Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

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Re: The challenges ahead (Biden's America)

Post by RoseMorninStar »

Involuntarily suppressing any part of one's personality/identity would be frustrating and oppressive. Something that most people see (and judge) makes it all the more burdensome.

River: I don't think those who tend to see the world in black & white or those who see the world in greys is an indication of intelligence (or lack thereof) but I guess I would view those who like rigidity/rules as falling into the 'black & white' thinkers end of the spectrum. Rules are necessary (I certainly don't tend to be a rule breaker) and some things ARE black & white, but it would be hard for me to define where the tipping point on the spectrum is. I'm sure many people fall in the middle somewhere and we only notice the extremes.
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Re: The challenges ahead (Biden's America)

Post by elengil »

Yeah, I think it's that everyone has their personal black and whites, and everyone has their personal grays, and it's sometimes hard to predict exactly where those lines between them fall, or the extent (or exact circumstances) to which they will defend the boundaries of them.
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Re: The challenges ahead (Biden's America)

Post by Eldy »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Tue Jun 14, 2022 5:19 pmIf I had my way (which I won't), I would do away with the concept of "normal" altogether. It is a moving target which causes unneeded distress in so many different ways. But that, perhaps, is a topic for a different discussion.
I can't necessarily disagree with that, though I have a complicated history with the concept of normalcy. Being "normal" was something I desperately wanted as a kid/teen but felt was always out of reach (for reasons unrelated to gender), whereas now I sometimes feel like I'm too much of a normie compared to my sister and some of my friends. :spin: Not that any of them have ever given me grief for it, and most would probably agree with you that doing away with the idea of normalcy would be a good thing.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

But I also couldn't explain exactly why it bothered me (especially since I was very much the stereotypical tomboy growing up). Just proves that the idea of a tomboy is *not* the same as being transmale like some people try to insist (or the reverse, why do you need to be trans, why can't you just be a 'tomboy' - like these are so not the same thing!!!)
Commenting on this without reading the intervening posts...

Adolescence can be a very confusing time. I was skipped in school, and we also moved after I finished Grade 6. Suddenly, in Gr. 7, I found the other girls in my class just hung around at recess, gossiping and talking about boys, flaunting their polished nails and makeup and nylon stockings. It was a huge cultural shock for me, as I was used to being very active at recess - skipping rope, bouncing a ball against the wall, playing active games like tag. I felt very, very out of place, and I definitely wondered if I might have been happier if I'd been born a male.

I have a dear friend who is very athletic. Her daughter followed in her footsteps, and all through High School was the goalie for a women's hockey team. She also played football and was the only female on a co-ed team. As a result, she was picked on by the other females at her school, and found herself wondering if she should be a male. She actually began hanging out with a group of transgender females, and was considering changing her sex. Eventually, she became so unhappy that she attempted suicide. Through counselling, she has now come to accept that she is female, and like her mom, just not one of those females that gets her identity through being hyper-feminine and making herself as attractive as possible to the opposite sex.

While this makes me very angry about the way we view sex roles, it also makes me wonder how many young women have gone through something similar, and thought they might actually be male as a result of the way our culture stereotypes the sexes. The same goes for men who don't fit the stereotype of the unemotional muscle-bound guy who hangs out with his buds on the weekend, watching sports and drinking beer.

I certainly don't reject the fact that there are people who genuinely feel they are in a body that doesn't match what they are meant to be. I just want to say we need to be VERY careful when making that decision. :( Cultural stereotypes can be VERY strong.

Whew. Not many places where I'd feel comfortable admitting this! :shock: :help:
Edited to add: and it makes me more comfortable admitting it now that Voronwë has moved it to a private forum!
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

This forum is a public forum just like Lasto, Sunny. I would need to move this to Bag End for it to be private.
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

Okay - no problem. At my age, I'm not terribly worried. No employer or co-workers to read this and get upset by it, and family members aren't into Tolkien.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: The challenges ahead (Biden's America)

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Eldy wrote: Tue Jun 14, 2022 7:13 pm
Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Tue Jun 14, 2022 5:19 pmIf I had my way (which I won't), I would do away with the concept of "normal" altogether. It is a moving target which causes unneeded distress in so many different ways. But that, perhaps, is a topic for a different discussion.
I can't necessarily disagree with that, though I have a complicated history with the concept of normalcy. Being "normal" was something I desperately wanted as a kid/teen but felt was always out of reach (for reasons unrelated to gender), whereas now I sometimes feel like I'm too much of a normie compared to my sister and some of my friends. :spin: Not that any of them have ever given me grief for it, and most would probably agree with you that doing away with the idea of normalcy would be a good thing.
I think the need to be "normal" is something that our society pounds into us from a young age, to great detriment, even though it is a completely illusory concept.
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Dangweth Pengolod

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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Eldy »

Sunsilver wrote: Tue Jun 14, 2022 8:23 pmI certainly don't reject the fact that there are people who genuinely feel they are in a body that doesn't match what they are meant to be. I just want to say we need to be VERY careful when making that decision. :( Cultural stereotypes can be VERY strong.
I think this is a valid observation, and certainly the concepts of gender roles (outward expression) and gender identity (one's internal self-conception) get mixed up a lot, though recent trans thought has sought to emphasize the distinction between the two. I think you're absolutely correct that most people who feel uncomfortable about gender due to social experiences are not trans, and can find relief through, relatively speaking, much easier methods than transitioning. Which is not to say that the experience of being bullied or ostracized for being gender nonconforming is in any way easy! But my view is that there are as many "right" ways to be a man or a woman as there are men and women, even if some people insist otherwise.

This is true for trans people, too. I'm not especially girly, and most of the trans men I know don't lean into many masculine stereotypes. Of course, some trans people do embrace such roles, either because they genuinely want to, or because they feel they need to (over)compensate once they start transitioning. People in the latter category tend to even out eventually and find whatever their happy medium is for how they present. The goal, in my opinion, is for people to be able to express themselves and their gender in whatever way they want. That holds true for transgender and cisgender (i.e., non-trans) people alike. :)

The decision to transition is, of course, huge and life-changing, and I have yet to meet anyone who takes it lightly. More frequently, people spend years and years agonizing over it before taking the plunge, if they ever do.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

Voronwë, I can't really see the concept disappearing. As kids become teenagers, they split with their parents ideas of how things should be done, and instead side with what their peer group thinks is appropriate. The pressure to conform with their peers is ridiculously strong, and (as I know from personal experience) those who don't fit in have a miserable time of it.

Eldy:
he goal, in my opinion, is for people to be able to express themselves and their gender in whatever way they want. That holds true for transgender and cisgender (i.e., non-trans) people alike. :)
YES! 100% agree! But it bothers me to hear of adolescents getting hormone therapy, at an age where they may not really know who they are.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Eldy »

I think there's room for debate and disagreement over how young is too young for HRT, though unfortunately the political discourse over it has been pretty thoroughly poisoned. I would definitely set the age limit at younger than 18, though that has as much to do with my more general stance on youth rights as it does my views on trans issues.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Eldy wrote:But my view is that there are as many "right" ways to be a man or a woman as there are men and women, even if some people insist otherwise.
Absolutely. And that goes for more than gender identity.
A great tree may outlive many a Man, and may remember the seed from which it came ere all the Men that now walk the earth were yet unborn, but the rind upon which you lay your hand, and the leaves which overshadow you, are not as that seed was, nor as the dry wood shall be that decays into the mould or passes in flame. And other trees there are that stand about each different in growth and in shape, according to the chances of their lives, though all be akin, offspring of one yet older tree and sprung therefore from a single seed of long ago.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

It's difficult to set an age at which people really decide their sexual orientation or gender, from my (admittedly) limited experience. There was a boy in my high school who was very obviously gay. A close friend of mine didn't decide she was a lesbian until after she graduated from university. Ironically, she actually dated a guy I was interested in, when I was in university!

Then, there's a man I met at university, and dated. He eventually confessed to me he was a cross-dresser, though he assured me he definitely identified as being male. A year or two after we broke up, he phone my mom to announce he was now living his life as a woman. He would have been in his 30s at this time. :shock:
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by elengil »

From my experience there is a vast ocean of difference between 'wishing I'd been born a boy' in terms of what I might have been interested in, and 'feeling as if I should have been a boy' in terms of my physical body.

One is very much dissatisfaction with gender norms that perhaps aren't always easy for children to understand (or heck, adults for that matter) don't define you and you can push back against them. The other is very much about your relationship with the body you are in.

I was a tomboy, I didn't *want* to do what the 'girly-girls' were doing, I didn't want to wear what they were wearing, I didn't want to talk about the things they talked about. If felt more comfortable around the boys, I *might* have thought life would be easier (or make more sense, or that I would fit better) if I had been born a boy but at no point in my life did I ever actually feel my body was wrong or cause me any distress.


That, of course, doesn't mean no tomboys (or any girl) might not be sure whether it's being a girl culturally or a girl physically that they are uncomfortable with. I know there are some societies where girls live as boys not because they want to 'be' boys but because they want to social freedoms that being seen as a boy offers them.

I feel extremely fortunate that I did not have any kind of dysphoria or confusion when it came to my body. I am very lucky that I didn't have family and friends that (for the most part) pressured me to be more 'girly'.

I do remember being delighted when I discovered Jane Austen and I felt as if there was a kind of place that existed between tomboy and girly-girl that made sense for me. (not that I'd have fit in then, either but it was... better? lol)
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

I did get pressured to be more girly, but the pressure wasn't that extreme fortunately.

One of my uncles told my mom "Why don't you dress her in a dress, for heaven's sake?"

My mom told him about the time she had me dress up in a pretty dress and white gloves to go to a fancy garden party. She found she'd forgotten her gloves, and went back inside to get them. While she was gone, I climbed up on the verandah railing, and got my white gloves, my frilly panties, and the back of my skirt just black from the dirt that was on the railing! :rofl:

I think she eventually just gave up, though of course, there were certain times when I knew I had to dress up. Pants weren't allowed in school until I was in Grade 12, and you definitely were expected to dress up for church and formal family gatherings like Easter and Christmas.

And yes, it was mainly the freedom the guys had that I wanted (though being a guy has its advantages when you're out in the woods and need to pee...). Those barriers were still there even when I was in High School. The night he celebrated his Gr. 13 graduation, my brother never came home at all. When I celebrated, my mom phoned my friend's house around 10 p.m., wanting me to come home. :nono: (Edited to add - the gathering I was attending was ALL FEMALE.)
Last edited by Sunsilver on Tue Jun 14, 2022 10:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Eldy »

Sunsilver wrote: Tue Jun 14, 2022 9:22 pmIt's difficult to set an age at which people really decide their sexual orientation or gender, from my (admittedly) limited experience. There was a boy in my high school who was very obviously gay. A close friend of mine didn't decide she was a lesbian until after she graduated from university. Ironically, she actually dated a guy I was interested in, when I was in university!
I think "realizing" is generally a more accurate description than "deciding," but yeah, figuring yourself out can be a messy process. In my case, I didn't start consciously thinking about wanting to be a woman until I was 17, and it took until I was 24 to admit the possibility that I really was trans, and not just a freak. On the other hand, some people who come out later in life already knew, and simply held that knowledge close to their chest for years or decades until they felt able to say it openly. (Others know and never feel comfortable sharing it.) I can't speak to the "I've known since I was five" experience, but I've listened to enough such people describe how traumatic they found puberty that I'm not willing to write off the idea of puberty blockers. That said, I am in favor of loosening norms about gender as a whole. Not every boy who wants to wear a skirt is trans,* but I'd rather they be allowed to dress how they like anyway. Maybe that will lead fewer people to consider they're trans, or maybe it won't; I don't know. The important thing is freedom of choice.

I'm aware of the arguments that children are not mentally developed enough to make certain kinds of medical decisions for themselves, and I agree to an extent—I don't advocate making sex reassignment surgery available to minors—but only to an extent. Partly that's because I don't want to force trans kids to go through years of unnecessary dysphoria once they've figured it out, and partly because it's my general policy to believe kids when they say things about themselves and their experience. Sometimes this means I have to eat crow, since kids (like adults) are capable of lying, but considering how much of our society, and especially the legal and medical systems, are built on the assumption that parents know better than their children, I think it is important to send the message that there are some people who will implicitly believe kids when they speak up. But this attitude is informed by my own childhood experiences, and I don't expect others to be as cynical and mistrustful of adult authority figures' intentions as I am. I'm glad for those people that their lives did not lead them to the conclusion that it's safest to assume nobody is looking out for you.

---

* On the flip side, not all "boys" who turn out to be trans have an interest in "crossdressing." The only time I wore a skirt before coming out is when my mother enrolled me in a ballet class when I was four or five, and I was the only "boy" there. That lasted a month or two at most, I believe.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Frelga »

To me, there is a lot of discourse on what is a "real" man or woman that I would rather sidestep altogether. In a free society, an adult should be able to do anything that does not cause property damage or physical injury to innocent bystanders without anyone butting in. That certainly should include the choice of appearance, name, pronouns, etc.

We don't get up in arms about women inserting silicon into their chest to make their boobs larger, or for that matter breast reduction surgery for health reasons. Why do we care about gender transition?

Actually, I know why. It's because we are in the midst of a power grab by people who have nothing to offer their supporters except an assurance that they will put everyone in their proper place.
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (split from "The challenges ahead")

Post by narya »

Normal is just a setting on a washing machine, and even that is debatable - just what is a "normal" piece of clothing, let alone what is a "normal" person.

In high school I didn't fit into the available female boxes. It appeared to me that boys my age viewed females as "silly frilly girls" or "loose and fun" or "intimidating (your choice of derogation female noun) who is scary good at math" or "nothing to see here". I tended to be the last two. Fortunately, I had some math-nerd female friends to hang out with, so I could just be me, with them. I never wanted to stop being a female, I just always wanted the role of female to be better valued and more flexible than it was.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by Sunsilver »

Narya, I saw that meme on my FB page - a young girl asks her mom "What's normal?" and mom replies, "It's just a setting on the washing machine."

I came extremely close to copying and pasting it into this thread! :rofl:
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
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Re: Gender and threats to "Normality" (spilit from "The challenges ahead")

Post by RoseMorninStar »

Like Frelga said, if it's not hurting anyone else it should be no one else's business. The only time I have had any reservations/confusion on this issue is in regards to professional/semi-professional competition, like Lia Thomas. I have no idea how to feel about that. I can understand the concerns on both sides.
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