I’ve always believed that I’m an extremely open minded person. I have controversial, inclusive opinions on gender and sexuality but I believe it comes down to acceptance. Acceptance and the ability not to be AN IGNORAMUS!
I recently watched the highly criticised television special, Genderquake followed by the one hour ‘debate’ featuring Caitlin Jenner, Munroe Bergdorf and a few other panelist’s which left very little discussed by way of educating the masses. The unprofessional, disrespectful and ill planned special had the best intentions with the poorest of executions but two things remain clear: gender and sexuality are still commonly confused and many of the population (not all) are still completely unaccepting of that which they do not know or understand.
A womb does not a woman make.
I am a *cis female and I have been fortunate enough to identify with the gender to which I was assigned at birth, physically and genetically. That said, I’ve never been bothered to conform to the societal norms that dictates a female; from young girl to womanhood. I don’t like (in fact, I abhor) the colour pink, I hate skirts and dresses, I didn’t play with Barbie dolls or ‘girly toys’ and I was well into my mid twenties before I started playing around with make up and beauty products.
*Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.
All of that said, I am still a woman and one who was lucky enough to know and recognise that from the word go. I don’t understand being confused about my own gender, I don’t understand not feeling like I fit into any one gender, I don’t understand what it is to be trapped in a body that does not represent who I am on the inside. Though I don’t understand these notions, I recognise that there are people of all ages who experience these tribulations daily and my heart breaks for the people that experience this debilitating gender dysphoria.
An argument that seems to present itself quite frequently in this ongoing gender spectrum debate is the comment that one must have a womb to be a woman. I am a woman but I am a woman without a womb. This doesn’t make me any less of a woman, nor does it make me any more of a man. How can this argument even be logically presented against the transgender (specifically trans women) community? In the same why that my womb does not make me a woman, what makes me a woman is not physical nor is it genetic. I don’t have to be a raging feminist to be a woman. I don’t even have to be a mother to be a woman. I don’t have to wear skirts and high heels, nor do I have to have long hair or wear make up to be a woman.
I am a woman because I FEEL that I am a woman and identify as a woman, irrespective of my reproductive organs or DNA.
I believe that trans women would say the same thing about how they feel as a woman and that makes me as a cisgender woman very similar to them in that regard. Why does there have to be a ‘they’ and an ‘us’ anyway? Can we not all just be women and recognised as such, regardless of the hidden organs or lack thereof beneath our clothes?
I watched the debate rage on regarding gender neutral bathrooms (YES TO THESE ALL THE WAY) and a very narrow minded columnist suddenly changed the tone of the discussion at this point to a heated conversation about sexual predators and the often misrepresentation of transgender men and women being used in the same sentence. Her argument had something to do with forfeiting a safe space (the bathroom?) that may encourage predatory behaviour which both cis and trans women could fall prey to.
This makes no logical sense to me in the slightest!
To be an ACCEPTING society, we have a responsibility as a community to create a ‘safe space’ for all genders on the spectrum. A valid point was raised that our bathrooms at home are gender neutral (I know mine definitely is) so why should public bathrooms not follow suit and I have to agree wholeheartedly. If a toilet has a door with a lock and a roll of toilet paper, that is all you need to use the loo. It is not going to detract from your bathroom experience if you have to wash your hands at the basin next to someone whose gender differs to your own?
The predatory conversation regarding toilets is not one that’s limited to men on woman or woman on men. I have been assaulted on a toilet at a club on a night out by another woman, she didn’t know if I was cis or trans and I didn’t know the same in the reverse because it is irrelevant. If predators are going to come into the bathroom and prey on toilet goers, the problem is not with the people using the toilets but with the predators! Can we not just make it safer to use a public bathroom in general instead of separating us by every politically correct label possible? Gender neutral bathrooms don’t equal sexual predation! Simple as.
Sexual Orientation vs Gender Identity
Despite not being directly affected or influenced by this gender debate, I feel myself wanting (needing) to speak out on this topic to those not necessarily in the know. Transgender questions are often raised in many groups of cis people and I’m always willing to step up and speak my mind on the subject. I will openly stand as a friend and supporter of the LGBTQ community and will always do my best to explain to the best of my ability that which I understand. A common issue is the confusion between gender and sexual orientation and I feel that this is the root of a lot of misunderstanding, possibly the key to more of an acceptance for the community. The sooner we all realise that sexual orientation and gender are two different concepts entirely, the better!
An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Children and their identity.
Another issue that was touched upon was the fact that more and more children are experiencing gender dysphoria from a younger age and are identifying with a different gender (or no gender at all) sooner rather than later. The way I see it? It isn’t more and more children ‘choosing’ to identify with another gender or none at all. I see it as fewer and fewer children growing up in a world where they feel like they’re in the wrong body. I see it as fewer children that will have to live their life as a lie. I see it as a step forward for society in the quest to be all inclusive and accepting of any and all on the gender spectrum.
We do live in the age of the internet and social media which definitely does make for easier research on the subject. We also live in the age where more and more people are thinking as openly and are as accepting as I am. My generation is an open one, one that promotes conversation with their children (as opposed to ‘seen and not heard’) about anything and everything. As easily as my daughter talks to me about having a boyfriend, I believe that we have the relationship where she would be able to talk to me about gender dysphoria if she was to experience it. It isn’t more children jumping on a ‘cool’ or easy bandwagon to be trans or non-binary, it’s few children being forced to live a lie – surely that’s a good thing?
Here’s where I stand on the subject…
I am accepting of the fact there there IS a gender spectrum and anyone can fall anywhere on that spectrum (the same can be said for sexuality as well on its own spectrum, a separate subject entirely)!
I am accepting of all genders (how ever many there are at this time) or no gender at all.
I believe that who anyone chooses to identify as is their choice and it is a reflection on me as a person how I choose to accept them. It is no ones business if I identify as male or female, cis or trans, non-binary or gender fluid. The same way it is no ones business what lays beneath my clothes. My identity is just that, my identity. If you’re a good person with a good heart then you’re a good person, that’s as simple as it gets.
I believe that the world is increasingly ignorant on this gender topic and it saddens me that this is even up for discussion. While no one can tell anyone what to believe and what is right and wrong, there is no need to be aggressive in ignorance either. The hecklers that shouted vulgarities and abuse at the gender fluid panel during the Genderquake debate are examples of this behaviour.
Ignorance breeds hatred: the sooner people become open to LISTENING to the stories of the community and taking the time to research and understand the struggles of those on the gender spectrum, the sooner acceptance can take the place of transphobia.
As for the question ‘what makes a woman’? If you identify as a woman, you are one. Simple as. I am a woman, not because I have the ability to reproduce (which I don’t) but because I feel that I am a woman deep down, I just happen to have a vagina.
To the trans and non-binary community, I take my proverbial hat off to you. You have no doubt made one of the most difficult decisions in your life and possibly you continue to face a world of trouble for it. At the end of the day, we are all people and we are all equal and I am proud to be in your corner! I recognise that you exist and I am always open to learning more from you in order to advocate, in return I thank you for accepting me as I am 😁