Living in boxes

I'm not talking about the kind of box I have between my thighs. I'm talking about boxes like gay or straight, femme or female. I'm talking about the kinds of boxes that encase our entire identity. I'm speaking of the boxes that are clearly labeled.

There's something appealing about having a very clearly defined sense of self. Once you're in a clearly labeled box, you can stack nicely with other boxes of the same label, that grants us a sense of belonging. You can be just one of the guys. You can be just one of the boxes.

Of course, all the other boxes are always trying to push their way to the center of the pile. They do this by telling you that you don't belong. It's a given that once you're stacked with the other boxes, you're going to have to defend your right to belong.

If you ever have seen a straight man being called gay by his friends, then you have probably seen a man defending his box. Men are always defending their heterosexual box. They drive big manly trucks, get angry, and push away sensitivity because it seems like it shouldn't fit in the heterosexual male box. It's really quite silly.

And yet, we see gays and lesbians defending their own boxes. A woman may decide to brush off a man because she identifies as a lesbian. Never mind that she may be attracted to this man. Getting in bed with a man wouldn't be a very lesbian thing to do, would it? So she plays it safe. She stays in her box. She doesn't test her boundaries. She'll spend so much time defending her box that she will never crawl outside of it.

This is when I start to hate boxes. I see them as a collection of walls. They don't just limit our current existence; they limit our ability to grow. Can you honestly say that you would like to go the rest of your life without ever growing as a person and redefining who you are? What if ten years ago you had decided never to grow or change again? I imagine your life wouldn't be as fulfilled as it could be.

As I transitioned from male to female, there were so many people both within the transgender community and without telling me how to be myself. I would hear comments on the way I walked. They would suggest how to make it more male or female, whichever label I was identifying with at the time.I had to shrug it all off. At some point I was forced to say to myself that I didn’t transition to be a man or a woman. I didn’t transition to find a more comfortable closet. I transitioned to be me.

Everyone should take time once in a while to just figure out what their boxes are, and abandon them. Tear down their walls. Give yourself more freedom. Being attracted to someone should never threaten your sense of self. If it does, then your sense of self is too clearly defined.

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