Update on resolutions: the reading and writing ones are going stellar! I have this notebook that I take virtually everywhere with me and I’ve had it for two years and finally I have it about all marked up. Just 28 blank pages left! And I already ordered a new one so I can start on a new one when I am done. Finished one book, which I’ll talk about it later, so far and started a second. The “be healthy” one is…well not started yet. I decided that I am going to take these last two weeks of January and make a plan and schedule like thing for me to start in February, I think that is what attempts at this in the past lacked so hopefully that will be the key. And the other two are doing okay, I mean I feel I’ve been more open and less inside my mind, and so far I haven’t had to hide any fright at random things so I don’t have to admit to it either. Okay now that that is done, moving on.
I wanted to talk about those little things that happen to you that force you to be reminded why you love something as passionately as you do. Wither it be things like a song popping up on your shuffle that you haven’t heard in ages and you are reminded how much you love it and the artist so you spend the rest of the day listening to them, or your friends all being in the same place at the same time to remind you how much you treasure the time you get to spend with them and their shear levels of awesome. And it’s not to say that you have completely forgotten these things, you just allowed yourself to let them fall to the side or shine a little less bright. I had a moment of being reminded as I read that book I mentioned, Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life by Ryan K. Sallans. The book is Ryan’s account of his life as a transman, his life experiences growing up in rural Nebraska and coming to have his outside align with his inside.
While I attended college I was fortunate enough to hear Ryan speak twice to some of my classes about his story and a more general understanding of what it means to be Transgender. His story is really incredible and I would highly recommend the book to anyone, but while reading I really found myself pulled back into that love of the topic. Everyone has a favorite area of their study and after diving into my minor I found that I was most attracted to and interested by the T in LGBT. The discussion of the gender binary (or lack thereof) and how sex is different from gender and how our society is so obsessed with things like gender because it shapes how we treat each other and especially ourselves. I was and still am endlessly fascinated by it all.
At any opportunity to learn more or discuss and educate people I jumped at. I remember once having a detailed discussion with a friend how messed up it is that we feel this need to know if a person is a male or female upon our fist look at them, like why does that really matter how WE view THEM? We’ve all had that experience when we see an androgynous person and we nudge our friend to say, “Is that a guy or a girl?”. And for what? Just to satisfy our own need to label people and put them in these boxes? Does it really matter if that person identifies as male or female? Or if that identification matches the sex they were given at birth? Does all that matter at the end of your few second encounter as the person walks by? And despite my knowledge now that no, none of that really makes a difference because I am still who I am and that person is gonna continue to be who they are regardless of the resolution my friend and I come to about THEIR gender, I still find myself thinking it from time to time. I sink back, for a moment, into this mold that society has created for me to think there is one or the other, black or white, man or woman.
We are raised to differentiate people by little characteristics that land them in the ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ column and that is so unfair, both to those people and to us. As early as six months do we start to build these ideas (long hair = mommy, mommy = girl / short hair = daddy, daddy = boy) about gender and sex and they follow us all through life. And sadly a lot of those ideas only have the two options which creates stress for those experiencing feelings that they don’t belong in their body, or that simply don’t identify with either. It’s unfair that we limit such fundamental identifications, and even further so that some people feel it okay to shame those that don’t match their carefully crafted lists of either/or.
Once I was informed that a binary was inappropriate I felt the need to tell others and encourage understanding or inclusion so that nobody was forced to feel alone or unwelcome. So I found myself taking on projects where I could present on gender and sex, I wanted to have endless discussions on gender roles and expectations and where we get these ideas and why we rarely question them and why some people feel it is okay to condemn some because they don’t fit this mold or are “different”. Ryan’s story of how he faced each little battle or struggle or new development in his life reminded me why I loved this area of my study the most and why it was important to me. I want to break down these close minded concepts of gender and sex and allow people to be who they are without any sort of ridicule or expectations.
There is this quote I saw once that said something about how it is the most lovely to watch a person talk about something they are really passionate about because you get to see them at a peak, so full of energy and enthusiasm because they care so deeply for the subject and I like to think that when I get on my tangents about this stuff people are getting to see me in that moment. Because I know that when I have a friend come to me and say they knew the difference between sex and gender and could explain it to their peers because I blabbed on about it all the time, or someone mentions they got to read about the topic for a class I get insanely happy because I know that slowly this society and culture is changing to be more open and accepting.
So while I had every intention of reading Ryan’s book eventually I was really glad I read it when I did because I am in this place positive and really inspired so being reminded about something I deeply care for was nice. I got to feel that feeling of energized run through my veins again and I got to talk my mom’s head off about the book and why I thought it was fantastic and why it is so important. That feeling of perfect timing or divine intervention when things line up and make tons of sense are great and that’s exactly what getting a Barnes & Nobles gift card from my secret santa at work so I could purchase Ryan’s book was. I hope you guys experience something similar or equally as satisfying soon cause those little reminders are a big ball of awesome.
P.S. — I also wanted to share with you guys some websites/graphics to visit it you care to know more about Transgenders/Transsexuals or gender/sex and how those are different. I know I didn’t really go into explaining them and as I said I love to share the education so here are a few great sites that have a wealth of information.
http://asexual-not-a-sexual.tumblr.com/post/28253369005/ive-recieved-a-lot-of-requests-for-a (this is a more general thing for all identities but still a fantastic read)