Well, I just had my ass handed to me – again. After thinking that I had a really good grip on a contemporary issue, I learned that I had no earthly idea that I was dumber than a door.
I’m using a bunch of cliches because it’s a convenient way to point out that I was living in one. I was stuck in the idea of who was a man and who was a woman.
Yeah. I’m jumping into the transgender thing, but not to move the needle one way or the other, not to convince you that my way is the right way or any other happy horse shit. (Heck, my posts aren’t going out, lately, anyway!)
I’m writing about it because I need to write about it. Writing is how I cleanup my mind and I need to do a little housecleaning.
Like many millions of older, cys-gendered people, I was of the opinion that genders are defined at birth by one’s parts. And I was passionate in my defense of this because a world with two, birth-defined genders was the way I was raised and, therefore, it must be right. I thought gender confusion was a fad – like getting a tattoo or a nose ring. And I don’t like those fads!
Turns out, I highly underestimated the bravery it takes to be who you are. These kids, the ones willing to fight the idea that gender is fixed at birth, were walking out into the world without a mask. I never had the guts that they have at 4, 8, 12 or 18. And I think I have a ways to go before I have that kind of strength.
Three things changed my mind:
1. I know a friend, a mom, whose child is questioning their gender. The mom, a really smart and caring soul, clearly loves her kid. In addition, my friend seems patient and curious as her family goes through these changes. If my friend can be smart, caring, loving, patient and curious under those circumstances – maybe I can learn from her. Meeting her, it felt like I was, perhaps, limited in my beliefs. But I wasn’t ready to change, until…
2. During the course of our travels, we stayed with a family whose child had transitioned from a girl to a boy. It was obvious from the moment I met him, a young man nearly 18 years old, that he is happy, well-adjusted and – I have to say it – a real gentleman. He changed me. I was starting to get out of the little box I was raised in.
3. Finally, I watched John Oliver’s show where he took a deep dive into gender conformity. His reporting put any remaining prejudice I had to rest. Furthermore, I felt a great deal of hope and love for these kids and their parents. They are my heroes. And I am changed.
Like I said, it’s not my intention to change your mind on gender conformity. However, I am advocating for all responsible people to examine their beliefs on this and any other point where their belief is “fixed.” Our country is suffering under the weight of these things we “know” to be true.
It may be that most of what we believe is objectively true and right. But lurking in our collective closets might be a bias, a stain that needs to be seen and cleaned.
I wish you the willingness to see any unconscious shadows and without shame, let them see the light. In my opinion, this is the essence of adulthood and we need more adults right now.
I’ll be there with you cleaning up the mess and feeling lighter, too.