I am a cisgender straight male.
I have exactly ZERO doubt about any of that.
I say that because it’s relevant to what I was thinking about today: understanding the myriad of sexualities and genders that people identify with. It’s always been a tough subject for me to wrap my head around, in part because of my complete self-realization of my own identity, and in part because of my lack of knowing enough people to really get a solid feel for the vastness of human experience.
Let’s start by discussing how I came to know exactly who and “what” I am.
It just happened.
That’s it. I have never once consciously stopped to think about my sexuality or gender. I have known since I was old enough to understand the concepts, that I am a straight male. I never had to question “am I gay?”. Not once. I doubtfully ever will. I simply know who I am, and how I identify. This was a natural occurrence that came with growing into who I am today. That said, no two people are alike, and there are various ways one can come to terms with who they are.
For some, it does indeed require questioning. It requires self-reflection to figure these things out. For others, it is something that simply comes to them naturally. This is a part of self-identification that goes far beyond just sexuality and gender. Any part of your personality, your being, who you are, comes up in these different ways.
I eventually came to realize why it was important for me to recognize my identity and also how I came to realize it. Because it helps me appreciate how other people come to that moment of self-recognition.
When it comes to, for the sake of basic conversation, homosexuality, (using this as an oft-brought up example, not the entire picture) there are those that believe it is a “choice”. I’m not here to argue that point (though it is not a choice), but am instead simply talking about how I came to recognize it isn’t my place to say it’s a choice. I didn’t “choose” to be any of what I am in terms of identity. Nor did any of the people who believe that it is a choice. So why would I ever believe that about someone else?
Self-realization has helped me open myself to different experiences. Equality and empathy are two things that have become an important part of my life now. And that’s come from accepting myself and how I came to be first and foremost.
Understanding of another person does not come from “putting yourself in their shoes” in the strictest sense. Instead, it’s from realizing that all our shoes are the same. That’s a corny metaphor, but it’s the basis of understanding. If I can be allowed to continue with it, I would say that instead of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, we simply realize that everyone’s shoes take them down different paths. At the end of the day, even those of us wired differently, identified differently, and personified differently, come from the same general pool of existence.
With that in mind, you simply have to look at how you came to identify yourself. The processes, be they conscious or naturally occurring, that led to your self-recognition. Once you accept and acknowledge that about yourself, you can appreciate that all around you generally come from the same processes. While some may do different things consciously and naturally, we all ultimately come to self-realization through universal means.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I wanted it to be a way to express why I care about problems that are “not white dude problems”. Why I do care about feminism and sexuality. Why I do associate with gender issues and equal representation. It’s because I understand that they are all part of the same self-realization process that I am. And that if I came to the realization I was different than what I am, in any way, shape, or form, that I simply wouldn’t want to have to be looked at as different.
We are who we are. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we accept that in others, the sooner we can get past this ignorance and blatant disregard for universal experience. However you came to your identity. However you came to realize and understand who you are. At the end of the day, you went through the same process as me. Maybe not following the same pattern, but reaching the same end result. So even if you’re trans, female, bisexual, whatever… you are, at the end of the day, a collection of processes and thoughts that mirror my own. And it was only in recognizing myself that I came to appreciate and respect that.
Be yourself. Because that’s all any of us can be.