March 8th was International Women’s Day, and the month of March is Women’s History Month. There is so much to unpack in regards to women’s issues, rights, and history, but I’m finding it hard to explore any of those angles when my own definition of what a woman is is changing. As a cis-gender white woman, I’ve taken the definition of “woman” at face value for most of my life (“an adult female person” Dictionary.com), but over the last few years, from life experiences and nationwide discussions on the topic, I find that definition changing.
There’s a little boy in my neighborhood who is very clear that he is a girl - that she is a girl - that she is a she. It was about a year ago when she first said she was a girl, and recently, she's started asking to be called “she” instead of “he”. Although she's 3 and it’s common for children at this age to get genders and pronouns mixed up, that’s not the case here. In fact, it’s a bit of the opposite. I don’t think I've ever heard her misgender anyone - she’s always been precise with her language. Instead of asking to be called “she” out of pronoun confusion, it seems that she's making this request because she has such a clear understanding of exactly how she feels and “he” just doesn’t fit anymore. It’s clarity, not confusion, that's driving her, and she’s beginning to ask the people around her to join her in that clarity.
A few months ago, I heard her say to her friend, “I’m just exactly what I need to be. I’m a girl.”
Since forever, women and girls have been told how they should look, how they should act, how they should be. Women’s History Month is, in part, a celebration of the audacity it’s taken to strip away some of those restrictive instructions. It's also a cataloging of the unfinished journey we’re on to craft a space for all woman to show up in exactly the way they want. I’m hopeful that there's room for someone like the little girl in my neighborhood to be welcomed into that journey. With awareness around gender identity broadening, our understanding of what it can mean to be a woman is deepening. Binaries soften, language becomes more precise and boundaries expand…but one things remains: solidarity. The womanhood that I want to be a part of - to enact - is one of expansion and not exclusion. The power of the female perspective can’t be overstated today, or any other day or month of any year. Though all of us at Nuu-Muu identify as cis-gendered white women, we celebrate and honor however femininity shows up, and its power to move us towards joy, towards strength, towards peace.
Today is Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31) and I'd be remiss if I didn’t mention that although the national dialogue around gender is deepening, there are currently more anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation being enacted than at any other time in our history (Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislature 2023). If you feel compelled, please consider supporting the LGBTQ community by donating to one of these organizations: