I hope it is not too un-PC to say this….that I am having to do some mental reorganizing and reconfiguring to comprehend multi-form gender (or non-gender) identity.
Although I suspect it is obvious, given how challenged I feel just to figure out what to call it.
I can look back and see how this process began many years ago when I first became friends with a classmate who came out as gay. He told me about having to leave his home town and his school because he was getting death threats. He cried as he shared how his family wouldn’t let him be alone in the same room with his sister’s kids.
I didn’t really understand at the time what all he was facing in terms of his sexuality, but I have never forgotten him. And I absolutely understood the pain it was causing him and I absolutely believed him when he told me being gay was not a choice.
I also understood from that moment forward that something deep in my core is all for anything and everything that permits each of us to discover and be more fully who we are, and fully believes that we each should have the full right to do just that.
No one else’s insecurities, fears, opinions or biases should stand in the way of permitting each person to live their own life.
But then there is this other thing, which is my desire to put myself in other people’s shoes so I can better understand and empathize with their struggles and feel unity.
Yet I self-identify strongly as “heterosexual female,” and so now there is this part of me wondering if that is because that is what (who?) I am, or because this was a lesson I was taught and learned so well I never once questioned it, and still don’t. I find myself tip-toeing towards “trying on” the role of being “gender fluid,” for instance, and what comes up within me is, “huh?”
A recent magazine article on this issue, called “Beyond He or She,” talks about this very issue and how it can affect people who have been told who they are from a young age.
On a related note, the field of science has always held tremendous fascination for me, in the way that some people who have no musical talent long with their heart and soul to become singers.
For example, science is now learning so many new things about how babies develop inside the womb, what influences gender at birth, what can cause presentation of dual gender (such as having both sets of genitalia) and how such issues have traditionally been resolved in the past.
Today, not only is it possible to feel in my gut and soul that gender and identity exists along a wide sliding scale, but it is possible to verify that – at least in part – with the help of modern medical science.
But as of yet, it has not felt possible to really get my brain/mind on board with that. The closest analogy I can offer to explain my struggle is computers.
I have three nephews and a niece, all under the age of 10. They are so at ease with all things technology – my eldest nephew can spend hours explaining in precise detail about how his favorite video games work, yet even after listening (with precise detail) to him for hours, I still can’t really grasp what he’s getting at.
I belong to one of the few generations that can remember life before the internet – before cell phones, even. So I did not pop out wired for technology like my niece and nephews.
In the same way, I can remember living in a world where only two genders, two identities, existed. So for me, memorizing new words and their meanings – words like “cisgender,” “gender-fluid,” “pan-sexual,” “fluid” and “non-binary” in the context of gender and sexuality is a real exercise in making new neural connections.
And I wonder what that must be like – feel like – to wake up into such a wide-open world and not know anything different or smaller ever existed.
What must it be like to wake up and automatically see not just the primary and pastel colors in the color palette, but all the subtle shades in between….and perhaps to even see in ultraviolet, because in your world, there are no learned limitations on what a human eye can see or perceive.
It must be – well, I know it is VERY hard for many people – but to me, it just seems….wonderful.
Today’s Takeaway: Are you struggling like I am with some of the new terminology and really grasping its meaning, not at a level of being able to pronounce, spell and define a word, but being able to really feel and experience its life in your mind, heart and soul? Would you like to not just understand but feel and empathize and maybe even try on for size living in a much wider, more open and adventurous world when it comes to your own gender and identity and that of others?
NOTE: I realize this is a charged issue. Please know that all thoughts and comments are welcomed, but any that are not phrased with kindness and respect will not be displayed here.