Gender Equality: Are Trans People the Harbingers of the Future?

partnersDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

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By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

Recently, I saw a friend’s post on Facebook. She was talking about the value and purpose of trans people. I asked her what she thought our value and purpose was and she answered that she didn’t exactly know, but she was working on it. She brought up the point that trans people can see things from a male and female viewpoint. Trans people might understand some situations a little better than a cisgender person, a person who is not trans, because trans people have the experiences and viewpoints of both genders.

This post made me recall a lot of my past thoughts on being a trans person and how we, as trans people, do see things differently. Questions arise and it’s truly a new way of thinking about gender when you question exactly what is truly male and what is truly female. Then you can look at how the genders seem to be blending nowadays and the picture may become clearer.

Back in the old days there would be gender-specific roles when a man and a woman would start a family. Usually the male did the hunting for the food while the female did the gathering of tinder and wood for the fires, collecting berries and wild plants for food, and raising children. As time went on, hunting and gathering changed. Today, food, warmth, clothing, etc. can be purchased. The male does not have to hunt for food. The female does not have to gather firewood and food. Now, the raising of children is shared. There really is no need for now-obsolete gender-specific roles.

It appears to me that evolution is taking us into an era of the genders becoming equal. Because of this equality, I would guess that gender distinctions could very well lessen and we could see more gender blending in the future. Male and female jobs are now evolving into people jobs with less dependence on gender-specific roles. Today, in most cases, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, it’s more important that you can do the job. This is a far cry from the 1950s when men held almost all the available jobs. If a woman did work, it was often as a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. Men held almost all the other jobs. The playing field is now being leveled. Those old days are gone, and things have changed.

Now, how do trans people possibly fit in this scenario? Well, we trans people have spent time in life as both genders and our experiences and viewpoints encompass those experiences. You could look at us as possibly a future look of an equalizing force between the genders, or possibly a missing link between the genders.

If you look even closer, you may find that there are levels of male and female all along the gender spectrum. What is a gender spectrum? Picture a line with male on one endpoint and female on the other endpoint. The males on the one endpoint are “manly men” and the females on the other endpoint are “girly girls.” Yes, there are true manly men and there are true girly girls, but most people are not at these end points; they are somewhere between the two. Some will be closer to the manly man end point and some will be closer to the girly girl end point. Some will be clustered in the middle. It’s like everyone has a level of male and female and those levels put them on some point in the line. I’m guessing there will be many, many points along the line. Where do you fit on the gender spectrum?

In my lifetime, I have seen the beginning of the coming together of genders. When I was young, most women did not work outside of the home, they were more subservient to men, they kept silent when they were sexually harassed or worse, and if they did work they were paid far less than a man. Now, all these things are changing as women are becoming equal to men. We’re not there yet, but we are closing in on gender equality and I believe that trans people are helping to push this change for equality. Maybe trans people truly are the harbingers of the future?

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has three children and two grandchildren.

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