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Gender-Bending Day in High School

11 Oct Posted by in Genderqueer | Comments Off on Gender-Bending Day in High School
Gender-Bending Day in High School

A conversation with a bunch of high school students certainly gives one food for thought. Recently I had a friend sit with a group of teens at a school in Texas. It was Sadie Hawkins day. Back when I went to high school that meant the girls asked the boys to a dance. Sadie Hawkins for this school essentially represented freedom of gender expression. I understood for most of the kids that would mean a chance to dress like the opposite sex, poke fun at each other, and laugh a lot. For some, however, I was sure it meant something very different. I was intrigued at the concept of a gender bending day and asked my friend to organize a gathering of students for an interview. I was curious to know what gender meant to them.

In a lengthy interview, the students were asked questions regarding gender. I was surprised by the responses. They all seemed to understand that gender is a blurred place for many people to live. They seemed to ‘get’ the concept of transgender and even spoke of a student or two who presented as a gender different than their birth gender. They seemed tolerant and progressive. It gave me hope.

However it seemed, even as progressive as their thinking was, the students consistently blurred the line between gender and sexuality. At one point it was even mentioned that perhaps changing ones gender would be an alternative to being gay. They understood all too well the challenges being homosexual poses. And the idea that changing one person’s gender would ultimately make a couple straight was intriguing to say the least. Being genderqueer and an advocate for transgender folk, I felt almost violated by the assumption that changing genders was a simpler solution than acceptance of sexual orientation. Those that struggle daily with gender identity issues would likely have been insulted. However I don’t blame the kids for their ignorance. I blame the lack of exposure; the lack of education.

I appreciated whole heartedly the open mindedness of these Texas kids. Their insightfulness was encouraging. Their acceptance of their peers was promising. I was grateful for the opportunity to see how far we have come since my high school days in the 80’s. It was amazing to listen to their tolerance and compassion. These kids are the future. They are willing and able to move us forward. Reach out to them.

Echo resides in northern New Jersey with her wife and the two youngest of their five children. You can visit her blog at

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