On the Pregnancy of Man
I read an article once that said a man’s pelvis is too small to allow a child’s head through? Now, I didn’t go to any fancy college, but isn’t that an important part to squeeze out? Or maybe not. But then, I suppose if we are already cutting off the man’s genitals, emptying him of testosterone, fabricating him a vagina, ovaries and uterus out of God knows what (maybe unused clumps of cells, if you know what I mean), then we’d might as well go in and widen his pelvis too, just to prove how smart that college made us… and to prove that we don’t really need some old, irritating God and his stupid truths anyways.
gender and sex
and learning that
should have been
now i had the words
but it was no relief.
embracing my gender
is something i can do,
but embracing my sex
and i know i'll have to live
with the discrepancy between my legs
but that shouldn't mean
i have to live with it in my head.
there is something i can do.
something to ascend beyond sex
and into that mythical gender
that i've heard so much about.
but gender isn't something people worship.
they place their faith in sex instead,
and maybe they're right.
gender can't deepen my voice
or broaden my shoulders.
gender can't change my name.
those are things i had to do
learning to puff my chest
at the world
instead of tucking it between
the cure all i wanted it to be.
gender is desperation
gender is a war
against the world you grew up in
and there will never be peace
because the world is ruled
by X and Y,
1 and 0,
and i am
the third variable
that they didn't account for
and can't figure out
how to calculate.
sex is a prison
and gender is the key
but deciding to unlock the door
is another matter
and some days
i had never touched the key
and stayed in my prison
until it killed me.
because that's what gender is.
but it comes with
Gender is complicated. That's something we're beginning to realize. At first, we thought it was only a boy or girl. But now we have transgenderism and nonbinary in the mix, not to mention unisex. However, this isn't some new phenomena that's suddenly taking form in the last decade or so. This has been going back since the start of human civilization. Are you familiar with the story of the goddess Ishtar's descent through the underworld and how Ea, the god of wisdom, created an androgynous being named Asu-shu-namir to save her? If not, I suggest reading up on it. It's pretty interesting.
To define gender isn't as straight forward as one would believe. Normally, we would identify gender based on reproductive organs. However, I believe that gender is defined by how one feels about themselves. But even then, I'm not a hundred percent sure if that's accurate. Perhaps there really is no true definition of gender. I'm not entirely sure, but then again, perhaps it's really none of my business. If one identifies as man, woman, or nonbinary, then so be it. It is not my place to judge, nor my concern. As long as they're happy with themselves that's all that matters.
Unfortunately, there are always going to be those who don't understand or refuse to understand that demoralizes people who are different. These people use their governmental positions and their church sermons to decry and shame those that don't identify with their sense of 'the norm'. If you're one who identifies that there are only two genders, I understand your position, but unfortunately, it's not that simple. And to remain ignorant of that fact is sad. If you're the kind of person that believes that transgenderism is the result of some sort of physiological or psychological reasoning, that sort of thinking is what demonized innocent people for trying to be comfortable for who they are. Keep in mind that we believed (and some still believe) the same thing about homosexuality and the idea to "fix" them was conversion therapy, which led to many LGBT+ people getting abused both physically and psychologically.
The bottom line is whatever you identify as learn to love yourself and don't be cruel to others about it. And for everyone else show some compassion and humanity.
The world is ever changing and evolving. Time to evolve with it.
I know my gender is weird to you.
I know you can't understand. Or maybe you can.
If you can, great. If you can't, damn.
Are so me.
I have always felt that I can't fit into labels that are so simple like "girl" "boy" "enby" "demigirl" whatever whatever whatever. They don't speak me.
The freedom in xenogenders... Are me.
I have always seen my gender as a person.
As if they are a mirror image of what I want to be.
So when xenogenders came to life, I found... Peace. With my identity.
As I dove into 2020 Tumblr, I found me.
I found who I am.
I don't care if you think I'm weird.
I don't care if you won't use neopronouns on me.
It's always been me.
I found what defined me.
I found it, after so long.
This euphoria is so addicting.
Gender Means More than one Thing
Traditionally, I think gender was just a biological classification, very similar to the definition of biological sex. Plenty of words have more than one meaning though, and in modern times, gender has come to mean so much more than the taxonomic classification. Personally, I compare gender to the word ‘human’. Just as being human is both a biological reality, as well as a social and personal one, I think gender can be, too. The word ‘human’ has both concrete meanings, as well as abstract and personal ones. Being human is defined by specific physical traits, but the ways one can be human on a personal and social level, are infinite. To be human, is to be in a taxonomic group, under a border categorization of ‘animal’. To be human is also to be imperfect, or kind, or empathetic, or unique, and sometimes, a human can, in a metaphoric sense, be inhuman.
I see gender in much the same way. To be man or woman, is a more specific categorization under the broader categorizations of male and female. Male and female can apply to most animals and many plants, then in turn, each individual species has its more specific categorization: mare and stallion, hen and rooster, man and woman. But then, much like being human, gender means so much more on a societal and personal level. Biological gender is specific and concrete, while gender identity, gender expression and gender norms, are personal, social and infinite.
I don’t think we can completely abandon the physical definition of gender, because just as being human starts with the physical reality of it, I think gender also starts with a similar physical reality. Biological gender informs our social and personal experiences of gender, whether that is conforming to, or going against the norm, and people should feel free to go with or against the common narrative of gender as they see fit.
Just as the physical reality of being human doesn’t have to limit the way we express ourselves, the biological reality of being man or woman doesn’t have to limit the way we express our gender, and that includes being trans, non-binary, or any other gender identity.
This is just my view, and how I make sense of all the controversy. I feel like it’s a bit of an unusual view that many people will not agree with, but it is only how I make sense of it in my own mind. I respect all gender identities and gender expressions, and I also respect all viewpoints on the matter as long as there is no intention to cause harm. I don’t think there is ill intention by most people on either side of the debate. I find the discussions and debates around gender to be very interesting, but I wish we could discuss it more openly without so many hard feelings and accusations.
For me, it was a curious case
For even as young as I was, I never considered myself a female
While some may brag about it, I find it rather curious
as normally young ones are susceptible to their environments in the first place
Gender felt like it didn't exist for the longest time
And with other kids, I couldn't rhyme
Neither could I identify the way that others decided to
And I suppose even teachers didn't know what to do
Perhaps even at such a young age I subconsciously knew
The fact that what other girls did I couldn't do
I tried to fit in, I truly did
But quickly couldn't relate with another kid
Never did I feel attracted to people based on looks
Neither did I strive to be every man's cooks
While they'd talk about boy bands and athletes at school
I was only confused and wondered why they were cool
Unfortunately for my guardians, this was not a phase
For it followed me to my current days
never would I see the day where I longed for a dress
Or for my hand held in marriage, something elders say I'll have regrets
I didn't even like my name
As it didn't match what I felt, it was not the same
So I let people call me whatever
And tell them my legal name? Never
It wasn't until I was far older that I was told about transgender
And realized that I what I felt was not abnormal, that I didn't need a mender
So for me it feels abstract and was always there
And it's something that you find at your own pace with high care
gender is joy
it's often taken and turned
told that it hurts
that it's killing people
but the only real pain
is the insistence of it
you want to convince me
that it's terminal
that it's contagious
that it's ruining me
when it is me
the butterfly clips
and body hair
it's all me
i am infinite
how could i only nurture
how could i only hunt
when there's such beauty in both
i contain dualities, contradictions,
multitudes and endless change
i am a boy and a girl
a fuckery of inbetweenness
and stunning confusion
i cross from parts of myself to the other
joyfully and understandingly
i am such a gentle boy
and such a ferocious young girl
gender has brought me compassion
for myself and the conflicts of life
i love my friends and the way we exist
there is nothing wrong with us
i love gender
In Defense of Fluidity and Self-Determination
Any Prosers who know a bit about me will be unsurprised that I've been driven back to Prose after a short hiatus to debate social issues. I believe there's value in creating awareness around topics that folks might otherwise ignore out of complacency or selfishness. It's also a worthwhile pursuit to question and critique EVERYTHING - especially today, when so many people's perspectives are based on misinformation and biases (unconscious or not). Plus, I'm a Gemini, and I've never met an argument I didn't like. :)
**Before we begin, a disclaimer - I'm happy to provide any and all links to the research I reference throughout this piece. As far as I'm aware, the current Prose UI doesn't support hyperlinking, and I simply don't want to clunk up my writing with lengthy URLs. Feel free to reach out in the comments or via direct message for more information.**
When I came across this thoughtful writing challenge on gender, I was excited to read about folks' experiences. As Baldwin says, "'You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read." I find that even when I read about someone with a vastly different human experience than mine, I'm able to find connection in the emotion - and it helps me better understand certain people and communities with whom I might never have the opportunity to interact with otherwise.
But as I read one particular post by @EstherFlowers1, I must admit I'm having trouble empathizing with her perspective, mostly because I think it serves to invalidate the experiences of trans, non-binary and gender fluid folks, which is not only demoralizing, but dangerous. Also, there's a fair amount expressed in her piece that simply isn't based on an accurate understanding of gender and sex, which are two distinct concepts. While I can agree to disagree with all sorts of folks, it becomes an issue when their opinions are rooted in or contribute to the oppression, marginalization or brutalization of others. That said, I doubt there is a purposeful attempt to do harm here, but outcomes matter regardless of intention. Hopefully, this can be a good learning experience for anyone who engages with both of our pieces.
To start, I want to note that I have a Master's degree in Communication, with a research focus on gender and politics, and I've taught a host of undergraduate courses on gender representation and the intersection of gender and labor, among other things. I tell you all this not to toot my own horn (although, I worked hard and published some great work, so why not?), but because of this: Since the Trump presidency, there has been a troubling trend of anti-intellectualism where folks think all opinions are created equal. The reality is, however, if someone is an expert in their field, their educated opinion should and does hold more weight than a random person you pluck off the street who doesn't have the same working knowledge. That's why we go to doctors when we're sick and not our neighbor who is an accountant. In terms of this discussion, I have no insight into Esther's background, so I am not asserting that she doesn't have any authority or experience with which to speak on the matter. I only state this to let folks know what academic and professional experience I am pulling from when I lay out my thoughts in this piece.
To start, Esther makes the point that gender, though a generalization, is not a completely useless way to categorize people, because it helps us identify who to have sex and reproduce with. There are a couple of issues here. The first is that it is sex, not gender, that has served as the basis for humans to determine who to mate with for reproductive purposes. The term is "sexual dimorphism" not "gender dimorphism," and for good reason. Early neanderthals, for example, were often nude - they could see the biological differences in others - breasts and vaginas versus penises - and that is how they determined who to reproduce with. And you better believe that everyone was hairy as fuck - so it's not like they were confused by a woman with a mustache because there's something innately unfeminine about body hair. Furthermore, having sex to reproduce is different from having sex for pleasure, and, as a result, we've see homosexual and bisexual activity across different species and periods throughout time.
Additionally, it's worth noting that there is a growing pool of research about "postgenderism"that examines the potential for advanced assistive reproductive options to render all humans capable of both carrying a pregnancy to term and impregnating someone, which would eliminate the need for gender identification in society to its benefit - individuals would no longer be constrained or oppressed by gender role expectations. So, to say that this or other interrogations of gender as a social construct is making a "mockery of sex and gender and reproduction" that will contribute to natural selection weeding out such folks is not only false, but also seems to suggest that those who do not ascribe to a binary interpretation of gender don't have legitimate reasons for doing so. If we're mocking anything, it should be a binary understanding of gender that doesn't adequately represent the breadth of human experience and largely only serves to pigeonhole people. But much more effective than mocking is dismantling and reimagining.
In early civilizations, expectations as to behaviors for women and men varied from community to community based on the environment and population size, not because they recognized some innate characteristics of women to be more gentle and men to be more assertive, for example. The research continues to show that there is no sex-based evidence for behavioral traits. Rather, modern day women and men in the U.S. have been socialized to believe in and ascribe to traditional gender roles because they are rewarded with social capital. In fact, we've seen societies - both throughout history and in contemporary contexts - that have completely different conceptions of gender than we do in the U.S. or other industrialized Western nations. Certain Native American tribes, Indigenous Australian populations, South Asian and Samoan communities (just to name a few) have recognized gender fluid or non-binary folks, others have five or six gender categories, and some have none at all. Similarly, they have different expectations of those gender roles, or are largely egalitarian - because, put simply, gender is what a society makes it.
A great example of an egalitarian-minded society exists in Sweden. In certain schools in modern-day Stockholm, teachers try not to use terms like “boys” or “girls” or gender-specific pronouns. In an effort to reach a greater level of gender equality, they push for gender neutrality. Pronouns like “he and she” are replaced with “hen,” and children’s books have protagonists who are not clearly male or female. This effort helps teachers interrogate and counteract impulses to behave in certain ways with students of certain genders that disadvantage them - Like telling little boys to suck it up when they get hurt versus taking time to console and communicate with them like they do with little girls. The model has been so successful that they've continued to expand it to new schools every year.
The bottom line is that the gender binary assigns different roles, status, expectations and power to humans with male and female genitals, without any biological need to do so - it's a way to exercise cultural control that puts a population of humans who have all sorts of preferences and traits into a binary prison that not only forces them to deny their authentic selves to the detriment of their mental health, but also renders them vulnerable to discrimination and violence based on a conception of how folks "should be" that ignores the reality of how they actually are. In this case, a world with no gender or a broader understanding of it, at least, would mean that your biological sex would have no social meaning, just as being right-or left-handed has no inherent meaning. (Although people actually used to think left-handed folks were less capable, so parents forced their kids to use their right hands. See how sociocultural attitudes can shift over time when we encounter new evidence?) To me, genderlessness doesn't sound too bad at all.
With that, there are a few tangential points left that I would be remiss if I didn't also address. In her piece, Esther goes on to assert that "children need fathers and they need mothers," hence why maintaining a gender binary is important - but there's no factual basis for this claim. In fact, the research suggests the opposite. In these contemporary studies, we see that children in same-sex-parented families outperform children in different-sex-parented families on multiple indicators of academic performance, including standardized tests scores, high school graduation rates and college enrollment. Adolescents of same-sex parents also experience fewer social problems than a nationally representative age-matched sample of American youths. Even after controlling for a range of socioeconomic factors, this positive association does not disappear. What this research may suggest is that same-sex couples who are more open-minded and understanding of varying representations of sexuality and gender, based on their own experience, are more likely to produce thriving offspring than heterosexual couples who may be constrained by traditional gender role stereotyping.
This segues into her discussion of "anti-breeding" sentiments, which she dismisses as a selfish trend. The observable reality, however, is that there are a myriad of substantive, material obstacles to childrearing in 21st century Western capitalist societies like we have in the U.S. Without living wages, affordable healthcare or childcare, less and less folks have the practical ability to raise children, even if they want to. And from an environmental perspective, we also must consider that the planet is overpopulated, climate change is an existential threat to humanity, and people do not want to raise children in a world where there is so much uncertainty about food and other resources, natural disasters and what have you. All this is not to say that as our understanding of gender roles evolves, that personal choice is not also a factor here - women no longer feel the same level of societal pressure to marry or reproduce - and why shouldn't both women and men feel empowered to make the best decisions for themselves? It seems that this should be the most fundamental of human rights, especially given that we are not facing an extinction crisis from lack of childrearing (although from all the other stuff, sure - we're on our way out.)
I'll conclude by saying this - someone expressing their gender identity outside of the binary conceptualization we've been taught does not hurt individuals, nor collective society. The only folks being hurt are the ones that are being denied the right to do so - whether it's through legislation that bans gender affirming care, restricts access to public restrooms, allows businesses to refuse service etc. or through hostile communities that ridicule and endanger them both physically and mentally. Even for cisgender folks, traditional gender roles are often the cause of great strife, whether it's through the restriction of bodily autonomy, a lack of career opportunities, discrimination in the workplace, abuse at the hands of others who deem themselves more powerful on the basis of gender alone, or simply mental anguish over not "fitting the mold." As long as they're not hurting anyone, how hard is it to just let people live their lives how they wish?
It's confusing when gender is taken to more things than just a biological difference. You're this so you can't do this. Why Can't a guy cook? I love cooking. Why can't I dance? Why can't I do what I feel like doing? If I'm nice to you why is it girlish?
Don't force your conventions on me. Don't spout your age-old traditions to me. I am who I am and no words or ideas that you come up with can trap me within preset frameworks. I am truly free.
The Apotheosis of Hermaphroditism
Then God said, “Let us (emphasis mine) make mankind in our (emphasis mine) image, in our (emphasis mine) likeness, so that they (emphasis mine) may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them (emphasis mine); male and female he created them.
Just how many people are talking about here? One God ("our image," "our likeness," "they may rule...").
What Does Gender Feel Like? God created them--Mankind.
One possible interpretation is that God is a hermaphroditic entity, with the combined elements of all genders. It is this longing for completeness, to achieve the most God-like reasssembly into that image and likeness, that drives the urge of one gender for the other. And in doing so, the experience sublimates into deific proportions. If God is Love, then the union of man and woman, in love, is self-explanatory. And God-like. There is nothing more powerful than "I am."
What about one gender's urge for the same gender? Is any love, God-like in any perspective, a violation of this chemistry? Simply, no. Love, God-like, is an absolute means and an end, existing outside of time simultaneously, like the hermaphroditic creature God is. Love is His/Her apotheosis, no matter how it comes to be.
For those who invoke the Bible to condemn what they see as aberrant, I only need to remind them of what looks, initially, like a grammatical error in agreement, in Genesis: God created mankind in their own image, in the image of God he created them. Anything less is just self-love (i.e., incomplete), and it cannot serve as justification for defining love in terms of exclusivity.
As long as there are urges between/among genders--and love--God will always be involved. And at work. And if there is no God, what a terrible waste of love's omnipotence!