Not that long ago in American history, and especially in the conservative South, women were expected to have long hair, wear makeup, and dress with a skirt or dress. I remember as a small child hearing a man say that zippers were invented for a man’s anatomy; therefore, a woman shouldn’t wear pants. When I was in the high school chorus, the boys wore a tuxedo and the girls wore a dress. Boys were told to have a clean shave on their face, and girls were told to have a clean shave on their legs. We were expected to fit the look society ascribed to our gender.
When I was in college, I took a lot of literature courses. The professor in those courses wasn’t shy about his support of feminism, and he regularly wanted us to find the feminist influences in the books we were reading. What I learned about feminism as it has properly evolved over the last century is the desire to break down the dividing line between men and women. That being said, I’m really confused why the feminists aren’t the loudest voices involved in the fight against what the gender identity debate has sparked.
Feminists the world over have made leaps in synchronizing appearance between men and women so that women were not shamed for having short hair or wearing pants. Men can wear earrings in either ear and put their long hair in a bun. Guys are allowed to be metro and girls make great MMA fighters. Even today, we hear daily from people like Hilary Clinton that women still receive a lower salary for doing the same job as a man. Moreover, there are more women in executive level positions than ever in history.
My confusion is not a criticism of feminism or transgenderism. I’m trying to figure out, however, why there isn’t a louder voice against the idea that gender identity has to match an outward appearance.
Transgendered folks dress according to antiquated standards of gender appearance, they wear makeup, take hormones or testosterone, the get surgery to alter their body, and they do all of this to fit an appearance that isn’t necessary anymore.
This leads me to question whether or not all of the gender identity debates going on right now, and the acceptance of various lifestyles in mainstream society, are taking us back in time against the progress of feminism in the last century. If so much work has gone into blending the lines between men and women, why does gender identity even matter?
Honestly, what are we talking about when we talk about gender identity? If it is about facial hair and wearing makeup, then it’s nothing more than playing dress up. If we’re talking about having bodies that function different than the one we were born in, then its delusion because chromosomes, prostrates, uteruses, and testes are what give the body its gender distinct functions, and no surgery is going to change that.
I have empathy for people facing any kind of internal crisis whether its mental illness, gender identity, or anything else, but we are moving backwards as a society if we are telling people that cisgender men and women are not subject to a standard of appearance for their gender and then tell transgendered people, or let transgendered people tell us, that we have to devolve as a society and impose again what has been fought against for so long.