It’s hard enough trying to fit into society when you “meet societal norms,” but when people deem you as a “deviant” of these norms, the challenge of fitting in is amplified and made virtually impossible. This is the constant message expressed throughout most speakers at the “Gender Talk” performance: an overpowering sense of loss. But this sense of loss stemmed from the idea of being uncomfortable in your own body and the idea of contradictions.
Two of the speakers that would be defined, because of their biological sex, as “girls,” alluded to the idea of being trapped inside their bodies. While the first speaker wrote a song about losing a friend, the opening segment before the song mentioned the struggle of being transgendered. While she luckily had a great support system, it was evident in the opening lines that it had caused much pain and struggle. The second speaker was very explicit about the turmoil she faced inside her own body. She spoke about waking up some day and wishing she were a “guy”, but waking up other days and loving being a “woman.” It was this inner conflict coupled with the struggle to explain this to others that amounted to her sense of confusion. She mentioned the idea of having a “detachable penis” that could help her be a man or woman as she desired. These dilemmas show the fight for certain individuals to feel comfortable in their own bodies because of the definition of “normal” by others.
Along the line of inner turmoil arose the point of contradictions. Several speakers also made references to being walking contradictions. For example, one Hispanic speaker spoke of his contradictions as a Hispanic gay male. In a culture where they praise “machismo” and the guys are only supposed to act tough, he found himself “being pulled apart” by two conflicting attitudes in him instead of being in the “middle of a Venn diagram between Hispanic and gay.” Another poem expressed this idea and expressed the concept of being “part of a person, never a whole.”
Such an idea was also surfaced by one of the performers who ended with a question: “but will it ever be okay for boys to play with dolls? To dress up like princesses?” This proved the most provocative point of the night because I can’t pinpoint an answer because I don’t know. I don’t know if such a world can exist, wouldn’t that world then just be reaffirming gender binaries by proving boys can do what girls do and vice versa? The same set of words will be used and it’ll be just an assimilation of two groups but two groups nonetheless. But then again, if all gender identities were abandoned, even something as simple as referring to someone in a pronoun would become a difficult task. Our whole premise of what is what would change if we changed this gender binary, but then again it’s not like the world hasn’t changed before?