Sunday, May 29, 2016

Identifying out of womanhood

Helen Lewis in the New Statesman:
Because we have smudged together the categories of “transsexual” and “transgender”, is every youngster who questions their gender – and, frankly, every youngster should, because gender is restrictive bollocks – getting the message that they must bind their breasts or tuck their penis? I wince when I read oh-so-liberal parents explaining that they knew their toddler son was a girl when he wore pink and played with Barbies. Is there really anything so wrong with being a boy who wants to dress up as Elsa from Frozen? Or a girl who would rather be outside getting muddy than wear skirts and be “ladylike”? Toys and children’s clothes are becoming more gendered: when I was young, we played with Lego – not “Lego” and “Lego for Girls”. As we have shrunk the boxes, is it any wonder that more and more children want to escape from them?
For those of us over forty, this trend -- and I don't say this to discredit anyone who feels their gender differs from their assigned sex, but it is a trend in the sense that there has been a measurable increase in girls calling themselves non-binary -- looks a lot like identifying out of womanhood. Particularly for those of us who now find ourselves fitting the "non-binary" category, which didn't exist in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and instead turned to feminism to validate those feelings of being "not girl enough." Until I read this, I didn't even know Lego made a "Lego for Girls" lest the original Lego require testosterone. And it's frustrating because to even talk about these things is subscribing to a kind of bigotry.  Rather than expanding what it means to be a man or a woman, we're just creating more boxes.