May. 5th, 2008 06:26 pm
pandora_parrot: (anger)
Ray Blanchard is going to be one of two folks heading up the gender identity section of the DSM-V. He's a REAL winner. Apparently, he at least on some level sees transsexuality as equivalent to sex offenses, which really freaks me out, since my therapist in Cleveland dealt with trans-folk and sex offenders. Nice! The connection never even occurred to me. *splat*

*groans miserably*

There's something rather creepy about the idea that all these folks, mostly male it seems, are getting together to discuss, in some fashion, what I (and others like me) should and should not do with my body. And based on what I want to do, assigning me a label designating me as having some sort of pathological problem.

Yay. So this is what it feels like to be in a minority group. And I hear that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I haven't even been assaulted or lost a job for being trans yet. oooh, yay. :(
pandora_parrot: (trans activism)
Aaaaahhh... Male and female... so simple. So nice! Such nice categories to divide people up into.

Oh wait. We have folks that have ambiguous genitalia. Okay. So physical sex is more along a spectrum, then, I guess...

But male and female, they're still a nice happy binary concept. Nice feminine-looking women with breasts and hips and long hair and nice masculine-looking men with short hair and beards and...

What's that you say? Women get facial hair? Men get boobs sometimes? Hips and... fuck. Okay, so secondary sex characteristics are not distributed into two absolute categories...

But there's still a way to tell who's male and who's female, right? How they behave! Men are all tough and masculine and shit while women are all feminine and soft and stuff.

Wait... You're telling me that there are feminine men and masculine women? Shit. Okay... So behavior is not binary. It's more of a spectrum of behavior across men and women.

But we still have men and women. Two nice neat categories to divide everyone up into. Men in their handsome suits and pants, women in their nice pretty skirts!

What? Men wear pretty skirts and women wear suits and pants? Mother-... Okay So gender presentation isn't tied to gender. It's more distributed amongst all people in varying degrees.

So physical sex, secondary sex characteristics, gender behavior, and gender presentation are all spectrum-y and can't be declared to be the scope of only men or only women. But surely their IDENTITY is something we can use to declare someone as woman or man, right?

*blinks* Right... So people sometimes identify as neither, both, or androgynous? Some people change their identity throughout their life? Gender identity isn't binary?!

Fuck it all, I'm going to bed.
pandora_parrot: (transgender)
Continuing, repeating, and building on much of what I've written in the past.

Read more... )


Sep. 19th, 2007 05:42 pm
pandora_parrot: (transgender)
As I've been contemplating gender identity... I've been noting that "female-ish" or "female-esque" seems to fit my gender ID fairly well. :)
pandora_parrot: (GLBTQ)
Brain excrement resulting from this comment. There may be a point here or not. I'm just musing.

I've got a few beefs with the definitions of the terms "male" and "female." I invite you to contribute to this. :)

When a person uses the term "male" or "female" to refer to someone, they are generally not referring to an experience of someone's genitalia or chromosomes. They are referring to their experience of a person based on cultural norms and secondary sex characteristics. I.e. clothing, hair style, breast size, height, voice, facial shape, name, etc.

Yes, there are assumptions made connecting a person's gender experience with a person's genitalia and chromosomes. Most people make the assumption that if they experience a person as "male" then that person has a fully functional penis and testicles, XY chromosomes, etc.. They will assume that a person they experience as "female" has a vagina, a functional uterus, ovaries, XX chromosomes, etc. Is this generally the case? Perhaps. But the reality of the situation is that this is not always the case. In fact, it is not the case in a non-trivial portion of the population. Trans-people and intersex people make up a large portion of this group. Androgynous people and cross-dressers make up another large portion, I would imagine.

I question the use of "male" and "female" as terms to define both gender and sex. BOTH concepts seem a hell of a lot more fluid than we'd like to believe, as a society.

When you're born, you're assigned a gender based on a brief survey of your primary sex characteristics. In most cases, very little research is done beyond this to identify precisely where your sex and gender lie in terms of the many many other characteristics associated with gender and sex.

(An aside. It really bugs me that I'm programmed to always refer to a male first when saying things like "him and her" or "male and female." It feels awkward and strange to say it the other way around. Urk.)

So getting back to my point-less musings... We've totally smooshed together primary sex characteristics with social gender roles and secondary sex characteristics, when these things don't always have anything to do with one another. Certainly, gender roles are almost completely based on social expectations, if not totally based on such.

I want the smooshing to end. I say that I was assigned male at birth, with the implication that doing so was a poor decision to have made. Let me state that again: I was assigned "male," meaning that I was expected to have a full set of all the characteristics associated with being a "male" in this culture. That never happened. My voice didn't start sounding even remotely male until years after it "should" have. My strength never matched a "male's" strength. My personality has never meshed with what "men" should be. Was all that because I'm trans? No. That's just because I'm human, and human beings don't fit into this nice neat boxes of "male" and "female." To assign someone an entire life of expectations, both physical and social, based on a brief survey of primary sex characteristics, when those do not happen consistently for all people, is absolutely absurd.

Okay... Can I make a point, here? hmmm... Let me try: What I'm advocating is a change in the terminology we use to refer to both gender and sex. Stop using "female" and "male" to refer to a BOTH the gender AND the sex of a person. Use it for one or the other, preferably gender, because, as I was ranting about above, that's what people ACTUALLY use it to refer to. They only make assumptions that the "sex" of a person completely matches the gender they perceive. When referring to sex, since we're only REALLY concerned about it in a medical capacity, let's just refer to reproductive, chromosomal, and endocrinal(sp?) aspects of a person. "This person has a penis and is capable of producing virile sperm." "This person has XX chromosomes" "This person has a high level of testosterone." "This person and this person can reproduce"

I wonder if that actually makes any sense and if a society using such a concept would work. Of course, our society is built on the idea that everyone out there is a perfect little "heterosexual female" or "heterosexual male," and anyone else is a freak to be destroyed or corrected. I see the GLBT and feminist movements as basically attacking the core of those assumptions and demanding equal acknowledgment of the whole diversity of humanity, instead of just this magic little perfect gender/sex boxes.

Well... That's the end of my musings. I hope some of it actually made sense. Disclaimer: Since this was a musing and not an argument, not all of this may be well reasoned or well thought out. :)
pandora_parrot: (geek)
Isn't it interesting that people don't actually look at a person's gender. Instead, they cache the gender of the person they analyze and then move on. I've noticed this with people, and with stories I've read.

Basically, it appears to be the case that whenever a person interacts with someone else, they analyze and then store a lot of information about the other individual. On subsequent interactions, or even later in that same interaction, if they need to call up that information, they simply look at the stored data, instead of reanalyzing the individual. People appear to do this with gender a LOT a LOT!

For example... I read this story about a trans woman that walked up to a counter twice, with different individuals running the counter both times. Both times she was dressed the same. Both times she walked up to the counter, put her credit card down, and asked to purchase the items she had. The first time, the clerk was looking down, so the first bits of data the clerk received were "big hands", "deep voice", and "male name on credit card" She looked up and said "No problem, sir." The second time, the clerk was looking up, and the first bits of data she received were "female face," "female clothing," "breasts" "make-up" whatever... Her response this time... "No problem, ma'am."

Same event. Same data present in both cases. All that changed was the order in which the information was received. It appears that after the gender analysis had come to a conclusion, the analysis stopped and the gender was placed into the cache. Even though there was more data to be evaluated, it was ignored in the face of the cached data, much as your web brower ignores new web pages when it is set to load from the cache.

We see this constantly with family and friends, as well. People that knew us before transition have trouble seeing us as our "new" gender, because they have already evaluated our gender and have cached the information. Similarly, people that met us after transition find it similarly difficult to see us as our "original" gender, for the same reason.

It really is quite fascinating, ya know?

btw: the idea of this came from something [livejournal.com profile] ubiquity said to me once. :)
pandora_parrot: (GLBTQ)
I love these posters

This site for the Gender PAC, is awesome, as well... They have some great articles on there about gender stereotyping.


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