Picture courtesy of Tim Evanson on flickr
Please don’t get me wrong. I am all in favor of transgender rights specifically and the rights of LGBTQ community as a whole. I believe you should be able to be whom ever you chose and love whom ever you want to love. I have to admit though, sometimes it all goes over my head.
Growing up in the 70’s, people didn’t talk about such things in my small community. I mean there were girls who were described as tom boys and boys who preferred the library to the football field, but gender identity was a term that did not exist.
Times have changed and the ability to decide what gender they want to identify with is now part of the social structure. My 17 year old daughter explained it to me after I made, what I considered, an innocent comment as we were ordering take out at a local restaurant.
We were served by a person who I could not identify as male or female. I was not sure. The young person had what I would call, a boy haircut, but also was wearing earrings and eye shadow.
“Was that a boy or a girl?” I said under my breath as we walked away from the counter.
My daughter answered me when we were a clear distance and out of ear shot of the person in question. “It is none of your business,” she answered me in a definitive voice.
“I was just wondering,” I said not knowing that my question was offensive.
“That is the problem with adults. You are always wondering things that are none of your business. What does it matter if they are male or female. Why does it matter. Why do you have to know.” She walked away from me in a huff. You could say that my question triggered her.
I reflected in that moment. Why was it important for me to know? I didn’t have a good answer for myself. Identifying a person as male or female, is a societal norm I always took for granted. Sizing a person up at meeting, judging them to be male or female is just something I unconsciously do.
Biologically people are born male or female. Sexual identity is something that is taught through childhood. You are either a girl, playing with dolls and wearing a dress on Easter, or a boy, playing with trucks and wearing pants.
Transgender depicts a person who identifies with the opposite sex. They many times transition to the opposite sex with an announcement to family and friends. From there, they may chose a new name and ask others to refer to them using the appropriate set of pronouns.
Transitioning people may chose to alter their appearance wearing clothing, styling their hair and using make up suitable for their chosen identity. This is enough for many although some chose sex reassignment surgery or to take hormones although many do not.
As I stood there wondering why it was important for me to know a person’s sexual identity, I realized my daughter was indeed correct; it is none of my business. My daughter just schooled me on a new way of thinking. She stressed to me that I need to see people as individuals and not as a “boy” or a “girl”. I have taken this new lesson to heart and I have begun to change my thinking about people, especially young people.
Although I have always believed in everyone’s right to be whoever they want to be, I realized I need to stop my need to label people, even unconsciously, and put them into a category. I need to just let people be. I have to remember, it is none of my business.