I was coercively assigned a sex role at birth. As soon as medical personnel saw that I didn’t have a penis, the process of putting me and keeping me in a very narrowly-defined box began. From then on I was coercively stopped from doing or being things associated with boys and coerced into doing and being things associated with girls. I fought many bitter, painful battles over years of being forced into that box. A handful of those battles I won; most I lost, because the full power of adults was brought to bear to keep me in my proper sex role.
It’s intensely frustrating that in the intervening years experiences like this have continued for girls and boys. But worse, rather than meaningful progress toward simply allowing children to live their lives outside of any box, there is now a very powerful movement that claims that forcing children into the other restrictive sex role box is the solution. The problem, these people claim, is not that the person was coercively assigned a sex role at all, it’s that they were coercively assigned the incorrect sex role, and that (of course!) can be fixed by adopting the other sex role.
It should be obvious on the face that this is a completely false solution that could only have been created by people who don’t have the best interests of children in mind. Rather than finding ways of accepting and nurturing children who don’t conform to sex roles, society has significantly increased the sex role pressure.
A girl who simply wants to play football, build robots, and wear jeans and t-shirts will still be under constant pressure to adopt the proper sex role attire and behaviors for females. That’s bad enough, but in addition to that, she will be derided and bullied by other children for being “gay” (regardless of her actual sexual orientation) and pressured by adults to consider herself a “transgendered” person who needs drugs, intensive psychotherapy, and other medical intervention to fit her into the other socially-approved sex role.
No sooner have we made very small incremental progress against homophobic bullying than adults – in the service of their own fears and cowardice — find another way to coerce these children into boxes. And in ways that do even more long term damage.
It’s obvious that those children need us to advocate for them. Sex roles are not only anachronistic, but uniquely harmful to individuals and society and we must find ways to stop adults from forcing children into them.