Monday, May 2, 2011

Born this way

When I was a little girl, I liked to play with dolls but preferred pants to dresses. As I got older I cut my hair short and prefered to play Star Wars or run around with they boys on the playground. I found myself attracted to boys in general but thought Marilyn Monroe was amazing.

I share these things, not to reveal that I secretly wanted to be a boy (though at a certain time of the month it would have its advantages), but to point out how fluid and blurry gender lines can be.

The recent brutal beating of a transgender woman at a Baltimore McDonald's reminded me that sadly, our society has a long way to go in recognizing that some people are born with a body or biological gender that just feels alien to them. To most of the world, unfortunately, these people seem alien in a world of blue and pink. What society forgets, however, is that gender is more than just anatomy. It's an identity that is often chosen for us from day one when the hospital puts a certain color cap on our heads and checks M or F in the box on our birth certificate.

A friend of mine once told me about a transgender woman she knew who was going through a sex change and that her wife had decided to stay with her regardless. At this time I thought it was rather strange why someone would want to change the body they were born and go to the extreme of having surgery when they could just "be gay." Oh how naive and uninformed I was! Gender orientation is not necessarily gender preference ore presentation.

Recently in Oprah magazine, there was a feature about a woman who met the love of her life online only to discover that "he" used to be a "she." Beauty of it was, after consideration and time, she didn't care. They are now engaged and seemingly very happy.

I certainly don't expect the world to get it overnight. I'm personally still scratching my head at times but learning that gender identity like sexual orientation is not a choice. As we as a species make small steps in tolerance and acceptance of what may not be "the norm" in our society, I hope we will also consider that for most people who may appear or seem "different," well, "baby, they were born this way!"

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