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A2Z – Our Organs, Ourselves

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Our Organs, Ourselves

Do I get triple points for coming up with not just one or two O words, but for hitting a homer with three???  I think so.  Even if I’m just giving myself the points and they don’t actually accumulate towards a win of any kind.  😉

So, the idea that our sex organs define who we are.  It’s a pretty heavy one, and rather long standing.  And the longer folks have believed something, the more ingrained it is, the harder it can be to shake it.  However, the fact of the matter is that our parts have little to no bearing on our actual sex or our gender.

A person’s “assigned sex” is based on their genitals.  It’s when the midwife, doctor, or doula sees a baby’s bits and announces “it’s a boy/girl!”  Actual sex, I’m afraid, is a LOT more complicated.

If you want to get right down to it, a person’s actual sex is determined by their chromosomes.  And here, many folks would happily jump in with “Okay, so that means it’s XX or XY!”  Yeah, but not really.  Sure, those are the two combinations we’ve all been taught in grade school…  but those are FAR from the only options.  It’s not as uncommon as you’d think for individuals to have X0, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX, XXY, XXXY, XYY, or even XY/XXY chromosomes.  And unless you’ve been tested for chromosomal abnormalities, you may be XXX or XYY and not even know it.

Still with me?  Assigned sex is based on your organs, actual sex is based on your chromosomes, and Gender?  Gender is the realm of the philosopher (back in the day, I was either practicing art or studying philosophy).  Gender is about how you feel, it’s about who you are.  It’s how you define yourself.  And with gender there are as many options as there are individuals.  No one can define your gender except for you, and it may or may not match up with your assigned or actual sex.  Heck, it may or may not be the same from day to day.  As we grow, learn, evolve, and change, our gender may do so right along with us, and that’s totally okay.

So our organs really can’t define us, not in any real way.  And the idea of a sexual or gender binary?  It just doesn’t work.  There are more than two sexes (as our chromosomes clearly indicate) and there are more than two genders.  Our parts may convince some that a binary view works, but all you have to do is check out the myriad within even the physical bits to know humans are more complex than that.  And I, for one, am grateful for all of our beautiful and amazing complexities.

the alphabet blog challenge

A2Z – Gender Creative

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Gender Creative

 

The very first time I’d heard the term “Gender Creative” I was in a board meeting for Breaking the Silence (which was held in March).  Fran Forsberg, an amazing woman and dedicated volunteer, had used it to describe two of her children, and it clicked with me instantly.  Gender Creative – could there be a more perfect or beautiful way to describe a child who is, well… creative when it comes to gender?  I absolutely love the term, and hope it catches on like wildfire.  Having such a beautiful way to describe children who don’t necessarily fit into their assigned gender.

Children are too young to know how their sexual identities and desires will eventually shape them, but they often know right from the get go if their assigned gender fits or not.  Some children easily play in one or both binary gender roles.  Others feel at home solidly in one camp or the other (and it may or may not match their assigned gender).  Describing these children as Gender Creative allows them the freedom to experiment and play with their identities – as we should allow all children.

We should actively encourage our children to try on different roles, to play different parts.  We do this with little boys by encouraging them to pretend to be firemen, policemen, doctors, and race car drivers.  With little girls we encourage them to dress up as princesses, home makers, nurses, and ballerinas.  When we should be encouraging all our children to try on these different roles – regardless of their assigned gender or assigned sex.  I know I am equally thrilled when Lily-Ann dresses up as a cowboy, or tells me how she wants to grow up to play for the Blue Jays as when she wears a tutu and wings to school, announcing that she has decided to be Tinkerbell.  We play cars and My Little Ponies.

The point is that children SHOULD be Gender Creative.  It shouldn’t be the odd kid out who plays with gender, and finds it fluid and easily adaptable.  All children should have the freedom to find themselves without society forcing binary roles onto them.  It actually makes me sick to my stomach when I hear a parent tell a child “No, you can’t have that, it’s a girl toy” or “I’m not buying that for you, girls don’t play with action figures.”  It’s when the I’m-gonna-fix-the-world me comes out, and I can’t help but do a little educating – and I’m not always as polite as I should be.  Oh, I try to be…  but there are times when the beastly me comes out, and it’s pretty much always when I see a little kid just being their genuine self, and having that self squashed by a parent who so clearly doesn’t get it.

So, until we get to the point where society is able to allow ALL children to just be children – without forcing gender binaries on them.  Until then?  I like the term Gender Creative.  What a beautiful way to express how all kids should be free to be.

Gender Creative and Proud to be a part of the Pink Revolution

the april a to z blog challenge

A2Z – Asking

As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering taking up the April A to Z blog challenge.  I already blog almost daily, so that wasn’t the issue.  For me?  The biggest challenge is actually staying on topic.  I enjoy writing on whatever hits me as interesting or important at the moment.  I lose my interest otherwise.  But, I figure, if I pick a topic that is dear to my heart – putting in 26 days shouldn’t be an impossible task.  So, I’m going to do it.  …and if I feel the need to go off topic, well…  on those days I’ll just post twice.  LOL  So here we go.  Day one:  Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity.

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - ASKING

For some folk, the most intimidating thing when encountering someone who doesn’t clearly fit into box A or B on the sexual and gender binary, is asking.  And honestly?  It’s something we need to become more comfortable with as a society, because even when someone appears very clearly to fit into “HE” or “SHE” it doesn’t mean that’s their preferred pronoun.  A wonderful individual, whom I am proud to call “friend”, recently posted the following on their Facebook status:

“I find it is no longer important or useful, and in fact has become a negative experience to identify as male. Rather than identifying as another type of gender, I will leave the spectrum of gender identity altogether. This means that the current English language of gender identity pronouns, such as she, her, his, her, xe, and hir, become problematic when referring to me. So with great respect and earnestness, I ask that you refer to me simply by using my name, for in a name the entire soul resides. Thank you.”

This is an individual, whom upon appearance, would very easily fit into the neat and tidy package we call “male” or “masculine” and is proof positive that we cannot, nor should we, presume to use male pronouns based solely on our impressions of said individual.

How we each identify is an intensely personal thing, and it is perfectly okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer – if any.  In fact, for many of us, it’s a question we welcome.  So the next time you are introduced to someone try asking.  Not sure how to word it?  Give this a go:  “Hi Francis, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  Would you mind telling me which pronouns you’d prefer?”  Plain, simple, straightforward.  And if you feel the need to say more, try this:  “I’d hate to offend by insisting on using something that you don’t identify with.”  Chances are they’ll be happy you had the respect and courtesy to ask.

The a2z april blog challenge

And hey!  Ever had something you wanted to ASK (see?  I’m keeping it on topic) about gender, sex, affection, desire, expression, orientation or on any other topic of interest to the acronym community now’s the time.  26 days is a lot to fill, so help me out.  Let me know what YOU would like to see me blog about.  And thanks to Sarah for her suggestion of “Asking” as our very first in the alphabet series.

Pink is for Girls!

Some time ago I was telling one of my girlfriends about the fact that pink really only came to be considered a “girls colour” about 1/2 century ago.  Before that it was strictly for the boys.  And if you go any further back, both boys and girls wore white dresses from birth until they were seven or eight years old.  The idea that pink was a gender specific colour meant only for girls is a fairly recent concept…  and honestly, it’s not based on ANYTHING really.

Back when blue was for girls, it was considered airy and light: feminine.  Pink was a diluted form of red, which is fierce and stern: masculine.  But, if you ask me… it doesn’t matter how you slice it.  Pink is just pretty, and damn it.  I like it.

It has nothing to do with it being girlie or feminine.  I just think it’s a pretty colour.  Pastel pink, light coral, even a salmon…  the colour just makes me feel good.

The idea that even colours have been paired off in this gender binary is so ridiculous in every possible way.  Quite honestly, I’d like to see us go back to the days when everyone dressed their children in dresses.  The white I’m not so crazy about…  Back then it was all about being able to toss them into a bucket of bleach water.  But the dresses?  Yep.  Makes sense to me.  Way easier to run around in.

Where am I going with this?  Honestly?  I have no idea.  I’m mostly just rambling.  LOL  I saw an article today that referenced this whole colour/gender thing and it just reminded me that I’d actually been talking about it not too long ago.  Soooo…  here’s the article I read today:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html  But seriously, if it’s something you are interested in, there’s a ton of info out there about it.  And from a feminist/human rights stand point, it’s rather interesting.

Why can’t I seem to make an actual point today?  Well…  my brain is a little fried.  Working WAY too many hours.  Thinking about WAY too many things.  So, yeah.  Just feeling kinda rambly.  😉

Night all!

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