Breaking Binary Bonds
By Jude Samson
It’s not something you can easily describe and yet there’s some kind of unspoken understanding – some innate natural instinct that seems to be passed from male elder to the male youngster and female elder to the female youngster. It also seems like there are clear lines, an invisible wall that mandates a man shall not induct a female nor shall a female induct a male into these bonding rites.
“…WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WHEN THESE STEADFAST BINARY BONDS ARE BROKEN AND THEY’RE FORCED TO REALIZE THE WORLD ISN’T BLACK & WHITE OR MALE & FEMALE?”
While there will still be father (figures) who teach daughters about sports and mechanics and mother (figures) that teach sons how to cook and clean (although we need more of this as these should no longer be immediately predetermined based on gender), what would happen when these steadfast binary bonds are broken and they’re forced to realize the world isn’t black & white or male & female? It seems to throw their worlds into a chaotic mess and for some, there’s a great deal of confusion and even a sense of betrayal – especially, it seems, for cis-men when they realize there’s a trans guy among them. It’s treated almost like there’s an infiltrator in their private clubhouse.
As much as many of us know better and as much as we try to educate society that gender is a vast and varying spectrum, they (society) still holds tightly to pre-described standards of gender and how the “two” genders should and should not behave. When cis people are faced with the reality that not only is gender so much more than male/female, but there really is no specific dictation on how someone needs to act within that role, it seems to be like when people in “The Matrix” first realize the world that was always so real is merely a construct.
It’s been observed by some trans men that when cis men discover the man they’ve shared their beers with, spoken about women with, watched the game with and done all the other “Bro” things with is a trans guy, somehow he is no longer a real man. Somehow his membership card to the all boys club has been put on restriction. There’s that sidelong look after a joke, there’s that second-guessing when speaking, and there’s that overall sense of losing their trust. Cis men have felt betrayed or tricked as though someone sneaked into their man cave under false pretenses. A trans guy is still a guy, but for some reason, cis men have a hard time understanding that. Somehow, for cis men, hearing their buddy (or Bro) is trans, they seem to magically put female body parts on him and all of a sudden he becomes a woman in male drag.
This is definitely not saying every cis guy is like this. I’ve personally encountered some amazing cis guys who went: “You’re trans? Cool. So anyway, can you believe how the pipes sound on this machine?” They barely blinked and just continued on, as there was no big deal. Why? Because there really is no big deal about it. Some cis people in general never had an issue, never skip a beat when addressing me or other trans people. To them there is no binary and many things, including gender and sexuality, are in a vast spectrum. Unfortunately, this is not the mentality of society as a whole and there have been plenty of occasions where cis men have retreated.
“…IF A TRANS GUY HAS BEEN FRIENDS WITH CIS MEN AND THEN COMES OUT (OR IS OUTED), IT’S MIRACULOUS HOW QUICKLY THEY CAN REVERSE GENDER A TRANS PERSON.”
What I find confounding, however, is that it seems to be so difficult for cis people to know someone’s gender assigned at birth and being nearly incapable of using the proper name and gender of a trans person. “It’s just going to take me some time,” or “I’ve known you so long as —- I need time to learn,” or “You’ll never be John to me, you’re always Jane.” Yet, if a trans guy has been friends with cis men and then comes out (or is outed), it’s miraculous how quickly they can reverse gender a trans person. Even though they’ve only ever known “John” as a he suddenly being trans to them they can misgender with no issue. It is funny how it doesn’t seem to work the other way around.
What is it about the perception of gender that we’re holding onto so tightly? Why is it so important to remain within these demeaning gender roles when a little forward thinking could break us free to be all we’ve ever wanted to be, cis and trans alike? Can we get more people to teach that it’s okay for girls to play with trucks and learn how to fix things and for boys to play with dolls and bake? What do you think would be helpful in breaking down gender roles and barriers?