What does it take to wake society up to the fact that there are many different aspects of ourselves in all of us? Does it need to be as big and bright as an Olympic gold medalist such as Bruce Jenner “coming out” as a person who is exploring gender?
A lot has happened in our society when it comes to being more accepting of the different ways that we express our sexuality. In most parts of the United States we have seen a tremendous shift to legalize and recognize Gay, Lesbian and Bi-Sexual partnerships. What has come front and center is the desires of people of all sexual orientations to marry; and the natural desires of gays and lesbians to build a family through the use of assisted reproductive technology; whether it is through egg donation, sperm donation, a gestational carrier (surrogacy) or a combination of these family building tools.
But what about going beyond gender? Are we ready to move past sexual orientation and understand that some people express their gender differently than the gender box that they were assigned at birth? Are you ready to go even further in your understanding? How about wrapping your head around the fact that gender may have nothing to do with sexual orientation or your desires to marry or have children? It’s a great big changing world that we are all a part of now, and courageous, in front of the camera people like Bruce Jenner, Chaz Bono, and Laverne Cox are helping to shift our national attitudes about what is acceptable and normal.
Let’s face it; people like Bruce Jenner are doing something extraordinary when they speak publicly about breaking the gender constructs or molds that our society holds dear. And it’s especially impactful when the border breakers are our heroes. The world of sports is especially difficult for anyone that feels they do not fit into the conventional binary gender system. It shakes the very foundations of all we know and understand to be solid. And it’s a relief to those of us who may feel alone, isolated or just plain strange.
Look at it this way; quantum physics teaches us that nothing is really solid, yet we still like to think it is. It makes people think they have a better understanding, which makes them feel safer. Gender is supposed to be black and white, pick a side. You know, women are from Venus, men are from Mars. This makes life more understandable, and then we can put each person in a category that helps us know how to react to them and what to expect from them or not, right? Well, it, like the rest of the world, is not that simple.
Identity & Non-Conforming Gender
And even if Bruce uses the word “Transgender” he may be still uncovering who he really is. Transgender literally means “denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender”.
Transgender is an umbrella term that like sexuality or orientation has a large spectrum to it. It’s important to understand that as more and more people are using the term, it means lots of different things to different people.
On one end there is the fetish of a male-born person who dresses in women's clothing. On the other end there is the person who does not feel like they were born with a body that matches who they are on the inside and goes through medical procedures to make the body and mind more congruent. And then there is all the fun in between.
Even drag queens and kings fall under a part of the Transgender umbrella because what they do with a portion of their lives is not part of the conventional gender norms. Maybe we call them 'Trans light.' In the middle, now we have gender-queer and gender fluid people who don't want to be stuck to one side or the other of this spectrum. They want the freedom to move about according to how they may feel at the time, or they refuse to buy into any form of the binary gender system.
Please understand that we in the Transgender community want you to know there is much more to us then our genitalia. Being Transgender has more to do with our minds and spirits then our crotch. Speaking of mind-boggling, isn't our largest sex organ our brain? And just like a lot of people we may want to form long-term partnerships, get married and raise a family. Just like people now understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual isn’t a life-style choice; neither is sitting somewhere on the gender binary spectrum.
Family Building | Transcending Gender
So lets go beyond “Gay” and enter the world of the “parents to be” who are transgender, gender fluid, or gender non-conforming. Where do they go to get support and assistance in building their careers, love lives, and families? Where does a person like Bruce Jenner go if they need support in all of the areas of their lives including wanting to have a family? We have some ideas.
Transgender Resources | Outside of the Gender Binary
Contact your local or closest LGBTQ Center for more local resources.
For Civil Rights Help
- HRC - http://www.hrc.org/topics/transgender
- The National Center for Transgender Equality - http://transequality.org/
- Legal Help - www.lambdalegal.org/
- Rights ACLU-LGBTQ - https://www.aclu.org/issues/lgbt-rights?redirect=lgbt%2Clgbt-rights
Family and Loved Ones Support
- PFLAG - www.pflag.org
Trans & Gender Queer Youth & Students
- Safe Schools Coalition - http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/
- GLSEN - http://glsen.org/
- National LGBTQ Scholorship Fund - Point - http://www.pointfoundation.org/
- Trans Youth Family Allies - http://www.imatyfa.org/
- The Trevor Project - http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- Campus Pride - http://www.campuspride.org/
Education, Acceptance, Information, Coaching, Diversity, Support, Community
- Glaad - http://www.glaad.org/
- Trans People of Color - http://www.transpoc.org/
- The Gender Sensei - http://www.betruetoself.org/
- Gay Parents to Be - https://www.gayparentstobe.com/
- Trans health - http://www.genderjusticeleague.org/transform-health-project/
- World Professional Professional Association for Transgender Health - http://www.wpath.org/
- John Hopkins -http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/specialty_areas/sexual_behaviors/
- Gender Care - http://www.gendercare.com/index.html
Top Photo by Nakeva Corothers, licensed under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
Wheaties Photo by General Mills; licensed under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
Third Photo by City of Santa Clarita; licensed under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/
Mac S. McGregor is an activist for civil rights for both the transgendered and gender non-conforming community. He is a dedicated, heartfelt educator who focuses every part of his existence on creating a world where people can feel free to be true to themselves.