And sometimes blue is too. A female reader quotes Alice Dreger:
But the truth is, as Sarah was suggesting, that a lot of “gender nonconforming” kids don’t have a simple story of being “trapped in the wrong body.” They are expressing more subtle, more complex, and more varied messages of self. What they need isn’t therapy; what they need is to know that it’s OK to be gender non-conforming.
That’s me in a nutshell, and I would imagine there are more of “us” than there are of strictly transgender children/people. The lack of understanding of those kinds of kids was probably the most traumatic part of my little butch childhood and remains a source of some pain and loneliness to this day. I still find myself seeking distance from others when I see their confusion and/or fear about what I look like and how I carry myself.
At nearly 50, I can suss out how desperate people are to have clear guidelines for what defines male and female.
This strict binary understanding provides them with a lot of comfort, though I might add that nearly all of the ideas of male-typical or female-typical interests are cultural understandings and not biological ones. Pink is always just a color, folks. But as a very butchy-looking child, who was better at sports than all of the neighborhood boys save my own brother, who was always competitive, never wanted to wear dresses and wore my hair short since I was little, I was never confused by what I liked and wanted to do.
But everyone else was, and they were extremely angry about the confusion I raised in them – when I was four damn years old. To have strangers, teachers, school peers ask me, angrily, “What’s wrong with you? Do you wish you were a boy?”, “Are you a boy or girl? Answer me!” or “Why are you here at the ball park, this is for boys?” always raised the same thought in my head, “What in the hell are you talking about? Of course I don’t wish I was a boy. I’m just a good athlete and hate dresses.” With those thoughts also came a deep fear for my own safety and utter embarrassment that I was somehow disappointing everyone by simply being who I was naturally. Fortunately, I was big and strong and only got physically threatened a few times as a kid.
I’ve never felt what’s described as gender dysphoria. I still don’t want to be a man, even though some still think I look like one. I don’t consider myself transgender, no matter how hard people try to pull this butch woman into that camp. I know I’m not easily definable, that I reside on the outside, but I can’t be anything other than I am now anymore than I could when I was four. I also know that who I am still confuses and angers many people and that I need to be very aware of when that’s happening so that confusion doesn’t turn into violence against me. With all of the progress on LGBT rights and understanding over the years, that part most certainly hasn’t changed.
Thanks for listening. It’s funny how your blog pulls so many of us to tell really deep stories about our lives that we haven’t shared with very many people. Until I wrote this post, I think I’ve only ever told of my childhood experiences to one other person – my partner. So, truly. Thank you for the outlet. It feels strangely safe when so many other places both virtual and real don’t.