She Said, He Said: Gender Identity
The following is the fourth entry in “She Said, He Said,” a new series of articles seeking to compare and contrast the various views, political, social or otherwise, of Millennials in today’s world. Elizabeth Lane is a 2016 Carson-Newman University graduate with a BA in Creative Writing, and has worked at the Jefferson County Post as a journalist and feature writer since shortly before her graduation. Jake Depew is a 2014 Carson-Newman University graduate with a BS in Philosophy. He is the assistant editor and a columnist for the Jefferson County Post, and is the Editor for the Gatlinburg Daily Post.
This article’s question: “What are your thoughts on gender identity?”
There is a lot of talk in our society today over the topic of gender. We see countless stars changing their identities and personalities to fit the mold of the latest trends and fads. They might be able to get away with making who they are a constant question, like some kind of revolving door. The rest of the world is not that lucky. Gender and identity is something that is made and, more often than not, is unchanged by what others think.
Gender identification begins before we even take our first breath in this world. It begins with our parents hoping and thinking about the possibility of what the sex of their new child will be. Images of little boys playing with monster trucks or little girls in frilly pink dresses having a tea party begin to take shape. Once our sex has been identified we are given a color blue or pink.
Even our name determines our gender most of the time. There are some unisex names that are becoming more common for both genders to somewhat alleviate this issue. However, gender identity is formed from the very beginning. That being said, life and gender is not as black and white as our assigned birth color.
We must take in the factors of the home. Was the child raised by a single parent? Grandparents? Did they have four brothers? Were they the only girl? What if they are the only boy raised in a family of mostly female cousins, aunts and grandmothers? This will color and warp some of the original gender identification that was initiated at birth. For some this influence may mean nothing for their identity. For others, it can change how they view themselves.
The people around us and the attitudes that they have color our view of the world. The little girl that was raised by a single dad or in a house of four brothers will probably want to play with trucks and splash around in the mud. This does not make her less of a girl than the one that wants to play with dolls and tea sets. The boy that is raised by mostly female relatives will most likely be more in touch with his feminine side. This does not make him less of a boy than ones that want to jump off their bikes and play with super hero action figures.
While gender identity may be influenced by our environment and societal standards I think we all need to take into account the concept of gender fluidity. We are born a certain gender biologically, and environment and lifestyle might add some interesting bumps in the road. Everyone has both masculine and feminine qualities. It just shows up more evidently in some people rather than others. This mixture of gender qualities allows for a perfect balance of personality and skills. We would be lost without the influence of both.
My answer is that gender identity is something that is both born and raised. We choose to act on certain gender expectations and roles, as well as societal standards, and our own nurturing to become who we are. This is why I think that gender is not as flexible as this week’s greatest fad. It is something that has taken a lifetime of work to cultivate and nurture and is not so easily changed as many would think.
Before I dive into this, I have to clarify what I’m talking about. I will address this question as if it is centered around gender identity, not biological sex, necessarily. As far as biological sex, not psychological gender, is concerned, you are what your hormones and physiology say you are. Until you undergo therapy to change your hormone balance and physiology, you are your born sex. This is scientific fact. The scientific term is sex, but I hear a lot of people bring up gender when they actually mean sex, so I figured I’d just nail down this side of the argument right off the bat.
Now, on to psychological gender. Scientifically speaking, it is pretty widely agreed that gender identity is created by environment and upbringing. Obviously, hormones play a role in your personality, which in turn affects how you view yourself. It is also, typically, extremely difficult to change. This makes me question the validity of the scores of stars and starlets that are going through gender identity crises. What seems more likely is that these people have confused general struggles of personality, habit, and lifestyle with those of gender identity.
Well, that, or they are scrambling for the spotlight like thousands of bald schizophrenics chasing two midgets for their golden ring.
Either way, I don’t particularly care about gender identity or people’s desire to change it (good luck). I am more concerned with the confusion of sex and gender, as I stated above. You can feel like a man, dress like a man, and act like a man all you want. Until you take testosterone enough to see physical changes to your body, you are a woman. That’s just the way it is. Normally, I would just dismiss those who say otherwise as being scientifically illiterate and leave it at that, but these people are getting a scary amount of legal clout, nowadays. The issues with documentation should be apparent if there is no baseline for what constitutes your legal gender. If you go into a hospital and argue with the staff about how you are a girl when you have no hormonal or physiological indicators of such, they will laugh in your face, and with good reason. Cue “emotional trauma” and threats of lawsuits. Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but it just sets a dangerous precedent when you start to let psychological phenomena affect the legislative and scientific world.
I suppose that’s my answer. I don’t care what you see yourself as. I don’t care what you dress like. J. Edna Hoover got some stuff done, and so can you. Just understand that how you see yourself is how you see yourself, and don’t try and strong arm the legislative or scientific community into stepping around your personal hangups until you’ve actually changed sexes. As I’ve said in other entries, censoring scientific progress, cultural development, and artistic expression based on feelings is just a bad, bad, very bad idea.