You could say I was raised with gender privilege. I was fortunate to have parents who let me be myself, and dress and play the way I desired, which veered towards the masculine. I have a photograph of myself at age 6 tearing around bare-chested on my tricycle, and did not realize until I was older that girls were expected to wear shirts. I never knew that I did not fit the feminine stereotype because of the acceptance I felt. And even though I grew up in the south, I managed to avoid discrimination, hate and fear. My friends were a hippie/music crowd, and very accepting.
It wasn’t until I became a mother at age 26 that I felt the pressure of gender roles as a woman. Suddenly my masculine appearance stood out in stark contrast to the other stay at home moms. I would overhear other children ask my girls if I was their Dad.
Being forced for the first time in my life to defend/ define my identity has only made me stronger. I have always felt strong. I have always had a deep voice. I have never liked pink. I have always looked handsome in a tie. I have always been me, but society is who has labeled these traits masculine. I have always just been me.