Ms Key grew up in a very conservative household and it wasn’t until a dramatic change of life in her late thirties that she realised just how sheltered she was. By being open-minded and determined to engage in robust, safe discussions with a diverse range of people, she is slowly educating herself on the complex nuances of modern life. This column is a safe place for people to ask those questions that they may not feel comfortable to otherwise discuss. There are no silly questions and nothing is taboo here. 


    Dear Ms Key,

    I think if myself as a pretty open-minded, educated, professional woman in my 50s but, I’ve got to say, negotiating my way through pro-nouns, gender-identity and sexualities without looking like a regressive luddite seems to be getting harder and harder these days. In my day (yes I say that now) the sexual revolution was all about actually enjoying sex and not being a baby-machine to some patriarchal system of repression, but all things sex and sexuality in the 2020s seem to have gone beyond just issues of equality and love. I have nothing against trans people but is it bigoted to think that you are the gender you are born with? 

    Eliane from Newport*


    Dear Eliane,

    What a wonderful subject to cover and fantastic questions posed!

    This is relatively new territory and can be very confusing for lots of people. The terms under which we define ourselves continue to grow and expand; just like the sexual revolution where both men and women were being given the freedom to explore their sexuality and discussing sex and all of its intricacies became less taboo and gay and lesbian people were becoming more accepted, this was, at its core, a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behaviour related to sexuality.

    Today those codes of behaviour and ‘status quo’ are being further challenged and expanded. People are feeling comfortable in our current, liberated space to be their authentic self. And for those who are not as fortunate as us and live in a much more conservative social construct, they are fighting for their rights to be who they truly are, just as you were part of a previous movement that fought!

    Gender has, up until recently, been completely binary. You are male or you are female, dependent on the reproductive organs you were born with. However, just like you and I may have the same natural hair colour – I prefer to dye mine blonde whereas you may feel your natural colour suits you best and makes you most comfortable. Just because we are born a certain way does not necessarily make it feel the most natural to us. I like to seriously think about what it must feel like to live in a body that has tits and holes and hips and is made for making babies and then imagine that it feels completely alien to me. Imagine how hard that must be each and every day to live in a physical form that doesn’t match the person you are inside. For the world to see you as something that doesn’t match who you really are. Let’s say for example you feel best when you are wearing dresses. This is comfortable to you, you are able to present to those at home and work and at the shopping centre as the person you feel you are. Then imagine you are forced to wear pants, shirt and a tie, have short hair and drive a ute (generalisation to the max here!). Would you feel comfortable presenting that way? Would you feel like your authentic self? Or would you feel constricted, miserable, self-conscious?

    This new wave of sexual liberation is nothing to be afraid of or to judge. We’re finally living in a world where people are free to be who they are and that should be celebrated! Don’t be afraid to ask people their preferred pronouns. Don’t be afraid of this change. You are given the freedom to be who you are, regardless of what is between your legs. It’s miraculous and look at it this way – if you hadn’t been part of the first sexual revolution – we wouldn’t be able to triumph as we are today! 

    Got a dicey question for our Twenty-first CenturyTaboo-trasher? Just email it to: – Attention: Ms Anne R. Key 

    *Identifying details changed for personal privacy. The views expressed are not necessarily that of The Westsider.

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