For many people, gender and sexual identities may not seem important or worth talking about; these people have most likely always known 'what' they are. For me, I have struggled with not fitting into boxes from a young age. While Australia is pretty open about the idea of 'gender equality', there are many who enforce strict binary gender roles.
Our PM is one of them:
In Australia, we tend to be all about the 'blokey bloke' men who are 'mates' and drink beer, eat meat, watch sports, etc. Women are housewives still, destined to have children, do most of the cleaning and childcare, and dress 'nicely'. I'm not saying that these roles are all that exist (nor that they are bad), but I have grown up having them enforced in one way or another my whole life, be it through media representations, family comments, or comments by complete strangers.
When I was much younger, in primary school, I enjoyed running about, playing in the dirt, getting into scraps and more. If I had been AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) this would have been seen as 'normal' and 'healthy'. Because I was AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth), I was labelled a 'tomboy' - a girl who acted like a boy. This label is based on rigid ideas about how boys and girls are meant to behave and what they are meant to like.
I was completely comfortable with this label - I had internalised very negative ideas of what girls are, despite thinking I was one at the time. I thought girls were weak, cried a lot, only thought about dating boys, playing with dolls, etc. I rejected everything I thought was too feminine - dresses, the colour pink, makeup. I even remember teasing my own mother for plucking her eyebrows.
In highschool being a tomboy was less cool. There was more pressure for me to fit in; shave my legs, wear the mandatory skirts (ugh, private school), pluck my own eyebrows. I hated it all but didn't have the words or guidance to understand the pressure that I was under or what the alternatives were. I remember being told that the music I liked was 'guy music' (System of a Down at that time) and realising that the books I was reading were only read by guys (Raymond E Feist's books). I remember being told I was 'one of the guys' and wearing it like a badge of honour.
Throughout and after highschool, I continued to wear baggy shorts and shirts, pretend to be emotionless, tough and a little masculine. I think that I still thought femininity was weak and not as good as being masculine or 'one of the boys'. I remember being teased by my parents if I wore anything feminine "oh look, I *do* have a daughter!" - this attention made me even less likely to wear feminine outfits. I did try to be feminine whenever I had a boyfriend, in order to fulfill what was expected of me to be 'normal'. I hated changing myself for someone else though.
A post I read by Angi Becker Stevens on EverydayFeminism reminded me a fair bit of my own experience.
I agree with her that I was playing out gender roles; men as better and women as weak and less. Needless to say, I'm very different now. A few years ago I came across the idea of 'genderqueer' as an identity. I had also read the book 'Delusions of Gender' and had been thinking about gender roles for a while. I didn't think there was actually any difference between men and women; that it was all socialised and all harmful.
Once I claimed the label genderqueer, I felt more comfortable in my own skin. I felt like I could accept the feminine parts of myself and stop disparraging them. The more comfortable I felt with my gender identity, the more I realised that how I dressed and acted had nothing to do with my gender identity. Nothing can change the fact that I am genderqueer, asides from if I decide later that I am a man or woman or genderfluid or agender or any other number of options.
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