We Won’t Be Erased | Dear Baby Maybe #16
Dear Baby Maybe,
Yesterday we got some heavy news. The government has taken a swing at trans people, again, and is trying to silence and extinguish us. This is a terrifying thing to read about, and a horrible thing to consider, so I want to take the time to walk you through how valid and correct you are and how no one can take you away from yourself. They are trying to make sure that the sex someone is assigned at birth is the only way they will be known. They are working to make sure that sex and gender are viewed as the same thing, and completely fixed factors of identity. They are insisting that sex and gender only have two options, and that they know better than us.
To first prove how wrong that is, you can learn about all the different cultures around the world and history that view gender in more complex and nuanced ways than we do here in the United States. From the Two-Spirit people in some Native/Indigenous North American communities to the Hijras of India, there are examples of people who do not adhere to the binary of men and women all over the world. Actually, historically looking at the world, the idea of there only being two genders is a new concept. This binary and it’s rigid rules were introduced long after these other cultures had been established. And clearly, the rules are not working, as thousands of people are coming into themselves and rejecting expectations based on their perceived genders at birth.
But a part of this conversation that too many people don’t even consider is that our concept of biological sex isn’t even accurate. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that about 1% of our population is actually born with sex characteristics that don’t fit the typical definitions of male or female. It is a natural and pretty typical phenomenon, about as common as people being born with red hair. Intersex people can look and exist in a lot of different ways, and the varied characteristics can be physical, in their genitals, or internal, in their chromosomes. Sometimes it’s a mixture thereof. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people being intersex, it’s just different from what we’re taught and what we’re used to so a lot of people don’t talk about it. In fact, a lot of people go through most or all of their life without even knowing that they are intersex. All of this is to say that sex is actually a completely vast topic that can’t be easily coded into just two categories. To pretend that we don’t have more options is not only inaccurate, but it’s irresponsible and rude to those who can’t fit into one or the other.
Your gender (or lack thereof) is your truth, not your choice.
Learning about these people who live outside of the ideals of male and female really helped me to be comfortable in my own rejection of those standards. I want to make sure that you know as you grow up and you grow into yourself that you are the expert on yourself. There are people who will try to invalidate you, try to stifle you, and try to correct you, but you are not wrong. They will try to tell you that your life would be easier if you just chose to not be trans. But you know by this point that who you are is very much not a choice. Your gender (or lack thereof) is your truth, not your choice. You don’t choose to be who you are, you can only choose to hide it from the world around you. And we’ve tried that, we’ve been there. Hiding is the hardest part. I promised myself a while ago, and I promise you now that I will never back down on my identity for the benefit of any other person. I would rather have someone beat me up for being who I am than me beat myself up for being someone else.
But that’s what I think about most on days like today. I don’t get beat up for being who I am. I actually personally probably won’t be very much affected by the actions of this administration. That is rooted in a number of different things, but most of them are privileges we need to be able to acknowledge. Existing in this country with white skin gives us an immediate layer of protection that de-escalates violence. I am less likely to be the victim of a hate crime specifically because of the color of my skin. There are other privileges that we hold, including being skinny, fitting some other conventional western standards of beauty, growing up in a middle class family in a liberal state, being neurotypical, and not living with a disability. In times like these it is increasingly important to remember where we fit in these conversations, and how likely we are to be okay. I am mostly terrified for the sake of others, and I work to leverage my position of power to help make sure others can be okay too.
This administration claims that we “wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.” But that is not possible. You can’t give civil rights protections to people who should not have them. Everybody should have civil rights. That’s what makes them civil rights. What they mean to say is that they do not view us as civilians. They do not acknowledge us as people. And that is an argument they are not going to win.