Lately transgender and gender identity issues have been getting more and more play in the news, mostly because society has progressed to the point where we can finally admit that these things exist and are legitimate struggles for some people. I figured that now is as good a time as ever to discuss some of the struggles I've had with my own gender.
I'm not transgendered, or questioning my gender, and my struggles with what it means to be male can barely be described as such. More the onus is on the rigid definitions of what is "manly" imposed by society than it is on any lack of self-awareness on my part.
I never grew up fawning over pink or purple, or trying to put on dresses, but I did have a tendency to stray towards things that were more feminine in nature. At a young age, my parents sometimes pushed me towards more sporty things in an effort to fit in. Going through elementary school, I was obsessed with cats, and as you would imagine my room was adorned with many posters and pictures. (Not quite a Dolores Umbridge level of decor.) There was one moment in Wal-Mart when my mother said I could get a poster. The decision came down to a rather girly and goofy image of a kitten, and a poster featuring all 28 football teams. I leaned towards the former, but my mom ensured that I left Wal-Mart with the latter.
The outsider might look at me, an avid Bills and Sabres fan, and a more than occasional participant in recreational baseball, football, soccer, hockey, basketball, and bowling leagues (over the course of both my childhood and adulthood) and see someone who is unquestionably male in activities and desires. Not at all the case. In many other aspects of my life, there has been a distinct trend towards the feminine. I will spare the space of completing a laundry list (from Avril Lavigne to t.A.T.u.) of those things and move onwards.
The point is, I never really considered myself a label, and as my individuality and confidence flourished I became more and more okay with those tastes. The problem, as I said before, is with society. We seem to have a certain fondness for categories and fitting everyone into one. At times it's nice to be able to simply yourself into a buzzword to rally around (when you need to), but no one is that uncomplicated. I don't consider myself any of the words in the title of this entry, or many other labels really. Sometimes it's a sense of pride to call out, "I...am..._____!" And I am those things, but they don't singularly define me. On top of everything, I am a person...I am me.