What Is Gender?
That’s a question that has been going back and forth a lot lately. Ever since Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal, I’ve had cis friends wonder what exactly constitutes male and female aside from what’s in your underpants. Liking makeup doesn’t make one a woman because I know plenty of men who enjoy cosmetics. Once upon a gender-segregated time, wearing pants was only for males, but today, wearing slacks doesn’t make us any less feminine.
Of course, these are all physical examples of what constitutes gender stereotypes. Jenner said she always felt like a woman, but what does that mean? That we are emotional? Is that an actual fact of being a woman or just sexist? As a self-proclaimed feminist, I don’t know the answer to that.
We live in an increasingly tolerant and progressive age where all is not what it seems. People like Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus are raising awareness that maybe gender isn’t black and white. Maybe gender is a spectrum like the Kinsey Scale. “I’m just equal,” Miley Cyrus has said. “I’m just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It’s literally just how I feel.” It’s a hard concept for a lot of people who wrap their heads around.
Miley doesn’t seem to care about what sexual organs she was born with, but unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. In fact, many people, including children and teens, hate their physical bodies. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be born in the wrong body– being self-conscious and even jealous of people who don’t have to deal with that constant feeling of your physical self being incorrect, especially with teenagers, who have it hard enough dealing with puberty and sex.
I’m so happy more and more trans people feel comfortable to tell their tales of transitioning and transforming their bodies to what they feel is more representative of how they feel on the inside. This leads us to the amazing story of Jamie Raines, who was born with female genitals. After undergoing three years of testosterone treatments, Jamie feels more complete. He also took a selfie everyday for the entire three plus years to document his metamorphosis into who he truly is. “I didn’t like looking in the mirror before I started on testosterone. Now I’m happy with what I see,” he said.
Does getting rid of his breasts make Jamie more of a guy? Well no matter what your definition of gender is, appearances DO matter. What you present to the world is indicative of how you feel inside, whether it’s a sloppy outfit, neon hair, or your desired gender. I hope Jamie inspires more teens to tell their brave stories.
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