Please don’t call me cisgendered

I’ve been so busy in the political realm, I’ve neglected the social part of my “political and social commentary.” It’s been a while since I quite unintentially upset large numbers of lesbians or somewhat intentionally stepped on the idea that letting minor girls dress as scantily as they want at school is imperative to their healthy development.

This new controversy I might be about to kick up isn’t intended as such. My perspective might have something to do with my age. I’ve noticed my patience with the world has waned a bit as I get as close as you can get to 50.

I plan to stay as close as you can get to 50 for at least a few more years, though, maybe even a decade — mostly because I’m still having a hard time adjusting to the idea that I am middle-aged. I think I should get a grip on being middle-aged before I hit the slide to senior citizen.

Which brings me to my point:  labels. Except for legal purposes, they suck and we have too many of them. And frankly, at my age, I’ve accrued too many and don’t want anymore. So please don’t call me cisgendered.

It came up a while ago in a social gathering — the idea of acknowledging biases as a cisgendered person in order to support transgendered rights.

For all my fellow old-timers who may not be familiar, cisgender refers to identifying with the gender with which one is born. As a millennial mom, my children keep me up to date on these things for the most part — they’re an amazingly tolerant generation, something that gives me great pride.

In their amazingly tolerant conversations, however, I think I’m picking up on a sense of label fatigue with the youngsters, as well.

Don’t get me wrong — when it comes to my fellow human beings I have a general rule by which I’ve raised my children :  I fully support people’s rights to be the best whoever they want to be as long as those identities don’t involve hurting/risking the safety of or controlling others. Period.

This means I fully support all kinds of rights including LGBTQ rights and access to bathroom of choice. Whether or not I have inherent biases based on the fact that I identify with my birth genitalia has nothing to do with that value. Further, I can act on that value without donning an extra label that lumps me in with anyone else who identifies with their birth gender.

I’m not all that lump-able. Heck, there are days when I’m sure my appearance suggests any number of social ambiguities. Like when I’m dressed from my baseball cap to the hem of my cargoes in my boys’ old hand-me-downs.

Also, I tend to “hover” when using public restrooms and have usually waited too long in hopes of avoiding them altogether, therefore creating the echoing sounds of both pressure and distance by the time I seek relief.

So goodness knows what my sisters are thinking when I emerge from the stall on the days I’m dressed like a boy. I’d hate to know I lived in a country where the law might want to investigate my fashion and bathroom choices on those days.

Further, I think that we waste too much time worrying about bathroom and bedroom habits in general in our society. I think our systems of governance, justice, and public safety have more important things to do than worry about what is going on under every individual citizen’s pants or skirt. Or in our bedrooms.

We’ve all got better things to do than worry about what is going on under every one of our fellow citizen’s garments. I know, myself, I don’t want to know about what’s going on under someone’s garments unless the nature of our relationship requires such.

I want to treat my fellow human beings the same, based largely on their values and how they treat others, regardless of below-the-garments or in-the-bedroom status. And I want people around me to afford me the same, regardless of what I look like on any given day. And I don’t want any more labels.

Going back to the beginning, I’ve already come to terms with too many: nameless female ward of the state, orphan, adoptee, black or mixed but never white, heterosexual, mentally ill, trauma survivor, disabled, poor single mom (at times, welfare mom), person in recovery, etc.,  etc., etc.

Intersectionality that.

And, like I said, I’m still working on attaching the label, middle-aged, and eventually, I’ll have to add senior citizen. At this point in my life, I’d happily settle for just one label:  human being doing the best I can with who and what I am.

I think that’s a label most of us would be comfortable with.

I should have offered this song as background music at the beginning of the post. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I think we’d all do well to think about the message. Freeing ourselves to be ourselves, and therefore freeing others to be themselves, would go a long way toward making this world a better place.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.