Gender Starts At Childhood, Not Birth

I’ve been a member of the LGBT community for a few years, and I’ve had friends scattered all over the gender identity and sexual orientation spectrums. I don’t claim to know everything about the nuances of sex, gender identity, and romantic/sexual orientation, but I would consider myself an accepting individual, and am always open to learning more about people and their identities. So when I first encountered the idea of gender fluidity and non-binary identity, I was intrigued.

When I was born, I was declared female and I was pretty much raised that way. That’s not to say I was a girly-girl: I loved playing in the mud, I disliked jewelry and the color pink, Legos were my favorite toys, and I opted to play on the boys’ team when participating in girls vs. boys games on the playground. But I wasn’t a tomboy either; I loved playing Barbies and dress up (even though usually I was a firefighter or a railroad engineer), and I didn’t really have an interest in sports (although that was mainly because I was never good at them, not because they were “for boys”). I guess you could say that my gender expression as a young child was fairly gender neutral.

I do remember one instance when I was six where I was insisting to my mother that I was a boy, because at that time I thought of myself as a tomboy because I wasn’t super ultra-feminine like the other girls at school. Finally, my mother convinced me that I was a girl because I peed sitting down rather than standing up. But my notion that I was a boy never stemmed from a desire to actually be a boy, but rather that I should be because of the gender roles society enforces on us at youth. Never in my life have I suffered from “penis envy”. I’m glad I was born female, and I doubt I’ll ever change that.

That being said, now that I’m older, and have learned from my friends and my online community that there’s more than two genders, if I was asked, I would say that I don’t really feel like I have a gender—that I’m agender, if you will. Sheltered from such ideas until up into my late teens, it never occurred to me that I could be anything other than what my parents, my doctors, and society had classified me as. I still wear feminine clothing, but that’s because I find women’s clothing appealing. I dress for me, not my gender identity. I go by feminine pronouns (she/her) out of convenience, not because those pronouns particularly feel right or wrong.

But I always come back to that one moment when I was six and my mom convinced me that I was a girl.

I think it’s important to listen to children, because despite popular opinion, they aren’t stupid. No one knows us better than ourselves, and childhood is one of the most important developmental stages in our life, second only perhaps to adolescence. If our teenage years are the time that we come into our own identity and realize who we are, then childhood is the time that we collect the building blocks—morality, opinions, personality—that will someday form into ourselves. When my parents made me believe I was a girl, that had an indelible effect on who I am as a person, and I’m not unhappy the way I am. But I’ve often wondered: what if I’d been allowed to continue believing I was supposed to be a boy? Would I still be the person I am today, or would I be someone completely different? Would I dress the same, act the same, have the same beliefs? Our actions can shape people in ways we can’t imagine, and our parents arguably have the largest effect on us all.

I decided a long time ago not to have children of my own, but someday I might adopt kids. If I ever do, I know what kind of parent I want to be: a loving, understanding one. One who her children can confide in about anything. One who really listens to them. One who her children aren’t afraid of, but who rightfully earns their respect, and respects them in return. One who will sit on the front row at their wedding and cheer them on, no matter who they’re marrying, or whether they’re wearing a tuxedo or a wedding dress. ~TRL

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More Like The…GAY Gatsby

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Two bros, sittin’ in a yellow car, five feet apart ’cause they’re not gay!

Pretty much every American high school graduate has read The Great Gatsby…or least seen the film adaptation starring Leo DiCaprio. It’s a really short novel, only nine chapters, and it’s one of my favorite books ever. Mainly because…it’s really gay.

Damn, Catie, at it again with the seeing gay subtext everywhere. How could a novel written in 1925 focusing on a heterosexual romance possibly be gay, you ask me as you roll your eyes in disdain. Well, my close-minded friend, as a queer writer who has aced nearly every English class she’s ever taken, let me educate you.

First of all, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, may or may not have been queer himself. His close writer friends were Gertrude Stein, a raging lesbian, and Ernest Hemingway, who several historians suggest might have been bisexual, and also F. Scott allegedly once showed his penis to him? Also his wife suspected they might be having an affair, but then again, she was mentally ill, so it might have just been paranoia.

I’m not claiming that any of this is solid proof that F. Scott was less than heterosexual, but he did have at least one queer friend, and queer people do tend to flock together. Plus F. Scott was notably prim in his appearance and femininely beautiful, and was admittedly the “woman” in his marriage to Zelda Fitzgerald–not that straight men can’t also dress impeccably and have soft features and be submissive to their female partners. But you know, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and hangs out with other ducks…there’s a good chance it’s a duck.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Truman Capote wanted to adapt the novel into a movie—in Capote’s version, Nick Carraway, the main character, was supposed to be homosexual and Jordan Baker was a lesbian. For some reason, his screenplay was canned.

But now, onto the book itself. First of all, I propose that Nick Carraway, even though he did have a girlfriend briefly, is gay and infatuated with Gatsby. On the very second page of the book, Carraway describes Gatsby as gorgeous (although he’s actually applying that to his spirit rather than his actual physical appearance, but it still counts in my book). Then at the end of the second chapter of the book, a photographer named Mr. McKee invites a somewhat drunk Carraway out for lunch sometime and takes him back to his apartment to look at some photos he’d taken. And for some reason, it’s in McKee’s bedroom, while McKee is sitting in bed in his underwear.

“…I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.”

I’m not saying they hooked up…but they hooked up.

When Carraway finally meets Gatsby face to face, Gatsby invites him out for a ride in his hydroplane. Jordan Baker then asks Carraway if he’s “having a gay time now”. That is actually the words she uses. And Nick replies, “Much better.” I know she means gay as in “fun”, but it’s still sniggle-worthy.

Then, when Carraway finally realizes that he’s actually talking to Gatsby, this is how he chooses to describe him:

“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

TL;DR, Gatsby’s smile makes Carraway feel like the only girl in the world.

After that, Carraway immediately starts grilling Jordan for details about Gatsby, like a twitterpated teenager trying to get the lowdown on their crush. It’s adorable.

When the party is winding down for the evening, Gatsby and Carraway say goodbye to each other like, six times. No, you hang up. No, you hang up! No, you! You!

In the following weeks, Gatsby takes Carraway out on dates outings and seems really eager for Carraway to like him. “Look here, old sport,” he asks him one day, “what’s your opinion of me, anyway?” Then he shows off his medals of honor he earned in the army. What sucks is that in truth, Gatsby is really trying to get in Carraway’s good graces because he’s trying to use him as an in with Daisy Buchanan, Carraway’s cousin and Gatsby’s old flame. But if you think about it, does Gatsby really need Carraway to win Daisy back? He’s already conspiring with Jordan, who is Daisy’s bestie. He doesn’t really need Carraway to have an excuse to see her again. I think he just really likes hanging out with Nick, to be totally honest.

Also, a funny thing happens later on: Gatsby invites Carraway out for lunch and Carraway meets Gatsby’s business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim. Gatsby leaves momentarily and Wolfsheim says to Carraway that when he first met Gatsby, he “said to [himself]: ‘There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and your sister.'”

Are you trying to set them up together or something, Wolfie?

One day, while Nick is wandering around Gatsby’s mansion, he spots of a photo of a man who Gatsby says is Dan Cody, an older man who was once his “best friend”. Later on, it’s revealed that Dan Cody met Gatsby and was impressed by him, so he took him under his wing and brought along on a sailing expedition, grooming him in the ways of the upper class and buying him a fancy wardrobe. He even left Gatsby twenty five grand when he died (although Cody’s mistress ended up usurping it from him).

That’s right–Jay Gatsby had a sugar daddy.

Anyway, blah blah blah, stuff happens, kiss kiss, bang bang. Then comes the last time Carraway sees Gatsby alive. He’s reluctant to leave him alone because Gatsby’s heartbroken about Daisy, but he has to go to work. But before he leaves, Carraway calls to him, “They’re a rotten crowd–you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

See, because that’s the thing about Carraway: he idealizes Gatsby in the same way that Gatsby idealizes Daisy. Gatsby disowned his parents because he was ashamed of them because they were poor, ran an illegal alcohol business, and tried to seduce a married woman–and he was willing to manipulate Nick to do it. But Carraway never cared about any of that. Until the very bitter end, Carraway still believed in Gatsby and adored him. And when Gatsby was killed, Nick was the only one who stayed with him. He tried to salvage Gatsby’s reputation because he knew that Gatsby was not a killer and that he never slept with Myrtle Wilson. He tried to arrange a funeral for him when no one else would. He was the only one who cared. “Me and Gatsby, against them all.

Oh God, now I’m sad again. ~TRL

“Wynonna Earp” Is Everything “Once Upon A Time” Should Have Been

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**Spoilers ahoy.**

Our main character is a badass woman in a leather jacket, with past childhood trauma and a history of institutionalization. She is forced to travel to a small town that contains clues about her origins – apparently, one of her ancestors (or two) were legends. She teams up with a man in law enforcement. Her greatest wish is reconnect with her family. She’s the chosen one who has to save the tiny town she and her loved ones live in by fighting supernatural forces.

I used to love the TV show Once Upon A Time. Emma Swan was everything I wanted in a strong female character. But ever since…ohhhh, around season 3, the show’s been on a downhill tumble. It got so pathetic that I straight up quit watching after a while. There comes a time when you realize a show isn’t going through a bad spell–it’s just not good anymore.

Wynonna Earp, like OUAT, is about a woman who is the descendant of a famous hero. The show is based on the mythos of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Wynonna is a complex anti-hero who teams up with her sister and other characters to protect her town and break her family’s curse. I’ve watched the first season and man, is it good. But I can’t ignore the more than passing similarities to the fairytale show I used to enjoy.

What Once Upon A Time Did Wrong

When OUAT began, it promised a show about strong women, family, and the power of true love. The main story was about Emma and her strained relationship with her son, her journey to believing in fairy tales–and herself–and Regina Mills’s attempt at redemption for the sake of her beloved son and her struggle with her dark side.

But all these fresh new ideas were shunted to focus on the toxic guyliner-wearing fuckhead Captain Hook, who from his first appearance made an impression as a disgusting slimeball who comes off as a bit rapey. And Emma gives up all her strength and agency when she bewilderingly falls in love with this festering pile of leather. Regina, Henry, Snow and Charming–they were all forgotten, painted into the background as a backdrop for the dais worshipping the all wonderful King Hook and his abusive relationship with Emma.

And this is to say nothing of how the show has completely exhausted its vault of ideas, despite having the entire Disney pantheon at its disposal, or that only one (1) of the main cast is a POC, and that the LGBT community only got one (1), rushed, undeveloped arc shoved into one (1) single episode.

TL;DR: Terrible character development, stale plot arc, practically no representation for anyone who isn’t white and straight.

What Wynonna Earp Did Right

Wynonna is a well developed character, clever, strong, and flawed. Her relationship to her sister outshines either of the relationships she has with her two love interests. The cast is significantly more racially diverse than that of OUAT, and the lesbian relationship between Waverly and Nicole easily gets as much attention as Wynnona and Dolls or Wynonna and Doc.

(Doc Holliday being an immortal sassmouth is probably the coolest thing about this show, to be totally honest.)

Also, Doc and Dolls are both great guys, complex in their own right and vastly different from each other but still utterly lovable, and they both adore and respect Wynonna. And her character isn’t sacrificed for the sake of her relationship with either of them. A female character who isn’t defined by her relationships with men! So refreshing.

I have strong hopes for Wynonna Earp. I just hope I won’t be disappointed again. ~TRL