Raising Alpha

I learned recently of a young woman  who has changed her name to Thomas.

She told her family she feels like a man, and while she continues to wear her hair in a "girl" style, date a boy...her name is now legally Thomas. She is 19.

Wonder what that is all about?

Of course there are people who do genuinely feel they have been born into the wrong gender, and that is an entirely different topic. Not this one.

This person still retains her female anatomy, doesn't necessarily dress like a man and she is dating a boy. So I sense she hasn't quite made up her mind, and I'm wondering - probably, she is not alone. What in our culture creates this confusion?

Here is one theory: Alpha.

Girls who are alpha on the playground are usually the uber girlies. The ones with the pink bows.

In High School - we all remember what Alpha looked like there. Again, girly - unless it was the captain of the girls' basketball team, and she might be girly too. Alpha was about being popular, or pretty maybe more than about being powerful and brilliant.

We don't really get a lot of the Alpha = powerful and smart until later, maybe university and not really until the corporate world. And even there, it's still kind of a mixed bag.

As a roaring Alpha myself - I understand why this might "feel" mannish to some one younger, some one who hasn't flexed her muscles in a competitive corporate setting yet. In school, that's what boys do. Girls, not really, unless you count eyelashes as muscles.

Granted, I'm from the South and that's another planet but I'm seeing some of the same with my children. And fighting it.

How does this happen in 2011 that a young woman who is very smart and talented (and very pretty, by the way) feels powerless and mannish in her "girl" self, and the only way she can find at age 19 to express this is to change her name? and feel like a man? Does this mean that in a young woman's brain, powerful = male?

I don't have an easy answer, but I suspect it is something about looking all the way back to kindergarten and the behaviors we reward and encourage in both genders. Maybe this young woman is truly gender mis-aligned, sincerely, in her view and that's a hard path with a lot of bumps in it for anyone. Or maybe she's just looking for a way to express power, strength and intelligence and in her current cultural box, can't find one that isn't labelled "man".

I don't know but I'm sure going to think about it some more.



Jennifer Z.

Blogging on juggling rural New York home life with Manhattan worklife here at http://www.blogher.com/member/jenniferz 


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