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The rise of gender benders

The-rise-of-gender-benders

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Could the current norms of masculinity and femininity become obsolete sooner than we think?

National Geographic recently published a special issue of their magazine titled "Gender Revolution".

Their first issue of 2017 has taken a surprising 180-degree turn from their usual wildlife content to explore the infinite gender scale with interviews of transgender children and their parents.

My first reaction when I saw the cover was just: "OM…" I couldn't even say the "G", because I was speechless.

The-rise-of-gender-benders
THESE 9-YEAR-OLDS ARE SO WISE FOR THEIR AGE, IT AMAZES ME.
PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The bold statements of what it is like to be transgender and the point of view on femininity from this 9-year-old transgender girl on the magazine cover got me thinking, could gender fluidity be our future?

I am excited because I identify with her views.

I am an androgynous person, in between the gender spectrum, happily floating back and forth between femininity and masculinity as I please. But it took me 10 years to come to terms with that part of myself.

For most of my life, people thought of me as a girl. My natural high-pitched voice and more feminine features were prominent causes of my early teen anguish.

When I was 14, people said I looked "butch" with a Justin Bieber-ish haircut. At 16, guys were totally okay with grabbing my butt and spouting sexual remarks at me.

The-rise-of-gender-benders
MY BIG EYES, BIG LIPS, ROUNDED JAWLINE AND THE COLOUR PINK ARE 
ASSOCIATED WITH FEMININITY, BUT NOW I COULDN'T CARE LESS.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/JANICE CHUA

At 18, I was still being addressed as "Madam" by telemarketers, even after telling them my name is Brandon.

To be honest, I identify with both genders. I like being a guy because the lifestyle is less taxing. For example, I don't need to spend extra time or money on makeup. My only weakness is skincare products.

Then again, I like that my thought process is more "ladylike". When I buy clothes, I think of its design, affordability and usage, rather than the mentality of "I will just buy the first shirt I see because I just need a shirt".

I cannot comprehend this unfounded disgust towards trans folk too. When I was 13, I remember my parents warning my brothers and me to avoid "girls with low voices" during our first trip to Thailand. But, is there something really wrong with them?

It used to really get under my skin. I will never be "one of the guys" because I hated how guys always had to make any conversation sexual when it comes to girls; it's so pointless. Neither will I be fully "one of the girls" because I can't experience the hardships they go through.

The-rise-of-gender-benders
THE MAGAZINE ALSO ADDRESSES THE GENDER STEREOTYPES KIDS 
AROUND THE WORLD FACE WHILE GROWING UP.
PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

I may not be intersex or transgender. In fact, I've come to accept that I just don't fit in the gender binary because people tend to see me as "Brandon", rather than "him" or "her". Even now, with 80 per cent of my social circle comprising females, I don't even refer to myself as a male or a female.

Studying in an all-boys school for 10 years and growing up in a predominantly male household did not seem to make me more "male" in any way.

Over the past three years, we've seen the rise of transgender celebrities, such as Orange Is The New Black actress, Laverne Cox, and former Olympian, Caitlyn Jenner, previously known as Bruce Jenner.

I started feeling more comfortable in my own skin when people started embracing the beauty of androgynous models and celebrities, like Willy Cartier and Ruby Rose, who are pushing boundaries.

I guess this change developed over the years when more people realised there are pros and cons of living as either gender, all thanks to decade-old stereotypes.

The-rise-of-gender-benders
I BET YOU SCROLLED UP AGAIN TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT RUBY ROSE.
PHOTO CREDIT: RUBY ROSE'S INSTAGRAM

If you're a man, you might be labelled misogynistic and arrogant. You might be viewed as perverts or players. On the other hand, if you're a woman, people may assume that you are weak and soft-spoken. If you dress in a certain way, you are seen as "hoes".

Maybe if we could start emulating the strengths of both genders, we might be able to tap on our full potential. I dare anyone to gun for a person who has the confidence of a man and the strength of a woman.

Even if femininity and masculinity are showing signs of becoming obsolete, it will probably take eons before it becomes the norm in society.

But progress is progress, however slow it may be.

TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: VANITY FAIR
BANNER PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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