Transchildren: Under the Sorting Hat

Jan 24, 2009

Posted by abandonedboyjon

size=”3″>”I sometimes think we sort too soon.”

size=”3″>-Albus Dumbledore, “The Prince’s Tale’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


size=”3″>Me, too, Dumbledore, me, too.


size=”3″>The other day at work a customer called me “sir” then “ma’am” then, frustrated, threw his hands up in the air and said “I don’t know which.” I turned beet red and said nothing; not my usual tack, but I was surprised; most customers just ask my name and figure it out. Why did this guy even have to say “sir” or “ma’am”? Habit? Well, who could blame him for that. Humans have been sorting people since we had the brainpower to make categories and with most people being born with either male or female genitalia (and most intersexed people having been surgically put in one category or another from birth), gender is one of our favorite ways to categorize. In today’s modern world, we have blue for boys, pink for girls, different bathrooms, different schools, clubs, sports teams, movie marketing schemes, you name it.


size=”3″>It is my personal, and probably highly un-scientific, belief that the evolution of society is part of the larger evolution of man. I believe that great changes in social practices that were created to support biological structures, down to the very art of courting, and also the acceptance of gay and trans people, mark a return to a simpler idea of sex and sexuality (and gender as it relates) that we still find all around the animal kingdom. The spectrum of accepted sexual behavior for animals is much greater than in humans. I believe this is reflected in human history, since there are many ancient societies that not only accepted, but revered transgenderism, as I may have mentioned in previous blogs. So right now, today, the society we have just happens to be slow to accept, but that doesn’t mean that these things are unnatural and unable to be accepted by humanity. We all have that ability inside of us.


size=”3″>One of factors that has certainly slowed the progress and acceptance of the queer community is the fact that there is much gender and sexuality sorting from a young age. The idea of gay teens has thankfully come to be much more accepted in the last decade. High schools have Gay/Straight Alliance clubs and shows like Degrassi and Skins feature young gay characters. But even on those shows, which love pushing the envelope, I’m still waiting for a trans character. I think that has something to do with the fact that society still hasn’t figured out what to do with transchildren. A little while ago, my boss asked my opinion on this very subject to which I responded that if my child was trans, it would be a complete non-issue. I told her that I was not sure if I was ever going to be a parent, but that if I did become one someday, I had already decided on giving them gender non-specific names and possibly using either an alternate pronoun or both pronouns off and on. I told her I understood that even in 15 years, this might make my children the weird kids at school, but that I hoped to imbue them with a personal strength that would transcend that. Also, they’ll be the kids with the trans parent, so that might be a fait accompli. She made no secret that she thought that was crazy, but there’s no way in heck I’d ever be able to sort children like I was sorted. I just couldn’t do that to another human being.


size=”3″>Which brings me back to Dumbledore. Commenting on Snape’s bravery, he wonders if eleven is too young to decide what house someone is best suited for. It’s true, Snape would have made a great Gryffindor. He had that potential. But he also showed a Hufflepuff’s loyalty to Lily and certainly had the intelligence and skill to be a Ravenclaw. The Sorting Hat thought Slytherin would benefit him most and arguably, it damned him in the end since it was his connection with his fellow Slytherins and his particularly Slytherin personality traits that led him down the path to becoming a Death Eater. It was only when he began to work to make up for the mistake that cost Lily her life that he truly became the greatest version of himself, the person Harry would later describe as the bravest man he’d ever met. Of course, unlike transchildren, Snape wanted to be where the Sorting Hat sent him, which of course brings up the point of sorting and categories in the first place. Yesterday I was watching a Season 2 episode of Kyle XY, one of my favorite current shows, and Kyle said something that got me thinking: “People try to tell us who we’re meant to be, but it’s up to us to decide if the label fits.” I can live with things being that way for transgendered people now and I can deal with how things have gone for me in my life, and I can even proudly say that I’ve been challenged by this reality in a way that has made me come to realize the measure of my own emotional strength, but as there is no reason that I can see for these structures and walls that only seem to divide humanity, I have to ask: Why do we sort at all?



19 Responses to Transchildren: Under the Sorting Hat

Avatar Image says: I think that you pose a very important question. I'm often frustrated with such societal pressures. For instance, watching the new season of The Real World (I'll admit that I do watch it occasionally...) I couldn't believe the language that was being used to describe their transgendered roommate. Pronouns were especially confusing to them, but to me, I don't really understand where the confusion lies... Whatever a person identifies as, that is how they should be addressed. But, then again, why do we address at all? Why do we force our daughters to play with dolls and punish our sons for doing the same? Why can't they, too, learn to be good fathers? ... But I fear I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. A very intriguing and well-written post, Jon! It's been a pleasure to read, as always. Avatar Image says: thank you, kim, for the link and information. i always welcome that on qp! and G-86, i'm impressed with MTV a bit for making this season so heavy on the LGBT themes, its TIME. so, no, i don't think your getting ahead of yourself or anything else for that matter! i love what you said about daughters learning to be good fathers, it sounds like a song lyric. Avatar ImageTiahn says: Wow. This is really interesting, I love your outlook and point of veiw on the topic. I am currently studing a topic at school about this issue so I have to thankyou for suppling me with some insight.Avatar Imagecrimsoncobalt says: I think you come up with a very valid question, and I agree with above that it is very interesting to see your point of view on the topic. I am also studying this topic at the moment, so thank you. :)Avatar Imagehercurvestofear says: I found your post very interesting and must say I really agree with you. I am not Trans myself but have always felt that gender roles imposed upon children were restricting and wrong. If I were to ever have children I would not impose specific gender traits on them. I have always been very interested in Trans issues and have done my best since I was a teen running my school's Gay/Straight Alliance to educate myself and others on the issues Trans people face in our society. Honestly, my family thinks I am a bit weird cause I am so interested in it. Oh well! Avatar Imagehercurvestofear says: I found your post very interesting and must say I really agree with you. I am not Trans myself but have always felt that gender roles imposed upon children were restricting and wrong. If I were to ever have children I would not impose specific gender traits on them. I have always been very interested in Trans issues and have done my best since I was a teen running my school's Gay/Straight Alliance to educate myself and others on the issues Trans people face in our society. Honestly, my family thinks I am a bit weird cause I am so interested in it. Oh well! Avatar Imageshaidydreamer says: Terrific article! I'm so glad to see this sort of thing being brought up in the fandom, because their are so many relevant parts of the books that apply. Yay for discussing the T in LGBT!!!Avatar Imagelovestyle says: I'm glad it's more than just me seeing things like this. I think it's certainly human to categorize- by more than just sexuality or gender expression. Color of skin, religion, background, friends, preferences... you name it, people are categorizing. I think it makes some people feel safe. To create groups and categories means that a person will supposedly find their home in one of these groups and come to feel accepted- like they belong. It's those of us constantly questioning these boundaries that will come to understand that the truth, strength, and meaning of the categories created only goes so far as our minds will allow- those of us that would like remain ambiguous to all categories, I think, are the ones that will come to find out the most about ourselves in the long run. (: Questioning and pushing the envelope is the only way we can constantly move forward. It's fine to fit several places at once, or to not fit anywhere at all. The greatest form of security is always going to come from being able to accept yourself for who you are, no matter what others say, think, or feel.Avatar ImageMuggleQueen says: I have to confess: I hadn't read your blog until yesterday. But after reading this post I decided to go back and read all the others! This probably sounds really lame, but I just wanted you to know that you've opened up a whole new way of thinking about the HP series - I'd never thought too much about homosexuality while reading but now I realise there are hints at things such as the Dr/H relationship. So thank you for this, and I will definitely be following your blog in the future :)Avatar ImageThe-T-Dane says: I will never ever pretend or voice any knowledge of how it is to walk in your shoes, but I do know about labelling. By being handicapped physically I too experience some kind of labelling. For instance it's really to laugh (or else I would get aggressive) when some people bend over my chair and shouts! An electrical wheelchair (sporty scooter model) appearently have a very bad influence on the ability to hear! o.0 eh? And it's absolutely up to me to prove, that physical inabilities don't interphere with my intelligence - not that I always bother!!! So I was moved about your blog, because - I'm associating to the comment I just left in the blog about boys and learningabilities - I would love to have us all one day treated like individuals and not sorted into groups! I'm not sure tho' that I need to think much about preparing the party - 'cause the day sure seems far away, doesn't it? ~tAvatar Imagedead_not_sleeping says: good post! i have recommendations: first of all, there's this awesome book online called "lockpick pornography" that deals with a lot of lgbt issues because the main character is basically a gay terrorist. (it's kind of an "angry young man" book, but more "angry young gay man who believes that gender is a construct and kidnaps people" than most in that genre.) second of all, you might find the blog "gender 3.0" interesting. i like it a lot, even though i'm (gasp) sometimes more moderate in my views than the writer of the blog. of course, i might be being presumptuous and you've already heard of these. on to commenting about the post! i like your plans regarding children of your own. i would definitely discuss gender with my child starting when they were fairly young. at the very least, i want them to be a thinking person. and gender roles ("sorting") affects EVERYBODY, not just intersex or transgendered or gender-nonconforming people. so they would need to know that even if they were a boy (and, you know, cisgendered) they don't have to grow up to be macho, musclebound, and aggressive. and if they were a girl, they would need to know that being "pretty" is not a requirement for awesomeness (and being "feminine" is not a requirement for prettiness) and that they should *always* respect themselves, and require respect from others. i'm not raising any battered wives or emotionally stunted men if i can help it. plus, if they *do* turn out to be trans, they'll have known for a long time that they would have my full support, and i think that means a lot, if you know ahead of time that your parent is going to be behind you on something like that--something that perhaps *society* won't support you on. additionally: yeah, we should stop making such a deal out of what gender people are and start seeing them as people, rather than men and women. we also need to recognize that there's a lot bigger variety of personality types within the genders than are shown in movies and on tv. women onscreen so often seem one-dimensional, or just bland, or, while they may be complex, they fit into one of the three "types" of women that we usually see in the media. we've explored the diversity within the male gender in fiction a lot more than the diversity of women, i feel. and that's probably because a huge majority of main characters are men. people don't notice this enough. (although i would also say that men are restricted more by the standards of their gender roles than women are by theirs.) and there should DEFINITELY be more trans characters. i don't think shows should do it just to be pc though. i struggle with that kind of thing when i write my own stories: i want to be politically conscious, but i also want my characters to be organic and real, not just poster children of whatever minority group (asian immigrants, lesbians, interracial couples, etc). nonetheless, i am working on a vampire story where the main character is trans. the fact that he's trans adds to the other themes, though, so it's not just a superficial nod.Avatar ImageThe Silver Doe music says: Very interesting. I was introduced to this topic when I had to read a book called "She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders" and the author came to my college to speak. If you haven't read it, it's a great, intelligent view on the topic. I think it's a very difficult situation that unfortunately we're not very close to truly dealing with yet. Though it's good to know that we are making progress in other areas, such as homosexuality, so more may follow down the line. On a different note, Jon, I believe I had the pleasure of speaking to you awhile ago about possibly collaborating on some wizard rock. You should get back to that... I think you had some awesome songs.Avatar ImageTheCrogePodge says: Really interesting thoughts! I agree the society does put labels upon people, but I don't know if it's avoidable. Stereotyping is, of course, wrong, but people naturally try to sort somebody just to know how to act with them; we sort somebody into a position of authority and call them sir/ma'am, or, maybe in the case of a child, automatically treat them as less mature. This even happens in the animal kingdom: other animals are labeled as dangerous or prey or harmless, and it's how an animal would survive. That same quirk is in homo sapiens. If we can eventually stop automatically labelling people, that would be great, but I think it's too embedded in nature. Avatar ImageGarden State Geek says: To change the subject, I don't think Snape was damned by being sorted into Slytherin. Pre-Hogwarts, Snape was a damaged kid from a bad home who was teased mercilessly and driven to the dark arts. (Gosh that's a long sentence.) Avatar ImageGarden State Geek says: To change the subject, I don't think Snape was damned by being sorted into Slytherin. Pre-Hogwarts, Snape was a damaged kid from a bad home who was teased mercilessly and driven to the dark arts. (Gosh that's a long sentence.) Avatar Imagefuchsiarascal says: Very interesting post, this is the first time I've seen your blog and will be reading more. I just wanted to bring up a particular thing that people always seem to do. Although you're obviously for breaking the gender barriers, you refer to "gay and trans" people. The terms gay, bi, and even sometimes trans reinforces the idea that there are only two genders. There are many, many more than that, and many different types of sexuality than just attracted to one or two genders, so please keep this in mind. As a queer asexual, I often feel marginalized even by people who are against gender profiling, but still use those binary terms. Just something to keep in mind.Avatar ImageRobbie Rowe says: Wow. Deep man. Can't believe you think so much. Are you part of PotterCast??? Naaaah. He is too busy with the show for articles, I think.Avatar Imagepurplekim says: Too true! I am much saddened at the moment watching my sister and brother in law tie themselves in knots trying to deal with their four year old son who is adamant that his favourite colour is pink and that he wants to be a fairy (of the winged variety) when he grows up.Avatar Imageabandonedboyjon says: apologies, the second comments page was unable to beviewed until now. just wanted to say to Fuchsia, I understand your concerns about terminology, but, and I had hoped this had come across before, I use terms and labels out of necessity, and only then. of course I don't believe in binary gender as I am not someone who sees transitioing as a change from one thing to it's polar opposite. I believe in sexual and gender fluidity and freedom. and I feel free to mark myself as a transguy in light of that.

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