The Socialization Question

| Oct 18, 2021
Spread the love

Was I socialized female? Socialized Trans? Or both?

I’ve seen a question about gender identity and socialization pop up frequently in blogs and social media posts. Apparently here are self-identified radical feminists (TERFs) who dismiss our life experiences because we were “socialized male.”

I never believed I was being judged by the expectations and identity of a young boy. One writer, Theresa Jean Tannenbaum, compared being socialized trans to being subject to continually gaslighted by a world that tells you you have a male identity, but you aren’t fulfilling the expectations that go with that identity. If a trans child has been so deeply programmed they deny their own identity, it can lead to self-gaslighting.

I was chubby. Awkward, especially in the gym and the playground. I was regularly bullied and teased over my mannerisms and behavior.

Like Tannenbaum, my best friends in my early years of schooling were girls, yet as she points out, such relationships were always challenging, as the girls were continually taught that the rules for interactions between boys and girls were different. I can say with confidence that I was socialized trans, I was also socialized female.

I was the second of two children in my family; my late sister was seven years older than me. She was the one always challenged the rules and often broke them. She made it clear from the beginning that she was following her own star, and a few days after she graduated fourth in a high school class of nearly 400, she packed up and moved several hundred miles away.

I loved both my parents dearly. They’re responsible for my lifelong love of learning and my core values, including a belief that I’m obligated to help others whenever I can. But I also internalized some more problematic beliefs and expeditions.

My dad was a decorated combat veteran from World War II and had starred in sports at his small rural high school. But he seemed to take a strangely passive role in parenting me, deferring to my mother, who made it clear from my earliest memories that being a quiet, obedient child was the surest path to being loved.

The older I got, the more I realized that my mother lived most of her life in fear to one degree or another. She didn’t marry until she was in her late twenties, which was considered “old” in 1951, and I suspect her fear of being an “old maid” (her younger sister had married a few months earlier) finally outweighed her fears of entering the dating market.

So how far did I take this programming to be obedient? Not long after I turned five, we moved into the only house my parents ever owned. I asked to be shown the property line between our house and adjacent residence so I didn’t accidentally trespass onto their property.

I look back over more than 50 years and ask, was I being taught to be quiet, meek and submissive? Or to be kind, gentle, a nurturer? Perhaps both?

All I know is that regardless of the socialization I received, there was a light at my core that I always considered female. I was burdened with a whole set of narrow and unrealistic behavior based on my perceived gender, but like so many trans people, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to finally shed those false expectations and blossom into my true self.

Like to make a comment? Login here and use the comment area below.

  • Yum

Spread the love

Tags: , ,

Category: Transgender Opinion

Claire H.

About the Author ()

Claire Hall was born and grew up in a large city on the left coast and has spent most of her adult years in a beautiful small coastal community where she's now an elected official in local government after spending many years as a newspaper and radio reporter. In her space time she loves reading, writing fiction (her first novel was published by a regional press a couple of years ago), watching classic Hollywood movies, and walking.

Comments are closed.