Transgender and gender roles

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

So, I was browsing stuff to do with gender issues recently (as you do; my friends call me "Oracle" because I always research a variety of things, and then suddenly come out with loads of stuff in my A-Level Sociology class), and there was this article on Jezebel about this 11-year-old transgender girl named Jazz doing a documentary or something. Some of you may have heard it already, and this happened last year - that's not the focus of discussion, however.

Someone made this comment:

person:
I also question how many of transgender experiences would be different if we didn't have such a strong binary that is based, in large part, of physicality. If we accepted gender as a social construct having nothing to do with anatomy, would transgender people still feel physically inadequate with the genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics they have? Could they accept being a woman with a penis? A man with a vagina and breasts? Could we have the emergence of third, fourth, etc. gender identities? Maybe it wouldn't change a lick, but who's to say?

Which made me wonder. This isn't denying gender dysphoria, or anything like that, but I wonder how their experiences towards their situation and decision to, or not to, undergo surgery would change if we just did away with such strong gender roles. Perhaps we'd have more transgender people choosing to not undergo surgery to have the genitalia of their identified gender. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that, nor am I trying to deny the nature of their situation via some "nurture over nature" argrument or whatever...

Anyway, discuss.

Personally...I'm not transgender. Not that I have to be to make a topic about this, though. But I never thought that much about my "maleness" until now. I mean, I have a dick, probably mostly male chromosomes, and everything, and I like what may be considered stereotypically "male" things, such as video games and comic books. And I'm predominantly heterosexual, i.e. attracted to females. And I guess my thought process is "male" too (still thinking about how "male" and how "female" brains can be different, yet both males and females are still just as human as each other). People treat me as a male, and I treat myself as one too. But I guess I wouldn't say no to...branching out a bit. Like, in terms of clothes. Perhaps, even in just an effort of trying to even more understand the experiences of the opposite sex. *shrugs* That's it, really.

So what are your thoughts on this whole can of worms I may've opened?

My thoughts are that I hope this doesn't turn into a flame war.

I don't believe there should really be anything that's stereotypically "male" or "female". As far as gender as a social construct goes, though, it's a bit hard to change that at this point. Unless you're going to refer to everyone with gender-neutral nouns, it's a bit difficult to avoid associating certain physiques or styles with certain genders. I see someone with a thick beard and broad shoulders, I'm going to associate them as being "male", generally speaking. It may be wrong, but it's what society has ingrained in most of us.

But as far as habits and hobbies go, I think any gender-related stigma attached to them should go away. Who the hell should care if I prefer musical theater to sports? Why is it "wrong" of me to only like cocktails, instead of hard liquor? What's the issue with a guy having long hair, or thinking that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is an adorable girl who makes really catchy pop music? Sure, it's getting better, but you wouldn't believe some of the looks you could get as a straight male who says he's going to go see Les Miserables. Maybe that's just where I live, though.

Hmm... That is an interesting thought. I suppose it could work out like that, but I am not sure that gender dysphoria works that way. From what I understand, there is the feeling of being trapped in one's body. You don't just feel you are a girl, you feel you are a girl trapped in a man's body, or something to that effect. I am unconvinced the removal of gender roles would change that feeling. It would just mean they would still wear pants after the surgery. :\

Relish in Chaos:
This isn't denying gender dysphoria, or anything like that, but I wonder how their experiences towards their situation and decision to, or not to, undergo surgery would change if we just did away with such strong gender roles.

I don't think it would change, no.

It's the same as when a woman with genuinely small breasts goes for breast implant surgery.
It doesn't matter how many people tell her she looks fine, or the fact that she can wear padding in her clothing, ... when she looks in the mirror she wants to see breasts that SHE'S happy with.

It would be the same with genitalia in people that believe they have the wrong genitals. They want to see the 'correct' genitals on themselves when they look in the mirror.

BreakfastMan:
Hmm... That is an interesting thought. I suppose it could work out like that, but I am not sure that gender dysphoria works that way. From what I understand, there is the feeling of being trapped in one's body. You don't just feel you are a girl, you feel you are a girl trapped in a man's body, or something to that effect. I am unconvinced the removal of gender roles would change that feeling. It would just mean they would still wear pants after the surgery. :\

Yeah, I'm not saying that gender dysphoria itself is due to social environment rather than something that's just in you. I was talking about how societal perceptions on gender roles may affect a transgender person's decision to get surgery. Some are perfectly happy remaining with the genitalia they were born with, even if that genitalia would be classed as their identified gender's opposite sex organ, while others feel a requirement for the surgery to feel "complete".

By the way, I'm only referring to genital surgery here, not hormone therapy. As far as I know, most transgender people need hormone therapy at the very least. I mean, I can't imagine how annoying it would be for, say, a trans man to have to strap down his breasts for the rest of his life when, if he had the money, he could just get them removed.

Relish in Chaos:

BreakfastMan:
Hmm... That is an interesting thought. I suppose it could work out like that, but I am not sure that gender dysphoria works that way. From what I understand, there is the feeling of being trapped in one's body. You don't just feel you are a girl, you feel you are a girl trapped in a man's body, or something to that effect. I am unconvinced the removal of gender roles would change that feeling. It would just mean they would still wear pants after the surgery. :\

Yeah, I'm not saying that gender dysphoria itself is due to social environment rather than something that's just in you. I was talking about how societal perceptions on gender roles may affect a transgender person's decision to get surgery. Some are perfectly happy remaining with the genitalia they were born with, even if that genitalia would be classed as their identified gender's opposite sex organ, while others feel a requirement for the surgery to feel "complete".

Oh, I get what you are saying, I just don't think it matters. If someone feels they are in the wrong body, they feel they are in the wrong body, and no amount of social changes will change that. And, if they feel they are in the wrong body, they will want to get in what they feel is the right one. It isn't just about society, is what I am getting at, it is how they feel psychically. They feel that there is something wrong with them having a penis or a vagina.

BreakfastMan:
Hmm... That is an interesting thought. I suppose it could work out like that, but I am not sure that gender dysphoria works that way. From what I understand, there is the feeling of being trapped in one's body. You don't just feel you are a girl, you feel you are a girl trapped in a man's body, or something to that effect. I am unconvinced the removal of gender roles would change that feeling. It would just mean they would still wear pants after the surgery. :\

Speaking as one of the few Transgender people around here, this guy hit the nail right on the head. Growing up I was easily hidden among my peers because of my interests: typically male-dominated fields of interest like games, automobiles, weaponry, and computers. I played with legos instead of dolls, and generally speaking I was able to act my way through school without breaking cover. No matter what though something always felt very wrong: something not with what was outside, but rather inside. Sure a part of it was from outside influences, but not as large of one as some might think. Most of it is internal: the body feels physically incorrect: movement is awkward, and the areas that the brain is programmed to work with follow a different blueprint than the body: it's like if someone designed an engine specifically for one car and someone else threw it into one that the engine is incompatible with: it screws with everything.

If you have any more questions about us, I'll try to answer them as best I can: just keep in mind that I can't speak on behalf of all transgendered people, but I can offer something of an inside perspective.

Nope, surgery is still number one goal in my life at this point. with 40 staring me down in a few short months time is slipping away from me faster than I had hoped. GRS is thee single most important thing I can do for myself before I die.

Relish in Chaos:
Could they accept being a woman with a penis? A man with a vagina and breasts?

Already happens. There are (and I know) some transwomen who are fine with their penises, and some who don't (like me) and get surgery.

The social aspect just makes it harder, it can't get rid of the need.

shrekfan246:
My thoughts are that I hope this doesn't turn into a flame war.

Seconded.

I won't lie, I don't see how anyone can care about what genitals they have as long as they're functional. They have nothing to do with the person you are. I realise I'm probably being ignorant but I just don't understand.

manic_depressive13:
I won't lie, I don't see how anyone can care about what genitals they have as long as they're functional. They have nothing to do with the person you are. I realise I'm probably being ignorant but I just don't understand.

At least for me, it's a sense of completeness. I was born a man, but i have, since age 5, that i was a girl. I'd just like to 100% feel and look on the outside how i have felt on the inside for 35 years.

Beautiful Tragedy:

manic_depressive13:
I won't lie, I don't see how anyone can care about what genitals they have as long as they're functional. They have nothing to do with the person you are. I realise I'm probably being ignorant but I just don't understand.

At least for me, it's a sense of completeness. I was born a man, but i have, since age 5, that i was a girl. I'd just like to 100% feel and look on the outside how i have felt on the inside for 35 years.

Seconded. I may be half her age, but yeah, same situation here. Plus I'd like to travel via airliner without drawing any "special attention", if you know what I mean.

Beautiful Tragedy:
At least for me, it's a sense of completeness. I was born a man, but i have, since age 5, that i was a girl. I'd just like to 100% feel and look on the outside how i have felt on the inside for 35 years.

That's what baffles me. I don't know what it feels like to feel like a girl. I currently have a female body, but if I woke up tomorrow and had a male body I would of course be surprised, but then I would continue my life as if very little had changed- because in reality very little would have changed. I mean, they're just genitals, aren't they?

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me.

Transgender is a difficult subject. It is easy to assume most people feel a similar feeling on the subject, but really transgender is a very vague description and there are many types of trans that feel very different about themselves and other such subjects on this matter.

I certainly agree that if society had a much more positive outlook on transgendered people, many trans people might not take the same approach to their personal situation that they are taking in our current time. This isn't going to be true for everyone however, most transgendered feels differently about their bodies and what path they want to take in their life. Regardless of what our society labels as gender roles, we can't escape the fact that there are one of two physical genders our bodies get as we develop in the womb.

Therefore I think regardless of society's gender labels there will always be sex reassignment surgery, we can only hope that the transition will become much easier as technology advances.

I am transgendered myself.

manic_depressive13:

Beautiful Tragedy:
At least for me, it's a sense of completeness. I was born a man, but i have, since age 5, that i was a girl. I'd just like to 100% feel and look on the outside how i have felt on the inside for 35 years.

That's what baffles me. I don't know what it feels like to feel like a girl. I currently have a female body, but if I woke up tomorrow and had a male body I would of course be surprised, but then I would continue my life as if very little had changed- because in reality very little would have changed. I mean, they're just genitals, aren't they?

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me.

yes, they are JUST genitals... but think of it this way if you woke up tomorrow without a vagina, but not a penis either...would you feel (at least physically) incomplete? Maybe that's not the best way to explain it, but it's how i feel. I am physically incomplete. I don't NEED a vagina to be happy, but i'd like to look, and feel (physically) like a woman. It's not even a little bit about sex, but being intimate would be a bit easier if i had the right parts.

an annoyed writer:
Seconded. I may be half her age, but yeah, same situation here. Plus I'd like to travel via airliner without drawing any "special attention", if you know what I mean.

this is why i won't fly...at least for now.

Beautiful Tragedy:
yes, they are JUST genitals... but think of it this way if you woke up tomorrow without a vagina, but not a penis either...would you feel (at least physically) incomplete? Maybe that's not the best way to explain it, but it's how i feel. I am physically incomplete. I don't NEED a vagina to be happy, but i'd like to look, and feel (physically) like a woman. It's not even a little bit about sex, but being intimate would be a bit easier if i had the right parts.

Putting that way actually helped a lot. Thank you, I think I'm starting to understand.

manic_depressive13:

Beautiful Tragedy:
yes, they are JUST genitals... but think of it this way if you woke up tomorrow without a vagina, but not a penis either...would you feel (at least physically) incomplete? Maybe that's not the best way to explain it, but it's how i feel. I am physically incomplete. I don't NEED a vagina to be happy, but i'd like to look, and feel (physically) like a woman. It's not even a little bit about sex, but being intimate would be a bit easier if i had the right parts.

Putting that way actually helped a lot. Thank you, I think I'm starting to understand.

Thank you for being understanding. Many just try and play target practice with our emotions rather than trying to get to know why we are the way we are.

manic_depressive13:

Beautiful Tragedy:
yes, they are JUST genitals... but think of it this way if you woke up tomorrow without a vagina, but not a penis either...would you feel (at least physically) incomplete? Maybe that's not the best way to explain it, but it's how i feel. I am physically incomplete. I don't NEED a vagina to be happy, but i'd like to look, and feel (physically) like a woman. It's not even a little bit about sex, but being intimate would be a bit easier if i had the right parts.

Putting that way actually helped a lot. Thank you, I think I'm starting to understand.

I am always happy to try and help people understand as long as they have an open mind. I am an open book, I enjoy sharing my story if it will help in some minuscule way.

i personally don't see much of an issue at all in any side of the debate
as long as you and your partner are happy with whatever junk you are rocking the world should just leave you the fuck alone
but then on the flip side of the coin i don't see why women would want breast enlargement since they should be happy with what they have

lechat:
i personally don't see much of an issue at all in any side of the debate
as long as you and your partner are happy with whatever junk you are rocking the world should just leave you the fuck alone

Why?

I mean, I can understand reasons why someone would want not to change their body. I have scars across my back that I've chosen not to get address by plastic surgery because ugly though they may be, they say something about who I am and where I've been. But why should someone else be bound by that mentality? We have the ability to alter people's bodies. If people feel they need their bodies altered, at least in this sort of way, I see no reason they should be constrained by the judgment of someone who hasn't had their experience.

Katatori-kun:

lechat:
i personally don't see much of an issue at all in any side of the debate
as long as you and your partner are happy with whatever junk you are rocking the world should just leave you the fuck alone

Why?

I mean, I can understand reasons why someone would want not to change their body. I have scars across my back that I've chosen not to get address by plastic surgery because ugly though they may be, they say something about who I am and where I've been. But why should someone else be bound by that mentality? We have the ability to alter people's bodies. If people feel they need their bodies altered, at least in this sort of way, I see no reason they should be constrained by the judgment of someone who hasn't had their experience.

nah i'm not saying i am opposed to body modification
all i am saying is if they are happy with their organs and their partner is too then everyone else should stay out of their business and if they want a change they should do that as well

i mention breast augmentation because while at it's heart it is essentially the same thing i consider it as a case of someone caving into social pressure or having self esteem issues which i'll admit pretty much completely contradicts my first statement. breast reduction however serves a practical purpose and i am all in favor of it

Beautiful Tragedy:

I was born a man

That must have been one painful birth....

Get it? You said man and not baby meaning fully grown...

It was a funny...

No?

Okay, i'll be leaving then.....

Why is this part of sex when at it's core it's an extreme form of body modification.
The people who've transformed themselves to look like animals are the same.

I smell a shitstorm brewing.

That aside? Your thoughts are pretty much on the mark. Its self explanatory really. If you break down the societal differences between gender, the problems faced by transgender folk should be diminished as a direct result. Yet you hit on another point, very few people ever sit back and think about their gender, their gender roles and how they fit into society.

Gender roles are damaging, reinforcing the differences between gender can be seen to be damaging. However, and it pains me to say this, I simply do not believe that society will change on that fundamental level. Yes, there are lots of transgender people, and society is becoming more accepting (At least in the west) of the issues that they face, but they are still the minority.

In order to do away with gender roles and gendered society we would have to do away with some things that many people refuse to give up: Our sex. For society to no longer be gendered things as fundamental as names would have to be reworked. Some people simply refuse to give up on such fundamentals.

I think I should bail now, I do not want to come across as more informed than I am or say something utterly stupid.

All this is coming from the perspective of a rather confused individual. Doing what most people do, trying to work out if I am strait, bisexual, queer, asexual or simply a psychopath. A rather confused individual who loves studying identity. Reason I threw that last bit in is simply because quite a few people seem to think it neccesary to point out that their thoughts are from a Trans perspective.

an annoyed writer:

Thank you for being understanding. Many just try and play target practice with our emotions rather than trying to get to know why we are the way we are.

Some of us "sort of" understand.

I have a cousin i've been close to since we were tiny people and he went through something similar.

I say similar because he was born a she. Even as a young lass she was more male in the things she did, how she talked and acted but she was never happy.

Since going through treatments and surgeries and coming out the other end as he is now he's far happier.

He says he now feels "correct" if that makes sense. I know what he means when he says it but it's a pain in the arse to explain.

Rawne1980:

an annoyed writer:

Thank you for being understanding. Many just try and play target practice with our emotions rather than trying to get to know why we are the way we are.

Some of us "sort of" understand.

I have a cousin i've been close to since we were tiny people and he went through something similar.

I say similar because he was born a she. Even as a young lass she was more male in the things she did, how she talked and acted but she was never happy.

Since going through treatments and surgeries and coming out the other end as he is now he's far happier.

He says he now feels "correct" if that makes sense. I know what he means when he says it but it's a pain in the arse to explain.

It always is a pain to explain due to the sheer weight of the subject. But thank you as well. Even if its only a vague understanding of us and our motivations, it's still understanding: something I've run into a definite shortage of in my personal life.

Relish in Chaos:
So, I was browsing stuff to do with gender issues recently (as you do; my friends call me "Oracle" because I always research a variety of things, and then suddenly come out with loads of stuff in my A-Level Sociology class), and there was this article on Jezebel about this 11-year-old transgender girl named Jazz doing a documentary or something. Some of you may have heard it already, and this happened last year - that's not the focus of discussion, however.

Someone made this comment:

person:
I also question how many of transgender experiences would be different if we didn't have such a strong binary that is based, in large part, of physicality. If we accepted gender as a social construct having nothing to do with anatomy, would transgender people still feel physically inadequate with the genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics they have? Could they accept being a woman with a penis? A man with a vagina and breasts? Could we have the emergence of third, fourth, etc. gender identities? Maybe it wouldn't change a lick, but who's to say?

Which made me wonder. This isn't denying gender dysphoria, or anything like that, but I wonder how their experiences towards their situation and decision to, or not to, undergo surgery would change if we just did away with such strong gender roles. Perhaps we'd have more transgender people choosing to not undergo surgery to have the genitalia of their identified gender. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that, nor am I trying to deny the nature of their situation via some "nurture over nature" argrument or whatever...

Anyway, discuss.

Personally...I'm not transgender. Not that I have to be to make a topic about this, though. But I never thought that much about my "maleness" until now. I mean, I have a dick, probably mostly male chromosomes, and everything, and I like what may be considered stereotypically "male" things, such as video games and comic books. And I'm predominantly heterosexual, i.e. attracted to females. And I guess my thought process is "male" too (still thinking about how "male" and how "female" brains can be different, yet both males and females are still just as human as each other). People treat me as a male, and I treat myself as one too. But I guess I wouldn't say no to...branching out a bit. Like, in terms of clothes. Perhaps, even in just an effort of trying to even more understand the experiences of the opposite sex. *shrugs* That's it, really.

So what are your thoughts on this whole can of worms I may've opened?

The idea of changing society to accept trans women as feminine men, and trans men as masculine women seems to have risen from a certain wing of the third wave feminist movement. The idea is that society should be accepting people without forcing them to adhere at all.

I am a transgender woman, I am not a cisgender woman and I never can be. This idea of forcing society to accept me as a feminine man is slightly insulting, though I am unsure of whether those who promote it understand why.

I am not a man.

I would NOT be happy with society accepting me as such, I do not want to be seen as such.

I can understand why they might think this way, but it is rather solipsistic.

Mr F.:

Gender roles are damaging, reinforcing the differences between gender can be seen to be damaging. However, and it pains me to say this, I simply do not believe that society will change on that fundamental level. Yes, there are lots of transgender people, and society is becoming more accepting (At least in the west) of the issues that they face, but they are still the minority.
.

Pretty much this. While we can do our best to try to work around society, gender is laid out very simply in black and white terms. While I don't necessarily believe its that concrete, that's simply how it's treated, how people are treated, and how we come up with any sort of a basis to measure masculine and feminine. Again, this is a very flawed way to look at it. Nothing is ever black and white, why would this be?

I do agree, however, with the OP. I think it would be fascinating to see the effects of different attitudes towards any and all forms of sexuality, including trans, gay, bi, etc.

Is it weird that I still don't understand gender?

Like, the most I got out of it is say, a girl who doesn't like doing girly things. Which I think, "...big deal?"

an annoyed writer:

Rawne1980:

an annoyed writer:

Thank you for being understanding. Many just try and play target practice with our emotions rather than trying to get to know why we are the way we are.

Some of us "sort of" understand.

I have a cousin i've been close to since we were tiny people and he went through something similar.

I say similar because he was born a she. Even as a young lass she was more male in the things she did, how she talked and acted but she was never happy.

Since going through treatments and surgeries and coming out the other end as he is now he's far happier.

He says he now feels "correct" if that makes sense. I know what he means when he says it but it's a pain in the arse to explain.

It always is a pain to explain due to the sheer weight of the subject. But thank you as well. Even if its only a vague understanding of us and our motivations, it's still understanding: something I've run into a definite shortage of in my personal life.

I wish I could understand. I have never felt a sense of not being "complete" and have always been happy with how I was born. If you can try and explain it to me as best you can I'd appreciate it :) I also have absolutely no personal experience with a transgender person or group, all of my local LGBT groups also lack transgender representation :/

Beautiful Tragedy:
yes, they are JUST genitals... but think of it this way if you woke up tomorrow without a vagina, but not a penis either...would you feel (at least physically) incomplete? Maybe that's not the best way to explain it, but it's how i feel. I am physically incomplete. I don't NEED a vagina to be happy, but i'd like to look, and feel (physically) like a woman. It's not even a little bit about sex, but being intimate would be a bit easier if i had the right parts.

That's a beautiful way of putting it, awesome!

I'm a gay guy, so I always do my part to defend and speak out for but never speak as a representative of trans men and women as they can and do, do that themselves. But no, OP, I think your view is too simplistic way to look at it without taking everything into account as to why transgender men and women are transgender and why they have sex reassignment surgery.

Although you're very right about gender roles being incredibly strict and ridiculous.

This happens to be a major point for Radical Feminists.

Most RadFems seem to be absurdly transphobic for various reasons, most charitably because the idea of transgenderism is based on the gender binary. OTOH, Dworkin[1] simply believed that once the gender binary was done away with, there'd be no need for transgenderism. IMHO, that's probably an over-simplification (radical feminism is often a bit myopic like that), but nobody can really say for sure.

[1] Who was very influential amongst radfems, and is notable outside them for being the feminist that you say said something awful when you want to discredit feminism. It's always her for some reason

I'm all for transgender people. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be born into the wrong body.

As for the topic at hand? I'm not sure how much 'societal' gender roles impact someone in that regard. Every story I've heard of a transgendered person has started with "I've always known I was trans", so I think it must be something a lot more fundamental/biological than what civilisation has brought.

This may not be strictly on-topic, but I wanted to post to thank all of the transgener people who
have shared/are sharing their experience/feelings/thoughts here, and thank the OP for bringing
the discussion up. I believe that civil discussion, with all parties genuinely seeking to further
their understanding of the subjects is an important tool for improving the situation for everyone.
One of my very best friends is a male-to-female transgender, and everyone in our circle of friends
knew her for about eight years before she came out. The past couple of years have been very difficult
for her, and I am always seeking to further my understanding, support her better, and explain her
situation better to other people.
Once again, my sincere thanks.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here