Monday, March 17, 2014

Gender Identity

Last week I finally go the chance to release a podcast I've been looking forward to for months: an episode on gender identity. It's probably my favorite podcast to date, and I recommend giving it a listen.

As I say in the podcast, I don't think any of us hosts struggle with our gender. We're all more or less cis, which is a term that's short for "comfortable in skin," I believe. A cis person is comfortable not only with the body they were assigned at birth, but also their assigned gender roles, to some degree. I think? I'm actually not too clear on that.

I don't think that the difference between myself and a transgender is as simple as being content with yourself. Unlike Cap in his podcast segment, I take well to many of my expectations. I don't mind being called "sir." Much as it might dismay my younger self, I actually think I'd like to own a suit. I feel comfortable in some men's formal wear.

That said, I've certainly given myself a hard look to figure myself out. Although I possess many superficially manly traits (I can grow a decent beard, I have muscles, I have a quiet, stern demeanor), when I was growing up in south Louisiana I was just a strange kid.I was quiet, weird, nonviolent, and all sorts of other things that got me picked on in elementary and middle school. Even in high school I was mostly ostracized by my peers.

All this to say that I was often introspective. I've carefully considered whether or not I was gay based on the evidence of my temperament or my interests, until finally I realized that there was only one thing that makes a person gay: being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex.

I was not, and the understanding of that combined with the expectations placed upon me by that society made me realize that those expectations are meaningless. They so rarely reflect the facts.

When I was very young, I had a cousin who I loved to play with. We would play pretend with each other, choosing a variety of characters for ourselves to play. In those play sessions, I would generally choose boy characters, and he would choose girls. I didn't think it was weird.

As the years went on, I would hear my family talk about that cousin as if he were a joke. I defended him, or I would simply listen and seethe. It depended on the situation. Regardless, it was clear to my family that this cousin was gay, but I didn't think so. For whatever reason, at the time being gay was a worse sin than being effeminate to me.

I had other friends I played pretend with as well. One day I brought these friends and my cousin together to play. When my cousin chose to play as Wonder Woman, my friends laughed at my cousin, and he ran away crying. Shortly after that, my cousin and I stopped playing together.

Looking at him now, I suspect that my cousin is a transgender who was scared out of coming out. I'm not sure, though. We haven't really talked in years; just pleasantries around Christmas.

I feel like there's a lot more I can say on this subject, but I'll stop now.

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