Honest Question, Honest Response

The other day, on a Facebook thread I was asked a great honest question:

Do you/did you want to change your SEX? Or do you/did you want to change your “gender”?

This question wasn’t directed at me, but I felt that is something I’d like to address.  The quick answer is that I changed sex.  I didn’t change gender. What does all that really mean?

Before I can get into what all this means to me, let me state a few things very clearly.  I am not a doctor, a psychologist or even a sociologist.   I’m an engineer (a mediocre one at best), so I read books and manuals.  Many of these books were about psychology, gender, biology and history.  I don’t claim to understand or predict the human condition, but I can talk about my life and how I tried to understand what I needed to do to be at peace with myself.

I believe that gender is a real thing.  Not in the same way that many of the transgenderist, Radical Feminist or even the fundamental Christians define the term.  I tend to agree with the Merriam-Webster definition:


  1. Grammatical

    1. a subclass within a grammatical class (as noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb) of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical forms
    2. membership of a word or a grammatical form in such a subclass
  • an inflectional form showing membership in such a subclass
  1. Sex

    1. Sex (i.e. the female or male gender)
    2. the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

As you can see the first and more common definition of gender is a grammatical thing, not behavioral.  While many English speaking people don’t use gendered words, they tend to go straight to the second meaning of the word.  I also would like to point out that Merriam-Webster states in the second definition that these traits are only typically associated with one sex, not absolute.

I believe that sex and gender (the second definition) are two different things.  When I was born I was assigned a sex.  I don’t remember anyone asking me what I should be assigned.  They just did it.  My parents, the doctors and nurses all conferred and based on their experience and education, assigned me to the male sex.  As many theorists and bloggers will tell us, my gender education in my assigned sex began.  Right there and then in the delivery room.

The problem with this education is that it didn’t work.  I never accepted the behavioral, cultural and psychological traits that were associated with my assigned sex.  For the next 12 years they (doctors, pastors and parents) would do their best to beat this education into me, the gender education for a male never stuck.  Eventually, we agreed on a mutual peace and never discussed it.  I was sent to the psychologist to deal with it, but even those experts couldn’t teach me male gender.

At the same time, my body would not cooperate with their plans.  I was hormonally challenged growing up.  Not enough testosterone to fully develop male secondary traits, and just enough estrogen to develop female secondary traits.  Once my breasts started to bud they were ripped out by the family doctor.  Let me state very clearly, I am NOT intersex.  My body tried to feminize, but the family had other plans.

How does all this relate to me and my transition?  I know that I have typical traits of gender and they are of the female sex.  No one educated me on those traits (unless you count 60′s and 70′s television programs).  They are built into my being.  Even while hanging off of telephones poles at work, I was abused and taunted for my perceived gendered behavior.  I tried my best to accept the sex I was given, but it would never fit who I was.

I changed sex.  I allowed the hormonal imbalance to continue and supplemented it with pills.  The meaty tissue around my breasts did grow a little.  Enough to fill an A-cup and my hips expanded to create a small waist.  By the time, I presented to the gatekeeper my desire to change (at the age of 19), they had no problem with my request.

My “gender” (yes, scary quotes) never changed.  Myself, my family and the professionals tried our best to change my “gender” to fit my assigned sex, but it was something that could never be changed.  That is how I know that for me gender is a real thing.

I don’t know where in the brain gender is located, but then we don’t know where in the brain our mind is located either.   More than likely it is located as part of the whole brain, not in any one place.  This leaves me in an interesting place.  If there is no biological thing for gender (the second definition from above) then how do I understand my behaviors and traits.  As I said no one actively taught them to me.  There wasn’t a class at school for it.

The lessons I was given at the back of my father’s hand only taught me to keep my mouth shut and walk straight.  How I saw myself and the way I preferred to behave was something that never left.  What do you call that?

I don’t know.  I really don’t care anymore.  Call it gender, call it behavior or call it personality, it doesn’t really matter.  I am what I am, and I’m at peace.

Anyway to end this and answer a question that wasn’t asked of me.  I changed sex.  I allowed my body to be altered to achieve peace of mind. I did not change “gender”.  My  behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits are those typically associated with the female sex.

Does Gender Expression have an Age Requirement?

There have been a few highly visible media stories over the past few months about children younger and younger expressing their genders as other than assigned at birth.  These children have been paraded and talked about on morning “News” programs, magazine programs and syndicated talk shows.  You see little children in pretty dresses, cute shoes and hair done just right.  Almost as if they’re ready to compete in a pageant.

I find it very sexist that it is only children assigned as boys who express as girls that are the ones talked about, never children assigned as girls who express as boys.   I believe that it is the cis-world’s view that anyone who doesn’t want to be male is just plain weird.  It, of course, is quite understandable why girls would want to be boys.  Boys are cooler, right?

If one were to follow these programs online comments and follow-up segments, they always seem to fall into two camps.  The first camp praises the parents for their acceptance and the second vilifies them for giving into the child’s whim.  The later camp would encourage the parents to exert a little more discipline to the child’s expression.

Even though they pay lip service, they never seem to focus on the child.  Growing up non-cis-sexual or non-cis-gendered (take your pick), I can relate to these children, and my heart is with them in their daily struggle.  I will never understand how hard or how easy it would be to just wake up, jump out of bed, grab my Spider-man or Little Mermaid t-shirt and run out the door for school.  I was told what to wear and how to act.

It would seem that the good hearted advisers on the these programs believe that these children are too young to be able to make decision about gender expression and attitude.  I disagree whole heartily.  Every child, teen or adult knows their gender and how to express themselves, and given the opportunity they will gravitate to their comfort zone.  These advisers, both cis and trans, would rather the children who express themselves other than assign at birth to wait until they are old enough to make the correct decision.  I would ask these people advising the parents a couple of questions.  Correct for whom?  Will they ever be old enough?  Does gender expression have an age requirement?

In my mind, gender expression is more than just the clothes we choose to wear.  It is also language usage, body movements, toy selections and playmate compatibility.   The combination of these factors lead to a unique personality and allows others a peek into how we perceive ourselves.  One only has to look at the varied people walking around your local shopping mall to grasp how ingrained gender expression displays their whole person.

Gender expression starts very early in a child’s development and there are many studies and theories that attempt to explain and categorize how we become who we are.  From Freud’s “Anatomy is Destiny,” Sandra Bem’s “Gender Schema Theory” to every religious scripture thumping evangelist, the one thing that I can conclude is that everyone has a gender expression, and we express it very early in life.  The vast majority of us are lucky enough to want to express ourselves that align with our assignment at birth.  Those of us unlucky want to express ourselves in ways that are different to our assignment at birth.  I say unlucky because it will be a long uphill battle to gain the right to our expression.

If you consider yourself a cis-gendered person, please ask yourself and reply to this article, when did you decide to express yourself as a little boy or girl.  At what age did you look into your closet and say, “I’m never going to wear a dress, or I’m never going to wear the Superman underwear.”  I believe you will discover that you have always had a gender expression and that it didn’t have an age requirement.

I do have a problem with the parents of these children exploiting them for gain.  These are evil bad people.  I don’t care how educational they claim to be.  Their actions are wrong.  Let the children be children, and let them do this without the world watching.  It never seems to be the children making a big deal about this, it is the parents trying to show everyone that they are accepting.