Nikki Brown imagines what it would be like to switch genders.
When the GMP put a call out for posts on a day in the life of a woman, it reminded me of a post I’d written last year with a group of fellow bloggers. We called ourselves the Insomnia Club (shout-out to Jacks!) and posted once a month. We all had the same topic, but we wrote what we wanted about it.
One month, we wrote on what it’d be like to switch genders.
I started mine with a conversation I’d had recently with some girlfriends on what we’d do if we have a penis for a day. I understand that this is not the same as being a man for a day – please bear with me…
Consensus in this particular discussion? We’d experience the fuck out of it. Sex, blowjobs, write our names in pee, stick it in stuff (damn straight – as long as it wasn’t a health hazard). That would be one tired penis when we were through, but I also think we might learn a thing or two.
It would be similarly enlightening to wake up as a man, to see how and if that changed things, such as my world view and how others interacted with me, etc.
Yet, as with that original Insomnia Club post, one thing that sticks with me is what if, instead of simply A Day in The Life with different organs or as the opposite gender … we couldn’t change back?
I love my vagina. L-O-V-E. I would never, in a million billion years, trade her in for the alternative model. Not because I don’t like the penis, I do, I just love my vagina. Nor would I trade being a woman in for being a man. Moreover, while I certainly challenge the gender stereotypes of womanhood, my social upbringing as a girl has generally been comfortable to me.
But. What if I wasn’t so comfortable? What if the world told me I was a certain gender, but it felt fundamentally wrong? What if every day I woke up and looked under the covers, I saw the wrong equipment? Every. Single. Day.
What if you were forced to exist in this world as the gender you do not identify or feel comfortable with? What if your social education and upbringing was for the gender that never felt right? What if it wasn’t just a day in the life? What if it was your life?
And, then, of course, imagine what it would be like to try and make a change. To find and embrace your true gender identity, not the one prescribed for you by culture or biology. The incredible honesty and bravery that would take… and the immense difficulties that poses, not just in terms of logistics. Trying to learn to exist in the world with none of the social education on how to behave as a particular gender, the education we all receive, from the moment we’re born. How do you teach yourself all of that?
Of course, don’t forget the social stigmas you will encounter while attempting to make those changes. The prejudice. The fear. The hate.
Leave behind any thought processes that say something like “well, that wouldn’t happen because you associate with the sex you’re born with.” Just drop that bullshit and any other argument you’d like to use.
Just imagine, just for now, what it would be like if Day in the Life … was your life?
Just for a moment. Let go of any excuse or prejudice or ew that’s creepy or that doesn’t really happen feelings you might harbor deep in your heart. Without sterilizing it, without trivializing it. Just: how you would feel if it were you.
More than that, realize walking in another’s shoes might mean for your own thoughts on gender. Not just to find understanding for how someone else might experience the world. Not just for learning how your interactions with the world and other people may or may not be harmful to someone else.
Maybe realize even these lines are too strict. Not every one is born with either a penis or a vagina. Not all of us are comfortable being strictly woman or strictly man. When we talk about things in such black and white terms, we marginalize anyone who ends up in the gray.
When we talk about gender as a binary, who are we excluding? What could you learn from walking a day as someone who doesn’t fit, but is constantly being told they have to?
Finally, think about specific for you. What would you want to bring back with you, from this Day in the Life? What comes with more ease, comfort, or flexibility in those other shoes, that you wish you had in your own?
Can we find common ground here? Can we find compassion? Can we find understanding?
Can we also find out more about ourselves?