Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Changing Notions Of Gender
The assumption in our society that there are only two genders, male and female, is challenged by what is found in nature and other human cultures. There were earlier human societies, like Native American tribes, which recognized three or more genders (male/female/two-spirit).
Facebook made news this month when it decided to allow users to identify their gender beyond the typical binary. They made it possible for people who are transgender (like me) or intersex (born with ambiguous genitalia) or gender-fluid (in various places on the spectrum) or gender-queer (rejecting cultural notions of gender-behavior) to describe themselves with greater accuracy. Facebook executives say that when this idea was proposed inside the company, nobody opposed it because it just made sense.
Of course, challenging something as engrained in our culture as this provokes ridicule and outrage. Conservative commentators on Fox News and elsewhere are mocking the new option as silly and unnecessary. One jokes that the choices don't include people who might want to identify as a "pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker."
I hope we move past ridicule and educate people about the reality of gender-diversity. Society needs to show respect and tolerance for those who differ from convention.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about gender-identity?
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Every time I attempt to answer this, I become appalled by human cruelty. Education and acceptance are the ways to move forward. In this day and age, what is convention anyway?ReplyDelete
Hi Ally! Fox News is best ignored in my opinion, though I can imagine if one is an American that is a bit harder to do.ReplyDelete
For about two years I had a friend on a social media site who was transgendered and although labelled as male when born, just didn't identify with that. She never went through puberty as a male, which allowed her to fully transition to female with little concern for any residual outwardly male characteristics. A year ago she had her final surgery and got married. Her big dream was for science to actually allow her to carry and give birth to a baby. Sadly, she disappeared from the internet suddenly and I have not been able to get in contact with her. I hope she is okay.
A question I have, and hope you can clear up some confusion, is about terminology. Is there a different term used for someone who has completed most or all of the hormonal and surgical procedures available in order to become male or female as the case may be? I used to think that transvestite was when someone adopted the outward appearance and may or may not adopt that appearance full time and that transsexual or transgendered were synonyms referring to someone who has fully adopted and surgically assisted a transition. Can you clear this up for me? I would really appreciate it.
Hi Shawna. Terminology has been changing over the past few decades but there is currently a consensus on it.Delete
"Transgender" is an umbrella term to cover everyone with unconventional gender-identity. "Transsexual" used to be used for that but many dislike how the word has "sex" in it which has a different meaning from gender. Now, transsexual refers specifically to people who feel that their socially-assigned gender differs from who they are inside. The terms "pre-op" (for "operation") and "post-op" used to be used as adjectives to transsexual to indicate whether someone has had surgery or not. Now, many people object to their use because it implies that one needs surgery. I, for example, haven't had any and don't plan to get any, yet I'm as transgender as they come.
"Transvestite" used to mean people who cross-dress for sexual gratification; they are unusually not concerned with their gender-identity; for them, it's a sex thing. That term was used disparagingly, so now "cross-dresser" is used to describe them. There's actually a big different between cross-dressers and transsexuals; they have different motivations, activities and goals. While they both wear opposite sex clothing, they do it for different reasons and often don't share the same attitudes.
"Drag queens" are gay men who dress up in women's clothing but don't have any gender-identity issue. The terms "tranny" and "she-male" are now considered insulting and shouldn't be used.
Hope this helps!
That was a great education on the terminology.Delete
Thanks, Suzanne. Many people don't know these terms -- including TV interviewers -- so it's good to spread the knowledge. Language is important for creating respect.Delete
Thanks, that was a wonderful explanation and it sounds like the terminology is settling into something appropriate for everyone's needs. Labels are tricky and individuals all have their own motives and needs even if on the surface they seem to fit into categories and yet labels also have a usefulness if they are not used disparagingly.Delete
What an awesome initiative by facebook. Our society will eventually evolve as long as brave people like you come out and openly show their preferences. It will be impossible for society to ignore these differences as time goes by I would hope. Unfortunately it will still be possible for them to discriminate. It is a shame.ReplyDelete
Nice words, Daphne. I believe that by being visible, combined with being nice, is a way people like me can convince others to accept us.Delete
good news facebook!ReplyDelete
I always think it should go without saying that a human being is respected as it is. unfortunately, the fear is the only counselor of many people and people who are greedy for power exploit this. xenophopie - the angst for the strange and unknown. sometimes it drives me nuts....
i hope all the girls who read here will teach they´r children to be tolerant and open minded !
I read this on the news this other day and I think it's great that Facebook is recognizing the other gender options!ReplyDelete
The Tiny Heart
Everyone has a right to be recognized how they want to be. I don't even know why people are against such rights. It doesn't bother or hurt them in the least.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing this! I wasn't aware that Facebook made these changes, and kudos to Facebook for doing so! I'm reminded of the quote that I believe is attributed to Einstein, but I think it's one of those fake-quotes, regardless. "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." We have to stop putting people into these constricted categories and really just accept people for who they are, period. As for Fox News, I do enjoy Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's takes on their 'news' lol!ReplyDelete
xo ~ Lia | Smart n Snazzy
Me, too. I enjoy watching them skewer hypocrisy and meanspirtedness.Delete
It's great that facebook has done this, but unfortunately, I've heard it has caused a few hiccups for people who HAVE altered their gender status, such as people being given male pronouns on others boards no matter what they opt to fill in.ReplyDelete
Just a heads up for those who might use the option!
I'm not on Facebook, but I think it's amazing that such a high profile company is making forward thinking changes in this direction. Bold moves like this challenge social "norms" and open dialogue.ReplyDelete
As a proud pinecone and former weed wacker, I applaud the expansion of identity options, and tire of Fox and Fiends perpetual outcries over the end of their limited world view as the dominant voice of the planet.ReplyDelete
that is one great news! thanks for sharing I wouldn't notice that myself for sureReplyDelete