other. There can also be very neutral and not show much of one side or the other. It’s all just a matter of personal preference and should not be influenced by others.