Everybody wants a piece of your gender.
While they they may choose silence at first, preferring to let you speak, eventually they will offer observations, thoughts, advice.
Rare is the person who has nothing to say.
All of us maintain a sense of our gender through others, extending our sense of our gendered self out into other people. This extending is often about validation.
You get the point.
I personally struggle with people who get breast implants and want to identify as male. Such a mindset says a lot about me doesn’t it, reflecting as it does a specific, and some would say traditional, line in the sand about what I think comprises male and female?
These are my beloved prejudices, showing what I hold dear in terms of how I define gender for myself and others.
And guess what? It’s my problem.
No one should concerns themselves nor care care about my opinions about their gender specifically, or gender generally, or hormones or surgeries.
We infect our thinking a lot.
First, we spin stories about ourselves the world. If we begin to believe the stories are real and true, we lose flexibility over time, getting pissed off when we meet someone telling a different plot line with different characters and different endings than we do, even using the same words we use or clothes we wear, we can feel invalidated and disrespected. Such asshats!
We also doubly infect ourselves by listening to our internal voices, the voices that have nothing kind to say to us. (See Cheri Huber’s book “If anyone else treated you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago.”)
Even our own voices want a piece of our gender. Who is telling us we’re too fat? Too thin? Too male? Not male enough?
Check the room. Chances are nobody is there. Just you and your thoughts. If you ever needed proof that your head is a bad neighborhood, when you find yourself alone and really angry, you can bet you’re listening to some voice in your head.
It can all seem really scary. Especially when those other people say hateful and hurtful things. I get it.
But we can address all forms of hating without believing what we are hearing.
What someone else thinks about my gender is none of my business. And what someone else thinks about your gender is none of your business.
Stop agreeing with them in your head. That’s why you get agitated. Think about it.
You know those times when someone says something about you that is so wildly untrue, you feel sorry for the person? Like if someone says to me, “Jay, you’re addicted to watermelon. You’re such a loser,” I laugh at them. I rarely eat watermelon and I never buy it.
Why can I laugh at them? Because in my head I have no voice shouting agreement with the person saying this stupid thing to me.
When I agree with someone in my head, then I get agitated. In effect, I hurt myself. How? By thinking terrible things about myself.
The old playground mantra rings true: sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.
Yes I know we can sting ourselves and make us feel terrible. We may lose some sleep or worse, contemplate suicide. They aren’t worth it. Even if the torrent of words seems never ending, they can’t hurt us.
Unless we believe in and agree with what they are saying, believing we are worthless and should die or that we are only playing at gender or that we do uphold the binary gender system, nothing they can say will hurt us.
Even when confronted by the most horrible words any of us have ever heard in our lives, we can maintain a sense of dispassion about their words. Words that are, after all, only their opinions.
And words that ultimately we must disarm because the source of harm comes from inside us.
Over the years I’ve encountered a few people who seemed to freak out when I said “I don’t know if I was born this way or not.’ ’Nice people, really nice, supportive people queer and nonqueer, would some times rush to complete my sentence.
“Oh, I just believe you were born that way.” Yes, they weren’t listening and sure, maybe a little rude.
But clearly they needed me to tell my origin story in a very particular way, so much so that they corrected me as I was sharing my story about my gender.
These people invest in their gender stories as much as we do. They just don’t know it. And because I do know about many of the ideologies and pronouncements and propaganda we force feed one another about gender, I can’t get too mad anymore.
Sure I can get mad really, really angry at one-year-old baby for defecating in their diaper but who looks like a fool? The one year old is just doing a one year old. So too the gender explainers. Let them explain and let us keep our equanimity while working on quieting the voices in our heads.