If you or someone you care about is feeling ‘cross-gender’ things… and you wonder….
Lots of males feel traces of womanhood, from little flickers of identification, to nagging traces of possible dysphoria about their bodies, all the way to devastating disassociation from maleness… so let’s talk about it. Lots of females understand that femininity is performative and limiting, and they have all the drive and physical skill and energy of any guy.
We are almost all trained from birth to adhere to a set of behaviors and feelings and thoughts that comprise the role of boy or girl, and taught and expected to grow into a man or woman. We are trained and encouraged to desire the other sex and that their gender expression is what makes them attractive.
The gender binary is rooted in a gazillion years of evolution, where sexual reproduction requires a male and female — and courtship plumage and behavior rituals have developed to assist in mate selection, building on and emphasizing the differences in secondary sex characteristics between males and females.
It is pretty easy to point to all that and say that the gender binary is fundamental, normal, and correct. Therefore, we can and should identify and guide children with comprehensive norms for behavior, and build cultural institutions and practices that emphasize a view of gender as a strict binary- an either/or classification that is decided for us. Rules of the road of life- simplifying our options and keeping order!
We live and breathe that binary. Kids enforce norms on each other, mimicking parental admonishments. We learn quickly what is expected and accepted. We try to comply. We want to belong, and survive.
The downside is that each sex is given half of what being a human is. Many of us long for the missing half. Many males want to have their emotions back, dress in soft clothes, or be the one who is pursued. Many females want to be able to lead the pack or fix cars or be the pursuer.
Society is obviously better now that women are participating actively in most forms of work, and that men are populating careers once reserved for women.
But there is still a line- right? Men and women still have to maintain their binary, don’t they?
Our fears are rational. Many parents resort to heavy handed emotional stress to gain compliance from their children, especially when they really don’t have a good reason. Many parents threaten their kids who want to explore outside the roles assigned to them on the basis of sex. Obviously, lots of people are trying to roll back the expansion of gender freedom, so we are understandably cautious about exploring any feelings we have in which we cross into taboo territory. All this is making it really hard for anyone to even admit to themselves such feelings.
The good news is that the sky doesn’t fall if a guy puts on a chic dress and earrings and wants to be admired. or a girl grabs a pipe wrench and frees up a rusted pipe with the same forceful mastery as we might expect from a guy.
It is not standard behavior, but it is harmless, and beneficial to them. The girl may be a crackerjack mechanic, and the guy a sensitive nurse whose voice and touch soothes especially difficult patients.
Why shouldn’t this be what we all want?
It is reality-and reality is a much better foundation for society than pretense and restriction.
So- if you are that guy or girl, get to know yourself and lexplore those feelings that seem to be calling you from the forbidden side of the gender fence. That fence is a barrier that needs to be crossed to feel whole.
You won’t regret it! The feeling of being authentic and experiencing our own nature as it is gives a sense of finding wholeness and peace that is wonderful. I know I felt like I was finally at home in the world and could view the world not as a prison but for what it is.
Finding others with whom we can share our full self is not going to be easy. Gender liberation makes us a minority, and minorities are going to face social stresses. We have to decide how to best navigate the situations in which social dynamics and power are aligned against us.
However, much of life’s ordinary activities are not really focused around gender, and while it isn’t as satisfying, we can go about them in ways that don’t disturb others.
We are not alone, and whether it is in internet groups or by chance in our lives, there are friends to be made and life to be lived!