Gender is fluid for everyone- a theory…

Miri
5 min readMar 27, 2023

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I clearly remember the dawning of my awareness that nearly all boys and girls were being segregated and trained in opposite ways solely by genital type. We were all being put on a team from which we couldn’t escape...

Gender rule compliance is a source of tension in most children’s lives. You can see on kids faces in elementary school the reactions to opportunities or corrections, being told what to do and not do because of where they find themselves trapped in the boy/girl binary dichotomy. It can be elation- or disappointment, wistful longings, momentary confusion as to why, trying to learn the rules and make the most of them, since there seems to be no escape.

The beginning moments of our lives -the happy announcents that ‘it’s a boy! [or girl!] ‘. This classification means so much and the path of our lives is set. People’s tone of voice around us, and the way they touch us, are both conditioned by gender. Behaviors that are typical of the gender expectations are celebrated and reinforced.

But behaviors that are not accepted in the norm are discouraged, subtly or forcibly. Enforcement begins at home, and is repeated at school, in religious settings, public gatherings of all kinds, and it is clear what the expectations are. Most children accommodate themselves and try to make the most of the opportunities. But it is a loss; successful performance of gender role comes at a cost.

Boys look forward to massive privileges, and learn very early not to cry, and therefore, not to feel. They learn they are expendable in war, and therefore must take what they can get. Girls have a much fuller opportunity for emotional development and expression, but are subject to sexual objectification, endless scrutiny of their appearance, and severe restrictions of opportunity.

Children who try to push beyond their restrictions, are corrected, cajoled, or punished until they comply. I thought I was free to do what girls did, and my happy showing how nice I looked in a dress was met with violence.

I went undergound. I learned context-sensitive gender rules for everything, down to the smallest detail of thought, feeling, and behavior. My assigned gender became a role, a job, a necessary structure for planning my life, a formal decision guide for day to day behavior, a badge of social duty, and a ticket to physical survival.

I tried to keep my femininity alive in the tiny cracks of privacy I had. In my youth it was no secret that the girls that asserted themselves were shut down ruthlessly. And if boys had feelings and sensitivities they were just as cruelly suppressed. Boys and men make a point of physical predation on males who do not join the race to manhood. Being an eager and reasonably successful ‘man in training’, or a defensible version of an adult man, needs to be proven over and over. Why? Because it is fragile.

Females have for centuries complained, rightly, about suppression of their opportunity, and about their objectification. Why? Because it is diminishing them by not recognizing their natural capacity.

I am amazed that it took 60 years for me, a boy keenly aware of my own non-conformity, to realize that all the enforcement and threats and emotional or physical violence needed to force compliance were in place because conforming to gender stereotypes is NOT the natural state.

Children are whole people. Little boys and girls are amazing sponges of experience and brilliant experimentalists in emotional and physical expression. Children are constantly trying to express themselves in ways that are not the norms. Given the range of personality types and temperaments, boys and girls are far more alike than different.

At best, binary gender ideals allow for expressing extreme courage or uninterrupted compassionate care for each other. At worst, they cruelly eviscerate the emotional intelligence of males and the confidence and capacity of females. Why? They diminish everyone by preventing the natural richness of each human being from being expressed.

Gender is a social phenomenon- a dance between two people using complementary styles. One leads, one follows, or two celebrate their shared common personal styling. Children arrive in the world free to choose any style and appreciating the value of each experience- of asserting and of complying, of arguing or of collaborating, of paying atttention to- or being paid attention to, of reaching for the stars or waiting and watching while someone else takes that leap.

There seem to be some exceptions to a full range of genderfluidity. Some kids seem to be very happy with their assigned roles and see the cost and benefits as desirable. Others feel their personalities are barely infringed by the demands of their roles. But it seems obvious now that the majority of people, and particularly acutely for females, feel the loss of opportunity and richness of life lived under gender rules.

Our innate genderfluidity is still alive, within, and people would much rather live in a society free of these norms.

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My mom loved to tell me stories of her girlhood in which she tried to outdo the boys in physical prowess and daring. The unspoken part was that her triumphs were testimony to her capacity in a world that didn’t allow it to blossom. She eagerly joined in ‘consciousness raising’ meetings during the women’s liberation movement in the 70s. But it was also a devastating fact that her life as wife and mother was not going to be able to be carried out in that spirit of liberation. I watched her instead descend into an anorexic wraith.

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When I retired, and was no longer in danger of losing my livelihood, I realized I was finally freer to disentangle myself from the clingy murk of gender. Before I die, I want to know what the original whole person of me is like.

It is not easy to do. The struggling persists, as the exact nature of my needs are unclear in the web of my relationships. But I feel the calls from my unexpressed personhood, asking for what is more truthful, and more useful, for me and others.

I have come a long way. I feel like a much more whole human being. I can see clearly the falsity of so much that is wrapped up in the storytelling of gender and declared to be the natural state of male or female.

If you feel the siren call of your own innate genderfluidity, answer it. If you children are still wanting to express themselves in their own way, please let them feel their wholeness.

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Miri

We can all help each other a lot by freely expressing our gender