So I’m reading Anne Vitale’s thesis and its got me thinking. For those of you who are curious,The Gendered Self is a useful read if you are interested in transgender and transsexualism (which I guess you must be since you are reading this blog- d’uh). So here is my thought.
Imagine the world of the small child, still developing a grasp of language, and of course, learning how to survive and function in a world populated by people who are bigger and more powerful than you. And more knowing. And they are telling you that you are a boy or a girl and that boys do this and girls do that; boys like this, and girls like that. And apparently boys are the OPPOSITE sex to girls. Whatever that is. Its all so obvious to them but put yourself in the world of the child. These are the days that for most of us are outside our conscious memory but imagine the confusion – maybe I like playing with my friend Catherine, she’s cool, why am I not supposed to like her?
Well, of course, we know that adults denote gender and thereby approved identity and behaviour on the basis of a baby’s sexually-apparent anatomy – and unless the child is born intersex it’s seemingly obvious to them. But, in the world of the child, especially the small child (who is still oblivious to the delineator) to make sense of the identity being promoted and the notion that for some indiscernible reason you can’t choose what or who to play with and what to like because you are a…..[boy/girl] seems so tragic. How much fun would it be if all children were born intersex, with indiscernible sex difference. Just had a baby – what is it – “we don’t know yet, will have to wait until the child is older and see how zhje turns out.”
But growing up and being subjected to injunctions such as “Boy’s don’t do that”; “Don’t be a girl”; these are powerful because the big people said it and the big people know stuff. But confusing it is, if it doesn’t come naturally and then it leaves a shaming legacy. And I’d say this is especially so for gender non-conforming boys since effeminate behaviour is so disapproved of, whilst on the whole, the tom-boy girl is broadly seen as cute, the injunctions against the boyishness generally less dramatic, less shaming.
This theme is beautifully explore in the film ‘Ma Vie en Rose’ which although subtitled is so worth the effort. A truly beautiful film, exquisitely crafted and a story so carefully and sensitively told.
Living a life constrained to rigid gender binaries just don’t work for some folks – for those of us who always knew we never fitted, allowing ourselves the freedom to be the person we truly want to be is challenging but extraordinarily liberating – here’s me having fun on a photo-shoot with talented photographer and friend Michal Iwanowski