I support every human being’s right to be who they want to be. If I was born a girl but still felt like a guy, I’d like to think I could make that transition without others treating me like a freak, or acting like I was doing something immoral. I know we don’t live in that world today, but I think we will live in that world within my lifetime. So I’m making an effort toward living in a post-gender mindset today, in order to be ready for the future I want. It will either make the transition easier on senile old man me, or in some small way help make that optimistic future come just a little sooner.
Public acceptance in local societies always seems to come long before any sweeping change in national or global society. An excellent representation of this concept appeared on The Daily Show not too long ago:
I’m hoping that once the law catches up with reality, it will no longer even be necessary for people to come out. Telling people you’re [LGBTQIA] would be the equivalent of telling people that you prefer people with green eyes or wanted to dye your hair a different color. The announcement of such a thing should be met with apathy and shrugs, and not made into some sort of debate or plea for acceptance.
Intolerance is a learned behavior. When I was a teenager I babysat and even worked at a preschool for a while. 3-5 year old kids ask really cool questions of grown-ups (and teenagers in my case) that gave me a lot of insight about what is a natural human instinct versus what is a learned behavior. Kids asked me stuff like “Why is ___’s skin brown?” and I’d tell them because they have more brown pigment and people whose parents have more pigment usually take on that trait, because kids usually look a lot like their parents.
n. That moment when a younger person (especially a child) asks you a question that you know will form an important part of their adult outlook. Often followed by a desire to be careful with your response and the thrill of playing this important role in that person’s life.
One of the most common cool questions I got was “Why does ____ have two dads and I just have one?” or something similar for kids with single parents, divorced parents, remarried parents, etc. When I’d tell them that different people fall in love in different ways and that everyone figures that out for themselves as they grow up, the kids would just acknowledge it and walk away. There’s no “that’s gross!” or “that’s wrong!” or any other kind of judgment.
This is why I think the argument that homosexuality or alternative gender roles are “unnatural” is absurd. What’s unnatural is teaching a child that there’s some sort of social or moral hierarchy to humanity based on how each person was born. Children don’t understand borders. They don’t think a kid of a different race is any weirder than a kid with different color hair or a kid with glasses. They definitely don’t understand why loving someone can be seen as a bad or immoral thing.
There’s a big difference between intolerance and misunderstanding of course. I grew up in a diverse neighborhood and by best friend Matthew was (and still is, believe it or not) black. I spent lots of time with him and his family throughout elementary school and his family answered a lot of my cool questions. My awkward white kid questions included “Why do you and your dad do your hair that way?” because I thought their hair was like mine except they styled it to be really curly or “Why do all your shower products smell like that?” referring to their soaps with menthol — which I actually still like now — in them. His dad usually laughed when I asked them but he always answered me truthfully.
I was obviously not racist as a kid, and I didn’t think for a second that I should hesitate to ask questions like that because Matt and his family were just normal people I really liked. I didn’t even know what racism was until I learned about it in school. Child me asking questions was just a pursuit born of curiosity.
I have that same genuine curiosity today about transgender people. I grew up with gay and lesbian friends and family members, but I’ve only met a few transgender people. I’m sorry if my questions are insensitive or if I make incorrect assumptions. I’m learning, not judging.