Watch your language

  1. Prompted by 4thWave and including quotes from my own daughter,  i am posting to consider the role of language used by and with young people. The nature of the blog means it is largely directed at girls declaring themselves boys. Teens love labels to make sense of the world and their place in it. Hence as adults we are just adults but young people get to be ‘ Hippies, Goths, Punks,Skators, before we go near the more derogatory class based badges of dishonour such as Chav’. Teenagers are all or nothing, hence, vegetarian in May will suddenly complain on November, ‘the meats too thin’ having abandoned her diet when a chicken nugget tempted her at a birthday party the day before. Red heels get flung out in favour of DMs when Goth is embraced and a uniform of hippy chic is essential for a music festival. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if instead of ‘transgender’ tumblr had run with ‘Gender Defiant’? Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue so maybe gender rebel, genbens, or andro, perhaps Joanies as reference to that historic Gender rebel , Joan of Arc. Pretty sure better titles are out there. Am I missing something when I look but do not find the music scene, fashion and tabloids awash with this phenomenon as the latest new thing. Why are TV presenters still in tight dresses, winter tans and long locks? Don’t  they want to ‘get down with you youth’?  Somehow the idea that experimentation with a look is temporary, fun and empowering has been lost in the language of medicalisation, diagnosis and the mistaken belief that a check shirt at seventeen will make a lumberjack by twenty. I could speculate media panic, more demanding teens, availability of drugs, anxious parents rushing to ‘professionals’ who will give a solution worthy of their profession – a GP drugs, a counsellor – a diagnosis and so on. Perhaps the visual vain world we live in precludes anyone in the public eye from abandoning their carefully cultivated sexual allure for the uniform of androgyny. Is it the individuals or the media machine preventing anyone female appearing without make up? I have commented on this before but no one claimed Annie Lennox was male because her look was a suit and short hair. My fear is the language we use combined with the teenage reactionary emotional immaturity, coupled with a desire for extremes, is pushing a playful preoccupation toward a permanent medicalised state. If I turned up at my GP wishing for hormones and surgery to return my mature self to pre pubescent childhood I would be refused. If I requested the same to be fast forwarded to an elderly state I would equally be refused. No one would accuse the GP of ageism. It is not phobic anything to say to children, dress how you like but your body and biology is not in conflict with your brain. Reject as many social mores as you like,  your behaviour and attitudes do not determine your sex. Enjoy the freedom to express yourself but do not call me a cruel bigot if I equally express my understanding of you as daughter, sister, grand daughter. I am glad you are not anorexic, not sexting boys, not cutting in despair at your ‘lack of chest area’.. But I wish you would find a better word to describe the reaction to ‘how hard it is to be a girl’ than Transgender. Because after sixteen years of pink, dresses, dolls, make up, heels, barbies, you are not genuinely wishing to be boy. What you are is a girl wishing for a different way to be a girl from the images that surround you. To all such girls and their families, you have brave confident daughters, but they are not ill, at least not until the professionals and panicking adults make them.

 

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