Gender is a Social Construct

 

 

Gender is a social construct.

femmedog
the proof is in this dog’s pudding

Also…

People can be born the wrong sex

Mad yet? Yeah, I know, me too.

These statements are not contradictory.

Biological sex and Gender identity are not the same.

I can already hear the snowflakes melting. I said “gender identity”, so you know someone really pink is groaning. You know the type, the ones that get so angry whenever their perception of “natural” is threatened. Not sure what everyone’s view of natural is, but these snowflakes sure do. It’s a simpler, more traditional kind of nature where nothing is ever variable, unexpected, unique, or queer in any way. A kind of nature that doesn’t exist.

 

But Becky, YOU’RE a snowflake! Sure, when something makes me hot, I melt. When it comes to gender norms and gendered societal expectations, I don’t melt. I’m no snowflake; I’m a full force blizzard! I’m downright frigid.

You want proof, right?

 

 

myheart

 

Fine, here we go…

Biology

“Gender isn’t just a social construct, because biological sex matters.” 

“Men and women are physically, biologically different from one another.”

It’s true, men and women have different physical characteristics. For the sake of argument, I’m going to go full binary for a while.

Bear with me, NB friends.

Men are from mars, although I have seen lots of them here on earth. They have penises (peni?). They’re tall, have muscles, have beards, low voices. They’re characterized as: brave, assertive, more confident and less talkative. Ask any trans man, and he’ll tell you that HRT with testosterone made them more stereotypically male. This comes with subtle physical changes: more hair, lower voice, thicker skin, more energy, more muscle. Some describe personality changes, but they are so individualized it is hard to say without generalizing. Even the physical changes of HRT are generalizations, everyone experiences testosterone differently. Men that were assigned male at birth (AMAB) experience these changes in throughout puberty and young adulthood. The main difference between cisgender AMAB men and trans men is the timing of their puberty. We will to talk about dicks in a bit, I promise.

Women are typically smaller, have less muscle and more body fat. Their skin is soft, hair is soft, they don’t usually grow full beards (except for PCOS?) at least in youth. They are supposedly natural caregivers, since nature set it up for them to incubate. Right yes, they have vaginas, ones that are usually hooked up to a whole reproductive system. Comes as a package unit. No refunds; menstruation not optional. When trans women undergo HRT with estrogen, they experience different fat distribution, increased body fat, less hair and softer skin. Overtime, estrogen can result in natural breast growth. Trans women often describe changes to their personality such as heightened emotionality, sensitivity and empathy. Again, the main difference between cisgender assigned female at birth (AFAB) women and trans women is the timing of their puberty. AGAIN, we will talk about pussies in a little bit, I promise.

So if all of the most characteristic features of each sex are mostly hormonal, why don’t transgender people look like everyone else?

Well…

Buckangel_cowboy
Buck Angel, activist and porn star

 

First off, a lot of them do. Not all trans people have a hard time passing. Some of them pass as the other gender after only a few months of HRT. Some stay on HRT their whole lives, have lots of surgeries and are always androgynous. There is no hierarchy of trans-ness, but unfortunately a lot of the same hostile, exclusive and discriminatory attitudes are shucked at cisgender folk are also shucked at gender non-conforming individuals. From all sides!

Having a non-conforming sexuality does not make someone more inclined to be accepting and understanding of gender non-conforming folks. I have witnessed non-binary identities attack binary-trans folk because of their commitment to “gender stereotypes”. I have also witnessed binary-trans folk discriminate against non-binary trans folk because although they are transgender, they still subscribe to traditional binary-focused gender norms. 

While the gendernauts fight amongst themselves, transgender people of color are being beaten and murdered.

Live and let live; don’t attack other LGBTQIA people for their identities. You can’t expect someone to respect your identity once you get done explaining how theirs is illegitimate.

androgyny.jpg

Some people are like Rain Dove and are non-binary, beautiful, and incredibly androgynous.

Can I get a wut wut for Rain Dove like omfg smh

Fun fact: numerous cisgender people are androgynous. Loads of them. Ruby Rose made a whole career out of it, she doesn’t even have to talk. What does Ruby Rose’s voice even sound like? I watched all of OITNB and I swear I cannot tell you what her voice sounds like. Beauty like that is a hearing impediment for whoever’s listening.

Point is: androgyny has no correlation with gender identity.

Gender presentation and expression have no correlation with gender identity.

Gender identity is your own personal, private thing.

I digress! What’s gonads got to do with it!?

When a baby forms in the womb, it gets its chromosomes. Everyone knows its either XY (male) or XX (female). Most people know that there are conditions where chromosomes can be atypical, but not nearly enough people know about intersex folk.

Intersex individuals have atypical sex chromosome configurations (I linked to wikipedia for a quick general overview, NOT because its the best source). You see, when the chromosomes are either XY or XX, the fetus gets signals to send hormones for either or. Sometimes there is a chromosomal atypicality, and different signals get sent. This has a huge variety of results; some atypicality’s are internal, some external, and some undetectable. These atypical results are completely natural, they often happen in other species. There is nothing wrong with intersex people, they do not need to be corrected, and they should not be forced to pick a gender. If this is the first you’re hearing of intersex people, you will be upset by what I’m about to tell you.

Oftentimes, doctors will surgically intervene when an intersex baby is born. They will reconstruct their genitalia to more closely resemble either male or female. This can result in lifelong pain and sexual dysfunction. I have never heard of a positive outcome from these surgical interventions. Please help raise awareness on intersex issues, check out this  intersex advocates  resource. Intersex folk are essentially being erased by these procedures. Some of these surgical interventions render the infant with painful, non-functioning mutilated genitalia, all for the sake of appearing cosmetically more male or female. If you are offended by transgender people seeking surgery, but don’t mind the mutilation of intersex infants; you must acknowledge your hypocrisy.

As long as intersex people exist, we must acknowledge the need for a third sex category. It is not a social revolution, a defiance of nature, or any other kind of rebellion to seek a third sex categorization. It is the most basic recognition of intersex humanity.

Intersex: The Basics

Intersex Society of North America

We already knew that people are born with variable genitals. Some men have growers, some men have showers. Some women are shallow, some women have depth. Others, will knock you down with their huge chests. Nature gifts us with a wide variety of body types and personalities. No two humans are alike (oops, twins?).

What does this mean? This means that while your chromosome determined your initial boost of hormones, the hormones you receive continuously throughout your life are the ones that keep you gendered. Trans people are not less of their chosen gender, just because of their chromosomes. Lifelong hormones have much more impact on gender presentation than chromosomes.

Brief wikipedia summary on sex differentiates. If you hate wikipedia, just don’t click it foo’

When a trans man begins his HRT testosterone journey, his genitalia grows and lengthens like a developing penis. True, it never becomes a fully-formed, functioning, biological penis. It does undergo a profound physical transformation, exclusively due to hormones.

Trans women can have a surgery called a vaginoplasty, where their existing tissues are modified into a sensitive, functioning and realistic vagina. True, trans women do not have functioning wombs, but this does not make them less of a woman. Infertility does not disqualify cisgender people from being the sex and gender that they are, why would infertility disqualify a transgender individual? What makes a woman a woman, a man a man?

Life Ball 2014
Carmen Carrera, right

Society determines this. I have heard people brag about being able to identify trans people easily. Random strangers will volunteer their opinion about your outfit, your weight, your hair, your posture; why wouldn’t they volunteer their opinion on your gender? Gender is something that is perceived by others, and like it or not, gender has a status association. It’s in every movie, every conversation, in the way we tell our history. It’s how things are structured. Nature vs. nurture?

I have never had nature lecture me about my gender identity, but I have had a lot of human-bodied individuals existing in nature lecture me about damn near everything. I love being subjected to a lecture about what is and isn’t natural for gender and sexuality; then hearing them say climate change isn’t real or isn’t caused by man-made carbon emissions.

My dad, a lifelong conservative republican, believes that women only entered the workplace because of economic need. I tried explaining how women fought for their right to work, and that they desire careers and have just as much drive, ambition and passion as men. I tried explaining that they want to have options, that they also need to provide for their families and that they need financial independence. He insists that the natural order is for man to provide for the family, and for woman to care for them. He also believes that everyone would quit their jobs if healthcare was socialized.

I take his opinions with a grain of salt.

I also think some gender norms are biologically influenced, but that the overwhelming majority of them are dogma/tradition nonsense-bullshit. I also firmly believe that if everyone was allowed to be their authentic self; we wouldn’t be dealing with all this ignorance, fear and hatred all the time. 

omfg.png

Gender is not biologically binary, but society is structured as a binary. Of course gender non-conforming identities are so loathed, they disrupt flow. Instead of making room for such a small demographic, society rejects them. Trans, non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming people should not be forced to adapt to a society that doesn’t tolerate them; society needs to make room for them. We need to rebel against all forms of hate. The hate we see towards trans people should concern all of us.

GLAAD Transgender Resources

ACLU Report on Transgender People

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