Is This the End of Gender as We Know It?
By Mila Madison
The whole supposition of the binary is something that continues to elude me to this very day. When we are young it is something that is forced upon us. I remember as early as nursery school and kindergarten, they would line us all up. “Boys line up on this side and girls on that side,” the teachers would say. It was the beginning of our indoctrination into the confines of society’s imposed gender boxes. Male and female, you are one or the other. A determination made based on the body parts I was assigned at birth. The very parts that up to that point only my parents and some doctors had ever seen. Regardless I would be lined up with the “boys” based on the assumption that I had these parts. I would begin the journey of having all the norms associated with being in that particular line thrust upon me, but the truth is that I was more interested in what the girls were doing, my forbidden fruit.
As time passed I would be educated through the lens of those norms. I was taught everything I knew from a masculine perspective. I would be reprimanded for going against them. They would be enforced in school and then reinforced at home. It was society’s way. It was considered “normal” at the time.
“IN MY MIND I WAS A FREAK, BUT IT WAS MY SECRET, MY SHAME, AND NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW IF I HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT.”
With this male enforced upbringing I would learn the concept of shame. I learned to suppress any yearnings I had to congregate with “the other side.” I was afraid of being reprimanded, and many times I was. The word transgender was something I would not hear for another twenty years. In my mind I was a freak, but it was my secret, my shame, and no one would ever know if I had anything to do with it.
We are all taught to feel this shame about our bodies, a peculiar gift given to us during our upbringing by society as a whole. We are divided by our body parts and taught to be ashamed for having any thought of the other. “Boys can’t wear dresses or makeup,” we are told. We are taught it is a sin to even see the body parts of the other sex. God forbid you see a boob on television. That has to be censored. The physical differences in the “sexes” must be hidden, but killing a hundred people on TV is okay. No one ever gives a thought to the concept that the suppression of sexual differences and gender may be the very reason for all the violence we see in the first place. The binary is ingrained in us and anything that goes against it is hidden, ridiculed, and shunned.
We all have our journeys, our revelations, and realizations of who we are at some point in our lives. I certainly had mine. Here I am today, proud to say I am a transgender woman, but what does that really mean? Woman? For as long as I could remember, the image I saw in the mirror of my body did not match my mind and soul. If I am to ask why, some people out there will tell me that I am mentally ill. As a person of reason I had to consider the thought. Could it be that I have all my faculties of sanity with this one exception? Is my gender identity a mental illness? If you listen to the people over at Breitbart, they would say that is a definitive yes. As a person of reason; however, I have to consider these things called facts and this radical concept called science.
Today science tells us that there are indeed biological underpinnings for who we are, and who we really are goes against the concept of the static binary. Today we know there is more to genetics than the simplicity of just “x” and “y.” Advances in the study of Epigenetics show us a possibility of a future where the living physical body can be altered by changing our cellular structure and level of DNA activation. In other words, we are evolving. We evolve genetically, socially, and in our understanding of who we are.
I apologize for offending the creationists out there (not really), but evolution is a simple fact of nature. You don’t have to look much further than dogs to understand that. Dogs were once all wolves. We made them our pets, and they evolved both socially and genetically though our manipulation. The ones that made good pets were bred to make more while some of the more aggressive ones were sadly discarded. They evolved into the pets we love today, but they were not always that way
Our concept and existence of the gender binary is also evolving. The purpose of physical sex is for a species to reproduce. As humanity evolves we are finding ways around that physical need. Though physical sex is still the most fun way to reproduce, it is no longer required to produce another human being. The more our understanding of genetics, DNA and biology increases the more we evolve. This evolution is something that cannot be stopped. No matter how much religion, hatred and shocking elections you throw at it, the evolution of who we are cannot be stopped. With that the hard concepts of “male” and “female’ will wither away. If you ask some of my non-binary friends, they will tell you it never truly existed in the first place. They may be right, but what I do know is that we are evolving, and there is no way to stop it.
“THE REALITY IS THAT PEOPLE EXIST IN A MILLION VARIETIES WITHIN THE SPECTRUM OF GENDER.”
The reality is that people exist in a million varieties within the spectrum of gender. As our understanding of that increases the male and female walls will eventually blend together to be a more honest representation of who we are. We will no longer need these confines to perpetuate our species. Though it will happen with certain people kicking and screaming to prevent it, it will happen no matter how many times people try to push it down.
Perhaps there will be a day where transgender won’t matter, and maybe we will realize that in a way we are all transgender or non-binary. It is probably something that won’t happen in my lifetime, but I believe one day it will. What I do know is no matter where you see yourself on that spectrum, it is okay to be who you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you anything different. Though they may pretend to know, they really don’t. Your identity is yours and yours alone.
So what does it mean for me to be a proud transgender woman? Well that is mine to figure out.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us,
Love and peace,