By Anthroslug - 21 May 2012
[This article was first published on November 23, 2011]
My partner, Kaylia, has many friends who are part of the transgender community. These are people who don’t fit the traditional gender roles in that they are living as members of the opposite sex, are undergoing medical procedures to change sex, don’t find themselves fitting into either male or female sex roles, or are biologically not clearly male or female to begin with. The tendency in society in general (and here in Fresno in particular) is to treat these people with confusion, fear, and/or skepticism as to their gender or lack thereof. Natalie of the Skepchick blog argues, with a good deal of success, that this is due to a discomfort that people have with having their notions of gender challenged. While I agree, I think that it also comes from a basic miscomprehension of what, exactly, gender is to begin with. Gender and sex are not the same thing, and this seems to be at the root of much of the problem.
I was first introduced to the concept of gender as something other than a synonym for biological sex during my freshman year of college. This was a difficult concept to wrap my head around, having grown up in a time and culture in which we are in many ways obsessed with observing, reinforcing, challenging, and critiquing a binary male/female idea of gender. The notion that there might be more than two genders simply did not compute because we only formally recognize two genders that roughly correspond to one’s genitals*. While even my own culture’s notions of gender don’t quite line up with biological sex, the insistence otherwise tends to blind one to this and make it difficult to conceive of the idea that there may be more than two genders.0 Comments Continue reading