This I Believe

Sam - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on December 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the difference between sex and gender. Sex is a biological assignment – either assigned by God, or science, or chance, or any combination of those and possibly other factors. I am biologically female. I have a vagina and a uterus and two 36 Bs.

Sex is what I am; gender is who I am. I am male, despite what my birth certificate and legal documents list. Despite the fact that I enjoy wearing makeup, adore my five-and-a-half inch tall Goth boots, and can’t resist buying anything with a butterfly on it. I believe that gender isn’t about suits or dresses, bare-faced or makeup, dolls or trucks.

When I was little, I figured that the fact I always wanted to be the White Power Ranger instead of merely having a crush on him like my other friends had just meant I was weird. I’d learned through elementary and middle school to dismiss these feelings as part of my weirdness.

Even when I started to realize I wasn’t happy being female, I didn’t understand my struggle. I’d always dated guys, and never considered finding a girlfriend. So when I attended a womens’ retreat sponsored by my very small high school, I said I was lucky – that when you worked out the equation, I was a heterosexual girl. That fits better with society’s expectations – so I had it easier, right?

It was the teacher leading the small discussion group telling me she didn’t think I had it easier at all that made me realize how unhappy I was with who I’d been made out to be. I wasn’t female despite being a girl, and I wasn’t heterosexual despite preferring guys.

I experimented, and was confused when I was dissatisfied when I cared less about my appearance – like the guys around me had. Wasn’t I supposed to be happier that way? It wasn’t until I came across a band of Japanese musicians who were as beautiful as they were handsome that I understood gender was an identity one created for themselves, not what others portrayed it as. That was sort of a eureka moment for me – which could also be defined as a miracle, maybe. Either way, it was invaluable to creating the person I am today.

I feel a strange happiness when someone wants to understand homosexuality and transsexuality, but at this point I’d be content with just being accepted. And if I’m not tolerated all the time, that’s okay. My experience has taught me how to be confident and positive about who I am, because I know that there is no one who can be secure for me. It’s not a matter of convenience – it’s a matter of survival in a sometimes xenophobic culture. I can keep moving forward with the support I have. That’s enough for me, now.