….of the human lifespan, that is.
Before puberty, say, up to maybe 8 or 9, children are all pretty. For some reason the romantic trope favors girls dressing as boys; I can’t think of a kid’s book or story —at least no classic ones; I’m not familiar with what they may be reading at Drag Queen Story Hour these days—where little Johnny changes his life by dressing up as Jenny and hiding out in ….idk, a nunnery or sump’n. (Wait, Sebastian Barry’s “Days Without End” comes close to being Huck Finn for trannys, but it ain’t no kid’s book).Heroes don’t go “down among the women” nor even among the girls, or if they have to, like Ulysses, the female name they took is veiled in darkest secrecy.
But my point is, boys easily COULD pass as girls, before sexual dimorphism kicks in.
And then again at the end, when sexual dimorphism kicks, or bows, OUT, the two sexes become indistinguishable again. Just like we only know what sex a baby is if he or she is dressed in gender specific clothing, so it is in the senior living facilities. Keep the old guy’s hair short, and the women’s fluffy and somewhat coiffed, let ‘em wear the age appropriate clothing for each—tan support hose and flowery fabrics ladies, dark sweaters and trousers, maybe suspenders, for the gents. And of course those sturdy slightly high-heeled oxfords for the ladies,
If they—we— are not dressed, lying disheveled in bed for instance, you really couldn’t tell the sex, less’n you peek under the covers. Oh the:men are sometimes still of slightly bigger frame, though not as tall as they were in their prime. But the soft, velvety loosely folded skin of the very old is unisex. I reckon the gents would still grow facial hair, but then, so would some of the ladies….gents may be bald, but it takes a skilled hairdresser to create the illusion of volume on some of the female pates as well.
Why’ nt we have any stories about an old woman escaping her nursing home or worse, by cutting her hair and passing as an old man?
Marilynne Robinson has one of her characters, in the process of being rapidly overcome by the weakness of age, remark:”Adulthood is a wonderful thing”. During both juvenescence and senescence, we are fungible and powerless, and an emblem of those conditions is the as-yet, or yet-again, diminishment of our secondary sexual characteristics. Those make us who we are, in the halcyon period when we possess the world.
Now, people seek to delay puberty at the beginning of life, but at the other end we still insist that the old wear some emblem of their former gender-specific status. Or we assume we all would/will want to do so.
If androgynous appearance in childhood is attractive, why do we find it ….repulsive? unseemly, at least—in the old?