Transgender and social norms

I wonder what percentage of cases of gender identity issues can be explained by rigid gender roles in society. For example, a boy likes playing with Barbie dolls, and his father tells him he can’t because “Barbies are for girls.” It doesn’t make him enjoy them any less, so he concludes that he must be a girl.

If someone were raised in isolation, with no notion of gender, would it be possible for them to identify as transgendered? Would they look down one day and conclude that they have the wrong parts even if they’ve never seen the “right” parts?

It’s sad that this is considered a disorder in the individual instead of a malfunctioning of society. In Leelah Alcorn’s widely published suicide note, she said “I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life.” That’s the thing — if we lived in a society where men and women didn’t look any particular way, she wouldn’t have felt the need to transition, would she? If there was nothing we could point to and say “that thing is for women” and no way to tell male from female by looking (because everyone is gender-fluid and wears whatever they want, regardless of today’s gendered clothing/makeup/hair rules) then would there be any such thing as gender identity disorder?

The other day I saw someone at the supermarket who looked to be a cute girl — long pony tails, knee high boots, a flowered sundress. Then he* turned around and was also sporting a handlebar moustache. When he was five, one of my friends got to choose any outfit he wanted from a store. He chose a flowing, sparkly princess gown and his mother bought it for him. He wasn’t trans or gay — he just happened to like that gown the best of all the clothes in the shop. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, and we should stop acting like there is. People shouldn’t have to choose a team and only like/wear/do things associated with that gender. As a society, we should be more accepting of everyone’s choices, and gentler with ourselves for liking things of the “wrong” gender. Why should it matter that a boy prefers dance to football, or if a girl likes monster trucks instead of baby dolls? Even if she wants to wear boy clothes and have short hair and do boy things — why should it be necessary for her to feel like she has to surgically or hormonally change herself in order to live honestly? Can’t we just share? Let’s share. I’m a girl and I don’t like makeup. So some boy out there can take my makeup rations and doll himself up. 🙂

* I didn’t ask his pronouns, so this is an assumption

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