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The Impact of Gender on Girls


by Anonymous

It is confusing enough growing from a girl into a young woman at the best of times. And being taught that girls can literally BE boys, and that ‘transmen ARE men’ is particularly confusing – especially as we also try to teach all young people that they are just fine as they are. 


In this state of confusion, I currently know three other families who are dealing with complex and distressing situations with their daughters questioning themselves as female. It’s painful to watch and support. The fear parents feel, trying to do the right thing. In all cases there are a combination of factors including same-sex attraction, anxiety, body image difficulties, other complex mental health concerns. ‘Feeling like a boy’ is one of many complex issues they are dealing with. 


As a parent of teenagers, I – along with their teachers – have spent their childhood teaching them explicitly:

  • Boys and girls can both achieve anything – the law sees them equally capable of leadership, entitled to the same pay, have the same rights to own a house  etc.;

  • Boys and girls, men and women, are different biologically – e.g. strength, speed, reproductive roles, puberty;

  • To understand and challenge gender stereotypes (be gender non-conforming);

  • To treat each other with respect;

  • That it's good to be yourself, to love yourself, to love who you choose; to understand consent and boundaries, your own and others’; 

  • That you are okay as you are. 


Teaching that trans boys are literally boys goes against that entirely. I believe that ‘trans boys are trans boys’ is a more powerful, proud and self-accepting statement. 


Why are so many girls struggling currently? Rejecting themselves and their bodies? As well as unhelpful statements like ‘trans boys are boys’, the implicit education of the world around us plays a big part:

  • Sexism and homophobia, especially lesbophobia, are everyday realities for girls;

  • Sexual assaults on girls are rising in schools;

  • Girls rights to privacy and to define their boundaries are removed if ‘transwomen are women’;

  • Young lesbians are taught to carry condoms in case their girlfriend has a penis (nothing more homophobic than this);

  • Young lesbians are taught that they can literally become straight boys -(homophobic/lesbophobic) - a form of conversion therapy;

  • Social norms place powerful expectations on girls (and boys) to ‘fit in’;

  • Porn and sex-based violence are part of everyday life, damaging girls and women everywhere;

  • Girls (in particular) suffer with body image problems - seen through eating disorders, self-harming, rejection of themselves.


With the above, becoming a boy is a very attractive proposition! But it ISN’T POSSIBLE to actually be a boy – and they will never escape these issues by changing themselves, even if they ‘pass’, there remains a danger in being female or exposed as female. It is possible, however, to live as an out transman. Transmen are transmen. No problem there. 


The attraction of being ‘non-binary’ is huge – isn’t that what we have encouraged our children to be? Be yourself, not confined by gender roles. However, ‘non-binary people are non-binary’ makes no sense as a statement. I’m not sure what it’s trying to convey. You can be a boy and be non-gender conforming. Similarly, you can be a girl and be gender non-conforming – you are still a boy or a girl. Be gender non-conforming – that’s a great thing! Find a comfy bra, wear comfy shoes, have short hair, don’t wear lipstick if you want. All are just fine. 


The facts are clear and ethical, true statements should reflect these: transwomen are transwomen; transmen are transmen. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Men and women are different biologically. Men and women are treated differently (sometimes fairly e.g. sport, sex-based rights; sometimes unfairly e.g. pay, sex-based violence). Non-binary gender identity is a reasonable response to the unfairness and inequality faced by men and women – and it’s completely unrelated to your sex. Being gender non-conforming is to be welcomed; if you are gender non-conforming, it does NOT mean you are the opposite sex. Trans rights are human rights. Women’s rights are human rights. None of these facts are mutually exclusive and we must learn to balance them all at no one’s expense. 


I continue to watch my friends manage the daily concern and care of their children and the complex issues they face – supportively, with love. But I am angry for them that their children have been taught an untruth that ‘TWAW, TMAM and NBANB’ – it has made a difficult transition into womanhood even more difficult for these young people. My last message is, be trans, be proud of who you are, dress how you like – and be proud of the whole of you, including your body exactly as it is. 

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