Years ago, I had no idea that a boy could feel like a girl, or that a girl could feel like a boy. There were men called drag queens who liked to dress like women, I'd heard of them, but beyond that, I was clueless.
Even when Jared first told me that he felt like he was a girl, I had no idea that was even a thing.
I'm so thankful that he was born exactly when he was, because paths are being open to the LGBTQ more now than ever before. And even though Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner doesn't do education well, and sometimes muddles things even more, people are more aware now than ever about transgendered people.
It is getting much more commonplace to hear about sexual orientation and sexual identity. A few weeks ago, I saw this Genderbread Person on a blog that I follow. I saved it, because I knew it would come in handy. :)
People are complex and no two are alike. As for me, I've never been a girly-girl. I was raised in Wyoming for a time and saw strong women who could run their ranch by themselves just fine, thank you. Their examples were some that I followed most. I love working outdoors much more than indoors. I don't mind getting dirty or working hard. I stayed home with my children because I felt that was best for them; I would have been a career woman otherwise. I never called my girls "princesses" - to me that nickname was synonymous with needing others to take care of them, and I was raising self-sufficient daughters.
Who would have known that my third-born, boy by birth, would be more girly than I am? (though it isn't hard, trust me. ;) ) Today she told me that there were a lot of girls at work who want to "do her nails." She thinks it's "cute". LOL I think it's creepy and want no other female anywhere near my fingernails. :)
I wear men's t-shirts because women's t-shirts are too form fitting, and I hate that! I wear sneakers, loafers, and flip flops, and you will never catch me wearing stiletto high heels! I wear jeans, sweats, or yoga pants. I'll wear dress pants/slacks to church and to do a photoshoot. I will wear a dress when I have to - but the last time I had to was last year at Josh and Hayley's wedding. (Though if I could find a jumper like I bought a couple of decades ago in Tennessee, I'd wear it in the summertime! It was a perfect cotton dress that I could wear Keds, loafers, or flip flops with. ;) )
So, Jessica realizes that women and men can present themselves however the heck they want to. But she reminds me that I simply don't understand, and she's right. I don't understand how the "wrong" genitalia can give you anxiety or feel despair. I've never felt that in my life.
There is so much to gender identity that happens in the brain. It really has very little to do with genitals, in fact. Which again, I don't understand, but I totally am aware of.
Back in the 80's we called people fags, faggots, and gay in place of idiot, creep, and stupid. We don't do that anymore. Education has happened and empathy for others has given us a better understanding. (There might still be the "EW!" factor when we see boys kissing boys or girls kissing girls on television, but I assume that homosexuals feel that same "EW!" factor with hetorsexual kisses.)
The same way that our understanding of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals has grown since 1980, our understanding of transgendered people will also grow as we begin to recognise and meet more members of our communities and own families that feel this way. Empathy and respect is bound to improve and grow.
And for now, we can learn from the Genderbread Person. :)