On Harmful Childbearing and Social Constructs

renai_1491As more and more people I know announce their marriage and subsequent pregnancies, a strange discomfort settles over me each time I see the words “It’s a _____!”. I now quietly ignore said messages and shake my head in lament. Thankfully such announcements I rarely encounter on the physical plane.

But, as usual, I need to be real.

Discomfort is a nice way of saying I’m frustrated. Sorry, I’m not jealous – there’s really no need to be nice with no real names used – but as I continue to walk this path of womanhood, armed with nothing but my budding self-worth and honest feelings – these varying sensations of being alive becoming messier by the day – I find myself irritated at the very notion of a soon-to-be-parent immediately confining their unborn child in society’s neat little box. If you know me, or have read anything I’ve shared here in the last year, the reason why I feel this way should be palpable.

I have an acquaintance (we’ll call her “Candice”) who I’ve loosely kept in touch with over the years who was excited about having another child. Nothing wrong with that, as I congratulated her on her unborn child appearing to be healthy. However, Candice was beginning to stress about whether her child would be a boy or a girl because of matters regarding her current child who is, so far, of the cis male persuasion. I forget exactly how I worded it, but I casually suggested that rather than focusing on something she cannot control, let alone feel as though she has the right to lay claim to label her child’s gender identity, she should instead concern herself with her unborn child’s health.

“At the end of the day, Candice, you should be saying ‘It’s a healthy child.’ You have no idea who they are just yet, and it’s best not to assume.”

Candice responded positively to my suggestion, but I’m almost certain that she, like many other mothers & fathers, fell prey to what they have always known. Humans have become too accustomed to the social tradition of announcing what an ultrasound has determined their child to be based on their biological sex. In other words, their genitalia. I’m hardly qualified to pose a scientific case, but who said I have to? All anyone has to do is look over their own life to see how much pressure and parental expectation there is to align in every way with one’s boy or girl parts.

Guess what though? The concept of “girl parts” and “boy parts” (i.e. biological sex) is a social construct created for the sake of making sense of who’s who and what’s what. This age-old practice ultimately seeks to devalue one’s desired gender expression and, in many cases, is a poor excuse for transmisogyny. For the non-believers, I truly encourage you to read this article regarding the use of said “social construct” to denounce and devalue the very real identities of transgender people such as myself.

Despite a related, personal digression, I should hope that my frustrations are understood as an honest concern. Not just in my own right as a female, but for the rights of every unborn child. Human beings are immensely complex creatures. Whether we want to or not, we are constantly changing, relentlessly seeking, repeatedly discovering, and infinitely questioning. There is so much to experience and so much to be revealed in this unknown time and space we call life. When we really think about our lives in the grand experience of self-expression, emotions, roads traversed, etc….to be expected to be purely binary on the basis of what is or isn’t between our legs is, in fact, weird and, frankly, a regressive line of thinking in my personal opinion.

“We are so much more than our genitals!” A popular quote by transgender people all around. Yes we are, and it’s true, not just for us, but for every human on this planet. We are all so fluid in our being, but society can’t quantify fluidity. So the pressures of falling in line with the binary – to proudly proclaim “it’s a ____!” – continue to strangle the fluidity to be all that we can and should be. Cis folk continue to propagate this outdated notion of genital obligation, as those who diverge from what their parent(s) said they were supposed to be continue to be disowned, homeless, shamed, or, in the worst cases, violently taken from this world too soon.

Cisgender, transgender, queer, or otherwise – we should all be free to be who we are. And who we are should never be stripped away or forced upon us. Perhaps my frustration will one day seem silly to someone finding this space decades from now, having already educated themselves on the error of human constructs long before ever setting foot here…

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