Gender Straitjackets

It’s common these days to hear descriptions of gender as something that is innate and intrinsic to us as individual human beings. According to modern identity politics we each have a “gender identity”, an internal sense of our own gender, or to use simpler terms, that gender is in the brain. In many ways this modern belief in gender identity is phenomenological, it’s simple, “Women play with dolls and like pink, men like the colour blue and are aggressive”. During a recent conversation on the topic my friend stated “but men are made more aggressive, it’s the testosterone”, “women don’t have that same level of base aggression”, and it got me thinking again on this issue.
Now as someone who has existed in this world with both testosterone and estrogen as their dominant sex hormones on their short time on earth I can safely say from experience that I have found no difference in levels of aggression since having estrogen as my dominant sex hormone than I did when I had testosterone as my dominant sex hormone. But this doesn’t explain why, again speaking phenomenologically, men appear to be more aggressive as a sex than women, “surely it has to be because of their hormones right? The testosterone charged hulks of man meat!”. As convenient as that would be, no, but what we do have in this world with it’s obsession with gender boxes is gender socialisation.
Now as someone who transitioned from male to female at 18 it’s fair to say my gender socialisation is likely well and truly messed up, but when we look at it a little wider, then we get to see trends. Within boys, aggression is praised, “boys will be boys” is muttered as they pummel each other with fists and terrorise their peers in school, yet within girls aggression brings out retribution, it doesn’t fit with societies mould of men being aggressive, active members of society, and women being passive, aesthetically pleasing members of society. And furthermore, we see aggression showing in boys before puberty has even started, before testosterone becomes a crutch on which to blame their inability to use reason before slamming their fists into some unsuspecting soul’s cranium.
Now comes the interesting bit, to talk from myself, as someone who throughout their childhood as a boy who didn’t like pummelling craniums or running after a bag of air like a Neanderthal, gender becomes more confusing. Throughout my childhood I was routinely criticised for not being “man enough”, not necessarily from my family members specifically, but from everywhere, and everyone. I enjoyed make believe over active sports, my friends were girls and Harry Potter was more my interest than rough and tumble, and this definitely caused issues.
For starts there was the bullying, “oh you have long hair do you want to be a girl?!!?”, the way other boys would enforce their dominance over me by displaying to there peers how they could physically overpower me. There was the constant questions, “why do you always hang out with girls?”,
“Why don’t you have friends who are boys?”, and thanks to my long blonde hair throughout childhood, “oh I think your in the wrong bathroom sweet” said patronisingly by old men every few days as I try to go for a wee somewhere other than the bathroom in my house.
When you take into account for how successful the enforcement of gender is on making men into porn watching, beer swilling assholes, and women into creatures of feminine grace, then it brings these ideas of innate gender identity into disrepute. And that whilst there are women who were born women who happen to still be okay with being women who are signing up for the army, display aggressive tendencies, and who wear their hair short and there are men who hate violence, prefer musicals and would rather go to a museum than a pub to watch the football, it’s hard to deny the grip that keeps us firmly into our gendered positions.
So what happens when your exposed to constant retribution for not fulfilling the desired gender role for your sex, and this retribution goes on every year from your first memory. Is it any wonder that some people develop severe hatred towards the thing they are supposed to be? Towards every thing that marks them as the sex they are routinely told they are awful at being. If you take a boy who displays an interest in fashion, looks up to women, dances around the room and wants to play dress up rather than rough and tumble, have their hair long rather than short, is it any wonder that they end up hating everything they are told they are crap at. Do we really have to pretend that the reason I feel the way I feel, and the reason in 3 weeks (at this day of writing) I will be going through extensive surgery to change my genitals, my primary physical sex characteristics, the thing that denotes me as the sex I’ve routinely been told I’m awful at being.
I’m not trying to say that the dysphoria I feel is somehow invalid because of the reasons why I believe I was likely put in the situation, I firmly believe for me, right now, I’m too far gone, this is the sensible, logical, path for me. Heck, I’ve been at it for a long time now. But what my worries are is this blanket ignorance towards logical reasons for me being in this situation. Why must I be forced to state that the reason I am getting my genitals turned inside out is due to having a female brain in a male body (a concept routinely denied by science and scientists who don’t have a claim staked in making money from those suffering from this condition).
Is it helpful for the next generation of me’s, the little boys who right now are being told they are bad at being boys because they don’t like sport, and would rather study music and dance than mechanics and science. Gender is a straight jacket, and it’s time we stopped forcing people into boxes and categories they don’t fit because their genitals tell us they should.
Carly Bell