An Award for Being Herself

If I had remained invisible the truth would stay hidden and I couldn’t allow that ~ Lana Wachowski /Cloud Atlas

One of the most basic assumptions in this life as a humans is this binary opposition thing we call boy and girl.  We take it for granted.  When our children are born, they are immediately gendered, swathed in either pink or blue to give the world a signal for how they should be interacted with.  The dreams we have for our children are intricately  tied to their gender.  We put  tutus on two month old girls and baseball caps on six week old boys.  We are offended if someone thinks our child is the opposite gender and we are quick to provide excuses like “her hair is so fair she just looks bald.”

When our children are in kindergarten or earlier, they learn which bathroom they should use and immediately feel the need to comfortably put people into one category or another.  And when they can’t, they feel the need to inquire.  “Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?”  Because we teach them there is boy and girl and nothing in between and that girls can’t be boys and boys can’t be girls.

When I was pregnant with my first born and people would ask me what gender my child was, I would often say “I know this baby has a penis, but I have no idea what gender it is.  I suppose I’ll find out.”  People thought I was off my rocker.  That same child asked me once if someone was a boy or a girl and that was my cue to teach him about transgender.  I asked him what kind of body he has and how he feels inside.  He told me that he has a boy’s body and that inside himself he feels like a boy.  He knows that others don’t always feel the same way, that some people’s bodies don’t match how they feel inside themselves.  He has listened with me to Chaz Bono being interviewed on CBC and last night we both watched Lana Wachowski’s fantastic acceptance speech after she won the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award.

 Today Lana and her brother, Andy, celebrate the release of Cloud Atlas.  But, as LGBT History Month comes to a close, this acclaimed director of the Matrix trilogy opens up about her journey as a transgendered woman.  Historically, she and her brother have refused media coverage and have pushed to be in the spot light as little as possible.  This is not because Lana is transgendered, it’s because they are private people.  And, it takes guts for a private person to be public.  In my mind, the most remarkable part of her ‘coming out’ is the very act of saying who she is.  She says, “so, I’m at my haridressers … He’s gay, go figure.  And he’s asking me about this event and I say ‘yeah, the HRC wants to give me an award’.”  “Ah, really,” he says, “an award for what?”  I say, “well, I guess kind of for being myself.”  

She ends by thanking her wife, family, friends and the HRC and saying that “this world that we imagine in this room might be used to gain access to other rooms, to other worlds previously unimaginable.”

 I’m pretty sure that neither of my sons is transgendered, but I want them to grow up in a world where there is access to other rooms, to rooms that hold possibility and understanding and acceptance and celebration.  I want them to know that when it comes to this binary opposition thing we call boy and girl, there are no assumptions.


Further Reading:

The University of Victoria has the largest Transgender Archive in the world

LGBT History Month


Lana Wachowski’s inspiring acceptance speech


Photo Credit:

Microsoft Images

Recent Christine Shaw Roome Articles:

  • Becoming Me
  • An Award for Being Herself
  • World’s Smallest Book
  • Giving up My Birthday for Water
  • International Women’s Day 2012: Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.

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