I came across a live stream of a mum talking about how she is supporting her 8 year old’s decision to be transgender. Some of the comments were just out and out brutal, some were patronisingly self gratifying, some were hugely supportive, some were quite well measured, in my opinion. I also listened to a radio podcast on BBC radio 4 on transgender kids a while back. A clinic (for transgender people) in London has seen an incredibly massive increase in numbers of young people coming to advice days recently. While the level of boys identifying as girls has remained relatively stable, the rate of girls identifying as boys has sky-rocketed. This clinic has taken the step of really ensuring careful counselling of these girls, as they do with all cases, but they are suggesting that part of the giant leap in numbers is the pressure on younger and younger girls to become sexual beings, when in reality, many girls just want to remain kids. Worryingly, girls are seeing becoming male, as the safer/more enjoyable alternative to having to grow up and be a woman.
How sad is that!? I have absolutely no problem with transgender people. I believe totally it is vital that the transgender movement is supported, embraced and given the same respect as any member of the planet. My concern is that perhaps, as parents, peers, we’re a bit too quick to facilitate immediate action as soon as our children/friends/pupils mention the possibility that they might be another gender. Hear me out.
In 1986 I was eight years into definitely being a boy. I had always been a boy, just like my older brothers. Of course, I knew I was ‘technically’ a girl, but I was a dungaree wearing, lego fiended, short haired, trainer wearing, mud pie making, river wading, dirt mongering 1980’s classic boykid. I even pissed against our shed standing up! The thing was, I was lucky enough to have parents who allowed me to be a boy. My mum bought me jeans and chunky trainers, my dad bought me BMX bikes, my brothers bought me lego sets for birthdays. I got on better with boys in my school, all my best friends were boys, we were a proper gang having violent crab apple warfare against the nearby ‘posh’ estate kids and I would spit and eat used chewing gum off the pavement with the best of them. This would continue well into teenage hood and still remains with me to this day, yet I never yearned to actually ‘be’ a boy… and no one ever said it out loud.. It was just me! and I was allowed to be that way without anyone ever questioning why I might be that way, or why wasn’t I acting like a girl? It was just never a thing.
As a teenager I learned that periods were fucking awful, but well, I grew into my female body without feeling that it was trapping me. I would still have my tits removed if I could (they get in the way), there was a brief testing of sexuality during youth where I thought I might be gay (I wasn’t) and as a result I’m happy in my femaleness. In fact, I would say I’m proud about it. This is my body, it’s cool to drive around. It has spawned a kid, which was a fucking amazing experience of which I’m humbled by, the female physiology is just stunning.. and I own one!
My point is, perhaps we shouldn’t put an emphasis on gender AT ALL! Instead of turning it into yet another thing to be defined by, or feel that we need to tweak,.. “I don’t feel like a girl, there-fore I must be a boy”?.. “I don’t feel anything, so there-fore I MUST be gender neutral”?… FFS!.. stop labelling things! To me, it’s fairly simple.
Let your kids be whatever they want to be… WITHOUT COMMENT…. If we all did this, perhaps then there wouldn’t be so much pressure put on the sexes and there-fore on kids at least until they’ve have a chance to find out what their bodies are actually about and if they belong in them. Lets shut up about it until it really is obvious that someone is struggling in their body, then throw all of the love, medical intervention and support at them as possible. .. also, we need to tackle the over sexualisation of young women… but that’s a rant for another day.
NOTE: I no longer eat used chewing gum off of pavements.