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I think, therefore I harm

Gender Identity

Have you ever realized how light gender difference was on a genetic point of view? Your mother and father both shared their genetic with you. Both your mother’s egg and father’s sperm contained the entire genetic of each of your parent. But just one copy of it, where a cell needs a double copy of the genetic to be able to split and reproduce. Your parents genetic mixed to form a new one, which made you who you are.

Among your genetic, one single small gene made you either a man or a woman. Every egg ever produced by women contains the X chromosome, which holds all that is needed to produce a girl, and a fetus initially develops around that chromosome. But then, something changes about half the time. Sperms contain a gene which may carry either an X or Y chromosome. If it’s an X, the resulting baby will remain a girl. If it’s a Y, though, at a later point during the fetus development, it kicks in an the baby turns into a male. The Y chromosome doesn’t contain much information, just the few differences that make a male out of a female. Every human was first a girl.

From a genetic and biological point of view, the difference between a man and a woman is extremely slim. Only the human brain makes such a big deal about genders.

What remains a mystery to me though, is how the X chromosome contains all the information to make a beautiful body, and then the Y chromosome is able to screw it up so much, turning it into a deformed hairy body with a bat hanging head down.

Newborns don’t make a deal of what gender they are. They don’t make a difference if pee wets the front or the bottom. They don’t care neither about their parents gender. Babies love any person that will care for them, though only mommy has good milk.

Parents, however, make a great deal about it. What is it that the doctor announces after the birth, even before performing any medical exam? No sane mother would dress a boy in pink or a girl in blue. We are imposed a gender identity right from birth – even before thanks to ultrasound –, but it will take babies a long time for them to understand and assume that identity.

Babies typically discover their own genitals by the age of eight to ten months. They find out they are either a boy or a girl. During their second year, they begin to understand gender differences and begin identifying themselves and others as either male or female. During their third year, children learn about gender roles. They usually understand and assume their gender identity by the age of four. By that time, girls begin doing more girly activities, such as playing with dolls and pretending to cook dinner. Boys embrace boy activities, playing rough with their brothers and friends, playing with trucks, or getting interest in sports.

Early on during school years, children tend to group with people of their gender, and do activities associated with their gender. Only by the middle of their teenage, when they develop a sexual interest in people of the opposite gender, do they finally begin to group more together, but even then they will spend most time with people of their gender.

One may wonder whether gender identity and the difference in activities between boys and girls are based on social expectations and pressure. In a long-term study where parents were asked to cloth their young children in gender neutral clothes and offer them both boy and girl toys, most boys ended up playing mostly with trucks, while girls chose to take care of their dolls. The difference is biological.

Social pressure exists, obviously. I don’t know of a father who would let his son play with dolls. Children are not let to develop their identity by themselves, they are expected to behave as… expected.

Gender identity however does not always aligns with biological gender. Non conforming children are often treated badly by their peers. Effeminate young boys may be called by terms related to homosexuality, or even be outright rejected by other boys. This phenomenon is usually lessen for girls who act as tommyboys, but they may still feel rejected. This may even put parents into distress, many of them foreseeing their child as homosexual. Fact is, some such children will effectively end up being gay, but certainly not all. On the opposite side of the scale, many homosexuals never showed any visible behavior before they exhibited their sexual preference.

gender-identity

There was never a time in my life when I got confused regarding my gender identity. I always was a boy, and never wore any female cloth, jewelry or makeup. As far as I can remember, I never had any doubt regarding my sexual orientation neither. I showed an interest in girls from an early age and I was a really good doctor.

But I was a non conforming child. During elementary school, I remember I spent more time playing with the girls, doing girly activities. I sure joined soccer, hockey or baseball games with the boys at times, but I was getting bored quickly. I wasn’t very interested in sports or rough activities. The more relax girl activities were more interesting. As a teen, I could not join into a girl group as easily as I would have liked. I wasn’t girly enough to be welcomed in their activities, though they were more interesting to me. I ended up joining mostly intellectual or relax groups of boys. I played chess or shared science knowledge while most guys where exhibiting their virility on the basketball court. My interest into joining groups of girls wasn’t based on sexual interest. Oh, I sure was sexually attracted by some of them, but I was mostly not interested in going any further.

By college, things went a little more natural. The behavioral separation between young men and young women wasn’t as strong. I did join the friendly sport events at occasions, but it was now easier to join a group where I felt at home, even when the members of that group were mostly females.

During college years, I realized one thing. People generally thought I was gay. Some of them brought that up at some point, after they had found I was, in fact, not gay, and once they had knew me for long enough to get comfortable at admitting that. After some of them did, I was the one bringing the subject up during casual conversations with other friends. Though I asked, none ever answered the question as to how they came to think of me as gay.

Of course, I had my theories. Not being very physical or manly, not being interested in sports much, spending much time with girls but yet showing little interest in them. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, I was too shy to exhibit any sign.

Years passed and I learned more about myself. I think of myself as much more feminine than most men. I still have no doubt regarding my gender identity or sexual orientation. I am still an hetero man. I am a computer programer, an aquarist, I lead a team of workers as a living, I can’t get myself to broom my floor more than once a week, or clean the bathroom more than once a month, or wash the dishes on odd days. I mean, I’m a very hetero man. But then… I shoot the traditional bow rather than the choice of hunters, I love cats and gerbils, I have long hair, I painted my kitchen cabinet doors azure. Hell, my blog is azure!! How manly is that? I mean, where do I fit?

Where do you fit?

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9 comments on “Gender Identity

  1. sledpress
    October 30, 2013

    I guess we know about me. While distinctly heterosexual from a sexual-attraction standpoint, I often have the experience of being the butchest thing in the room. I’ve talked elsewhere about how I decided as a four year old that I wanted to grow up to be a man, because men got to do all the interesting, fun things. (I love what you said about playing with “dulls” — the English is “dolls” actually, but they’re pretty darn dull! I had some, but the most I could think of to do was use them as mannequins in stagings of Greek myths. Yes, I was a seriously warped child.)

    There’s obviously some programming created by sex hormones, but I can’t imagine girls opting to confine themselves to little toy kitchens or wetting dolls — or later, high heels (god!) without social pressure. A lot of “female” behavior is just DUMB behavior that both sexes are better off without. But I love it when nonconformist men like you paint the place lively colors or love animals, just because, by me, everyone should have beauty in their space and animals are our family. My gentleman friend lacks no hetero credentials but people have assumed he was gay because he is highly literate and likes to bake. Good grief!

    Now the question of transgender people is one that has vexed me somewhat because the first guy I could have seriously looked back on as a suitable boy friend turned out to identify as a trans woman (though he still hasn’t made any public or physical switch so I feel I can’t really stop calling him “him.”). I have known other trans people but not “before and after” coming out. And because this guy is very very conservative, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to deal with it very well. I don’t really comprehend what he wants out of being female — I don’t know if he wants to have sex with men as a woman or with women as a woman (that happens), I don’t… I just don’t get it. It’s impossible for me to imagine why a man would WANT to live as a woman, just exactly because everything that is assigned to the female gender seems to be about restriction and lack of options. Clearly you don’t need to be female to decorate or cook! I mean… if we were all nudists, what would a trans person do who didn’t want to go as far as surgery and just wanted to cross dress?

    Which just for the record, if people want surgery and happiness results I am yea for it. It just kinda baffles me, still.

    • Tom Duhamel
      October 30, 2013

      Haha! How did that mistake slip through? Not once, not twice… but thrice!! A funny mistake, but I fixed it now.

      I don’t try to understand how people may want to change gender. There is nothing to understand. It’s in them. I don’t understand how anybody may be sexually attracted to a man, but then about half of the population is. What is there to understand? An ex-colleague was a gay man, who wore female clothing and makeup, etc. People often asked whether he was a man or woman. He said openly that he was a gay man, but he definitely expressed femininity, walked like a woman, had woman talks (about makeup and such), etc. At work, we have uniforms, he picked the female version of it, and nobody ever tried to prevent him from doing it (though it might be worth noting that the difference between male and female uniforms isn’t very great). At work parties, he wore (almost) dresses, and high heels. I never tried to understand, it’s how he was, and I accepted him like that, for who he was. He was my assistant, and a great assistant.

      You imply that no man should want to be a woman, because society somewhat treat women as inferior. Oh I won’t say anything about that, you probably see that clearer than I do. But it goes both way. A friend of mine got a job at a supermarket, where he wanted to be a cashier. They hired him and sent him to work in the warehouse. He left the job after a few days when he realized they would never let a guy work at the cash. This is the one anecdote I have on my mind right now, but there are a few situations. Possibly not as much as cases of women not being able to reach certain positions, I don’t know.

      • sledpress
        October 30, 2013

        I don’t know about “should want” — I just can’t for the life of me understand why. I mean, sometimes I dress up as a woman. 🙂 But to go though that routine every day before going out the door and totter around all day in those impractical clothes — yike!

        Overall, I am glad that people get to express a whole range of gender fluidity — it sort of creates a commentary on how absolute or artificial all these features are, and it lets people have fun. I cheer when I see the documentary about Mr. Quentin Crisp who daily went out in public wearing makeup and female accessories when you could still be imprisoned for homosexual approaches in the UK. What a brave man — even though, as I say, I can’t think why that attire appealed to him.

        I’ve had employers refuse to even let me apply for jobs because I was female — and at the “cash”, too! It would be illegal now to do it so baldly, but I’m sure there are still situations where they figure out how to do it. And on the other hand, in my field, I know that men have more trouble finding clients because people are afraid they are sex perverts. As if women are incapable of ulterior motives. But mostly, women still get the short end as far as paying work.

  2. heretherebespiders
    November 1, 2013

    Okay! I have… About a half hour to read and respond. I’ve had one hella busy few days!

    Right – I disagree that men are ugly. I personally prefer less ass-and-back hair, but the rest of the male body is usually quite nice. Yes, a penis is odd, and balls are even odder. But a vagina looks like a bad butcher has been experimenting. So, whatever – sexual organs are a bit gross and smell funny (both genders). Doesn’t make them any less fun!

    From your description, I went deviant at age 5. I had no interest in dolls, and I still hate my neighbour (a boy, Paul) for breaking my awesome dump truck in his sandbox. Seriously, I was 4 or 5 and I still remember the desperate, terrible sound of the gears being clogged with sand and knowing my favourite toy had just died. I did do tea-parties, with stuffed animals – but I think every kid did that when alone – got all their best toys in a circle and made them interact. Kids are creative. I’m sure I had wars along with the “tea”.

    My niece is 3. She is a beautiful kid – and I REFUSE to say that she is. I say: smart, creative, adventurous, amazing, clever – but never ever will I comment on her looks. I know my sis is a bit baffled by how her daughter wants to wear pink and pretty dresses. Neither she nor I ‘get’ that. So perhaps there is some truth to nature versus nurture? I know damn well my niece has as many toy cars and sports team outfits as she does pretty pink clothes and dolls. My sis detests all that “princess” crap that is so popular now.

    I always asked for a play kitchen set for Christmas, never got one. I think mom thought THAT was too girly? I can’t ask her now. But as my dad was a great cook, it was never a gender thing to me.

    I was a tomboy – my sister not so much, she was artistic so spent more time indoors. I didn’t have many girlfriends, and the boys just tortured me, badly. I did prefer running around and getting dirty to sitting still, when with others. By myself? In the woods or in a book.

    What I find sad is that the girls when you were in school didn’t join the chess or science or computer clubs. THAT is something that needs to change.

    I didn’t go to college until I was 30, so can’t comment on that experience.

    Look, my husband has longer hair than I, he carries a man bag and I hate to carry any bag at all. He loves clothes and shoes and I couldn’t give one shit less. Everyone still thinks HE is gay, despite 8 years of marriage. So far no one has called me a dyke, but perhaps they think it… I am the one with the Harley, after all…

    • Tom Duhamel
      November 1, 2013

      8 years of marriage and they still think he is gay. See what impression you have on them 😛

      I knew you weren’t very girly. A Harley, really? 🙂

      My sister, now in her early 20s, is very girly. She has tinker bell (the little fairy from Peter Pan) everywhere on her stuff and in her apartment. She have been like that from her very young age, despite she had three older brothers. I doubt my mother had anything to do with that, though she sure used that to her advantage and did clothe her with a lot of pink and girly things.

      I don’t think parents should do anything about that. I’m pretty sure we are like that from birth. Your mother didn’t want you to be girly, but I doubt that changed anything.

      Why would you want to bring more girls to chess and science? It was open to them too, they just weren’t as interested. Should we bring guys off the gym and into the chess club too? I think it’s wrong to push anyone in something they are not.

      I suppose in the past centuries, many people must have been pushed into a role that they didn’t identify to. Today, we can assume any role we like. If you and D had been there 200 years ago, he would have been working out in the farm, and you in the kitchen. Isn’t it nice that you are living in the 21st century instead? 🙂

      And about your second paragraph, don’t do that again. I had to ROTFATTRMCTIWNI (rolling-on-the-floor-and-try-to-reassure-my-cats-that-I-was-not-insane) for about 20 minutes. Yes your descriptions were… disturbingly right. I suppose that’s not how we look at genitals that we are attracted to. I remember having saw a test on the web where, for several pictures, we had to decide which ones were of female genitals and which ones were of raw meat. I kind of failed the test and couldn’t get a hard on for several days.

      • heretherebespiders
        November 5, 2013

        Haha. I get to throw it back at you – no one reads my old posts (or the about me, it seems – where I mention the Hawg).

        Neither my sister nor I are girly-girl. I did go through a phase of purple and rainbows and unicorns, when I was 10, however. Immediately followed by heavy metal and spikes and black clothes, which has persisted where the rainbows did not. I do think mom was an influence, she gave not one shit about her looks or clothes or hair, and was terrible at using makeup, and never ever had her ears pierced. You as much as said nurture did count as your mom encouraged the pink-ness.

        I want more girls in math and science because they are actively discouraged NOT to show any interest in these things. Girls are bad at math. Girls don’t want to get dirty. Girls are bad at logic. These are the not so subtle messages given out constantly. Recent examples that might land me in your spam filter for too many links: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/06/the-childrens-place-shirts-girls-math_n_3714050.html
        http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/epic-t-shirt-fail-quot-im-too-pretty-to-do-my-homework-so-my-brother-has-to-do-it-for-me-quot-2537106.html
        Chess? That’s geeky. No girl wants to be labelled a geek. What needs changed is the attitude toward women, and these intellectual pursuits.

        Sled is a perfect example of how muscles do not equal stupidity. If she can do it, why don’t the boys? Perhaps they, too, are being shoved into descriptions that don’t fit them. For most people, it is easier to just give in and follow the crowd. I can’t do that, despite how much pain it has caused me.

        Believe me, I’m happy to be living now as compared to 200 years ago. But there is a lot more road to cover before women are treated equally. All I can do is be the best example I can be, of someone with a vagina who isn’t stupid or weak or illogical or shallow.

        • Tom Duhamel
          November 5, 2013

          I get your point now. Yes I had to approve your comment, but those two links were funny as hell. Not funny in the sense that I would buy one, I certainly wouldn’t. Funny in the sense of “What were they thinking?”

          Actually, I read both articles. I like the comment that all the shirts should be sold in a single section, rather than split for boys and girls, since they have the same body at that age. Children (or likely parents) could then choose what they want to wear.

          It’s funny how I post things to share ideas, and I end up being the one learning things. I sure didn’t expect this kind of conversation from this post, but I’m really glad I had it. To be frank, I had an item on my list of future posts about how the feminism movement had became redundant since women are now allowed to vote, are allowed same jobs, same wage… You know what? I just scrapped that item, there are things I did not see.

          Did you change your About page recently? I sure see the Harley mention, but I would swear it recently mentioned something about quantum physics.

          • heretherebespiders
            November 5, 2013

            I did change recently – no one seemed to be interested in talking quantum stuff. Especially on my basic level!

            I’m glad to hear that you have learned something! That’s one of the big reasons I like bloggers who discuss instead of just ‘like’, we all learn new things 🙂

  3. Charles Wierzbicki
    May 25, 2016

    If you still have question, contact Walt Heyer A Transgender’s Regret he posted many blog post about this and you can read them here
    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/author/walt-heyer/

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2013 by in Personal, Society and tagged , .
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