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He, She, They, or Me: Defining My Gender Identity

It has been about 6 months since our lives were deeply affected by Covid-19, for some of us that could mean losing someone to the virus, to others it could mean fighting for the people and a better tomorrow. No matter how you’ve been spending this time we all have one similar thing in common: growth. Whether that’s growth in your beliefs, growth in your hair (referring to my article about my body hair), or growth as a person, we have all been unknowingly growing and evolving as a generation. For me, I’ve been becoming more outspoken about the change that I want to see in this world, making it clear that certain social constructs need to be torn down, becoming a better listener and learning about viewpoints and opinions that may differ from my own. And, most importantly, pinpointing exactly who I am and who I want to be. 

Which brings me to today’s topic at hand: my gender identity. Back in the time of segregation, JFK, and shoulder pads, gender was an either/or type situation, “You were born with lady parts so you’re obviously a lady,” “You were born with man parts so you’re obviously a man.” But then as time went on something changed, we began to provoke thought and soon enough we were granted a third option, non-binary or genderqueer. I thank whatever higher power that I was able to be born in a generation that is promoting change and evolution, but as human beings we have always had to evolve in order to survive and I for one want to be at the forefront of that evolution. As stated before, I have had a lot of time to grow on who I am, and everyday I am still learning new things about myself.

Growing up, you’re not really given an option to decide your gender, or at least I didn’t feel I was. I was given options of different versions of the type of girl that I could be: a tomboy, a girly girl, a geeky girl, an alternative girl. I actually went through all of those different phases of myself and never felt right in any of them until, I realized that the problem wasn’t the version themselves, but the fact that there was a need to add a gender label to them. I have always wanted to be defined by who I am rather than as solely a gender and, I’m not trying to say that my gender rules everything in my life but it is one of the more defining factors of it, the other being my status as a minority. And it’s funny because at this moment I remember a question that my father had asked me a long time ago. I was going through my tomboy phase, and I was ranting about why I thought boy’s clothes were more comfortable than girls’ and that’s when he had asked me, “So do you want to be a boy?” I’ll be honest I was shocked at first that he had asked me a question that seemingly had come out of nowhere. Of course because I didn't want him to get the wrong idea I quickly said no and tried my best to brush it off, but that question has always stayed with me and I truly can't remember if he was serious or not when asking it.

Now, looking back at it, I’m grateful that he was able to plant that seed of thought within my mind, it is one of many moments that helped me to further solidify my gender identity. I no longer feel a need to follow traditional gender binaries, but I’ve never felt more of a need to define it until now because of how I’m evolving as a person. I’m just me, no gender necessary; He, She, Them, call me whatever, because at the end of the day I will still be my unapologetically authentic self.

Karla is a 2021 cum laude graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Karla is originally from Maryland and is very proud of Karla's Afro-Latinx heritage. Karla is currently in pursuit of a career in TV/film acting, and Karla's dream role would be to portray a superhero. In Karla's free time Karla enjoys reading, watching Netflix (no chill necessary), and taking long walks on the metaphorical beach to universal equity.
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