Gender Spectrum of the Day

So, this is an awesome article. I love it and I think everyone should read it, not only because it addresses genderfluidity and genderqueer behavior, but also because it’s so well researched. Nobody in the media talks about genderfluid behavior unless it’s a discussion of “perverted” crossdressing men, and that’s always done either to make fun of them or in hushed tones with raised eyebrows and pursed lips. The article also addresses why it’s HARDER to be a genderfluid boy than a genderfluid girl (and why this is a feminist issue):

Women, meanwhile, took to wearing pants, working outside the home and playing a wider array of sports. Domains once exclusively masculine became more neutral territory, especially for prepubescent girls, and the idea of a girl behaving “like a boy” lost its stigma. A 1998 study in the academic journal Sex Roles suggests just how ordinary it has become for girls to exist in the middle space: it found that 46 percent of senior citizens, 69 percent of baby boomers and 77 percent of Gen-X women reported having been tomboys.

These days, flouting gender conventions extends even to baby naming: first names that were once unambiguously masculine are now given to girls. The shift, however, almost never goes the other way. That’s because girls gain status by moving into “boy” space, while boys are tainted by the slightest whiff of femininity. “There’s a lot more privilege to being a man in our society,” says Diane Ehrensaft, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who supports allowing children to be what she calls gender creative. “When a boy wants to act like a girl, it subconsciously shakes our foundation, because why would someone want to be the lesser gender?” Boys are up to seven times as likely as girls to be referred to gender clinics for psychological evaluations. Sometimes the boys’ violation is as mild as wanting a Barbie for Christmas.

Basically: of course girls want to act like boys! Why wouldn’t they? People will treat them better. But it wouldn’t make sense to risk your privilege by acting like a girl if you were male.

The article also features one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard about the gender spectrum:

“It might make your world more tidy to have two neat and separate gender possibilities,” one North Carolina mother wrote last year on her blog, “but when you squish out the space between, you do not accurately represent lived reality. More than that, you’re trying to ‘squish out’ my kid.”

Thank you, North Carolina!

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