my identity is mine
This morning I went to therapy. I dressed in a black Homestuck tee, fingerless gloves, a black hoodie…and pink skinny jeans.
When I walked into the living room as I prepared to leave, my mother stared at me.
“Pink?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
She shook her head. “Pink is a girl color.”
“Colors don’t have gender.”
“If you keep wearing girl clothes, I’m going to start calling you [birth name] again.”
I stared at her.
“You’re confusing me! You say you’re a boy and you want me to call you Lucas, but you buy makeup, and girl clothes, and pink things…”
I couldn’t speak. Nothing I could say would make her change her mind. My identity was confusing to her, is confusing to her, and it makes her angry.
“You expect me to call you Lucas when you dress like a girl?”
Unfortunately, this isn’t atypical in my house. If I wear a scarf, if I wear makeup, if I paint my nails, my identity gets called into question, with threats of redacted support. My parents, especially my mother, get very uncomfortable both when I talk about “masculine” things (my transition, namely, as well as liking girls) and when I talk about or do “feminine” things (wear pink, buy makeup, paint my nails). They especially get uncomfortable when I talk about being genderqueer and using they/them/their pronouns (I use ze/zym/zyr pronouns most commonly, but I can’t even begin to explain those to my parents in a way they would understand). I really can’t win here.
I opened up my therapy session with, “My mom made fun of my outfit today.”
“Why? It looks nice.”
I shrugged. “The pink apparently confuses her. She’s mad that I’m confusing her. I think she thinks I’m doing it on purpose, or either she’s just taking things way too personally.” I recounted the story to my therapist.
“Colors don’t have gender. They’re colors. But if your mom really needs an explanation, maybe tell her that pink was originally a boy’s color.”
“In the 1800s [pink] was a ‘boy’s color’,” said my friend A in a chat tonight after I recounted to them the story about my mother. They sent me google results for “men in pink jeans”. “Colors are universal. Even if you think pink is for women only, which is absurd, can’t deny all this photographic evidence of men in pink jeans.”
I’m contemplating showing the Google results A showed me to my mother, but in the meantime, I’m having thoughts about identity.
My identity, to me, is deeply personal. It is something I have built up from the ashes of my past self, something I have worked to own as mine, something I have worked to be proud of, something I have worked to explain to others, with varying reception.
I am not a girl or a boy, a woman or a man. I prefer the identifier “person” above most others. While I wish people could see this, some can’t. And that’s okay, even though it’s really not.
What gets me the worst is that some people think that I need to cater my identity to them. To make myself more like what they think I should be. They are confused, angry, maybe a little afraid of who I am. They want to put me into boxes that I cannot fit into. They pull me, struggling and kicking, into these categories that don’t fit me.
I have worked so hard to be myself, to be okay with myself, to be okay with being myself, and sometimes it feels like it’s being ripped away from me in lieu of the expectations of others.
At the end of the day, my identity is mine. I can’t, and won’t, stop being me to appease others. I’ve done that all my life, and at some point I decided it needed to stop.
4 Responses to “my identity is mine”
[…] I have worked so hard to be myself, to be okay with myself, to be okay with being myself, and sometimes it feels like it’s being ripped away from me in lieu of the expectations of others. …read more […]
The human race has a psyche that needs to classify things, to put them in order. For our brains to make sense of the world. It’s biology, it’s natural, it’s built into us. What you are wanting people to do is difficult for them, because it goes against their mental wiring, which is to categorize. Is it fair? Maybe not to a lot of people. But honestly, in most cultures and sub-cultures it works and is not usually much of an issue. Life isn’t easy for a lot of people, for a million different reasons, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be gentle with your mom, who is so bewildered and confused, and you’re asking her to go against all of the powerful physiological and environmental “wiring” that she’s got inside of her. Frustration and confusion produces anger (obviously) so maybe you can demonstrate some understanding to her and try to see it from her side also, just as you are asking her to do for you. It’s not easy or cut-and-dried for either one of you. I wish you a depth of vision and perseverance and peace. (And I don’t know how old you are, but assuming you still live at home, maybe it’s time to spread those wings and fly)
Nah. Lucas’s mom’s being insensitive. She has no right to demand that other people fit her perception of the world, and Lucas has every right to be upset by her immature, over-controlling behavior.
Teresa, I thought your comment was beautiful and kind. Thanks for sharing your insight. Compassion and patience all around.