Friday, April 15, 2011

paint your toes pink!

A little over a year ago, I met my first transgendered friend. Well, I should say, I'd known my friend a while, but only came to know that she was a male to female transgender about a year ago. I didn't know what exactly to make of that information at first, as it was something new to me, and made quite an ass of myself. The conversation went something like this,

her: You know that acronym, LGBT?

Me: yeah, of course.

Her: I'm a T

Me: (laughing) mean G. T means transgendered, not gay.

I turned and looked at my friend, and her eyes were full of tears she was holding back as we were in public, at a bachelor party actually, and she didn't want to cry. I asked her if there was a name other than her male name that she'd prefer to go by. She said that there was, but that "I couldn't just choose to see her as a woman now..." but it was said with a slight glimmer of hope. I laughed again, and this time in a non-offensive way, as it was laughter at myself. "Of course I can!" I replied, "You know far better than I if you're a female, who am I to tell you otherwise?" Since then, we've become even better friends, knowing that this wall of deception is no longer separating us, and while we don't talk as often as I'd like, our relationship is stronger than it ever was when we were less honest. That was my first interaction with the idea of transgenderism--that one could simply be genetically male or female, but emotionally and psychologically and in all other ways--not. I can only imagine how difficult it must be, to wake up in a body that you feel is not your own and foreign, and how difficult it must be to challenge those perceptions people have of you. That is why this article published on FOX News pissed me off so terribly. The author, sadly a doctor, makes ridiculously outrageous claims and comparisons that are so false they're almost obscene. For example,

encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts

Anyone who associates painting ones toe-nails with "choosing gender identity" must have stopped paying attention sometime in 1950. The idea that little girls wear pink and love makeup is as antiquated as the idea that men are the bread earners--moreover it ignores the fact that social norms change, and change quite often. Early in the twentieth century, girls wore light blue and boys pink. Ask someone in 1940 if singing in a choir is a masculine hobby and ask someone today and you'll get vastly different answers. The author, however, makes an unstated assumption that behaviors and social norms are somehow inherent to sexual identity, which is untrue--they are learned traits and social constructs we develop and hoist upon our own children. After that, he makes the comparison between transgender and changing ones race writing,

What would be so wrong with people deciding to tattoo themselves dark brown and claim African-American heritage? Why not bleach the skin of others so they can playact as Caucasians?

Again, he misses the point and confuses the issue--gender is not a learned trait, it is something one is born with. It is not necessarily reflected genetically in ones body, but it is something you are born with nonetheless. Race, however, is not the case, especially when you equate heritage and race. I have a friend who is white, but was raised by an African-American family. He loves Medea movies. He watches BET. He is Caucasian, but he is culturally African-American. Race is something one is born with, culture is not. He goes on to berate the mother for "parading her son in costume"--because if he really does love pink, then it is clearly a costume whereas the cultural trappings of masculinity (one assumes camouflage and blue) he has eschewed are "natural" despite the child's' own wishes and then somehow ties it all into the military (yes, the military). He fears a time when gender identity is so thoroughly homogenized that:
neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.
Of course, this assumes that gay men, transgendered people and women aren't capable, willing or able to fight in wars, but that's beside the point obviously. I wonder what he would have us do, if our children ARE transgendered (assuming this child is, which I think is a wildly ridiculous assumption). Am I to tell my son, "No, you WILL wear a tux, and you'll like it!" Rid my house of all this is pink, flowly and possible to make a dress out of? The idea that this man thinks he knows better what a child wants and needs than his own mother--than the child himself--is disgusting.


Blogger This American Wife said...

I couldn't agree more. You made a compelling argument. Thanks for sharing the link and your thoughts on the matter.

10:17 AM  

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