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Gender Crazy

the author is reclined in a beach chair on a sunny day at the beach with their fishing hat pulled down over their eyes.
Slow down. Sit still. Pay attention.

Since spreading the word about my top surgery in January of this year, I have heard from friends both close and distant asking if I would be willing to serve as a resource for their young niece-become-nephew or their sister whose child has recently come out as trans or any number of similar scenarios.

It feels like the whole world has gone gender crazy.

Now, I can’t speak for a 12-year-old or a 16-year-old who is thinking they want to transition. The crotchety part of me still wonders how many life-altering decisions anyone should knowingly make before the completion of the prefrontal cortex, but I also own that this is an antiquated way to look at what, in so many cases, is the decision to alter one’s life in the direction of wholeness.

I do wonder what would happen if, rather than an aberrant fad, we considered this whole trend toward humans questioning their expression, as a long-overdue reckoning. More and more people, of all ages, are finally calling bullshit on the bullshit. Plain and simple.

Race? Turns out we made it up.

Gender? Yep, we made that up, too.

Capitalism? That was our idea.

Professionalism? More inventions.

Our culture is created and ruled by crap and we just keep believing it.

People, particularly young people, are telling the truth because they refuse to be taught otherwise. And everybody else is reeeeal scared about it.

If the Emperor really is naked, what then?

Then, liberation!...that’s what. We all know that bitch is naked! Never been a stitch on ‘im. We can see it with our own eyes! Somebody just had to say it and now it’s being said over and over. The flood gates are opening as the status quo frantically hunts for its keys and tries to slink out the back.

I know very few people who are “all man” or “all woman,” not from day to day or even from hour to hour. As with any continuum, there are undoubtedly people pressed hard and quite naturally and comfortably up against the farthest wall of one end or the other, but most of us find ourselves somewhere else along the spectrum, scrambling to make it look like we fit at one end or the other or at least solidly on one side of the midsection.

As I continue to watch myself bounce off and narrowly escape the pinch and pressures of culture, I remain real curious and real patient.

In the month immediately following my top surgery, I started to lean, in surprising ways, in the direction of taking testosterone. I sat still though because I know that taking hormones is an incredible emotional, physical and chemical commitment and it was not something I had ever seriously considered. As I live more into my breastless body, I feel myself swinging back, away from the idea that I want to further alter my experience with hormones. But, me?...I’m very comfortable with ambiguity. I almost enjoy not knowing. How many surprises are really left in this world? Hardly any. Because we Must. Know. Everything. That’s how we hold it all up. We make the fluid solid and the ambiguous binary and then we all hold our breath and hope nobody notices.

Our society, our systems, our structures, and our relationships have not been designed for the ambiguity of reality.

I can’t share it enough. J. Krishnamurti says “You might think you're thinking your own thoughts. You're not. You're thinking your culture's thoughts.” We are seduced by the myth of free will. Particularly in America, we pride ourselves on being “our own person” and “making choices.” And we do make “choices,” but they are not as unbounded as we imagine and pretend. Binary is culture, not science or biology. We think we're choosing it, but what we're really choosing and reinforcing is comfort, non-challenge, the path often-traveled. The path that simplifies my bathroom choice and doesn't leave me feeling like I'm "too much."

If it's all imaginary, then c’mon, theydies and gentlethems! Our imaginations are so much better than that.

I don’t speak for trans people or trans youth or “people like me.” I share what’s real for Cal Cates and that can’t be extrapolated to “humans” or even “gender fluid” humans. I’m an “n of 1” in a poorly constructed, ongoing, longitudinal study.

I don't want to pee in anybody's Cheerios, but this is happening. The world is moving in the direction of truth-telling and that's gonna break a lotta shit that we've counted on for a long time. Take a breath and strap in, friends. Change is inevitable. Let’s not make it painful.

1 Comment

Bethany Ingraham
Bethany Ingraham
Sep 07, 2021

“People, particularly young people, are telling the truth because they refuse to be taught otherwise. And everybody else is reeeeal scared about it.” — Yeeees, this. I saw things starting to shift about 20 years ago. Now, I have a 12 year old, and I’ve always taught him to tell the truth — his own truth. When he hesitates to make a choice, I remind him, “You can always say no, it’s okay,” because the me of many years ago didn’t know that was an option or was too afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.

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