[Gender] Indoctrination

This is something I have been thinking about for a long, long time. Something I feel I should’ve put to text a while ago, if only to help me get my thoughts sorted on the subject. I feel that during my childhood I have been indoctrinated.

No, nothing serious. My parents didn’t try to get me part of some evil cult -not true, my father insisted I’d be baptized- or anything of the sort. Nor do I think the indoctrination aspect was intentional. What I mean is, my parents, mainly my father, were grooming me from all sides to become ‘a real man’.

Whatever the fuck that is.

From as far as I can remember, my dad had been ‘masculating’ me (I made that word up. It exists now). In winter, however, he said I had to put off wearing scarves, gloves or winter coats for as long as possible because learning to resist the cold would make me a man. I was told that if I didn’t finish my lunch, I’d never grow up to be a man. I had to exercise more, practice a sport, go outside, all in order to become a strong man.
All of this led me to believe I had to be manly. You see, there was a time, aeons ago, I still looked up to, nay, worshiped my father.  His word was more than law, his word was truth. And he said I was a boy who had to grow up to become a man. So I had to be manly. Not that I had any reason not to believe him. I had a penis, boys have penises, ergo…
I remember during elementary school I sat with my legs crossed, and someone said that I sit like a girl. Since then, for a very long time, whenever I realized I was sitting with my legs crossed, -and I sit with my legs crossed a lot. It’s something I do subconsciously- I immediately uncrossed them again, because it wasn’t manly.
Another example is how I repeatedly applied perceived reality on myself. I willed myself to like football and cycling, because those were the sports my father enjoyed, and therefor those must be the most manly of sports. I never once rode a sport bike in my life, and I was horrible at football. I didn’t even like any of it, nor watching it. Not really. However, dad liked it, so it must be the manly thing to like, so I will bloody like it as well, or else… So I forced myself to like it. Because I felt I must.

And then came puberty, and my body began to change, become more man-like. Surely this must be wondrous, no?
When I realized I didn’t like what was happening to me, I tried to rationalize it. I told myself it was only a temporary phase. It would pass. Soon I’d be able to grow a full beard, and then I’d show the world just how much of a man I was.
But I also began to rebel against these changes, these emotions, these decade-old truths. Mostly subconsciously at first. I think my first true act of defiance was letting my hair grow long. Another, more hidden act was dressing like a woman. I used scarves and such as makeshift skirts and tops. I think at the time it was at least partly sexual fetishism, even though I didn’t masturbate yet back then, though now I look at those nights from a different angle, and see a very different picture. However, even though at the time the idea that I might not, in fact, be a boy, occasionally cropped up, it was immediately banned from my thoughts. I knew of transsexualism, that is, I knew more or less what it entailed, but I’d never dare consider myself one of them.
That is, until I met one.

Maybe ‘met’ is the wrong word. At the time, I had known her for years: she was -is- the progenitor of one of my oldest and best friends. My best friend period, at the time. I also looked up to her something fierce. While my father was my god during the first decade of my life, he more and more became something of an oppressor after that. The rift that is now a gaping abyss wasn’t there yet, however, cracks were appearing in the foundation of our relationship. And this other person, this father-figure of another family, a family I spent many weekends, who was so kind, understanding and wise, I often wished if he couldn’t be my father, my own father be more like him. And now this person told me he was in fact she, and the way I looked at myself and the world shattered. Seas of questions washed over me, questions I needed answers for. Some about her, sure -most of which I never asked, and many simply answered by the passing of time- but so many more about me.
I secretly did it, a thousand times before, but when I did I immediately pushed it away. But now, for the first time in my life, I allowed myself to ask the question ‘what if I’m not, in fact, a boy?’. And ask it I did.
Not to anyone else. At least not at first. To myself. Over and over I let that sentence dance around my head. Brooding, festering. I started researching, looking stuff up. I came across terms like ‘transsexual’ -what my best friend’s father was- transgender, androgynous… That, maybe I was that. That didn’t sound too much trouble. Something nice and in the middle.
But that didn’t seem enough. My subconscious nagged at me more and things like a hatred for erections and a deep-rooted disappointment at forever being unable to get pregnant pushed me to look more towards the other side.

Cue several years of hiding my truth, revealing it sparsely to more and more people, and living more and more as a strong woman -exactly the kind my father didn’t want me to become- and I find myself in the middle of sex reassignment therapy and I must say I truly feel I’m on the right path.
A few days ago, when I woke up I noticed my nipples had at least quadrupled in size compared to the last time I payed any attention to them. And I was happy, truly happy, with how my body was changing. Not because I forced myself to be happy, not because someone else made me feel I was supposed to be happy. Because I this is the path I have chosen for myself. Because this change is a change I decided I want, without input or pressure from anyone else pushing me this way. Despite what I have been made to think for almost half my life, I will never be a man,  and despite what my parents still try to make me think, that’s okay.

~Hel

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2 thoughts on “[Gender] Indoctrination

  1. Will Wormell says:

    Have you seen this video by Tony Porter? It’s not exactly the same as your story, but it makes the same point about the dangers of men being “manly” just for the sake of it or because it is somehow expected.

  2. ibrainiac says:

    Damn you! A touching story, surely, but you didn’t have to finish the whole thing with a paragraph with the word “nipple” in it. You know how quickly my mind wanders.

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