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Gender Norms

Updated on June 16, 2016
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.


What does gender even matter?

The issue in North Carolina over the transgender community being required - if not forced, by law - to use the washroom corresponding to their birth gender baffles me, as I know it baffles so many others.

After all, the lawyers in the 90s television show "Ally McBeal" managed quite nicely, thank you, with a unisex bathroom, where both men and women could freely intermingle as they went about their business. Granted, discussion about sexuality as a whole was just starting to pick up steam in society, so it's small wonder that issues regarding someone's sexuality and whether or not they could legitimately use the facilities corresponding with the gender they currently had would be a relatively new source of concern.

Here's the thing. I have children, both of whom are girls by birth. Both are constantly coming into the bathroom while I'm trying to take care of my own business and I am in various states of dress, if not completely naked, as they battle over sink space and who poked who when. Regardless, they have seen me in all of my glory as I try and take care of the traditional activities that one tries to take care of in the washroom.

Both have also seen my husband for much the same reasons. We have a busy household, and modesty essentially gets chucked out the window as we're scrambling to get our days under way - or children to bed at night. They tend to giggle more at my husband naked than me, largely because the human form does look just a little ridiculous, regardless of what gender you are.

My girls don't give a rat's behind about gender. For them, fuss over gender is narrow minded and petty. They don't get why 21st century society is so hung up on gender. My oldest now has short hair, by her choice, and tends to dress in looser athletic wear. All too frequently, she gets told she's a boy coming into a girl's change room, with people getting quite unpleasant with me when I tell them that yes, indeed, she is a girl. She also gets bugged on occasion in public restrooms and in school, and it's gotten to the point where she is uncomfortable using public facilities.

What happened to if you're not sure, keep your mouth closed? Better yet, what happened to viewing people as exactly that without worrying about what body parts are between their legs? It's hard enough being a kid nowadays; with kids trying to decide what their sexual orientation and their gender might be, they have far more occupying their thoughts than previous generations ever seemed to. How is that fair to them?

Granted, life is not always fair, and that's the really troubling part about it. We can't promise our kids the fairness, respect and dignity that we try to teach them and treat them with, but we can promise them that we can help them learn resiliency, and hopefully, teach them the tolerance that so many others appear to lack in society.

That's why organizations like GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) are so critical. Where else can kids be accepted for who they choose to be? School hallways and playgrounds are equivalent to battlegrounds that kids have to navigate daily; why make life for them even further complicated by forcing gender normative behaviors on them? Isn't it a lot more important that our kids learn to be positive, respectful contributors to society?

At least, that's what I'm trying to convey to my kids.


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