May 232011
 

I think this article about the raising of a child without sharing its’ sex with all those who ask is incredibly interesting.  It’s always been of interest to me that the first question people ask when they find out someone is pregnant, or right after they’ve given birth is “is it a boy or a girl?” Not “how are you feeling?” or “is everyone doing ok?” but rather, what is the sex that the doctor will be assigning it based on external genitalia and possibly chromosomes. Let me point out again that when a baby is born, we assign its SEX (biological markers), not its GENDER, which is socially constructed.

When I was in graduate school, I remember reading the story about Baby X, who grew into Child X, who grew into Teenage X, who ended up as Adult X, a very happy person who did what they wanted to do, regardless of what gender society usually assigned that activity to…all because they had been raised without a sex and gender placed on them by their parents. This was written in the 70s, showing that this is not a new concept. I have no plans to have children, but when I read that story, I could help but want to try and raise any offspring in such a manner. It seemed like such a healthy, accepting way.

It’s interesting to see what the psychologists have to say about these parents raising Baby Storm without telling others its sex. One was adamantly against it, saying that they were setting up the baby for a hard life, while the other was willing to wait to see all the wrong things that might happen from this situation. Honestly, it was a little gross to me to read their “expert opinions” because years ago, similar experts were giving similar opinions about letting girls play with trucks and boys play with dolls, and about letting your kid identify as gay, etc. Funny how expert opinions so often tend to capitulate to social norms. As long as you and your family are supportive of allowing your children to figure out their genders and presentations for themselves, and as long as you are willing to support them if they wind up deciding to be hyper masculine or hyper feminine (rather than a more blended mix, or something completely unique), then I see no issue.

These parents, instead of form fitting their children to the limits society wants to place upon them, are making society have to adapt. And honestly, I think that is great. If we all always capitulated to what society said, we’d be even farther behind in women’s rights, sex worker’s right, people of color’s rights, trans folk’s rights, queer rights, etc. If none of us ever challenged the status quo, I wouldn’t be allowed to vote, I wouldn’t be allowed to have a Master’s degree, I wouldn’t be allowed to walked down the street holding hands with my queer partners, and I’d be making even less to the dollar than I already am. So hats off and glasses raised to these parents, willing to take a stance for the diversity of gender, rather than biologically assigned sex.

Nov 072010
 

I want to talk about this. Why? Because some people don’t know, and others who I assume would know either are unaware or have forgotten.

Sex and gender are NOT the same thing.

Sex is usually defined as female, male and occasionally intersex. It is assigned to you at birth by your doctor, usually based on your genitalia, sometimes chromosomes if testing has been done. It’s is often said that “sex is between your legs.”

Gender can often be defined as woman, man, transgender, genderqueer. However, the number of genders out there is unmeasurable. Femme is a gender. Butch is a gender. Femme queen. AG/Aggressive. Boi. Genderfucker. Andro. All of these are gender identities and/or gender presentations. Gender identity is how you identify to yourself (and sometimes others) and gender presentation is how you present said gender identity to the rest of the world. It is often said that “gender is what is between your ears” in that gender is not a physical identifier, but rather, your identity, feelings, presentation, etc.

Cisgender is someone whose assigned sex at birth matches their gender identity. A person assigned male who identifies as a man, a person assigned female who identifies as a woman.

Transgender, while a huge umbrella term for gender discussions and identities as a whole, can be said to be someone whose gender identity does NOT match their assigned sex; a person assigned male at birth who identifies as female, a person assigned female at birth who identifies as genderqueer, etc.

Recently, at a professional conference in the field of sexuality, I was saddened to see many sexual professionals talk about “the two genders” or do studies that said “Gender? Male or Female.” I think as we continue to grow this field and be more inclusive of all people, it is incredibly important to be aware of whether we’re talking about sex or gender, and do our research and presentations accordingly. I’m not even going to start with the way “homosexual” was used to identify people, or the fact that I (as a queer kinky disabled femme) was often offended at the use of language throughout the conference….but really, I’d liketo make sure EVERYONE, regardless of whether you’re a sex educator/therapist, a middle school teacher, a personal trainer or a homemaker, knows the basic difference between sex and gender, as it is SO incredibly important to being inclusive in our society.

Shanna