The other day, a friend of mine asked me, “What does gender fluid even mean?” He was genuinely curious. I don’t think he meant anything condescending about it. He just wanted to know.
Well, who am I, and how should I know? I can’t speak for all the gender-fluid people in the world. This term means so many things to so many different people. What is the “right” answer?
All I could do was explain what it meant for me, under the requisite, that I am only one person and everyone is very different. I’m not a spokesperson for anyone.
Everyone is different, just like all gay people are different, all men and women are different. All plumbers are different, teachers, unicorns, and artists. There isn’t one “type” of person under any uumbrella in any walk of life.
“I know that,” he said. “I just don’t understand what it means in terms of what gender you are.”
Okay, So I tried to explain how society tends to see gender as a binary thing. We are cultivated and brainwashed to see things as opposites. I made a point of saying, “You’ve probably always been comfortable being a man and it’s never been a question for you. You’re comfortable, so these things never occurred to you, but what if, throughout your life, someone was forcing you to be female? That would make you uncomfortable, right? You’d probably feel like it was something you were fighting against your entire life because you knew it was wrong for you.”
“Yes. I would hate that. I’ve heard about that before.”
I tried to explain how it’s not different if you feel in between that binary, or neither. You can feel more one gender or another, or between genders. And why is that so different than feeling one or the other? And why not allow a person to express themselves how they want to be perceived, even on a daily basis–at least to themselves. Isn’t life too short to fake being authentic?
Personally, I don’t feel either male or female, and sometimes, I feel a little more than the other, but I definitely do not identify as a female. It’s wrong for me. And if someone forced me to be male, that would be a war within myself as well. I am neither, and, I’m kinds of both. That’s the fluidity.
But labeling does no one any good in my opinion. Trans, for lack of a better word, can cover everything from MtF, FtM, genderqueer, non-binary, etc. Though, none of that explains the person, all their facets and idiosyncrasies, just like it wouldn’t for any person. Of course, there’s much more to a person than that.
But I’m no expert. How should I know what gender-fluid means? You’re asking but one person who is always working on trying to accept myself for who I am despite how the world sees me. Some think I’m great, or that I’m okay, or that I’m a freak, or don’t understand me, or think they understand me better than I understand myself. To them I say, wait in line, but I don’t owe you any answers, especially when I don’t really have them.
Another aspect of the conversation was about changing oneself via surgery. I heard something I hear a lot–that making such a change won’t make you happy. That once “people” go through their surgeries, they find that it doesn’t fix anything and doesn’t make them happy. Where this myth comes from, I do not know because it just isn’t true.
The overwhelming majority of people that physically transition to their preferred gender feel better in their own skin. Of course, it doesn’t solve every problem a person has, but most people feel better about who they are and feel more comfortable in their gender and as a person. That is the true statistic.
Another thing I keep hearing, “Are you sure? Have you really thought about this?”
Do you know the kind of hoops a person has to jump through to do something like this? The aggravation? Insurance appeals? The years of having to live as their preferred gender, (for me, binding–for trans women, dressing and trying to live as women in society), and all the therapy one has to go through? The letters one needs? The doctors okay? Coming out to people and announcing your private shit? The years of dysphoria and depression? The lifetime of wanting it? Not to mention the risks, the pain, and healing of the surgery itself.
Why on earth would someone go through all of that if they weren’t absolutely positive? In essence, I’m sorry, but it’s a stupid question.
And, “Why now? Why didn’t you do this a long time ago?” OMG, is that ever a question to deal with. If not finally now, then when? A long time ago was a different time and I can list about a dozen reasons why I didn’t/couldn’t ten years ago, twenty years ago. Read my memoir if you’d like to know some of those reasons, but the rest? Is it really anyone’s business as to what emotional turmoil I’ve gone through to finally arrive here? I finally did. Should I live out the rest of my life unhappy just because I’m old?
What was most baffling to me was where these questions came from. But I’ve learned something big! I myself have been stereotyping a whole group of people. I assumed that just because someone fell into my “community” meant they were going to be understanding and accepting of me. That’s my poor judgment, my narrow-mindedness, and my bad.
Like I said, everyone is as different as those snowflakes people talk about, even though most snowflakes look an awful lot alike. I guess I can be just as brainwashed by societal stereotypes as anyone. Everyone is at least a little bit, right? Time to be woke.
So, coming to me for any real answers about what gender means? How should I know? Ask your own self. What does it mean?
(End of rant.)