Growing up in a Hispanic household has taught me a lot about gender roles and biases throughout the years.
In general, growing up and the way I was raised differed from many of my friends who assume that just because I was born in the United States I had a similar upbringing as they did. Living in a patriarchal society puts men in the forefront of everything. The male gender is dominant due to the social constructions and gender roles forced upon us. The way I see the world is how I view my gender. I believe, as Beyoncé would say, that girls run the world! My gender is identified through the notion or thought, “If I were a girl?”
I solely identify as a boy. I was born male but identify as a boy rather than a man. I refuse to ever identify myself as a man, especially because I feel like I don’t fit the traits to identify as such. I identify as a boy who is still growing and flourishing into his own person. I’m a child at heart and still have this sense of innocence, which is something about myself that most people don’t come to understand.
As a child I was aware of my gender identity until I came across the question “If I were a girl?” I always wore boy clothes, played with boy toys, was raised with the ideal to like girls, to be tough, and show no expression of femininity. By the time I was old enough to be aware of the gender differences and roles the question, “If I were a girl?” began to linger on me.
I would see my mother’s make up, her shoes, her beautiful dresses and ask myself why she and girls in general wore different clothing than guys. I remember I would sometimes wear my mom’s heels around the house as a child just playfully, and it would be seen as such but the question was always in the back of my mind.
In school I always got along better with the girls than the boys in my class. I was always one to have more girlfriends than guy friends. I also had more female cousins in the family so I would usually always play and spend time with them regardless of what it was. We played dolls, school, and beauty salon, practically anything girls would play as children.
Growing up with girls in my life had me led me to lean more and feel more comfortable with girls. I loved being around girls. Girls were always more caring and less intense than boys. This also was what led me to continue questioning my gender identity and whether I felt I was in the right gender box.
I was always so confused on why there was a separate bathroom for boys and girls at school. Since I didn’t know what a vagina was I assumed we had the same genitalia. The thought of having and using different restrooms was so weird and bazar to me. It really was confusing to me until I learned what sex was.
My brother was older than me, and growing up he had friends who were typically older than him. They in a way had educated my brother on sex and he took it upon himself to educate me. I was amazed by this new concept and the idea that women had a vagina was just mind-blowing at the time. I later on was further educated about sex in middle school by my health class. During this time I was still contemplating my sexuality and my gender.
I loved women’s clothing and many other things that would be considered feminine like flowers. I’ve always seen women as beautiful beings and being one sometimes sounded fine to me. I at times questioned why I wasn’t born a girl. I would have these amazing thoughts about wearing dresses, looking pretty in pink, having long hair, and just feeling in touch with myself.
It was very confusing at the time to be thinking such things. Especially after learning who trans people were and that there was such a thing as a sex change operation, “If I were a girl?” was something I began to question and think of frequently.
Of course living in a patriarchal society and in a very traditional Mexican family, becoming a women or trans woman seemed to be out of the question. Also, I was still questioning if I really wanted to be a girl. I did like being a boy, even if I was pretty feminine I saw nothing wrong with that.
Masculinity is something that our patriarchal society has embedded on males since birth. In Robert Jensen’s “Masculine, Feminine, or Human?” and in Tommi Avicolli’s “He Defies You Still: Memoirs of a Sissy” the topic of masculinity is discussed and how it affects boys and men. The idea of masculinity is that all men should act and feel a certain way like being strong and responsible.
I can fully connect and understand what Jensen and Avicolli are discussing. I was bullied in middle school and was mostly called gay or a fag for having feminine qualities that are part of my gender expression. Middle school was a very difficult time for me because of the constant bullying. At the time I was just learning more about myself and who I was but it was very difficult to do so when I was constantly being made fun off and attacked for being different. Bullying really affected my life. I dealt with depression for some time, I went through an eating disorder, and even contemplated suicide.
As I got older, I came to a realization that my body was the one for me. I saw myself loving women more than being a woman. I accepted being a boy and male, it seemed suitable for me. “If I were a girl?” still would be in my head but now in a different context.
As I began to see the injustices that women dealt with and the inequality they faced, feminism seemed fitting for me. I began to ask myself the question, “If I were a girl?” in a way that helped me pursue my feminist views and as a way to educate others about feminist issues.
The question allowed me to put myself in a different perspective and see that I would want equality and justice for all women and to no longer be put below men but at the same position as men.
Feminism allowed me to be a boy and proud of my feminine qualities regardless of societies definition of a man. After coming into terms with my gender identity and gender expression, I began to question my sexual orientation. I loved women but I also began to get this attraction to males. If I were a girl, being in a relationship with a boy wouldn’t be a problem in society, but thanks to feminism I learned that it’s ok if you are attracted to anyone of any sex or gender regardless of society’s ideals.
Queer seemed to fit perfectly with my identity but the term awesome seemed more suitable because I feel like I shouldn’t identify for who I’m attracted to when at the end of the day love is love.