I sat down with Evan Hubbard, a friend of mine who graduated with me in May from Wheelock College’s MSW program. Evan identifies as a transman on the surface, but a genderqueer transmasculine boi on a deeper level. His concentration is on gender identity and dysphoria and GLBT relationships. He interned for the past year with PFLAG Greater Boston.
Evan and I chatted about today’s queer youth and how they are seeing gender identity and gender expression. We both agreed that kids are more and more embracing non-binary forms of gender. Evan remarked that he’s seen kids walking around in a football jersey, khaki shorts, and heels all at once. We’re both veterans of the awesome True Colors Queer Youth Conference run by True Colors Inc. in Connecticut, where Evan has been noticing that expressing yourself as more gender variant has gone from the handful of trans youth to being more common among queer youth in general. These kids are redefining gender norms and making it their own.
So why exactly is this shift happening? Evan sees it as a generational thing. With more and more trans people coming out of the wood works in both the queer communities and the general public, kids are feeling more comfortable exploring gender expressions in their own way too. Especially among those of us in our 20s and younger, not conforming to the masculine/feminine, butch/femme binaries is much more common. And, messing around with these boundaries does not necessarily mean that you are transitioning, but that you are doing what feels comfortable.
Hipsters are a great example of the trend of stretching the outside of the strictly queer culture. Straight hipsters guys are wearing clothes that would traditionally be considered more feminine and straight hipster girls are wearing things that could be considered masculine. Often, even, the clothes can be interchangeable and shared between genders. Oh, you cute hipsters.
Another thing that is changing is the description and understanding of “transgender”. I’ve noticed the description of what being transgender is in the media is often described as, “being born in the wrong body.” However, more and more trans people are saying that they were not a mistake and that they enjoy being trans. Hopefully the media will catch up on this and recognize that its not necessarily that transgender people hate their bodies. What’s difficult is that to describe a complex idea, such as transgender folks, you sometimes have to start with a not entirely true statement. Hopefully from there you can help them deconstruct the gender binary, though.
So, way to go kids! Stretch all our minds and make us throw our assumptions out the window!