The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the visibility of transgender people, particularly in popular media. Many such representations have done the work of showing transgender people in a positive (or at least neutral) light, taking down some of the stereotypes about us that have prevailed for decades.
Within mainstream media, childhood and adolescence are typically depicted as “magical.” As a kid, I was probably my most anxious, self-doubting and socially-neurotic self. I felt estranged from my body, and mistrusting of my friendships. And all of this was as a cisgender, white, pretty privileged kid. What I mean to say is this: growing up is—or can be—hard.
In today’s society, the norm is not that we commonly talk about the distinction between individual gender expression and gender stereotypes. If a woman presents in a stereotypically “masculine” way (whether affect or clothing choices), others may say she “seems like a lesbian.”
The first step I took towards self-discovery was coming out as a gay female. When I was able to do that, I felt myself consciously letting go of conventional ideas of how a female should present herself—clothing, hair, makeup, etcetera. It was liberating. I started to change my style and progressively moved towards androgyny—choosing an unconventional way to show my identity gender-wise, incorporating both feminine and masculine elements into my self-presentation.
“I don’t want to werewolf,” I said to my doctor nervously. “Not overnight.” I was at my first appointment about starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the form of testosterone. I was trying to explain that I wanted to take my time. I wasn’t looking to rush toward some cookie cutter version of passable cis maleness. In fact, I couldn’t even really picture what I wanted to look like.
In very recent years, scientists have been doubling down on their efforts to discover the real meaning of human consciousness. Can we excise it or is it merely a reaction? Is it a by-product of our brains, if so, what is it and where is it exactly? Regardless of their efforts, they can’t find it.
Similarly, gender—regardless of whether male, female, both, mixed, varied, other, non-binary—is completely displaced and yet it is here, there and everywhere—as essential to who we are as our consciousness.