Thursday, November 25, 2021

Is Gender Fluidity a "Thing"

 

I first encountered the subject of gender fluidity at my job about a year ago. I had been elected to participate in a three-panel discussion in which I was to be the moderator. In accordance with the topic, we were asked how we as the participants would like to be identified. One young lady wanted to be identified as a “They” instead of a “She.”  She said that she identified as being “non-Binary.”

I had no idea what that meant, so I asked her, “What is the difference between non-binary and bisexuality since in her definition, the only thing that I could see was that she was a bisexual woman. Her definition of gender fluidity was that she found both sexes appealing. The actual definition is as follows:  Definition: A spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.  Initially, I was confused because, she presented as female. Every and anyone could see that.

Gender Fluid Male

This was my introduction to gender fluidity, and while I initially did not understand it, I had to respect it as much as I would expect anyone to understand who I chose to marry and live the rest of my life with.

I understood her definition painstakingly and chose to resign from the position of moderator for a myriad of reasons which are inconsequential to the writing of this article.

I have come to understand that gender identity is a “thing.”  There are people that may choose to identify with characteristics of both sexes, and as of my initial meeting with someone that embodied that identity, I have seen examples of this in our society.

Pop Star Marilyn

Increasingly, the lines are blurred between male and female. As a man that identifies as being a gay male but still a biological man, I initially found the subject of gender fluidity confusing. In my mind, you were either male or female; straight, gay or bisexual with nothing in between. But gender fluidity is nothing new.  Those of us that are old enough to remember David Bowie, an artist that pushed the limits of gender identity during the realms of his career. At the peak of his success, I had no idea what he chose to present himself as, but that did not prevent me from enjoying his music. I respected who he was as an artist. Who he presented himself to be was not a concern of mine.

Boy George also pushed the boundaries of who he chose to present himself as being and we accepted him as well as enjoying his music. However, his predecessor did not enjoy the fame that he did at the time. Pop star Marilyn had hopes of enjoying the fame that Boy George did in the early eighties but was not as well received here in the United States. Theoretically, it appeared as if we here in the United States had already seen someone who chose to deliberately enjoy pushing the envelope of gender identity. We had no desire to see it again. It appeared as if the ideology behind gender fluidity was accepted if the artist restricted bending his gender to the stage. It was okay to identify as being gender fluid if it was not something that was carried to the streets and presented as the norm.

Examples of Gender Fluidity

Increasingly, gender fluidity is being accepted on and off stage, on the runway and off. It is a form of self-expression and identity. Or further put, it is an actual “thing.”  It is more than just boys putting on make-up without the intent of becoming female. The ideology is that the person is neither male nor female despite the body parts that they were assigned at birth.

I have learned that gender fluidity is neither right nor wrong…it simply is.

And like it or not, we must accept it as it is simply another form of self-expression as well as identity.

~ J.L. Whitehead

 









Monday, November 8, 2021

The America of today

 

I have given a lot of thought about the America that I was brought up to believe in versus the America that I live in today. I was taught at an early age to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning before class. I am a child of the sixties, and although I cannot remember every single class that I attended, there are certain memories that jump out at me and saying the Pledge of Allegiance is one of them.

I understand fully why Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than stand for the singing of the National Anthem. This is a land that we were brought to unwillingly, forced to work for little if any wages, then given freedom only to be arrested and persecuted under the Jim Crow laws. After that, people that looked like me were subject to mass incarceration. Put another way, we were put in jail for possessing tiny amounts of marijuana or cocaine while white males were placed in jail to serve less time for holding similar if not lesser amounts of the same substance.

We all know about slavery. We all know what it did to African American people. But what we do not know is what it did to white people. White people-maintained control over the lives of black people. We know this because of the disparity in our societal conditions although from the naked eye, it looks like things have gotten better for African American people.

We drive nicer cars, live in better neighborhoods, go to better schools, and have access to better paying jobs. So why are we upset and why can’t we stand for the singing of the National Anthem?

 Plainly put, the flag means one thing to a group of people and something else to another. Standing for the flag implies that we accept the fact that the American flag stands for equality and justice for all when we all know that in the real world, nothing could be further from the truth.

African Americans have always been told by white people to be patient and wait for changes to come regarding equality which suggest that the people in power is quite aware of the disparity. We were told that things would get better and in some realms they have. But white people have always held power that black people did not have access to and in some cases would never have.

The most powerful positions in this country are held by old white men. And those same men make decisions regarding just how much power black men can have. They decide what women can and cannot do with their bodies. They decide how far you can succeed in life. They decide where you can live and go to school. And when it seems as if we are getting our fair share of power, they put us back in our respective places by taking it away.

We (and I mean black men or men of color) have always been deemed a threat to society in ways that the average white man is not.

This is a fact.

And these same white men get upset when we remind them of the ways that they have disenfranchised people of color. Put another way, white people do not like it when we remind them of how they have lied, stolen and cheated African American people out of things that belong to them even though those very actions are true and part of our American landscape.

I have talked about this with my colleagues until I was blue in the face. But it seems like nothing can convince my non-persons of color of the havoc that they have wreaked on people of color in the name of power both socially and economically.

There is a war going on that is raging in this country but the answer to all of this is remarkably simple…give people of color their due and stop trying to repress them.

We have shown white people that people of color can unite and use our voice to force our government officials to listen to what we have to say. And in that lies the fear because the country is becoming blacker and browner. And it seems as though the Republican Party fears that we will not vote for them if for nothing more than the fact that they have nothing to campaign on.

I have thought long and hard before writing this op-ed. I know this is my opinion. But I see this as an opportunity that white people should consider taking. Black and brown people are not the people you need to fear. We have a societal enemy right in our own back yard, but we do not want to admit or even see it because it is clothed in white skin.

All our lives (and by that, I mean all the lives of people of color) I have had to live with some form of white supremacy. When I was in my junior year of high school, my English teacher sent me to summer school to teach me a lesson. He said that I would never be a writer and that my writing “sucked.”  He also said that I had an attitude problem. All because he told me that if I did not like his teaching methods, I could leave his class.

I left the class.

I had the balls at the age of sixteen to challenge his authority. I quickly learned that what was acceptable for my white counter parts was not okay for me. It cost me my summer. I was the only one that went to summer school that year from that class although I distinctly remember some of my white classmates giving him a hard time over his teaching methods.

The first problem that we have is coming to terms with our past. We cannot re-write or white-wash history to make the things that white people did to us go away. All black and brown people need is access to the same education that other races have. If we have earned any position of authority, we need to be rewarded said position. And if we kneel in protest to stop the police from legally killing us, we should be able to take the knee because what is happening to people of color is the simple god-awful truth.

We just wonder how long it will take before anyone, white or black, does something more about it.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Comments are welcome

 

 

 

Is Gender Fluidity a "Thing"

  I first encountered the subject of gender fluidity at my job about a year ago. I had been elected to participate in a three-panel discus...