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The T In Me: Living The Gender Binary

by Jay Morris on April 21, 2011

in Jay Morris,Op-Ed

Post image for The T In Me: Living The Gender Binary

J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons’ painting her son’s toenails pink has sparked outrage from the Right and a challenge from the Left. Writer Jay Morris explains.

Long before I was a sexual being, I was a “gendered” being. Right out of the womb, the doctor declared, “It’s a boy,” forever solidifying my role in American culture as someone who will prefer the color blue over the color pink, militant looking toys to long-haired dolls and hard lineless clothing to the softer wears of those declared “girls.” I wasn’t asked my preferences, but instead those preferences were assigned to me along with my gender marker.

But as I grew from an infant to a toddler, it was clear I had preferences that were considered feminine. I loved having my nails painted and my mother would oblige occasionally, but insisted the polish be removed only moments after its application.


Some boys like pink, some girls don’t. Get over it.


By kindergarten, it was apparent that I was gender variant. I loved playing house and preferred an Easy Bake Oven to playing cowboys and Indians. It didn’t take long to learn that this variance was unacceptable by society’s standards. Boys were to like certain things, girls were to like certain other things – the line in the sand was drawn. I did what most any child would do in the same situation and overcompensated to prove myself as a man. I got into fist fights, started riding a BMX bike and secretly pretended that my Heman figures were Barbie dolls and Wonder Woman.

Middle school was torturous. The overcharged violence I had in my younger days wouldn’t work anymore. I was larger than most kids, but ran and hit “like a girl.” Because of my height, the pressure to play sports was immense, but I hated sports. That earned me the label “f@g” to my classmates, yet I still wasn’t a sexual being. They were attacking me for being gender variant, not for being a homosexual – after all, I was still a virgin and only just starting puberty. Thus, it seems that the root of homophobia lies within the gender binary created by society – boys like blue, girls like pink; boys don’t like boys, girls don’t like girls.

Eventually, I grew up to be the cisgendered gay man I am today, with plenty of gender variance remaining.

As a result of my fear of disappointing society, I didn’t have the childhood I would have preferred to have had.

Thus, when I learned of the photograph featuring J. Crew’s Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, embracing her son’s preferences toward the color pink and painting his toenails, I applauded her. She is giving him the childhood he wants to have, rather than the childhood society expects him to have.

READ: “Fox News Attacks J. Crew President For Ad With Son’s Toenails Pink

In support of Jenna and to further illustrate the ridiculousness of the gender binary, on Friday, April 22, 2011, I will be joining countless others and painting my nails pink.

Some boys like pink, some girls don’t. Get over it.



Jay Morris is a
State Lead for, a founding member of the Direct Action Network San Antonio, a writer for Ignite San Antonio Magazine, and blogger at You can find him posting randomness on Twitter or engage him in conversation on Facebook.

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{ 1 comment }

Drew April 21, 2011 at 11:07 am


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