setting things straight (or gay).

A few weeks ago, I was at my auntie’s house and I was playing with my five year old cousin while she was telling me about her best friend. When she had finished talking to me about her, she told me that she was going to marry her, to which my immediate reaction was ‘you can’t marry a girl!’ My cousin looked confused and told me that her mother told her she could marry a boy or a girl, and I didn’t know what to say. Should I tell her that she is right? Or is she too young to know about those kinds of things?

Later on, I was still thinking about it, and I felt ashamed of myself that my instant response to her saying she wanted to marry her friend was that she couldn’t marry her because she was a girl. I know that obviously she wasn’t seriously about to marry her friend, but it did make me think that the world would be a much nicer place if these kinds of things were instilled into children from the day there were born – as much as being gay is commonplace in today’s society, there is obviously still a certain taboo about it if people still struggle to ‘come out’ to their family and friends, when surely if it was as acceptable as we like to think, parents would always assume that there would be a chance that their child would be gay and they would be taught that that would be completely normal and right if they were.

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My personal belief is that no one is entirely straight and no one is entirely gay; I can’t understand the concept that out of the three and a half billion people of each gender in the world, there isn’t at least one of each that you could fall in love with. I wonder with some people who consider themselves completely straight for example, if they met someone who they had a ridiculous amount in common with, had the same sense of humour and had brilliant chemistry with, surely what gender they are has the same relevance as the colour of their eyes? I am aware that there are a lot of people – mainly men – who disagree with me completely, which I can accept because there was a time when I would have disagreed too.

On the 19th March, Lucy Meadows took her own life after the press released stories of her battle with gender dysmorphia. Lucy was previously a man named Nathan, and she worked in a primary school in Lancashire when it was publicised by a reporter named Richard Littlejohn that by undergoing the operation to reassign her gender, she was putting her own ‘selfish needs above the wellbeing of the children.’ I am perfectly aware that being transgender has little to do with sexuality, but the same issue prevails; why shouldn’t children be taught about these kinds of issues? I am very sure that if Ms Meadows had continued to work as a teacher she would have provided a lot of understanding for the children that she taught, and if it so happened one of those children struggled with their own gender like she had, she would have given that child inspiration and the confidence to continue making the brave decisions which come alongside gender reassignment surgery.

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A lot of people believe that the children at the school were, in fact, too young to be ‘exposed’ to transgender – my first instinct is that that is ludicrous, what is there to be exposed to? In my opinion, it is completely admirable that someone who is desperately unhappy with the body that they were born with has made the incredibly brave decision to not only change it, but also have to go through the changes in front of everyone that they know. However, after my reaction to my cousin telling me she wanted to marry a girl, I’m not sure that that would have been my first reaction, and I regret that. Children aren’t scared of the world because they haven’t learnt anything to be scared of – therefore if children are taught about homosexuality and transgender from an early age they will understand it, be at ease with it, and in fact there will come a time in years to come when maybe homophobia would no longer have to exist.

It may be too little too late now for the family of Ms Meadows, but I for one believe that she was an incredibly brave woman to take control of a body that she was unhappy with and not comply with an uneducated and ignorant society, and if she was alive for me to meet her today I would tell her how amazingly inspirational she would grow to be for all of the children that would have had the pleasure of being taught by her.

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2 thoughts on “setting things straight (or gay).

  1. Your young cousin is so lucky to have such open-minded family members such as her mum and yourself. What a wonderful environment to grow up in!

    To answer your question in the first paragraph, my personal opinion is that 5 years old is too young to ‘know such things’. I think that possibly makes me conservative, old-fashioned and not very politically correct, haha!, but oh well. I’m a gay uncle, with many young nieces and nephews. My main concern is that their curiosity would be incited too early, leading only a few years later to questions related to sex education. That’s something which I don’t think is appropriate for kids younger than, say, 14 years old? Around that age, maybe? I don’t know.

    If the kids themselves think they might be gay or transgender, that’s something they can wait to discuss with their families when they are older. There’s no rush, and not to mention that it might be a phase. I think that such issues has no place for a kid’s childhood. Let them enjoy their innocence and childhood; God knows it will soon be over and they’ll be grappling with puberty!

    However, if they have a transgender teacher in school (or a gay relative in the family), as a gay man I would want for the kids to be taught that some people are just different. And then leave it at that, telling them that transgender issues will be explained further when they are older. All they need to know now is that no one should be made fun of or bullied just because they are different, and that we all must have mutual respect for one another.

    Please excuse me for such a long comment. It’s just that the issue you have raised is interesting to me and I have used the opportunity to reflect upon my own thoughts/opinion about it! So, thank you!

    • Thank you! I kind of agree that five years old is too young to know the ins and outs of sexuality and things like that but I do believe that if I had a child of my own, I would never suggest that it was ‘normal’ to be in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. It shouldn’t be something that is revealed when they are ‘old enough to understand’ because I can’t see the difference between a man being in a relationship with a man, a woman being in a relationship with a woman or a man and woman being in a relationship together so I don’t see the need for a big reveal! Despite the fact that in today’s society homosexuality is generally accepted there is still the assumption that everyone is straight until they profess otherwise whereas I would always be inclined to assume that anyone could be either gay, straight or bisexual until they indicate otherwise!

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