There always comes a time when gender becomes a talking point. Whether it is the inequality of the sexes, transgender people or blatantly stupid gender rules, there is always some talk of gender somewhere.
Now, to me, it’s never particularly been an issue. I am pro-feminist, I’ll always lift up my sisters in this world rather than hold them down, and I respect those who chose to openly live their lives as the gender they feel they are, whether that be transgender, gender-neutral or the likes.
To me though, I know fully that I am a cisgender gay man. I understand that in essence I am part of the patriarchy just because of what is between my legs, but it doesn’t mean I buy into all that. In reality, I have been fairly privileged with life, I’m not going to deny that but I also don’t think it is something that should stop me being able to comment on things.
I was born male, I feel male and identify as male. This is not a negative thing. Being cisgender is not a negative. I have seen a few times when people who aren’t cisgender, saying that those who are, are clearly ignorant. Hello, no, not me. I’ll never know what it’s like to walk in a woman’s shoes (metaphorically, I have done drag in 6″ heels), and I’ll never know what it is like for my transgender brothers and sisters, nor for those who are gender neutral because that isn’t me.
I can understand that perhaps heterosexual cisgender people are a little ignorant, but that’s not always just about them being cisgendered, it’s usually about them being outside of our community. As someone who is trying to educate himself, form his own opinions and sort of champion change, I feel my cisgenderedness isn’t a negative, and having it drawn up as one isn’t helpful.
The reality of the situation is, that everyone should be on the same level. Whether you’re a cisgender male, female, trans male, trans female or gender neutral person, you deserve to be on the same level. A lot of ignorance around gender is that it is often linked to your birth-sex, and that’s how it has been taught for many years. That is perhaps the primary problem, that we are told all this and later in life we have experiences that teach us it’s not the case.
Gender is the feeling you get. Gender is feeling either male or female. Recently, my cousin has publicly acknowledged his own gender neutrality (and that any pronoun is okay with him), and people have been supportive of him, because the people he surrounds himself with know him, and looking back, it was a case of, it was always obvious that he wasn’t cisgender. He said: “I don’t feel male, and I don’t feel female, I just feel me”, and that is something that is nice to finally see him acknowledge.
Reinforcing gender roles is fairly dangerous behaviour, and here is when I look at my sister. She has created herself a little family with her husband and two children, one girl and one boy. My niece is 8, whilst my nephew is 3. In the beginning, when my niece was young, the obvious gendered toys were bought, and this continued for some time before my niece began to speak up and sometimes would rather have a so-called “boy” toy rather than the usual. Without question we would buy her it, because that’s the type of family we are. Anyway, as my nephew came along, he has grown up (so to speak) largely wanting the typical “boy” toys, but then he started to ask for dolls, a pram, and a kitchen. We again didn’t argue and allowed him to play with whatever he wanted.
Now, obviously, my niece is a little older and she sometimes like to wear nail varnish, and light make up, no harm in that at all. Eventually, my nephew saw this, and then began asking for his nails to be painted too. That’s all he wanted though, just every so often he would get a bottle of nail varnish and ask for his nails to be painted. I understand that some people would find this bizarre, but he has grown up in a family that is loving, and that seldom sticks to gender roles. Obviously, should he ask for his nails to be painted, it would be done, who are we to deny him? But some other things started to happen to. My brother-in-law learnt how to paint nails so that should my nephew, or my niece for that matter, ask, he can paint them for them.
I think that stands up on its own. A cisgendered, straight male, took the time to learn to paint nails for his son and daughter because the family doesn’t impose gender roles. There’s even been times when out shopping, my nephew gets to pick a bottle of nail varnish to buy – his last choice I can remember was a gold varnish.
Perhaps it’s our ages, perhaps it’s because we are a family made up of so many different types of people, and that realistically we are now a matriarchal lead group of people, relying on the leadership of my grandma and my mother. Gender roles, or the expected gender roles of our whole family have been slung out of the window, and realistically, it’s something that others should do. If you live alone, and you’re male, do you expect a female to come and clean for you? If you are female, and live alone, do you expect a man to come and do the DIY? No, you learn, you adapt and you get it done yourself.
Gender roles, even though many people still stick to them, are slowly changing, because we are a progressive society, even if we are a little slow. Recent comments from authority figures over “boy jobs” and “girl jobs” does nothing be reinforce stereotypes and sends out the wrong messages. Women are just as strong as men, whether you are cisgendered or not. We are all equal, or we should at least all be equal.