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What Gender Fluid Means

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Gender and biological sex are things we are all familiar with yet somehow are unfamiliar with at the same time. For so long, especially in the older generations, people thought of gender and biological sex as one in the same. However, in reality they are two different things with two different meanings. Biological sex is not the identity in which you decide to live your life as, it is the chromosomal pair you possess. Males have both X and Y chromosomes, whereas females have two X chromosomes. It is simple and clear cut where gender is beginning to be seen as more fluid. “Most of us are born male or female, but we have to learn to see ourselves as gendered and to act in masculine and/or feminine ways” (Wood, 2019). So basically, we are born as one or the other, but gender is something that we choose to express. It is not something that is assigned to us. Though this concept is something that more and more people are beginning to embrace and understand, there are still some out there who either have no idea about gender fluidity or just choose to reject it completely.

I often wonder how many people, even as young as my mom’s age, would confuse biological sex with gender if asked. Would they say that gender relates to our anatomy or would they say that gender is how we decide to outwardly portray ourselves? What would their reaction be if I told them that gender was actually something along a spectrum and it does not have to be one way or the other? I believe that for a lot of people, this information can seem daunting and it just goes to show how new of a concept this still is to so many people. Though this is a foreign and new ideology for so many, handfuls of people have been living in the shadows and afraid to express how they have always felt. Caitlin Jenner can be used as an example. In interviews, Caitlin has stated that for as long as she can remember, she has always felt like a woman. Born in 1949, Jenner waited until the year 2015 to finally come out to the world confirming she was a transgender woman. Transgender is defined by a person whose gender does not correspond with their sex (Hegelson, 2017). Imagine living for sixty-six years feeling like you are not who you are meant to be and keeping this burning information to yourself because no one would really understand how you are feeling. I cannot even think of what that anxiety and stress would do to somebody.

In Katie Couric’s Gender Revolution, Couric interviewed a young girl named Ally. At the young age of twelve, Ally confirms that she is a transgender girl. This just goes to show that choosing your gender is not just a phase, rather it is something that we confirm very early on in our lives. Another important point to mention is that Ally has already had her fair share of depression despite her being so young. It is absolutely mind-blowing and so devastating to me that a girl that young can be going through something as severe as depression. Her depression all derived from the fact that she was living in a boy’s body and did not really know who to talk to or who could relate to her. It must seem like such a big, vast, scary world when you are the only person who believes you are feeling a certain way. I honestly cannot even think of what that type of loneliness can do. It breaks my heart that young children are worrying about the brutality of society, just because of who they are, instead of hanging out with their friends and enjoying everything a child should enjoy.

I personally had a friend go through these changes and it was one of the most difficult times for them. When I went to Arizona State, I met one of my closest friends. We clicked right off the bat and I had always had a feeling that she was a transgender woman, but I had never come right out and questioned her about it. I figured that in these situations, no one should feel obligated to tell anyone who they are, what they feel, and what they think. That being said, we just went along to class, lunch, and parties just like any couple of friends would do. It was not until later in the semester when I unfortunately found out I would not be returning to Arizona that my friend had finally sat down and talked to me. She was absolutely devastated that I was leaving because she felt like I was the only person who had never pressured her into talking about who she was and then making her feel guilty about it. She told me that she was an out-of-state student who left a handful of family members behind because they just did not understand who she was and why she is the way she is. I told her that she really does not have to explain herself and her reasons to anyone. Being who you are should never have to be explained and you should never have to feel like you owe someone excuses for being you.

I cannot even express how heartbreaking it is to see that amount of pain on someone’s face just because they have been taught to be ashamed of who they are. In my opinion, I think it is shameful that people are still arguing over how other people choose to live their lives. It is not personally affecting us so we don’t really get a say in how someone decides to live. Whether they decide to be a man, a woman, both, or neither is their decision and it is not up for debate. Just think about how many people are out there living in secrecy because they have been taught to be ashamed and they have been taught to live in a way that society can handle. No wonder suicide rates are astronomical among gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Imagine how lonely it is to live in a society that ignores you or hates you.

That being said, whether people like it or not, gender is fluid. Nobody has the right to tell someone who they should be and what they should feel. It is their own personal business and who are we to tell them what they are feeling is wrong? Gender is not binary, sex is. Someone could feel like a woman today and then the same person can feel like a man tomorrow. There isn’t a rule book on gender, though many people like to believe there is. People are who they are and it really should not be something that we learn to accept. It should have been accepted from the start. However, it is past that time and now we, as a society, need to move forward with open minds and open hearts. Living with an open mind and heart allows you to experience more acceptance and love than a closed mind and heart will ever allow.

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