You’d think by now ‘coming out’ would have long disappeared. Whether ‘coming out’ as gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, gender fluid, anything. We live in a time where (upon last counting) there are 56 different genders available to choose from on Facebook. More and more of us are identifying as gender fluid, non-binary, androgynous, or genderqueer than ever before, so surely, we must be well on the way to eliminating heteronormativity?
When a child is born they are instantly gendered
Even weeks after being conceived their parents are usually buying clothes and toys that fit the male and female profile. They’ll be pretty in pink or boyish in blue minutes after being born. This isn’t something every parent does, don’t get me wrong. And if the midwife were to say every other gender term under the sun when you’ve just popped your baby out they’d be working well into overtime.
For me, I acknowledge the labels
In fact, I use them, despite my statements of not needing to be defined into ‘male’ or ‘female’. But my use of them isn’t because I want to be confined to each term, but simply to aid understanding. Sure, education is key to allowing greater understanding that there might just not be (dun dun dunnnn) ‘male’ and ‘female’, but this is also a pretty slow process.
Let’s put it like this:
I happily admit to buying jeans in Topman. Why? Because I like pockets and they stay skinny. But if I walked in the door asking for jeans, when they direct me downstairs to Topshop or ask “for men or women?” I think we can all agree I’d be met with confusion if I didn’t openly answer which gender. “Nope, jeans, for… people,” just doesn’t quite work.
What I’m saying is, in terms of gender labels, we’ve got a long way to go for them to become mainstream enough that the places so defined by ‘male’ and ‘female’ gender labels take notice. We can take ourselves out of those boxes all day long, but when our surroundings are so adamant on pushing us back in, it can turn into a struggle.
Way out of narnia
When I was younger, I felt the need to tell my family and friends that I was gay. Why? Because that was what seemed like the right thing to do. Did my Mum make me feel as though I needed to explain my sexuality? Not necessarily. But did I feel comfortable enough to bring a girl home and introduce her as my girlfriend? Hell no. And that is something as a society we need to work on.
But now? If I were to have children, no matter how they identify, all I’d want for them is happiness. I’d want them to come home to me and my wife and say, “this is my girlfriend/boyfriend/the person I love,” and I wouldn’t love them any differently.