Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snips, Spice, Sugar, Snails - Gender Identification

The most important thing about you is your gender.

Really.  Want to know how I know?  It's the first thing anyone asked when they found out you were born.  Unless there were complications, it's the first thing the doctor told your parents.  It's the first label you got in this world.  It's why you were no longer an "it."

The doctor told your parents which gender you were and it will be a part of your life forever.  You will be checking that gender box on forms for the rest of your life.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of forms.  Declaring your gender.  It's kind of a big deal.

Is it really the most important thing about you?  I don't know.  But it is a big deal.

I'm a science girl.  For me, the question of whether someone is male or female is usually pretty simple.  If they have a penis, they're a boy.  If not, they're a girl.  Seems pretty simple, huh?

And there was a time when I believed it was that simple.  But that was a long time ago.

Even speaking scientifically, it's not always that simple.  There are cases when a person has mixed gentalia.  Sometimes external male genitals and internal female genitals.  Along with other situations, this can get complicated.  And I'm not going to lie, when I was pregnant I worried about this.  (Because when you are pregnant you worry about everything!)  I worried that when my baby was born there would be some question as to gender and I would be faced with incredibly difficult decisions that could affect this small person forever.  It wasn't a big worry, it's not common, but it was a possibility that crossed my mind.

I have no idea what I would do in that situation other than pray a lot.  I would do a lot of soul searching to try to do what was best for that child.  I don't believe people are ever put in the wrong bodies.  (But I understand why others disagree with me on this.)

Fortunately, I have been blessed.  All of my children have been definitely male or female at birth.  I have also been blessed that each of them feels comfortable with their gender and accepts it as correct for them, as far as I know.  And I have always felt comfortable being female.

But there is so much more to gender identification.  There are parental preferences.  There are social prejudices.  There are nurturing styles.  There are abuse situations.  There are hormones in our food.  And there are so many societal expectations and definitions of what it means to be male or female.

It's not just about your body and science.  It's not just about what parts you have.  Part of gender identification is external; part of it is internal.

There is so much more to talk about.

This post is part of an on-going series discussing gender issues.  To start at the beginning, go here.


Anonymous said...

I've seen documentaries on this. The worst thing that the parents can do is hide it from the child and chose one gender for them. Gender is so personal. Some women, don't feel "girly" and some men don't like "manly" things.

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

I've been thinking a lot about gender lately, and have my own posts brewing about it in my head. Looking forward to following your series!

Allison said...

I also had the thought when I was pregnant of mixed/unknown genitalia. Glad I wasn't alone in that!

I'm a firm believer that if you are born a male, you will grow into a man - and vice versa. God doesn't make mistakes.

Barbara said...

Miss Robin,

Pink clothes? Toy trucks? I have 2 girls and 2 boys - I'm female, my husband is male. Pretty straightforward stuff here. But it does get confusing. My sister just found out both her boys, and she only has the 2 boys - are gay. So - where did that come from? She's been getting all kinds of comments, sympathy, encouragement and has been reading everything she can get her hands on. Does she love them any microscopingly (made up word - I know) less? NO. Is she disappointed? Yes, she said, only because she fears it will make their lives more difficult. Interesting topic. Who has the answers? We just roll around in the questions for the most part.

JD @ Momagement said...

Wow. I just discovered your blog and what an intro! Love it.

Hormones in food scare the beejesus out of me. I have been buying organic milk for a few years now, and have been buying more organic food than before. I just buy less processed crap and it almost evens out in terms of cost.

Looking forward to reading more!

The Lovely One said...

This is very interesting. I will be looking forward to what comes next in the series!

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

Very cool post!

I, too, worried about mixed genitalia - maybe everyone does - but then after a while I learned that some of my friends are or were born intersexed. And I learned that in some cases, the "choice" parents and doctors make is wrong. Ultimately, I decided I'd do nothing except love my kid and see which way they swayed as they got older and hormones kicked in. We'd "fix" things or not as it became apparent to the kid whether they were male or female or neither.

They have to live with the decision - I felt like it wouldn't be mine to make.

Libby said...

This is an interesting discussion Miss Robin. Since the passing of my Mum my immediate family now consists entirely of men - my husband, my boys, my father, my brothers. Makes me wonder why I crave the company of my girlfriends - I wish I could put a name to that need. Maybe you will enlighten me.

Sandra said...

Very interesting...I remember years ago reading a university paper about a family that had raised their child without a gender. Sure, the child probably had male or female genitalia, but the child was not named androgenously, wore androgenous clothe, never referred to him/herself in the masculine or feminine. It was a very interesting read. I do believe it was fiction, it had to be, but still a social experiment worth learning about. What would we be without our genders to identify us?...ok, this is way too deep for 11pm at night...Great post though!

Rubye Jack said...

Back a few years ago I thought we were heading toward androgyny but that didn't last long. Once again we have successfully divided up the boys and the girls. Actually, much of the time I wanted to be a man when I was younger. I'm not gay but it just seemed to be men had the better deal in life.

Ronnica said...

Interesting series. It's amazing how confused our culture is about gender.

Anonymous said...

According to Native American Hopi prophecy, one of the signs of the end of time is that there "will be" a confusion between the sexes.

I do believe some are born gay and I feel so bad for those who are forced to live a lie. My heart breaks for those who suffer depression, isolation and loneliness caused by the judgement of others.

And of course I have no proof ;) but I've always believed that our souls are genderless--pure energy. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Interesting post ;)

Marie said...

Definitely an interesting read, I never really thought about these issues before because I was born a girl and am happy to be a girl.