The Catholic honor killings »« It’s been a family day

An experimental online workshop on gender

Crip Dyke has offered to lead a discussion of gender right here in the comments. Read the instructions below if you’d like to participate.

By the way, take it seriously and constructively if you do participate. I’ll be especially ruthless in slapping down trolling.


Gender is an endlessly complex subject. There are people who spend their entire lives attempting to understand and explain it. This is true even among those lucky languages speakers, I’ve been reminded, where “sex” and “gender” are separate words with intelligible histories that we can understand give them distinct meanings. [Note that here any points about language will be limited to English language terms, and not translations or cognates. We’ll have ourselves a sufficiently grand time struggling with one sex and gender in one language.]

And yet, despite thousands of lives devoted to understanding and explaining gender, sex, and their relationships to each other, very little new information has trickled down to those outside of the specialized disciplines that study them. This is at least in part because within and between these disciplines there is often confusion. “Gender bender” is a term thrown around science journalism, and sometimes by scientists to refer to chemical effects on protein expression in fish in colorado, as just one example. But to others, “gender bender” is a term specific to individual resistance to a cultural imposition of mores limiting the capacities, rights, responsibilities and roles based on nothing more than a person’s gender and assumptions that flow from a person’s gender about that person’s sex. Who has more “right” to the term and whether it has been misappropriated is tricky with such an idiom. The argument from etymology gives the nod to culture warriors, with the online etymology dictionary crediting the first use to a 1980 description of David Bowie. But as the same dictionary notes, gender itself was used to describe what we might now call sex for centuries, including the entire period of transition from traditions of “natural philosophy” or “natural history” to the newer tradition of biological science.

With different disciplines in conflict and with persistent public confusion rendering fine distinctions and points barely intelligible – if at all – in mass media, most folk are still struggling to catch up with the distinctions between sex and gender first articulated by second wave feminism. In fact, most feminists largely give up on such distinctions in communication outside academia, and sometimes even inside it. Abandoning the lessons and logic of past distinctions between sex and gender is probably overdetermined, but at least one cause is that English language cultures tend to relentlessly re-conflate sex and gender. In that environment, a feminist would have to be quite pushy indeed to force the concepts consistently apart, and we know all too well the consequences for feminists deemed pushy.

Where, then, should someone turn if interested in understanding sex, gender, their interplay, and the social dynamics thereof?

Inward.

In a rather unusual move for a blog (Thanks, PZ!) this space will be set aside for a workshop, of sorts. Over the next little while, starting late Saturday night PDT, I will comment here, approximately once every 24 hours, on aspects of sex and gender, then leave an exercise or two for those who wish to do them. Much of what is required is off-line thinking, and the results of some of these exercises I’ll encourage you to keep to yourselves. But for most, I’ll be asking you to post your thoughts when you are done. The first pair, found at the bottom of this post, will include one private exercise and one public where you are encouraged to share your thoughts. These exercises will lose quite a lot of value if you read others’ comments before you undertake them. So please, if you want to get the full benefit of this online workshop, look for my name and don’t read past my comment until you’ve completed any exercises you intend to do.

At that point, posting about the exercises – both about your thoughts and experiences while doing them, and any results that I might ask you to include – and responses to others’ thoughts, experiences, and results are quite welcome and helpful. Following along at home but choosing not to share your thoughts or results is also fine: this workshop is for all those who wish to learn something about sex and gender, not only for the extroverts and regulars.

Over the course of this workshop, each of us will be exploring inward alone, but I’ll be connecting your personal searches to outside information and context. For too many of us, we simply do not know where our knowledge of gender stops and our assumptions begin. We cannot even identify when we are misunderstanding others because we are so uncertain of our own thoughts, we cannot recognize when our assumptions aren’t shared. Eroding this barrier is the first task of those who want to have truly productive communication about how sex and gender manifest in ourselves, in each other, and in our societies.

For people who find concepts of transgender, transsexuality, gender queer, and gender fuck particularly tough nuts to crack, you may be surprised how much more leverage these personal explorations give than even the best set of definitions. For people more interested in social dynamics of gender, we will use limited numbers of “what” and “how” examples to explore the less well mapped terrain of “why”. Why do so many people choose to engage in a system of gender that hurts so many? Why do systems of gender have vocal defenders? Why do some people choose to spend so much effort attempting to dismantle it? Why are people so afraid of a world in which gender rules do not exist? While simple answers might not be available in this or any other forum, I hope and intend that people that engage seriously with the exercises, themselves, and with others’ comments will reach a level of insight necessary to know the frontiers of one’s own knowledge, and to ask good questions capable of moving past those frontiers into new realms.

Frontiers, however, are often dangerous places. They can be unsettling simply to experience, and too often instincts well adapted to other contexts fail us. Acted upon, those instincts can be dangerous, or worse: threatening. I fully expect that this terrain will be unsettling, frightening, and even dangerous for many of you.

But this frontier will not be lawless.

As your guide, I will be watching carefully. Behavior by persons of good will, but generated by maladaptive instincts will be noted and [hopefully-] helpful constructive criticism provided. But making the same mistake twice will be considered evidence of ill will. Unlike in other threads, if you believe a troll has infested this one, I ask that you simply send an alert to monitors. Do not engage here. Feel free, if you wish, to quote an objectionable comment from this thread over in the ThunderDome and then tear it apart there. But this is not a place to shine teeth or make points. These exercises will be more productive the safer we all are to take risks. My time and my words aren’t free, but the cost is minimal: be kind to others. Part of this kindness will be my quick attention to trolls. Part of yours will be to keep up a welcoming, supportive, collaborative tone.

That said, I’ll leave your first exercises below. Do them yourselves – don’t go ogle someone else’s language or ideas. If you’ve found this thread after Saturday (June 7th), feel free to join the conversation late but remember to tag any comments that include responses to exercises with the name or number of that exercise as the conversation will have moved past the exercises you are on.

Welcome to the Undiscovered Country, my gender nerds. Mount up.

==================================================================

Exercises:

1. Gender Identification: Use a word or short phrase to express your gender identification. Think of this as your private answer to your best friend, who knows tons about you and with whom you have shared intimate experiences and secret language … but happens to be a martian and, out of honest but kind-hearted ignorance, has just asked, “So, what is your gender?”

This can be as simple as a standard, one-word response, but if you find yourself going over 5 words (not including “I am a …” at the beginning) think seriously about whether you are writing a **description** or an **identification**. This is giving a name to a category, not giving a life history. Remember that your martian best friend knows your life history already. The fact that you are giving a name to a category, of course, does not preclude the possibility that the category has a total of one member.

This identification is for you alone. You are not expected to share it in the comments, though you are, of course, welcome to do so if you wish. More productive for commenting would be a narrative about how you came up with your gender identification. Was it automatic for you? Was it initially automatic and then you second-guessed it, but couldn’t find anything better? Did you have an initial identification that you rejected? Or did you start without an idea of what you might say and carefully considered a number of options?

2. Gender/Sex Definitions: Define at least three words from the list below. Do not define more than 6. (Two thou shalt not define, unless it is to then proceed on to define three.) Write a definition of each word you’ve selected without looking up the words on the web or in books. This includes declining to read others’ definitions in this thread until after you are done with your own. The definition should express – as exactly and honestly as you are able – what you, personally, mean when you use that word. If you know that you use the word in multiple ways, provide multiple definitions. However, each definition should be a definition according to your use of the word, not the uses or meanings of any other person.

a. Female.
b. Feminine.
c. Gender.
d. Male.
e. Man.
f. Masculine
g. Sex. [In this case, you may omit any definition that relates to “gettin-it-on” activities.]
h. Trans (with or without an asterisk, as “Trans*”)
i. Transgender.
j. Transsexual or Transexual. You may also choose to explain any differences between these that occur in your usage.
k. Woman.

l. Socially constructed/social construction. Feel free to take it on only if you’ve already defined at least 3 and no more than 5 other terms.

Once your definitions are written, you should include them in a comment posted to this thread.

3. Introduction and first report: Write a comment that introduces you to the others in this thread. It should say something about why you’re choosing to do these exercises, what level of gender knowledge you feel you have coming in, and what you hope to get out of this. Any other background information that you feel might help others in understanding your responses can be included (for instance, if English is a language you learned as an adult, people thinking about your definitions might benefit from knowing that). After introducing yourself, feel free to include anything (or nothing) that you wish to say about exercise 1. Add your definitions from exercise 2 **without commentary**. Do not include any information “about” the definition that doesn’t fit “in” the definition. If you feel embarrassed by your definition, think about whether the definition is honest and whether it is as clear as you can make it. If it is, you’ve done your work. Be proud. If it isn’t, try to dig up the courage necessary for more honesty or the language to make it more clear. Repeat as necessary.

4. Comment exchange: Read others’ comments after you have posted yours. If someone has defined a word that you also defined, think about how your definitions are the same and different. After we have at least 5 people who have offered an introduction, first report, and definitions, you can also post any thoughts inspired by others’ writing. Please make sure you’ve allowed at least 4 persons besides yourself to comment before you start this process. If 5 is a number that isn’t working, we can revisit that in the future.

Bon courage, and see you Saturday night!

Your friendly neighborhood Crip Dyke.

Comments

  1. razzlefrog says

    1. Metallic female

    2.
    Feminine – soft-edged
    Gender – a favorite costume
    Masculine – over-estimating needed personal space

  2. says

    1. I identify as male, more or less.

    In the fairly recent past, I had toyed with all sorts of other descriptions, including words such as “wizard”, “alien”, (groan)…or just things like “mostly masculine androgyne” and what have you. Then I realised that the reason why no gender category ever really fit, and my endless attempts to make up a descriptive label that fit completely failed, was basically that I was trying to get the whole of who I am into a label, and even for cis-gendered people, that doesn’t happen. So, I identify as male, more or less, but that is a very small part of my overall identity.

    2. i Woman/man – someone who considers themselves female/male, and/or just considers themselves to be a woman/man
    ii Sex – somebody’s category assignment based on their biological characteristics, generally genitalia, but also later development. Is much more complicated and less binary than most people think.
    iii Trans – casual form of “transgender”, someone whose gender identity is or has been constantly got wrong by many people.

    3.

    I’ve been reading this blog for the past couple of years, and occasionally comment. I mentioned earlier that I identify as male, and I am transgender. I like this blog because it’s queer- and trans-positive even though it is not about queer and trans issues. A lot of this stuff is tricky to define. Mostly I tend to not dwell on it too much. Since figuring out I was trans, I haven’t really agonised over my gender, and I believe in honouring other people’s wishes for how they want to be referred to, and that it is every person’s right to decide what they are. So I’ll go along with any kind of reference anyone says is right for them.

  3. says

    1. Fluid

    2. b. A social standard of expectation placed upon people identified by others as female, often placed in terms like “ladylike” and “demure.” Often, extremely frustrating and degrading but couched in terms of a sideways compliment.

    c. An imaginary construct that divides human beings into categories beyond identified biological sex of male and female.

    3. My name is Denise, and I’m very interested in participating in this, because my own research into STI prevention (primarily focused on parents) will lead me into realms that I only vaguely understand (and admit plainly that I am learning).

  4. rpjohnston says

    Exercise 1: “agender” is easiest to understand, though most accurate is “ehhhhh…”.

    Exercise 2:
    Female: someone who identifies as female OR a group label for those who are treated as such by society. In one-on-one interaction I use the first case; I use the second case in the context of how society interacts with those it deems female.
    Feminine: traits that are traditionally associated with the role of females, esp in Western/American society (eg makeup, dresses, long hair, cooking, stereotypes like cheerleader, schoolmarm, etc)
    Woman: a particular person who identifies as female, and carries connotations of femininity.

    I tend to use “female” as a single dimension of a person, that can be useful as a group label, while I use “woman” as a holistic descriptor. The male, masculine, and man counterparts use similar distinctions. In the case of “male”, society sees me as “male” (usually) due to that being my physical sex. I see myself as “ehhhh…”. Since I have two uses for this aspect, I go along with being treated and defined by others as “male” (and, rarely, “female”), and don’t bother issuing any correction unless specifically asked or made too uncomfortable; society can define me as it sees fit.

    Intro: I’m just another one of a zillion Internet assholes, one of 7 billion Real Life Assholes, and one of – what are we at, 300M something? – Murican assholes. 25 years old, retail peon. I’ve been lurking here for years, and scuttle out once in awhile to pick a fight with something I feel strongly enough to weigh in on, get flambeed, and slink off in shame (sometimes before even reading the excoriations). If I don’t comment on a thread, it’s because I either don’t care, or I agree and I’d rather gnaw on glass than post “me too”. I’m doing these exercises for shits and giggles mostly, but I have some curiosity as to what they may make me think about. I’ve thought about my own gender for years, but new angles may be interesting. I suppose I have greater gender knowledge than the average layman but I haven’t actually researched it beyond what I’ve read about on blogs like this. If I say something grossly ignorant or offensive I apologize, and please correct me.

    For Exercise 1, I’ve thought about my gender for several years; I wouldn’t say that my response is automatic, but rather than I considered masculine, feminine, and in-between genders, and didn’t feel any particular attachment to any typing.

    For Exercise 2, Female: someone who identifies as female OR a group label for those who are treated as such by society.
    Feminine: traits that are traditionally associated with the role of females, esp in Western/American society
    Woman: a particular person who identifies as female, and carries connotations of femininity.

  5. says

    1. Male

    2. Hmm…
    b. Feminine: Stereotypically female appearance or behaviour. Those things which are presumed to be associated with females (both adult and juvenile) in a given culture.
    c. Gender: A sociological counterpart to the more biological category of Sex. Also the worst part about learning a new language.
    f. Masculine: Stereotypically male appearance or behaviour. Those things which are presumed to be associated with males (specifically adult men) in a given culture.
    h. Trans*: Shorthand for any number of genderish things; Transgender, Transsexual, possibly excluding Transvestite.

    3. I want to participate here because this is one of those topics I don’t want to be wholly ignorant of. I think I have a fairly decent grasp of the biological and medical aspects of gender, a somewhat limited grasp of the sociological/political aspects (mostly from reading Natalie Reed and Zinnia) and virtually no knowledge of the day-to-day realities.

  6. rhebel says

    Boring heterosexual male
    a. One who has XX (or XXX, XXXX, Xo, XY—damaged SRY epistatic gene) chromosomes.
    b. One who acts in the traditional sense of female behavior, which, I am sure varies in different cultures, but typically (to me) is less aggressive, less direct, and often more submissive (unfortunately).
    c. How one identifies as a class of human—male, female, neither, trans, cis, or somewhere else.
    d. One who has XY (or XYY) with an active SRY gene.
    e. Seriously do not have a specific definition for this—rather, too many to list.
    f. One who acts in the traditional sense of male behavior, which, I am sure, varies in different cultures, but typically (to me) is more aggressive, more direct, more dominating (unfortunately).
    g. To me, only refers to definitions that tie to the “getting it on” activities
    h. One who identifies with a gender that doesn’t match their chromosomes.
    i. Same as h.
    j. One who wishes to assume the (true) identity of the gender to which they identify, but to which their chromosomes do not match.
    k. Seriously do not have a definition for this one, either—see e.
    Midwestern public school science instructor who understands his white, male privilege and despises bigotry and close-mindedness more than anything. Oh, and who belongs to a family that would be a most outrageous soap opera or movie script.

  7. says

    (apologies:

    2. g. Sex: one of the most complex 3-letter words in existence used to inadequately define identify M/F, how we live (“oversexed” for example), how we reproduce…to name a few, and doesn’t sufficiently explain any of those things).

    I pressed enter before I finished answering #2.)

  8. Seize says

    1. Private as it does not seem unique.

    2. I chose the first five in order and then stopped, forfeiting the others.

    a. Female – a reproductive designation characterized by production of a large gamete which will fuse with a small one.
    b. Feminine – In my culture, the seeming or cultural trappings of being a female human.
    c. Gender – a sort of neurotype which is very associated by my culture with having a certain sort of reproductive designation, one or the other of only two, which is mostly determined by the external features of the human.
    d. Male – the reproductive designation characterized by the aforementioned small gamete(s), which in turn will fuse with large gametes.
    e. Man – this is the main word a male person might use refer to itself while in company. This is a very important word and you will cause a fight if you use it incorrectly.

    3. Hello to other Pharyngulites, and thank you to Crip Dyke for hosting the discussion. I started reading Pharyngula some years ago at the behest of a labmate. I’ve now transitioned from bench science to clinical work, and I am about to start my first year in medical school. As a feminist commenter on other sites, I feel like my gender knowledge is above average, but still inadequate for my needs. I’m interested in participating in this discussion because I think when we talk about these private processes by which we self-identify, we learn more about each other than perhaps direct words can tell. I look forward to your comments.

  9. The Mellow Monkey says

    Introduction:
    I’m interested in doing these exercises because even though gender is something I’ve struggled with and pondered over at least as far back as when I was three, I still feel woefully ignorant on the topic outside of my own personal experiences. My education in gender studies is limited to some classes I took as an undergrad, a handful of books I’ve read since then, and discussions with other people, usually online.

    I learned about the Ojibwe traditions surrounding Two Spirits fairly early on in life and I imagine this cultural background has had some influence on my thinking. Having a loved one with a disorder of sex development has probably had an influence on my caution regarding the topic of sex and how it relates to everything else. It troubles me to assume someone’s gender when it hasn’t been clearly stated (even when I recognize that I’m expected to make such assumptions), while accepting ambiguity prior to an identity statement seems reasonable to me. Often when I use gendered language without first receiving a clear statement of identity, it makes me feel a little panicked, regardless of how visibly someone displays a recognized gender role.

    I don’t know if this will have any impact on people understanding my responses or not, but I have an auditory processing disorder and may be unaware of some cultural gender cues others take for granted or may approach language differently than people who lack any hearing difficulties.

    1. It’s most definitely not an automatic identification for me and takes some struggle every time I’m asked. My answer is quite often different from what it was the last time I answered, as well. Usually there is some second (or third or fourth) guessing involved. At times I’ll feel more agendered, or more feminine, or more masculine, or a particular flavor of masculinity while revelling in female coded qualities of my body, etc.

    Because of this difficulty, the constants that I can easily identify are that I fall somewhere outside the gender binary and that there is fluidity in my identity.

    And so the statement I made in response to this question after a great deal of pondering: “I am fluidly non-binary.”

    2.
    e. A person who identifies as such and has in some way indicated this identification.
    g. Characteristics that are generally treated as binary traits, splitting reproduction, chromosomes, and physical development into two spheres, which may or may not exactly mirror reality but can be useful for speaking in broad strokes.
    k. A person who identifies as such and has in some way indicated this identification.

  10. says

    1. I identify as a masculine woman.
    2. Female: Biological sex; has XX chromosomes and/or female reproductive organs.
    Feminine: Gender; expressing traits identified with females in a given society.
    Woman: Role; Acting or identifying as a woman in a given society.
    Trans*: One whose biological sex or birth-identified sex does not match the gender or role they identify with in a given society.
    3. I’m a psychologist. I don’t particularly specialize in these issues, but do have some familiarity with the literature. I’m a long-time feminist and find the gender binary restrictive and dysfunctional. I strive to accept people’s self-identification.

  11. says

    Looks like I’m the first person to take a stab at this. Unless someone else posts by the time I’ve finished rewriting this comment. Here goes.

    Exercise #1: “Male.” No need to think about this; I (metaphorically) looked down and lo the answer was obvious.

    Exercise #2:
    (a) Female: Possessing the reproductive apparatus to produce egg cells and (for placental mammals) to gestate offspring in-body, even if this reproductive apparatus is nonfunctional or only partially formed, AND/OR lacking a Y chromosome (for mammals) or possessing a W chromosome (for birds).

    (b) Feminine: Arbitrarily associated with the female gender by subjective cultural convention.

    (d) Male: Possessing the reproductive apparatus to produce sperm cells, even if this reproductive apparatus is nonfunctional or only partially formed, and lacking the ability to gestate offspring in-body for any length of time AND/OR possessing a Y chromosome (for mammals) or lacking a W chromosome (for birds).

    (e) Man: Adult male human.

    (f) Masculine: Arbitrarily associated with the male gender by subjective cultural convention.

    (h) Trans, (i) Transgender: I haven’t the foggiest. I’ve heard about it but although I’m normally fairly good at getting inside people’s heads so to speak, I just can’t understand what this feels like or entails. Which is sort of why I’m here.

    Exercise #3:
    Hi, I’m Jake Harban (which may or may not be my real name). I’m male, but according to what I’ve heard that would be my “sex” not my “gender.” Admittedly, I’m a bit fuzzy on those terms, so maybe I’m just flagrantly misusing them. I’m asexual and never felt the need to “identify” as a gender beyond looking down to see what my parts are shaped like, since I think it’s mostly arbitrary. However, I’ve had a few fleeting conversations with a transgender person and a lengthy conversation with someone who, while not transgender herself, is deeply involved with the LGBT movement, with an extra emphasis on the T.

    Unfortunately, my conversations have left me baffled and confused. Being somewhat of an outsider to the whole thing, I find the jargon to be hard to penetrate. To me, “sex” and “gender” always meant the same thing. I’m still having trouble understanding what it means to “identify” as a gender (whether it matches your physical gender/sex or not). The whole thing is made even more complicated by what I would call “genderisation;” basically, gender roles, the concepts of “masculinity” and “femininity,” and otherwise arbitrarily associating unmistakably genderless traits and objects with specific genders, such as declaring a dress to be inherently “female” or the name “Jake” to be inherently “male.”

    Every time I think I understand something, a new fact comes along that appears to contradict it. For example, I was convinced I had figured out that “transgender” meant a strong sense that one ought to be the opposite sex; a common trait of transgender… ness? itude? is disgust at the sight of one’s “wrong” sexual characteristics. That transgender people might want to “transition” to the opposite sex would be hardly unexpected in that case, so it all seemed to make sense. Then I learned about people who did transition or were in the process of transitioning, and learned that a large chunk of the process is less about changing one’s body to the “correct” sex, but rather adopting the traits culturally associated with the “correct” sex/gender, such as a trans woman wearing clothes arbitrarily declared “female” or a trans man changing his name to one arbitrarily declared a “male” name, and both often raise great concern about being addressed with the wrong pronouns or having the wrong gender written on a form. All of these things suggest that trans… osity? is more about concern with being perceived by others as the correct gender, rather than dissatisfaction with the shape of one’s body. Just from personal example— while I’m (obviously) not trans myself, I have an oddly high-pitched voice, and so people on the phone frequently assume I’m a woman. I’ve had many an underpaid telephone agent refer to me as “miss” or “ma’am” and I’ve never felt any need to “correct” them except on the rare occasions that it genuinely matters (eg, a doctor probably needs to know that I’m male).

  12. Corey Fisher says

    Well, the instructions make the intuitive way of doing this a rather odd ordering…

    3. Hello, there, Pharyngulites! A very, very small number of you may remember me as King of Ferrets from a blog I briefly did, a name that I still use places but am too lazy to sign up with here. Since becoming less involved in atheist/skeptic circles, I sort of accidentally stumbled into a trans community, and found out my best friend from high school was trans. From there, I developed two primary things: quite a bit of comfort with my self-identity, and an interest in gender issues, especially transgender. Most of my knowledge comes from personal interaction with a small subset of the grand total of transgendered people, which makes me a little uncertain how my knowledge will hold up in a wider circle, but I have had a course on the philosophy of gender, so that should help.

    1. “Man”. It very naturally occurred to me as a first response. I then proceeded to doubt whether it said enough, consider, and discard those doubts, because I realized that it’s my sexuality that made me doubt the description’s sufficiency, not my gender.

    2. Gender: A combination of one’s perception of one’s sexual self-identity (excluding orientation), one’s belief about the social roles, obligations, and implications society applies to oneself from so identifying, and one’s reaction to those obligations.

    Sex: A fuzzy value determined by a combination of one’s birth fun bits and one’s starting chromosomes. XX and a vagina is one end, XY and a penis is the other, and others are somewhere in between.

    Social construction: Something that exists, and has effects, but only because it is believed to exist.

  13. says

    Hello all, name’s Tony. When I became a feminist I realized there was a big gap in my understanding of sex and gender. I hope this workshop will help me acquire a better understanding of both. I also want to be a better ally to those in the trans* community, and to do so, I need to understand some of the basics.

     

    Exercise 1:

    I identify as a man.
    In the past, my struggle with my sexual orientation led me to question this label (without any great depth, however). This struggle was internal and manifested in two ways:
    1- difficulty accepting that I was a man bc socially, gay men have often been treated as ‘not real men’
    2- My preferences in the bedroom tend toward the receiving end. In the eyes of many, if you’re the person getting fucked, you’re ‘the woman’ and I didn’t want to be viewed as a woman. It took years before I accepted that no matter what I do in the bedroom, I’ll still feel like a guy. The sexual position I prefer has nothing to do with my sense of my own gender. I also had to come to terms with the internalized sexism that had me thinking that there was something wrong with ‘being the woman in the relationship’.

     

    Exercise 2:
    Female- biological category describing a member of the human race with XX chromosomes
    Male- biological category describing a member of the human race with XY chromosomes
    Masculine- activities, qualities/traits, or preferences traditionally associated with men
    Feminine- activities, qualities/traits, or preferences traditionally associated with women

  14. AnAnne says

    1.Partially socially calibrated as feminine, self identified as female.
    2. Feminine-behaviors,traits or identity associated with either socially constructed or inherited aspects of the female sex.
    Masculine-behaviors,traits or identity associated with either socially constructed or inherited aspects of the male sex.
    Transgender- having a sex, sexual or gender identity that is mixed between feminine and masculine, sometimes perceived as in conflict by cultures that enforce gender norms.
    3. This is my first comment here, and I am commented as the topic resonates with me, as I am often in conflict with how I feel about my gender roles, so selfish reasons. I am a layman as far as gender studies go. I hope to learn more about how the transgender experience compares to merely choosing or rejecting socially constructed gender norms.

  15. Helena Q. says

    1. I identify as a gender-fluid transwoman

    2.
    i. Female: A cultural identity group that signifies a collection of desires such as pronoun usage, association, etc. while publically seeking to be read that way via rather broadly defined gender-appropriate expressions such as names or clothing (as befits their current culture setting).

    ii. Gender: A type of cultural identity group that synthesizes with the person’s other cultural associations to create a new model for identification with an internal sense of preference. Certain expressions may be for practical purposes of being recognized as that gender rather than preferences themselves.

    iii. Sex: A person’s hormone-regulated phenotype (body only, not brain).

    iv. Transgender: A context dependent state for people whose gender does not align with surrounding social norms regarding read dimorphic characteristics.

    v. Transexual: A state for people whose hormone-regulated phenotype does not match their brain’s mapping of their body, creating the sense of disquiet termed dysphoria.

    vi. Social construct: An imposed social category that does not arise from non-sapient nature but rather develops within a cultural context as people negotiate around each others’ existences.

    3. Hey, I’m Helena and have been a long-time reader of Pharayngula. I was assigned male at birth, though I finally took steps to transition around a year and a half ago. As a transwoman who does not fit into the binary system (yet still strongly identifies as a woman) I’ve had to think a lot about gender/sex and the conflicts presented between a complete non-binary view where all gender/sex is a social construction with my own internal sense of who I should be. Otherwise my experiences come from being a lower-middle-class white woman with access to higher education and a lot of time on the internet. I’m partaking in this exercise because I hope it’ll help me wrap my head around these questions better.

  16. says

    1. Gender Identification: 

    I did hesitate about this, because throughout my life, I have not experienced a disjuncture between what I was felt I was and what people told me I was. I felt my labels fit me fine, but others perceived my behavior as inconsistent with the labels. They challenged me often to prove my gender. My perceived gender nonconformity was evidence to my peers that I was gay. Both of these things were sources of harassment throughout my childhood. Though the gay thing didn’t really start until 7th grade. Still, throughout it all, I’ve never felt out of place in my assigned gender. I think part of the reason for that is that my parents really played down gender roles and I came of age during that magical window of the late 70s through the 90s where gender roles were being de-emphasized generally in American culture.

    2. Gender/Sex Definitions: 

    c. Gender.

    Gender is a social construction of identity related to perceived biological sex. There is an assumed polarity between male and female and certain character traits associated with each. People adopt certain modes of self-expression, including vocal mannerisms, body language, choice of clothing, hairstyle, type of work, chosen hobby, roles in interpersonal relationships, etc. The list of things unaffected by definitions and assumptions based on gender is short. This description is particular to American culture. I’m aware that other cultures define gender differently, and not all have a binary split between two genders but may have three or more, but I don’t know enough about them to give an effective definition. I would be remiss to define gender without noting the cultural variation in definitions of gender, though.

    d. Male.

    To me this refers to the state of an organism’s sex characteristics, and what kind of gametes it produces. However, “male” exists on a spectrum with “female.” Other species have more than two sexes, and humans, like most (all?) species, have a minority of individuals whose sex characteristics are a mix of both or indeterminate.

    e. Man.

    A human adult who identifies as masculine/male.

    f. Masculine

    Characteristics associated with “men” who are generally assumed to be male. Traditionally, in Western culture: strength, virility, dominance, intellect, rationality.

    g. Sex. The label assigned to a constellation of biological sex characteristics including primary & secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes, and a bunch of stuff with hormone sensitivity that is a bit beyond my ken at the moment.

    h. Trans (with or without an asterisk, as “Trans*”)

    Person who identifies as a transgender man or a transgender woman, for sure. I am just now realizing that I am not sure whether agender people would consider themselves under that umbrella term. Anyway, the way I use it, per my understanding, is when I’m referring to trans* people as a group, as I just did there.

    i. Transgender. 
    A person who identifies as a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth. Different from intersex people, whose external sex characteristics are not easily catelogued into male or female.

    3. Introduction and first report: 

    Hi, I’m Sally and I use a female ‘nym online consistently because I do identify as a woman. I have a “feminine” figure meaning T&A, meaning it’s difficult for me to achieve an androgynous look, even though it’s a look I aspire to, even though I don’t like the look because I’m androgynous, I like it because I like the way it looks. I feel like a woman. Throughout my childhood I never performed femininity successfully, mostly because I was lucky and I didn’t have the fun crushed out of me at an early age. Now I do it pretty well, and have fun with it, but it’s not something I do a lot. Some women love getting made up every day. I prefer every few weeks or so. Makes me feel like a party is happening. When I was a kid I like rambling outdoors and looking for snakes and salamanders and reading and when in gym class, I didn’t shy away from the ball even though I wasn’t very good at sports. Those were things girls were not supposed to do. Now I work in commercial construction, which is also something girls are not supposed to do. I have to wonder if my affection for androgynous modes of self-expression is related to this tension in my life.

    I’m doing this exercise because I’ve been fascinated by why my presentation bothered people so much ever since I noticed it happening, and I keep learning and I want to keep learning. I have learned a lot in the past few years, thanks to the internet connecting me with many cool transgender people. And also I worked with a trans man for a year back in 2007, I believe, and have been meeting trans* people here and there ever since then. Probably before then but didn’t know or notice? Or didn’t have the language, which makes it harder to remember, I suppose. I’m grateful to all the writing and vlogging done by activists like Natalie Reed and Zinnia Jones and many others.

    4. Comment exchange: I’m gonna do that later. I’m tired.

  17. elltee says

    1. Female

    2. Female: a person who identifies as a girl or woman
    Feminine: an adjective some people apply to characteristics they think of as resembling/belonging to women/girls.
    Man: an adult who self-identifies as a man, however he defines “man”

    Hello everyone. I am participating in this because I want to learn. My opinion is that people should be allowed to define themselves however they see fit. It is not my right to decide who is female/male, woman/man, etc. I’ve given myself permission not to learn all this gender stuff because I figured that as long as I treat people right, with fairness and equality, and let them define themselves as they see fit, then I don’t actually need to learn all this stuff, right? But I realize that is lazy thinking. My lack of knowledge could hurt someone in ways that I can’t predict, so I want to learn. I want to make sure I don’t hurt anyone due to my ignorance.

  18. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator

    @SallyStrange, #17:

    I think you understood the assignment Sally. You absolutely do not have to share your gender identification. The freedom to keep that private may be important to some people. However, illustrating one’s thinking in coming to grips with and/or choosing a label can be very valuable. The important part of exercise 1 is not communicating with others, but understanding how you think of yourself.

    @Everyone:
    Please feel free to begin exchanging thoughts on each others’ posts now that a goodly number of people have had a chance to comment. There is no requirement that you do – just as nothing is required on this thread except refraining from trolling/oppression/general mean spiritedness and, if you choose to comment, remaining on topic.

    Anything related to specific comments of others, general questions or confusions or thoughts on sex and gender related topics, elaborations on introductions, and feedback for me are all appropriate between now and Saturday.

  19. says

    3)Hello, folks. I’m Dalillama, I’ve been around Pharyngula for a few years now. I’m mostly in this discussion because it seems like an interesting discussion to me. I wouldn’t call myself any kind of expert on gender and gender issues, but I’m familiar with some of the basics.

    1)I don’t object to being identified as male(the default for someone of my genital configuration), but don’t have any particular investment in that identity.
    2)Man:An adult human who identifies as male.
    Woman:An adult human who identifies as female.
    Masculine: Displaying physical, social, or personality traits culturally associated with being male
    Feminine:Displaying physical, social, or personality traits culturally associated with being female
    Transgender: A person whose internal gender identity is at variance with the gender assigned to them by others.

  20. says

    Gender: Male defender, and definer of ways of doing.

    Female: A person possessing the anatomical structures necessary for half of procreation. Production of female gametes (egg cells), reception of sperm from the male, conception, pregnancy, and birth.
    Gender: A set of physical ornamentation (manner of dress, decoration), behaviors, and social roles traditionally culturally expected of males and females in particular cultures at particular places and times, and enforced by the culture on a normative basis.
    Male: A person possessing the anatomical structures necessary for half of procreation. Production and delivery of sperm for conception.
    Masculine: The set of physical ornamentation behaviors, and social roles traditionally culturally expected of males in particular cultures at particular places and times, and enforced by the culture on a normative basis.
    Transgender: A person who is physically male or female who possesses cognitive self-representation that more closely aligns with the opposite physical sex, or possibly a blend of self-representations.
    Socially constructed/social construction: The phenomenon where sets of physical ornamentation behaviors, and social roles are assigned to specific sexes by the culture as a whole, and enforced by cultural norms. This phenomenological category likely plays a role in the creation of many human social roles and norms.

    Hello! I go by Brony, because I’m a Brony (so that can be a subject all by itself).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Little_Pony:_Friendship_Is_Magic_fandom

    I’m a 37 year old atheist biological male raised in a conservative religious, military family that stretches back quite a ways and stays religious and military. I’m doing this as a challenge and because I have a neurological disorder that is likely intimately involved in gender issues and I like to challenge myself to see how deep things might get. Tourette’s Syndrome has a sex bias of 3:1 (males:females) and the disorder manifests differently in males and females in terms of cognitive characteristics and physical tic characteristics. TS seems to manifest right at the time that our physiology starts getting pumped full of neurosteroid hormones (around 7, adrenarche) that start rewriting our brain and bodies for a trip down puberty lane a small number of years later. I’ve been encountering a lot of research that implicates brain systems that involve what are normally thought of as sex hormones, but should be seem more broadly because the same hormones seem to do the same damn job in men and women when it comes to cognition (or at least they perform far more universal functions than we currently appreciate beyond setting physical sex early in devolopment). Testosterone for example maps to dominance in both men and women and yet society tends to prevent those with a female physical sex from learning to master it as a general skill. So I’m starting to wonder just what sorts of buttons nature (and the thing in my mind I have a relationship with) might be pushing.

    I’m coming into this with a very atypical education in sex and gender. I had the experience of a traditional American understanding that I started abandoning when I realized that disliking gays was really stupid. When I started reading about neurobiology, neuroanatomy, psychology and more of Tourette Syndrome I segued a little into what has been done to understand homosexuality and transexuality. I’m no expert, but I feel comfortable calling myself a well educated amateur.

    I gave the particular definition of gender that I did for myself because I don’t really think that much of gender is about the ornamentation, behaviors, and social roles that we have been historically accepting and reinforcing due to cultural momentum. I think that there is programming that is much more universal that crosses the sex divide that we have been forcing each other to limit to the two physical sexes and that programming has more to do with particular social roles and behaviors that are evolutionary advantageous, but not limited to particular sexes. People with TS all have a tendency to obsessively focus on the social situations around us, and the less fortunate among us have powerful unvoluntary (not a mispelling) compulsions to say or do the worst thing that someone could do (not for me fortunately, but as a group we tend to do worse on something called the “Faux Pas test”). That tendency is shaped by each of our life histories and in my case I’ve spent about two decades in forum fights with creationists and other emotionally charged battles with irrational people. I obsess about particular forms of human behavior in that general arena, and I feel compelled to do things with that experience. I feel compelled to defend what I see as our understanding of reality and our best methods ways of that. I also feel compelled to defend others against the emotionally irrational. So I hope you all enjoy the spin that I might put on this experience.

  21. says

    :(
    This is a discussion I’ve wanted to have for years, as part of the process of trying to figure things out… went so far as to try to approach it with a therapist (without success).
    Even thought about bringing it up on FTB and asking questions, but was worried about offending.
    Now here’s my chance and I can’t.
    Partly I’m still afraid of saying something stupid and embarrassing myself, but mostly because I’m scrambling to get prepared for a move before my “pod” arrives.

    Maybe if I’m lucky this will still be going in a coupla months when I’m resettled?

  22. chigau (違う) says

    I haven’t yet read the whole OP nor any comments but I intend to.
    Tomorrow.

  23. says

    Jafafa:
    As Crip Dyke mentioned, you don’t have to participate. You can take notes and even do the workshop on your own time.
    BTW, you’re not the only person afraid of saying something stupid. I spent nearly two hours composing my comment, partly bc I wanted to make sure I expressed myself clearly and partly bc I worried about looking like a fool. Thinking about some of the terms, I realized how uncertain I was, and I didn’t want to look stupid in front of everyone. Ultimately, I decided to give it my best shot, and if I’m wrong about something, then I’m wrong. I’ll take the correction and move on.

  24. chigau (違う) says

    OK.
    I’ve read the Instructions.
    I see this is not to be composed in the comment box.

  25. echidna says

    I know that other people might see these differently, so I will put my thinking upfront. My views are shaped by my upbringing, as might be expected. As a child, my dad taught me how to sex canaries, among other animals, which are not all that obvious in their sexual characteristics. This process is purely based on physical characteristics, and does not involve any self-identification. I have no issues with applying “sex” in the same way to humans, and I think that the importance of self-identification is why is is important to have the term “gender”. By the way, I identify strongly as cis female, but have always struggled against limitations of gender roles.

    2. Sex: Classification according to physical characteristics (including genes), most commonly, but not always, male or female.

    Gender: Gender refers to the subjective classification of sex, which may or may not be the same as the physical characteristics might suggest.

    Feminine: pertaining to female characteristics, both physical and socially constructed.

  26. miles says

    Sure I’ll take a stab at “how I understand it” for the record… though I don’t generally make a habit of defining other people.
    1. Guy (hetero and born male if ye care)
    2. I’ll save some space since there’s a little repetition here as far as my answers…
    a, d: Female/Male is, to me, the biological distinction (regardless of self-identity). It’s what the doctor writes down when you are born (one of the trans words probably falls under this definition as well)
    b, f: I’d go with the definition of traits that match “stereotypical” femininity/masculinity, regardless of accuracy. It’s largely a cultural thing, I think.
    c, g: Gender and sex… I suppose the difference between your gender and sex is that one is the “biological” meaning and the other self-identity. Or perhaps given the particular circumstances, either could be used in either context?
    e, k: Man/Woman seems to be more of an identity thing to me. I’m a male, hetero, identify as male, but am I a man? I suppose by the standards of most men, not so much (I’m not very masculine – though I wouldn’t define myself as a woman either, hence my gender identity of “guy”). But my aunt was a man for most of her life, and now is a woman – seems to be identity to me.
    h, i, j: I’m iffy on the difference between trans/transgender/transsexual, though I’m sure there is one – I’m just ignorant of the lingo (I even keep forgetting what CIS stands for). As for the difference between transexual and transsexual, all I know is spell check doesn’t like the first one.

    3. Partially raised by lesbians, have had many gay/lesbian friends and acquaintances over the years and as an adult I’ve been baffled by people’s condemnation of sexual orientation. Guess that’s what happens when the first coming out you hear goes like so: “Son, I’m a lesbian”, “Okay. What’s that mean?” [explanation], “Whatever can I go play?”
    As far as why I bothered to comment… I dunno, I guess I read question 1 and thought “hmm that’s a hard one to answer, why is that?” Figured since it made me uncomfortable I should probably follow through and see where the thought took me.

  27. says

    Brian, soon to become Madi, long time sporadic commenter but never anyone important…

    1. I’m sort of between gender identifications at the moment, but “pre-transwoman” sums it up.
    2a: Trans*: someone whose brain is wired for a gender largely or totally opposite the body they were born in.
    2b: Man/Woman: someone who identifies and lives as male/female.
    3. Grew up as a guy with no clear self-identity. Red Sox and Patriots fan. Politically liberal, longtime editor and admin on RationalWiki, I have a hellacious case of SIWOTI syndrome, and I have trouble watching late 90s/early 2000s sitcoms because of their overreliance on cringe humor.

  28. kalil says

    1. Genderqueer Male

    I’ve never been ‘gender normative’. I’ve always thought of myself as male, but I’ve never been ‘masculine’, and furthermore, I’ve had a very strong dislike for masculine traits. As a kid, I decided that puberty was a Very Bad Idea, and I wasn’t going to do it. Nature had other ideas. I’ve (recently) read a lot of transgender literature, and I’m struck by how similar my horrifying experience of puberty was to the typical experience of a transgender teen. My body was betraying me, doing horrible, disgusting things, changing in ways I strongly objected to. If the internet had been around, I might’ve discovered the ‘neutrois’ community (basically, ‘agender’) and the resources being developed therein. But as a very out-of-place youth confronted with pretty severe gender dysphoria, and no model to ‘aspire’ to, I pretty much gave up. By the time I had the resources, knowledge, and freedom to consider ‘transitioning’, I had pretty much settled into being a ‘normal’ cis gay male – but I’m still not entirely comfortable in that box. I like the term ‘queer’, because it implies/accepts that my experience is more complicated than those identifiers indicate.

    Sex – the ‘physical gender’ of a person, as defined by primary and secondary sexual characteristics and genetics.
    Gender – the ‘mental gender’ of a person, as defined by what that person thinks of themselves as, how they desire to be perceived, and other mental and social factors.
    Both of the above are a) far from dichotomous, and b) not inflexible, despite societal assumptions to the contrary.
    Maculine/Feminine – traits and behaviors that society associates with certain male and female gender presentations. Despite the assertions of ‘traditionalists’, these change with time, culture, personal opinion, etc. 100 years ago, pink was considered a Manly Color in the western hemisphere. Of course, we all know that “tradition is anything that happened to a baby boomer twice”.

    A bit about me:
    I’m a long time reader – I’ve lurked on Pharyngula since well before FreeThoughtBlogs was founded. I actually wandered into Professor Myers blog off a Bering In Mind counter-rebuttal to a PZ Myers rebuttal of a Bering In Mind post. I found Pharyngula far more persuasive, and haven’t been back to Bering since. I am perhaps slightly less militant in my atheism, but I am largely politically and ethically aligned with the site, and I very much appreciate the willingness here to assault misogyny, homophobia, and other societal ills in addition to countering the anti-science and theocratic bullshit that is its more prominent raison d’être.

    Also, I’m failing to get links to work properly.
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/?no-ist – source for my assertion about pink
    http://www.xkcd.com/988/ – source for my quote about traditions

  29. rq says

    1) Mostly cisheterowoman, with a strong inclination towards ‘traditionally masculine’ activities and preferred hobbies.

    2) feminine – culturally defined activities/items/[stuff] appropriate for those perceived to be women
    masculine – culturally defined activities/items/[stuff] appropriate for those perceived to be men
    sex – genetic set of chromosomes determining female (XX) or male (XY) (for humans), without a necessarily direct correlation to outward presentation

    3) Short answer: I want to know more about this stuff. I don’t know if it will help me in the long run, or make me despair at the people around me, but I want to know more. My answer to #1 may be a bit long, and I don’t really have much comment for the definitions in #2 except to say that I chose the mostly easy ones because, for the others, it’s like I know the answers, but I feel like I would word them wrong.
    I have been a regular commenter here for a year and a half now (yeah, only), a Canadian transplanted back to eastern Europe, working irregular hours in a microbio lab (for all intents and purposes) affiliated with the state police.
    There is no long answer forthcoming.

  30. whiskeyjack says

    I’m not sure I’m formatting my response properly, but I think I’ve answered all three points here, to the best of my ability and to the degree I’m comfortable.

    1.
    I am… uncertain. I go with “genderqueer” because it seems like the least specific term.

    2.
    Female: The one who carries the eggs.
    Male: The one who carries the sperm.
    Woman: The one who’s socially-invested in carrying eggs. The one who conforms, in general, to social expectations surrounding the role of egg-carrier (many of which have nothing to do with the eggs themselves.)
    Man: As above, but with sperm.
    Trans: A person whose body would seem to indicate that they would identify as a man or a woman, but who is actually the other. This doesn’t have much to do with sperm or eggs, except that they often truly don’t feel their body “fits” who they really are.
    Social construction: In this context, a set of expected behaviours, attitudes, wants, needs, and desires that are generally associated with either men or women, and which are enforced and reinforced by society; a sort of distribution not only of labour but of social roles and personality traits. These might have their roots in “natural differences” between men and women, but are undeniably largely a matter of social demand (as far as I can tell — no one’s ever explained how much is nature as opposed to nurture to my satisfaction. The number of outliers makes me think it’s an approximation at best).

    3. I’m not trans. I’ve never identified that way. But a few years ago, I first read the word, “cis” and I had a visceral reaction — I rejected it so strongly that I literally pushed my keyboard away from me. I’m identifiable as a woman, but I’ve never really identified *as* a woman. It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless, so to speak.

    Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading and investigation, and I’ve come to really resent this binary we insist on — it’s so patently inaccurate to me that it’s almost laughable. I’ve been criticized by cis folks and trans folks alike for somehow undermining trans activism — which is never, EVER my intent — because I can “pass” and have “passed” for most of my life, so I should continue to do so. I don’t want to undermine them or make this story about me; but I can’t not say my piece (when appropriate, of course). It’s only now that I’m being more vocal about the fact that this shirt doesn’t fit, dammit, and I’m getting tired of wearing it.

    I have zero problem grasping the notion that sex is physical and gender is social. That doesn’t mean that the social aspect isn’t important, or somehow less legitimate than the physical. It’s about fulfilling the role that feels natural and right to you. Of course, if the brain is part of the body then the sharp distinction between physical and mental gets blurry (again, a binary is a bad way to look at it) but I think as a very general description of how I understand the two, it’s fairly accurate. Mind you, I’m biased because my female physicality has never motivated me to be much of a woman…

  31. says

    whiskeyjack:

    I’m identifiable as a woman, but I’ve never really identified *as* a woman. It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless, so to speak.

    I like the analogy. One of the things I’d like to learn from this workshop is a better understanding of what you’re talking about here (I’m not asking for you personally to help me with this; I just think by the end of this, I may have a better understanding of what you’re referring to). Like, what does it mean to “identify (or not) as a woman or a man”.
    Then there’s concepts like gender dysphoria, which I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around. I don’t discount that it’s real. I just don’t understand the concept. And since it’s not the job of trans*people to explain their experiences to me (a lesson I learned from Zinnia Jones), I had no intention of broaching the subject with anyone who might be able to help me understand. I was content to not know, but still believe the experiences that others relate.

  32. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A comment from your facilitator.

    @whiskeyjack, 31:

    I don’t want to undermine them or make this story about me;

    This story is about you. Each comment you make here is about you. And in this space? That’s needed. That’s encouraged. That’s good.

    Other persons’ stories can be about other persons. No apologies on this thread for making your comments about you.

    I’m glad you’re here.

  33. whiskeyjack says

    Thanks, Crip Dyke. :)

    I just feel the need to tread carefully. In a lot of ways, I am speaking from a point of privilege here — I’m not trans, for instance — and I just don’t want to be disrespectful.

    Tony!

    I really wish I *could* explain it better. Maybe I’ll find a way through this workshop. All I know is me =/= a woman. Not in any meaningful way.

  34. Hj Hornbeck says

    [emits an embarrassing squeal of delight]

    3. Hey, all! I identified as feminist before I identified atheist, but in the last few years I gradually discovered my knowledge of feminism was weaker than I desired. Since then, I’ve been gradually building it up and meshing it with my life-long love of science and skepticism. I might seem like a bit of a ringer here, but bear in mind my research focus was almost entirely on intersexed individuals; that doesn’t necessarily translate to trans* or queer people, so I might still have some biases to file down.

    1. Well, I’m [PRIVATE]. Generally speaking, I’ve never had much doubt about this answer. Oh, sometimes a few weird thoughts will pass through my head, strong enough to make me go “whoa, where did that come from?” and call a time out. But those moments have been incredibly rare, and when placed next to all those times where I’m confident and comfortable with my gender they shrink into insignificance.

    2a. Female. A biology term-of-art applied to some members of a species. It is most commonly used to refer to individuals that produce large gametes (or cells that merge for sexual reproduction) which fuse with small gametes, but can also be applied to individuals which do not produce gametes or produce non-functional gametes but otherwise bear a resemblance to large-gamete producers.

    2e. Man. A label applied to a human being, typically congruent with “male Homo Sapiens Sapiens” but not necessarily so, as well as a set of expected behaviors which may be biologically determined or reached at by social consensus.

    2g. Sex. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahaha….. noooooo way I’m touching that one.

    2h. Trans. Someone who strongly identifies with a gender/sex that is not the one they were assigned at birth. In case you were wondering, for someone who weakly identifies or does not identify at all, I’d use “queer” or “genderqueer” depending on context.

    l. Social construction. A predictive model shared by multiple individuals. See Newtonian Mechanics, Plate Techtonics, or the Two-Sex-Two-Gender Model.

  35. wirebash says

    Well, it’s me. I identify as male. First off I want to say that English is not my native language, and that I’ve never looked up the definition of sex vs. gender. I understand sex as the distinction between male/female, and gender as a general description of one’s behavior. So, sex is physical, gender is psychological. Sex is on the outside, gender is on the inside.
    Physically, I’m a male, but mentally I’m not sure how to describe myself. I’ve had crushes on both males and females, but I never got in a relationship.

    I’m confused about my identity. I want to learn.That’s why I’m here.

    So, exercise 2:
    a. Female; Someone with the female set of reproductive organs.
    b. Feminine; 1. What is typical of someone with a female set of reproductive organs. 2. Girly things.
    c. Gender; where one falls on the spectrum of masculine – feminine
    d. Male; Someone with the male set of reproductive organs
    e. Man; 1. Someone with the male set of reproductive organs 2. Someone who’s awesome, either male or female.
    f. Masculine; What is typical of someone with a male set of reproductive organs; 2. Manly things.

  36. John Pieret says

    I am an aging (soon to be 65) white person that society identifies as a male. As a child, I easily identified as a male and have no problem doing so today. Still, there is a part of me that is (without being specific) strongly interested in what it would like to be female. I’m doing this because I like to learn (see Trans/Trans*/Transgender below).

    Definitions:

    Female: should properly be a biological category (with interstices for people with extra X or Y genes) but, given the social importance given to the term, it carries much more baggage. It includes (at least) two aspects: how an individual views herself and how society (or major parts thereof) view the individual and the legal consequences of the latter. Male and female are not the only social possibilities, however.

    Male: see above.

    Trans/Trans*/Transgender: I am frankly confused by the distinctions (if any) but since I’m not supposed to look it up …

    Transsexual/Transexual: someone who has taken various medical procedures to align their body with their gender (whatever that term means).

  37. says

    1. I am gender fluid.

    2.
    Gender – How a person relates to their physical and mental perception of masculine or feminine traits. Largely a social construct reinforced by society.

    Man – A person who identifies as one through possession of masculine physical or mental traits or both. May or may not match society’s perception of a man.

    Sex – A set of biological traits mainly related to reproduction. Most often associated with male and female however sex does not have truly concrete divisions between male and female.

    Transgender – A person whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth and/or raised as.

    Woman – A person who identifies as one through possession of feminine physical or mental traits or both. May or may not match society’s perception of a woman.

    Socially constructed/social construction – In relation to gender it’s grouping people together in artificial categories that may or may not have any biological basis. Often with expected behaviors and social (and sometimes legal) punishment for deviating from them. However these norms are constantly changing and evolving. However just because something is a social construct it does not mean it isn’t real. Almost everything in our culture is socially constructed, from perceptions of race, to religion, to government, to language itself.

    3. Hi everyone! I’m choosing to do these exercises because my own gender identity is something I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with myself. I’ve never felt comfortable identifying as a woman (and before that a girl) as it just didn’t feel right to me. Nor did a male identity. Only in the past couple years have I started to find the words and concepts that excompass how I’ve felt most of my life. While I have them now it still feels strange to openly identify as outside the gender binary, like I’m making a bigger deal out of my gender identity than I actually feel. It’s such a small part of me, less important to my sense of self than being an artist or my passion for learning new things.

    I’d say my level of gender knowledge is somewhere between intermediate and advanced. I know I still have a lot to learn and figure out for myself. I want to see how other people approach gender identity, both their own and that of others.

  38. says

    Some Pharyngula commenters will remember me posting under a previous name going back to the scienceblogs days and Crackergate, but since 2012 I’ve been Xanthë. With respect to exercise 1, I’m a trans-feminine woman. I came out as being openly transgender relatively late in my 30s and am happy now identifying as being transsexual. As a result of much personal reflection and immersive study think I have a reasonable knowledge of gender but am keen on participating in order to explore the deficiencies and limits of my own understanding.

    Exercise 2. Five definitions selected by random number generator:
    c. Gender : Related to sex, a person’s individual sense of themself which they bodily communicate to others and in society, which is typically (but crucially, not always!) informed by the sex of their body.
    d. Male : two contextual definitions, (1) personally; an attribute that belongs to someone who identifies as a man or a boy, or (2) socially; male as determined for purposes of a sex marker designated on birth certificates, which defined slightly more scientifically usually means males as found in nature; in human terms, typically sperm producers possessing testes and a penis.
    g. Sex : Relating to elements that determine a person’s biological and anatomical status – chromosomes, genes, hormones, etc. that result in a phenotypic appearance of primary and secondary sexual characteristics, such as genitalia.
    j. Transsexual : Someone whose gender conflicts with their sex and who has chosen to change sexed aspects of their body, the better to live their life according to the dictates of their gender.
    k. Woman : again contextually, (1) someone who chooses to identify as a woman (yay circularity!), or (2) in the absence of other information, someone whom individuals or society recognise as a woman.

  39. says

    Introduction

    Hiya, I’m Keveak. This’ll be my first post, I think, here at Pharyngula, so I hope I’m doing things somewhat correctly. I’m a transgender woman from the not-so-cold-at-the-moment southern Scandinavia, with a lot of interest in gender and particularly in transgender rights and in questioning the assumed truths about gender (Conflict of interest, I know :P ). I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on the subject, though I am of course far from all-knowing or at all able to speak on most people’s behalves. I can of course speak on my own experiences and on what I’ve heard or researched, but I deeply apologise if I accidentally speak beyond my boundaries.

    As my location indicates, I am not technically a native English speaker. I do think that my English is at the very least comprehensible and not too difficult to read, but I do apologise in advance for mistakes.

    Exercise 1

    Already revealed much more in the introduction, so nothing against answering this:

    “I’m a woman”

    Exercise 2

    Feminine:
    (1) Aspects, be they of behaviour or appearance, that are associated with and culturally expected women and girls.
    (2) The degree to which someone display these aspects.
    (3) Stereotypical aspects associated with women and girls and used far too often as a measure of worth or realness of their womanhood.

    Gender:
    (1) Personal identity within the local cultural framework of gender.
    (2) Apparent gender/gender expression, the specific identity expressed through aspects that are considered feminine, masculine or otherwise within the culture.
    (3) Framework usually involving labels equivalent to “man”, “woman” and preferably also other options, such as “genderqueer”, “agender”, and so on.

    Trans:
    (1) Shortening of transgender or transsexual.
    (2) Less commonly a short form of transvestite.
    (3) Opposite cis.
    (4) An adjective.

    Transgender:
    (1) Gender identity does not match assigned sex.
    (2) Less commonly, broader term for people who are not cis, including genderqueer, agender, bigender, neutrois and other non-binary people.
    (3) Alternative to transsexual that clarifies the connection to gender and the lack of connection to sexuality.

    Hope I didn’t mess something up and looking forward to discussing with you folks. ^_^

  40. John Pieret says

    BrianX @ 28:

    Grew up as a guy with no clear self-identity. Red Sox and Patriots fan.

    Well, there’s your problem! If you had grown up a Yankees and Giants fan you’d have a clear self-identity!

    (Sorry for the stereotypical “male” humor, but I couldn’t resist!)

  41. says

    @Tony,32:

    Then there’s concepts like gender dysphoria, which I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around. I don’t discount that it’s real. I just don’t understand the concept. And since it’s not the job of trans*people to explain their experiences to me (a lesson I learned from Zinnia Jones), I had no intention of broaching the subject with anyone who might be able to help me understand. I was content to not know, but still believe the experiences that others relate.


    Indeed not my job, but I don’t personally mind explaining it from time to time. It’s what workshops and discussion places are for, after all.

    To me personally, dysphoria is a bit like the analogy with the shirt. Except that wearing the wrong shirt feels like wearing a straightjacket made from coarse hair that cuts through skin and flesh, but society says you can never take it off. If the shirt fits, it’s a lot easier to barely notice it or to not really care, since it isn’t restricting or painful.
    A similar comparison would be to a food that you cannot stand. Not something you’re necessarily allergic to or which is poisonous, but just something that makes you gag and that you have to fight to consume. With me, it’s liquorice, which tastes so terrible to me that it was the one food at a blindfolded tasting contest thingy (I was 7 or so at the time, so my recollection is hazy) that I could identify the second it touched my tongue. It’s not that I can’t physically eat it, but it’s very very uncomfortable and gag-inducing to do it. If you do like liquorice, that may seem completely odd and difficult to wrap your head around, but you’d probably understand why I’d not want my meals to even contain liquorice, let alone be made from it.

    I’ve also heard comparisons to if a cis person were transformed such that their body was no longer how it used to be and everybody insisted that they were always that way or comparisons to phantom pain (it seems a lot of people understand wanting to get something they lost back to what feels right, but can’t comprehend that something can feel wrong from the get go).

    Hope some of those comparisons are useful and not entirely rambling. I am pretty enthusiastic about trying to make people grok things (usually things I myself grok… Usually. X3), but I tend to just muddle it up even more. ^_^’


    PS: I know it’s a bit off-topic, but how do I add spacing between paragraphs in this format? It seems like I have to write something on a line for the paragraphs not to run together, but I’m not exactly sure what. >_>

  42. says

    Keveak @42:
    Thank you :)
    I think that helped my understanding immensely.

    BTW, I share your distaste for licorice (I imagine I’d have a similar reaction to the one you had at the blind taste test). I would go so far as to say I *loathe* licorice.

  43. John Pieret says

    Keveak @ 42

    how do I add spacing between paragraphs in this format?

    It may just be an artifact or what browser you are using to read the thread, The only paragraph that didn’t have a space between it and the previous in Mozilla is the second and third ones after the quote.

  44. Stacy says

    Hi all. Stacy here. I’m a woman.

    I really want to learn. I have a lifetime of reading and thinking about gender issues behind me, but there’s an awful lot I don’t know.

    The subject fascinates me. The reasons why are really too complicated for a brief post. I’d rather do the exercises and see what comes up, as it were. I’ll say this: I’ve been a feminist since before I knew the word (I was born in 1958,) and, since early childhood, something about gender has baffled me.

    I knew that males tended to be valued over females, and I resented the fact, but what I didn’t understand was why.

    As a young child I was rather a female chauvinist: it seemed to me obvious that girls could do everything boys could do except they weren’t quite as physically strong, while boys could do everything girls could do except have babies. It seemed pretty obvious to me which was the more enviable ability.*

    Accordingly, I’ve always been cis, and quite happy and proud to be a girl/woman–yet at the same time I’ve always felt that gender was really no big deal, and if I’d been born male I could have had pretty much the same brain, same personality, and been happy as boy and man. (EXCEPT that I was very unathletic and I knew that would cost me even more if I’d been a guy–it wasn’t easy even as a girl. Come to think of it I think I felt lucky that I didn’t have to be, or pretend to be, “tough” all the time.)

    * I didn’t understand the male role in procreation, so I suppose that for me, females had sort of a super power.

    Female: A biological classification. A female is a living thing whose body produces ova rather than sperm cells.

    It is possible to be partly female. Some organisms, and some individuals, are hermaphroditic, or some other blend of female and male.

    Male: A biological classification. A male is a living thing whose body produces sperm cells rather than ova.

    It is possible to be partly male. Some organisms, and some individuals, are hermaphroditic, or some other blend of male and female.

    Man: An adult human being who is male, or one who was not born male but identifies with and experiences himself as a person who is male.

    Woman: An adult human being who is female, or one who was not born female but identifies with and experiences herself as a person who is female.

  45. says

    Keveak:
    I forgot to mention-if you want to add spaces, you need to insert the following string of characters wherever you want extra space-
    &*n*b*s*p*; (don’t include the * …do include the semi-colon).

  46. Charles Thornton says

    Normally known as playonwords but WordPress has f’k’d with the logon.
    Male over 60 living in the UK, currently in a longterm relationship. Suffer from depressive illness.

    a) Female – A functional division based on genetics and both primary and secondary sexual characteristics but can also refer to mechanical and electrical parts that are sockets.

    b) Feminine – displaying what is perceived by a particular culture as attributes and actions specific to those who are functionaly female although the person displaying those qualities may not be female be themselves female.

    c) Gender – multiple definitions but the 2 main ones follow. In languages; applied to words that are understood, in that language, to have feminine and masculine attributes. In science; specific to displayed sexual characteristics.

    g) Sex – What is perceived as the gender of an individual. What that individual perceives as theit sex may differ from the perception of those around them.

    I’ll leave that there at the moment but will think hard about this. A very useful exercise.

  47. Charles Thornton says

    borked the definition of (b) should read just “be themselves female”

  48. alexanderz says

    Exercise 1:
    1. Straight male.
    Yes, the boring one. Which also means that I came to it automatically, by default. I did some genderfuckery (apparently there now is a word for what I did. huh.) in school to amuse my friends, but I never questioned my identity.

    2. a. Female. – Having a primary female sexual characteristic (vulva) and lacking the sexual characteristics of an adult male. This includes primary (penis, testes) and secondary (facial hair, larger shoulders).

    b. Feminine. – Appearance: Low or no visible muscles, soft skin, no balding, little to no body hair, no facial hair, rounded (rather than angular) facial features. Behavior: non-aggressive, tendency to publicly display non-hostile emotions (like crying, laughing), tendency to publicly display affection (petting, hugging and kissing) to people with whom there is no intimacy, gentleness, caring.

    d. Male. – Having primary male sexual characteristics (penis, testes) and lacking the sexual characteristics of an adult female. This includes primary (vulva) and secondary (breasts, wider hips and bust).

    f. Masculine – Appearance: visible muscles, rough skin, body hair, facial hair, angular(rather than round) facial features. Behavior: aggressive, very averse to publicly display non-hostile emotions (like crying, laughing), very averse to publicly display affection (petting, hugging and kissing) to people with whom there is no intimacy, harshness, competitiveness.

    g. Sex. – a description of what reproductive organs a person has. Ovaries, womb, vagina for females and penis and testes for males.

    (Note: My definitions are very binary and exclude a lot of people. It’s not my intention to offend anyone. Crip Dyke has said to write what I personally mean when I use those words and the above is what I mean when I talk to someone and how I initially perceive any new person. I try to append the core meaning with an ever-growing list of exceptions and asterisks to be more inclusive)

    3. Introduction – I have very little knowledge of gender. What’s worse is that even the little that I do know are things I’ve picked up in the last year or so. Just an example: I had to look up what some of the words that were used in the exercise (not the ones in question #2, don’t worry) mean (I’m still amused with “genderfuckery”). Also, English isn’t my primary language.
    I’m doing this mainly to learn about gender, other people and how they view gender. I can do that without answering the exercise, but it doesn’t feel right to read others’ answers without contributing anything, even if my contribution is fairly banal.

    —-

    Crip Dyke:
    Why do we need to scroll to your comments? Can’t PZ update new exercises in the post?

  49. says

    Definitions:
    a. Female: Adjective correspondant to “woman” when talking about humans
    b. Feminine: Traits and behaviours commonly associated with women

    d. Male: Adjective correspondant to “man” when talking about humans

    f. Masculine; Traits and behaviours commonly associated with men

    l. Socially constructed/social construction: a concept that is not based on reality as such, but on a more or less mutual agreement within society as to what something means and how the things/people defined as such are. How the concept is constructed varies widely over time and between societies, but within each society the construct is seen as real and common sense. Social constructs are often self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Introduction:
    Oh dear, where to start? My interest in gender and feminism spiked after I had daughters* and realized how fucked up the world is in that aspect. I have little background in theory, but not none, and I know a heap of horse dung when I see it.
    I consciously did NOT define man and woman above. I do not have any definitions of those therms that do not shit on other people. The best I can say is “you know it when you are one”.
    *They currently both identify as girls, so I’ll call them daughters. It’s also that the worls sees them as girls so they get all the girl-crap and expectations pushed onto them.

  50. says

    Hi, I’m WMDKitty. I’m 32, female-bodied, and bumbling my way through figuring out my own gender identity. I’ve had “no, you’re a girl” thrown at me for so long that somewhere along the way I ended up (grudgingly) accepting and internalizing it. Growing up, I had no concept of gender beyond “boys have a penis, girls have a vagina”, and sex was something dirty. Okay. As a small child, it didn’t much matter – I could still do anything the boys could do. (Well, anything within my physical limits, seeing as I’m disabled. “Climb a tree” is on my bucket list.) I was perfectly fine with being different, because, hello – I stick out like a sore thumb, and it is unavoidable.

    Then things started changing. Growing. Okay, I could deal with having boobs. They’re fun to play with. Win.

    Then one day there was pain. And bleeding. From a place that shouldn’t have been bleeding. And more pain, because my uterus is evil and likes to torture me. It’s not enough that there’s all this pain and blood, no, there’s severe anxiety, outright panic, wanting to hurry up and die (because damn that’s a lot of blood), and a bone-deep feeling of WRONG and Body Horror. And a fucking migraine, to boot.

    That moment of sheer horror, when I realized I’d have to go through this on a monthly basis, that this is what being female-bodied entailed, that I could grow a parasite… oh… it was a moment of beauty, an Oh Crap Moment of life-altering proportions. A true Dethroning Moment of Suck.

    Six years of hell later, I went on Depo. I fucking LOVE progesterone so much. It made all the icky wrongness stop.

    Anyway, through all that, I’m absorbing and internalizing this false idea that “I have lady-parts, therefore I am female” and getting all kinds of crap because I was into, like, “boys’ stuff” (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anyone?) and suffering through the annual “Thanks for the Barbie, Gramma” façade at Christmas. It never occurred to me that there were, well… options beyond heterosexual and female.

    Until I found the Furry community, which is a whole ‘nother ball of fur – suffice to say, I’m a lifestyler. I’m Furry, feline, and occasionally forget how to human. Anyway, that was my introduction to a good number of new concepts… and some very interesting porn. That was pretty much the point where my orientation decided to make an introduction, and a whole new world of possibility opened up. I should note that, growing up, it was just expected that everyone was cisgendered and heterosexual, but nothing negative was ever said about LGBT people, either. It just wasn’t discussed, so I didn’t have any real baggage in that department. (Not that I ever officially came out as bisexual, it’s just another one of those things we don’t talk about.)

    It took longer – a lot longer – for the idea of transitioning from one gender to another to enter my head. A lot of my education on trans* issues has come from FTB, actually, and I’m finally starting to put a paw on just what it is that’s been bothering me my whole life.

    Exercise 1
    Gender Identification

    I feel like I’m somewhere in-between male and female. Some days, I feel a little more feminine, some days I feel more masculine, most days I just feel… neutral? It’s a strange combination of "both/and" and "neither/nor", like the gender spectrum is waaaaay over there, and I’m off to the side observing. I’m not terribly hung up on pronouns (though I’d prefer neutral pronouns if at all possible) — I guess… genderqueer? genderfluid? Gender-meh?

    Am I even explaining this coherently?

    Exercise 2
    Gender/Sex Definitions

    Sex refers to, well, whether you’ve got the male bits or the female bits.

    Gender is more the… the internal sense of "being" male or female or wherever you might be between the two.

    A transsexual is one who has transitioned from one physical sex to another, bringing the body into alignment with the brain.

    Commentary on 2 — Okay, I know I half-assed it. I’m not good at verbalizing or wording definitions without parroting the dictionary, and my ability to organize my thoughts is spotty at best, and I have a LOT of learning to do.

  51. says

    Hi. I posted here for a short time in 2012. I was sort of…ugh. Anyway, I suppose one of the reasons I’m doing this is self-discovery. I am always learning things about who I am, and my gender is something I have been looking at for a few years. Sorry if it’s a bit selfish. I am very confused about gender, period, so it’s a bit hard to make sense of my own, but I try.

    1) Gender ID: I am mostly gender neutral and a little bigender. [If that sounded odd, it's because I'm still making sense of it.]

    2) Gender/Sex Definitions:
    + Gender: how we feel and/or express ourselves as put into a category or under a label (man, woman, bigender, neutrois, etc.), though sometimes imposed on us by others.
    + Sex: how our bodies are composed – chromosomes, genitals, hormones, etc. – as put into two categories with a nice grey area, which itself has different categories.
    + Transgender: someone’s felt and/or expressed gender doesn’t agree with the one assigned them at birth.
    + Socially constructed: it is part of our culture and forced into our skulls from birth, but it isn’t necessarily the way it works.

  52. Dhorvath, OM says

    I tend to be more comfortable calling myself male than man. For me, man has seemed something that other people play at being, but the game held little attraction that called my participation. That said, I am quite welcome to join the game as a man, and the leverage I have due to this is inescapable. So, for gender words, that one fits me best.

    Gender is a role that we play in our social life in an attempt to define ourselves, whether to fit in or stand out. Most of us have had this role scripted due to sex characteristics and some of us have managed to bend or break the roles we were presented. In my culture it tends to cluster around roles confined to woman or man.

    Sex is a physical attribute, largely defined based on internal versus external reproductive organs.

    Transgender is someone who rejects the gender role society suggests and chooses one that fits their internal picture of themselves.

  53. Dhorvath, OM says

    whiskeyjack,

    I’m identifiable as a woman, but I’ve never really identified *as* a woman. It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless, so to speak.

    This resonates.

  54. =8)-DX says

    Hi I’m a long-time commenter, bilingual living in CZ with English as my first language. I’m interested in gender issues because it seems to me that the strict gender roles and stereotypes are stifling to people of any sex or gender. Exploring the quirks of the gender spectrum are an interest I gained on my first Gay Pride march in Prague – seeing so many happy, queer people in one place was just electrifying. Most of the things I know is from conversations with friends, online discussions, articles, feminist blogs, gay media and of course pharyngula comments as well as the Lovecast.

    1)My gender: cis heterosexual male (had thought of modifiers, but can’t come up with anything appropriate: fem, homophilic – all too strong, added cis-het later).

    2)
    Feminine – refined, soft, elegant, smooth, curved, kind, delicate. A slew of associations that define not what it is like to be a female, or female bodies any more than male ones, but rather the “idea” that is associated with females by culture, and expressed through clothing, personal grooming and behaviour.

    Sex – a biological category including a number of primary sexual characteristics (mainly reproductive organs) and secondary ones (hair growth, chromosomes, hormones, body ratios, facial characteristics).

    Trans – an adjective that is used to denote a person who is either has in the past, is currently, or will some time in the future, undergo a transition from a previously assigned at birth gender and/or sex to another. Determining whether someone is trans or cis, or their current transitioning status is a question for that person to decide, perhaps in association with their psychologist, therapist or other doctor.

    Social construction – a social construct is a concept or label referring to a model or interconnected series of models of reality pervasive in a given society. An individual’s understanding of a social construct may vary, but it is the input provided by all communicating members of society that in the end defines the meaning and importance of that construct. Some social constructs model reality more accurately than others, but this accuracy has no bearing on its actual importance in society and communication. Generally, more rigid, simplistic and less flexible social constructs will tend to model reality less over time.

  55. bethy says

    1. Woman.
    2. Man: an adult who identifies as male. Feminine: expression of self in a way that correlates to societal views of what female should be. Sex: biological term that describes an individual’s sex chromosomes, and/or reproductive organs, and/or physiology and attempts to categorise said individual into groups of male and female.
    3. I have a relatively amateur understanding of gender issues. This is despite being a woman married to a woman, having people asking us which of us is the “man”, if one of us will be called dad by our children, having everyone I know asking incredulously if we were both going to get married in dresses, my mother constantly buying my wife tools she doesn’t want because she is less “feminine” than me… the list goes on.
    In ways being a same sex couple frees us from expectations of traditional gender roles. Can we walk down the aisle together? Why not. Can we both be part time stay at home mothers and part time workers? Why not.
    I also helped to run a social support network for queer youth for several years. I interacted with many trans, gender queer and questioning youth and learned a whole lot about what it means to be a man, a woman or neither and how young people develop a sense of their gender. I supported a friend through transitioning from female to male (his words). I struggled often with knowing which pronouns to use or trying to abandon them altogether which was harder than I thought.
    And every day at work I ask pregnant women and their partners if they want to know their baby’s gender from the ultrasound scan and wonder if I should be saying sex. And wishing I didn’t have to ask that because they’re all expecting human babies (isn’t that enough?) and I know most of them are heading off to buy pink or blue wallpaper (puke).
    And the violent reactions I get when their baby has the UNWANTED genitals, jebus. Sometimes I’m blamed for the result. It makes me sick to my stomach. A very low percentage of parents ask if their baby is healthy. A very high percentage ask if I can recheck the genitals because they just FELT IN THEIR BONES it was a boy/girl. I also feel keenly aware that some of my babies won’t be boys OR girls.
    Ramble over. I need to understand this whole issue better.

  56. whiskeyjack says

    @Dhorvath, 55

    I have a pet theory that there’s actually at a minimum a significant minority of people who aren’t *really* cis — it’s just that they’re not trans and it’s never really occurred to them that it’s possible to be something in between. I think that a lot of people are going to have some revelations in the next few decades. If, you know, the world lets them.

    But maybe I’m an optimist. It would help a lot if a lot of people suddenly had some first-hand, socially-acceptable resonance with non-binary definitions. That would be… supercool. :P

  57. says

    bethy:

    having people asking us which of us is the “man”

    That crap is so annoying. A few days prior to my termination from my last job (at a restaurant), I had a coworker in the kitchen make a remark about gay relationships. He was asking “which one is the man, and which one is the woman”. It was irritating, so I said something along the lines of “just bc one person is getting fucked doesn’t mean he’s a woman. 2 gay men having sex are still 2 gay men. One just takes it up the ass.” He didn’t respond. I think my frankness was a bit shocking.

    Sometimes I’m blamed for the result. It makes me sick to my stomach.

    I can understand why.
    Geez, as if you played any role in determining the sex of someone else’s child.

  58. says

    Sally
    *waves*
    I think that the two of us would have been best childhood friends. That resonates so much.
    It was also when I noticed for the first time how fucked up gender norms are: When people misgendered me ad subsequently reacted hurt, or angry (because it was somehow my fault) and told me that obviouly not a “real girl” and should better have become a boy.
    I also developed a strong gender identity back then. I was a godsdamn girl, no matter what they said or what I did. Fuck that shit.

    bethy

    And the violent reactions I get when their baby has the UNWANTED genitals, jebus. Sometimes I’m blamed for the result.

    People who complain about a healthy child because of the wrong genitalia don’t deserve to have children. They have the fundamentally wrong attitude towards children and probably shouldn’t be let near them.
    It’s incredible how many people pity me for having two girls and who want to cheer me up and encourage me to go on and try to have a son. As if those two wonderful human beings I have the privilege of raising were consolation prizes.

  59. John Pieret says

    A possible topic of discussion is the view points of someone like Al Mohler, who is a marginally more sane theocrat than most (he accepts … if still hates … the fact that the religious right has lost on same-sex marriage) … less because he has anything useful to say than because he represents a significant proportion, if not the majority, of the American public on the issue of gender. He says of “sex” and “gender,” in connection with an upcoming TIME magazine story with Laverne Cox on the cover (a good sign, I’d say):

    Now, by the way, she [the author] suggests in this article that the transgendered individuals in American society make up only an estimated 0.5%. She says that can make it harder for them to gain acceptance. But she goes on to say the biggest obstacle is that transgender live in a world largely built on a fixed and binary definition of gender. In other words, it’s not the tiny numbers that are the most determinative here. Rather, Katy Steinmetz says it is the fact that most Americans still operate on the basis of a fixed and binary understanding of gender. She goes on to write, “In many places, they are unwelcome in the men’s bathroom and the women’s. The effect is a constant reminder that they don’t belong.” …

    Steinmetz goes on to say, “For many trans people, the body they were born in is a suffocating costume they are unable to take off.” She then refers to the entire mentality behind the transgender revolution and writes this:

    Understanding why someone would feel that way requires viewing sex and gender as two separate concepts–sex is biological, determined by a baby’s birth anatomy; gender is cultural, a set of behaviors learned through human interaction.

    This is perhaps the most important sentence in the entire cover story in TIME magazine. In this sense, Katy Steinmetz is exactly right. The modern transgender theory and, for that matter, the transgender revolution requires a sharp distinction between sex and gender, between biological sex and sociologically-developed gender.

    Before leaving that issue, we simply have to recognize that the Christian worldview allows for at least a partial distinction between sex and gender. We do understand—intellectual honesty compels that we understand—that at least some of the things that are associated with being male and female are indeed socially constructed. They also tend, as we note, to follow very similar patterns of social construction, society by society, generation by generation, even millennium by millennium. That points to something that Christians also affirm, and that is that the notions of sex and gender cannot be fundamentally severed. We do not deny that any culture—all cultures for that matter—read onto the notions of male and female certain notions of masculinity and femininity that are not right or true; they’re not biblical or proper. But we also understand that the bottom line is even more clear. There’s an essential link between sex and gender, biological sex and the social understanding of gender, and that’s not an accident. It has something to do with the fundamental order of creation. It draws attention to the glory of the Creator and to the structures he has created that lead to human flourishing. Respecting those structures—including the unity of sex and gender—respecting that leads to human flourishing; severing that, that is, to sever what God has put together, either hampers human flourishing or fundamentally destroys the foundation that allows flourishing even to exist.

    [Snicker] “Intellectual honesty”? Gender is, at least partially [to Mohler], a social construct, but he declares an arbitrary “unity” between them because … BIBLE.

    That’s what people of good will are up against.

  60. eternalstudent says

    Hello,

    I’m a bog-standard, middle-aged, somewhat geeky, straight white male. I work as an aerospace engineer, and have a wife and kids I love very, very much. I grew up in a Catholic family, now consider myself atheist, and have been completely oblivious to anything outside my own little bubble for most of my life. I started to twig onto the concept of privilege and the differences between men and women’s view of social interaction during Elevatorgate, my education here eventually leading me to realize, with mounting horror, just why a particular female classmate dropped out of college. I was raised to respect everybody, but my education on sexuality came largely from porn. I think I’m over that, but I know I still have a long way to go. While I am dimly aware of the spectrum of gender between straight, traditional male and straight, traditional female, I’m hoping this workshop will help me fill in the large blanks in my understanding. Icing on the cake would be if I can also figure out how to communicate what I learn to my kids, and how to figure out when the “time is right” (is that even a concept anymore?).

    Exercise 1: Straight male.

    Exercise 2: Note I’m writing these without looking anything up, per my understanding of the point of the exercise.
    Gender: Physical differences in procreative equipment: the “hardware” difference between men and women.
    Sex: I honestly have no clue what the difference between sex and gender is.
    Man: Equipped with a penis and a an X and Y chromosome
    Woman: Equipped with a vagina and two X chromosomes
    Transgender: A medically aided change from the hormones and equipment of a Man to a Woman, or vice versa.

  61. opposablethumbs says

    1. Gender identification: cis woman
    2. Gender/Sex definitions:
    a) Female = having an XX chromosome (I know intellectually that this may be problematic and ill-informed; this is my honest admission of what I immediately think of as “female”)
    b) Feminine = conforming to an arbitrary social construct of what constitutes appropriate or typical

    behaviour for a female person, on the understanding that society as a whole generally assumes all

    women to be female people and all adult female people to be women.
    k) Woman = an adult person who identifies as a female human being, regardless of what chromosomes

    they may have.
    I am being scrupulous to write this without first having looked any further down the screen: in terms of my initial response, then, I realise that logically this would mean a person can be a woman without being female. And that my initial response may be all kinds of fucked up. Which I suppose is part of the reason I’m here; I would like to learn to be less wrong. I just want to add that a woman who happens not to be female is just as much a woman as another who does happen to be female as well.
    h) Trans = adjective describing a person who is either transsexual, transgender or both.
    i) Transgender = adjective describing a person who identifies as a gender other than the one assigned to

    them at birth. My immediate, unreflecting inclination would be to think in terms of an “opposite” gender. A

    person who knows that the behaviour patterns that are right for them are generally the ones that society

    associates with the “opposite sex”
    j) Transsexual = adjective or, I am perturbed to realise, if I’m honest this can be a noun in my mind as well. A person who knows that their physical body ought rightly to be the “other” sex, whether they have had (the opportunity or wish for) any surgical/hormonal or other physical changes or not.

    I notice that I am more binary-minded than I thought I was, even though I have (for as long as I can remember) always rejected the notion that women and girls have to be feminine (I didn’t think about men and boys until later, but the same applies (I thought about this for girls probably from age 3/4/5 but about boys perhaps as a teenager)) or that they are any the less women for having “masculine” tastes, accomplishments, appearance or behaviour, or ditto for people whose accomplishments, appearance or behaviour etc. are a mix OR blend OR neither.

  62. Krasnaya Koshka says

    First, wow, this is quite hard. Which is why it’s needed and why I thank both Crip Dyke and PZ.
    1.I identify as a fancy butch cis-woman.

    How I came up with my gender identification? I was the first grandchild on both sides of my family so I was the adored little girl. The petite, chatty girl. My paternal grandfather always called me “The Rooster” because I was quite bossy when the younger grandchildren came about. And he backed me up, so I continued to be “in charge”, even in my dresses.

    When I soon became a tomboy, it was no problem for my family. I don’t remember getting any guff about being “butch” from my family. I was quite lucky there were no really enforced gender roles in my family (perhaps at Thanksgiving). Women did not wear make-up (because they didn’t want to), except on special occasions. I was never told I should get married, either. (My paternal grandparents were severely lapsed Mormons and my maternal grandparents were an American G.I. , disappeared, and a German grandma—who was more concerned about how much I ate—more and more and more. I think the women in unhappy marriages in my life kept them from forcing me to conform.)

    2.

    b. feminine – soft, acquiescing, malleable, weak (honestly, I learned this from my paternal grandmother who was a self-loathing “Missouri Sioux” –not that I blame her, with the horrific racism of my grandfather!–and often spoke terribly of “those stupid women with their clown make-up, parasols and high shoes”). Nowadays, I would say feminine means striving hard to present as female.

    f. masculine—trying not to be as emotional, trying to be more confident, more respected.

    j. transsexual/transexual – At least 25% of my close friends are trans* and they’ve asked me not to use this term, so I don’t.

    3. Despite having a lot of friends who are trans* men and women, I feel I’m intermediate. I even bucked at the term “gender-queer” back when it first came up, too.So this exercise is good for me. (And am I not gender-queer?)

    I’ve always been a lesbian and I call myself “fancy butch” because I do like to wear make-up sometimes and I like to wear men’s suits and dress shoes and have men’s hairstyles. I can’t imagine wearing women’s shoes (shiver); even when I was very femme, I wore Doc’s.

    Obviously I don’t buy into the binary but I also have my major blockages. MAJOR.

  63. eternalstudent says

    Crip Dyke: May I make a suggestion? Consider having PZ create a new thread for each new set of exercises? I for one tend to get lost when a thread gets long, over a couple hundred comments. Breaking it up would make it much easier to follow, IMHO.

  64. Seize says

    @ whiskeyjack

    I have a pet theory that there’s actually at a minimum a significant minority of people who aren’t *really* cis — it’s just that they’re not trans and it’s never really occurred to them that it’s possible to be something in between.

    This resonates with me. I was initially surprised that so many people here have identified outside the binary — in my initial comment I chose to leave out my gender identity because I assumed it would be one of the two most common answers. When I reexamined this choice I found (1) that I clearly manifested a bias, which is demonstrably incorrect and (2) that, looking inward again, I realize I have identified as a “woman” mostly to avoid the scary reality of how people might treat me if I challenged gendered expectations. I still do challenge gendered expectations — I just pick my battles, and refusing to perform the most external, ornamental forms of femininity is not an important battle for me personally. In fact I find that high heels and makeup are a great camouflage for my personality, which is aggressive, confident, and I think unusually “entitled” for a woman.

  65. says

    @31. whiskeyjack

    I just really wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU! (There are several people I’m reading in here that I feel a wish to send a virtual hug to…in appreciation for the willingness to open up and engage!)

    Your point about “…It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless…” — is one that struck me. Like you, I’m cautious here about what/how I say, out of respect for others whose personally lived experiences I can never understand (no matter how much I want to…and I *do* want to understand).

    Your comment touches on part of the why I use “fluid” to attempt to describe gender in myself (“define” is inappropriate for my purposes, really, and adjectives are in limited supply).

    At the most basic and seemingly obvious layers…I am a “heteronormative female” — and I am perfectly cool with that for practical purposes. Happily married, mother of three…spanning 22 years, come Monday…blahblahblah.

    But…*thinks…gah this is tough to articulate*…gender, to me, is nothing more than an abstract construct. Relevant, perhaps, to classification…but like M/F designators, I keep coming back to “classification for what, exactly??” and I find myself stumped. Sure, I’m “cisfemale” — okay, fine. Sure, I self-identify as straight woman…whatever. What the heck does that even *mean*, though…in the larger scheme of things?! It frustrates me because it feels as though those classifications are designed to put me (you, all of us) in some box, like This Is You – and it frustrates me in ways I have trouble articulating. What about being a woman “defines” me in any meaningful way? I am a woman, but that is not all I am. Doesn’t matter *what* label gets slapped on the sleeve of that ill-fitting shirt you describe, you know? The label might be “accurate,” so far as it goes, but it doesn’t tell anything close to the whole story.

    *hmmm* I hope what I’m trying to say makes sense outside of my own head.

  66. Krasnaya Koshka says

    @58 whiskeyjack

    and also @66 Seize for highlighting,

    I have a pet theory that there’s actually at a minimum a significant minority of people who aren’t *really* cis — it’s just that they’re not trans and it’s never really occurred to them that it’s possible to be something in between.

    I have never considered myself 100% female, but I thought cis meant you identify–i.e. are okay–with the body you were born in (?). I probably don’t, am not, but I don’t want to be a man, either. So much thought fodder, really. (Thank you!) If cis means I agree with what society says my genitals should make me, I’m definitely not cis.

    When I was younger, I was a hardcore athlete and that made my life really difficult as a girl. When I had to have knee surgery after a particularly rough rugby match (my first, actually), the surgeon told me that since it was not possible for me to “go pro” they’d just cut out my ACL instead of trying to re-connect it. I did wish I was a boy then.

  67. says

    1. I am a Transgender Woman.

    I was assigned male at birth but have never been comfortable with this label. I never identified with male but felt forced to go along with it most of my life. I grew up in a small town with rigid social roles within and without gender so questioning my maleness or expressing my more feminine traits was not allowed or acceptable. I just assumed there was something wrong with me. As a child I still hoped I could “magically” turn into a girl and as I got older I thought it must be mental illness. It wasn’t until recent years after educating myself, having more experience and meeting with and getting to know people more like me that I began identifying as genderqueer online. However genderqueer didn’t cut it for me personally. It wasn’t enough. I still suffered from gender dysphoria and was uncofortable being male-bodied. Finally, last fall I came to a turning point where I felt I needed to live full-time with a female identity, expression and body. Truthfully, I am not totally comfortable with rigid identities like woman as I don’t want to reinforce strict gender identities, roles, labels, etc. but on a personal level I identify with the terms female and woman to a point where I feel no frustration or dysphoria when other people label or identify me this way.

    2.
    g.sex-label assigned to an organism to denote and expected role in sexual reproduction based on appearance and/or
    function of the genitals and other secondary sex characteristics.
    k. woman-an identity or label used by or given to an individual that defines them as fitting certain social and biological characteristics seen as feminine.
    h. trans-an identity or label give to or used by an individual who does not conform to the gender/sex assigned to them or the gender expectations of the society the live in.

  68. otrame says

    I am a cis woman who has never had a problem with that, even though I was never a typical girl. I was lucky. My parents accepted my lack of interest in dolls and love of climbing trees and they never made me feel weird about that. I had enough of that outside the family.

    I had a friend in high school who told me “I’m a boy. I don’t care what my body looks like. I am a boy” We got to know each other pretty well, and thought we had a lot in common. Both of us thought Barbies were boring when we were little. Both of us wanted to play football and army with the boys until our early teens, at which time we were both unceremoniously assigned to being “cheerleaders” and “nurses”. I knew that there was a difference between what she felt (I call her she because as far as I know, she never called herself anything else) and what I felt. I was a girl. I just wasn’t feminine.

    At several stages in my life I found myself trying to fit into the stereotypes expected of me. Eventually in each case I said, “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke” and did the best I could to be me. I had few female friends as a kid. I liked boys better. It wasn’t until I got into college that I met a significant number of women who did not think that clothes were of supreme importance and that shopping was the only hobby worthy of the name. I have a number of women friends now. Hell, some of them are even “typical” girls because I have found that just because it was never for me doesn’t mean that everyone for whom it fits is an idiot (as I once thought).

    I was always glad I had boy babies, because I wasn’t sure how to be a mother to a girl. As I often say “I wasn’t a very good girl.” Of course, by that I mean I did not fit the typical feminine stereotype of my time. They had a word for what I was “Tomboy”. There was a world of condescension in that phrase, part “poor confused thing” and part “wait till you get older”. Nowadays I think I would have done fine with girl children, but at the time I wasn’t so sure.

    I love the male body but I don’t like men who spend a lot of time being “masculine” all over the room. I have had an occasional thrum of sexual attraction to a woman (as I have said elsewhere, I would do Lucy Liu any time she would be interested (which she wouldn’t)) but for the most part it is men that I find sexually attractive.

    The advantage of having a transgendered friend long before I ever heard of transgender is that I was always open to the idea that “men are men and women are women” was a load of bollocks. It has made my education in these things a little easier.

    So, definitions, for me:
    Male and female are biological descriptions of primary and secondary sex characteristics (and as such there is such a thing as ambiguously sexed and intersexed and quite a few other distinctions which screw up the nice symmetry). Man and woman are how the individual man or woman defines him or herself (except some don’t). Masculine and feminine are the current socially prescribed ideas of what man and woman should be.

    And all those binaries (and even the definitions of male/female, man/women, etc) in the previous paragraph are bullshit because nothing about humans is ever that simple.

  69. billaway says

    1) I am a man

    This was automatic, without any thought

    2) Might as well just do the first 5

    Female: A member of a species that reproduces sexually that has the reproductive organs which house the eggs.
    Feminine: The perceived characteristics of that which has been defined as female. Whether or not they are in some sense true, they are socially constructed through our language
    Gender: A social construct that defines what is and isn’t appropriate behavior for individuals perceived to be male or female. Though in the English language there has been a modern day attempt to separate sex and gender, historically sex and gender were inseparable.
    Male: A member of a species that reproduces sexually that has the reproductive organs which house the sperm.
    Man: and adult of the male sex. Men are perceived to be strong physically and mentally.

    3) I am a man who has experienced sexual violence and abuse and it has set me back in my life. For most of my life I attempted to ignore the issue, and my way of dealing with it now has been to take it head on and it is currently in the court system. My acknowledgment of the incident turned my understanding of gender and gender issues on their head.

    When I was a teenager I was your typical angry white male, akin to the amazing atheist, who I watched right when he started. Was bullied in school, had no confidence, sat in my basement all the time, hated the world etc. I was involved in the youtube atheist movement that was a thing for awhile though I was never a big name I made a few videos (a big regret now.) I had the defensive attitude towards gender issues that a lot of guys my age get. Was bitter about having shitty school years, not getting laid, not having the high school experience that movies promised me etc. When I was 19 I was taken advantage of by a psychologist. The really fucked up this was that I was genuinely trying to improve my life and get better and he set me back all for his own sexual gratification.

    I eventually went back to school, made an effort to improve and things were getting better. Got a girlfriend, eventually had a full dating life, and it was pretty much because I stopped being bitter and focusing on the world and instead focused on myself and my own life. However For years I minimized what happened with the psychologist, told myself it was no big deal blah blah blah until I started coming out to some friends while drinking, then sober, then another psychologist. When I found out there was another case already before the college relating to him all my defenses came down and I was forced to deal with what happened to me and acknowledge that it was a big deal.

    My experience with those who know is mixed. I’ve had some extremely supportive friends through all of this but at the same time most people don’t wanna hear it because it’s uncomfortable. I have been told the man up line before and it’s infuriating. It still feels like it’s this shameful thing I have to keep secret from the world and it’s hurt me. It’s affected my social life, the sports I’ve been doing, my work life, my extracurricular and other things that I’m trying to do. I do feel that my social identification as a man has affected my experience of this entire thing.

    At the same time it’s made me very aware of how harmful my attitudes towards sex and gender were before all of this. I come back and read the skeptic community from time to time, mostly for the show because I see no value in it anymore. The so called elevator gate thing was amazing to me. All of these guys getting defensive over a girl saying some guy, that wasn’t them, made her uncomfortable in the elevator. The segment is literally like 20 seconds long and ends with her saying “guys don’t do that,” and all of the sudden all these men thought that she was the scum of the earth.

    My hope with this is to get a better grasp on these things. Right now I believe that at the core of all these issues there is a certain fundamental lack of respect for each other as human beings. Though I understand now how harmful my own attitudes use to be and the harmful effects of sexual violence, I have no idea what it is to be a woman or transgender in day to day life. It seems that everybody wants to speak but nobody wants to listen, and that is one of the worst attitudes people can have. And everybody feels they can speak even when they haven’t listened. And that seems to go for all of us these days, men and women, and not just relating to gender issues. However, considering the latest events in the news and the movement that it’s sparked I do feel that it’s my turn to listen and learn right now (despite how long winded this post has been, sorry bout that.)

  70. says

    @ WMDKitty — Survivor 51

    Until I found the Furry community, which is a whole ‘nother ball of fur – suffice to say, I’m a lifestyler. I’m Furry, feline, and occasionally forget how to human. Anyway, that was my introduction to a good number of new concepts… and some very interesting porn.

    Fellow furry here *pawslap*. This is a significant thing and something that should have occurred to me to bring up as well. That community does things with gender that have pretty much shattered my ideas on what people can or should identify with. I have been too introverted to participate in the community IRL, but I’ve been one of them since early elementary school. There’s something about early childhood imprinting and entertainment…

    May you climb your tree.

  71. Krasnaya Koshka says

    billaway @72-

    You’re not at all long winded. I’m very sorry that happened to you (I’m also sorry to sound so contrite with platitudes when I feel more). But I appreciate you sharing.

    I agree that there is a fundamental lack of respect and listening.

    Your sharing helps. (Also, that’s a great a story of self-discovery, though I’m sad about its cost.) (I’m quite a bit crap about typing what I’m feeling. But I’m not shocked at your experience, as it’s quite close to mine, as far as psychologists go. Not that I wouldn’t believe you regardless. Did I say I was crappy about typing what I mean?)

    I also heartily agree with Otrame at 71:

    And all those binaries (and even the definitions of male/female, man/women, etc) in the previous paragraph are bullshit because nothing about humans is ever that simple.

    If we could do away with enforcing “MEN should do this…” and “WOMEN should do that…” it would be so much cozier for us all to talk to each other. But I’m preaching to the choir, and I come from atheists so it was not hard for me.

  72. smhll says

    1. I am an unfeminine female person.
    I had to circle around to say this, passing through my clothing choices before tossing that aside and trying to deal with my underlying sense of self, rather than what intentional or unintentional signals I may send to others. Saying this was relatively easy for me, I suppose, as I am in a long standing hetero relationship with a man who is broad shouldered but compassionate, who rejected the more toxic parts of ‘masculinity’ before he met me. He’s a happy choice for a het feminist woman like me to partner with.

    2. (a) Definition for female:
    (Well, yipes, my first thought was of receptive sex, which I know is way heterosexist. Also, defining ‘females’ relative to’males is problematic.) I think of ‘female’ as describing the gender that has ova.

    (b) Feminine:
    The dictionary in my head thinks this word means “girly” and all dressed up like a magazine picture. I also associate the word with soft and vulnerable. (“Vulnerable” has an intriguing etymology.)

    (c) Gender:
    I have an old-fashioned definition in my head. When I was a young feminist, a teenager reading Ms, not an academic, this word was the word that we used to talk seriously about sex roles. Because we skirted the word “sex”, as to most people at the time “sex” meant “fucking” and using the word actually led to a lot of “hur hur hur” reactions. This means I have been in the habit of using “gender” to mean “sex”, because this got into my brain in the 70s. I am trying to separate the two words and use them more thoughtfully in the future.

    3. I never took Biology in high school. (Moved a lot and “Driver’s Ed” + Health was “science” for sophomores in the school I was in that year.) It’s amazing what I don’t know. A lot of material that addresses the range of human gender is confusing for me. So I know I may be inadequately prepared to be here. And if you want to have a 201 discussion here and I need to leave and review the Pre-Reqs, the 101 stuff, so that the discussion doesn’t founder, I can be okay with that. [Either that, or I can read through everything twice and not post any more "answers" pulled from the deep uneducated parts of my brain.] [I can promise to be nice, but I can't promise not to be loud and stupid unless I take a "don't post" pledge. I pretty much am ignorant about most of this topic.]

    [I have watched one of the panels from Skepticon? with Phil Plait? (isn't he an astronomer?) and a diverse panel talking about how hormones in utero mediate gender.]

    I’d like to be a better informed and more empathetic ally.

  73. says

    1. I guess I’m a run-of-the-mill female. (Though never as feminine as my mother wanted me to be.)
    2. Female: Having egg-makers
    Feminine: Having traits that are traditionally/stereotypically associated with being female.
    Sex: XX or XY
    Gender: How one categorizes oneself on the masculine/feminine landscape

    Why am I here? I have just about zero experience/learning on the subject. This was not on the syllabus at Catholic school.

    I grew up as a tomboy, and have been fascinated (and often disgusted) with how “normal” behavior must be dictated by whatever’s in one’s pants. I was supposed to wear dresses and be demure and want to play mommy to dolls because I had a vagina. Later on, I was supposed to want to be married and make babies.

    Also, I’ve often wondered what it would be like if we could just dump gendered pronouns, and forget ticking the gender box for ID forms and such. Would the world implode if we just got over it and found truer ways to identify people? What would that look like? Eh, maybe I’m getting too out-there. At any rate, this should be a very interesting thread.

  74. kalil says

    @ whiskeyjack, dhorvath, and seize:
    Thank, I’ve been quite surprised by the number of non-binary posts who have expressed similar “I’m closest to x, but it doesn’t quite fit” feelings.
    I have a fairly small ‘n’ of gay/queer friends, but among that group I have known several ‘failed transgender’ people – people who had strong enough feelings of dysphoria that they attempted to transition, but found that the ‘other gender’ was even worse for them. It continues to haunt them, with discomfort and depression and even suicidal thoughts. I really have it quite easy in comparison – ‘male’ doesn’t feel right, but it has never bothered me that much, gender just isn’t a terribly important thing to me. I did a bit of self-hurting during puberty (that’s a whole massive tied-in issue – the tendency of people with dysphoric feelings to exact revenge on their bodies as a way of exerting some control), but never anything severe or lasting, and I ‘outgrew’ it. The dissonance receded to white noise.
    There’re a suprising number of people for whom that doesn’t/can’t happen.

    One more quick note: while the DSM handling of trans- issues has been improving by leaps and bounds, it still focuses primarily on dysphoria as a desire to be the other gender, rather than as a desire to not be your ‘current’ one. I think this definition is wrong.

    @Crip Dyke, it’s a bit late, by ‘dysphoria’ might be a really good term to add to your list of definitions.

    I pretty much offer my definition above: dysphoria is a feeling that your body is not your own, that it doesn’t fit your expectations of it. I know this is a broad enough definition to include many people with other forms of body image problem (obesity, anorexia, etc), and I’m okay with that. The stresses on the mind are very similar. When someone tells me “I’m a thin person in a fat person’s body”, who the fuck am I to argue? I can very much emphasize with that feeling that the body is betraying the mind…

  75. says

    Just a thought on the definitions I am seeing for male and female. In a social context terms like male, female, woman, man, etc. don’t have a strict sex/gender divide. Male/female, for instance, can’t be reduced to chromosomes or penises, testicles, vaginas, ovaries, etc. especially when speaking respectfully with or about trans individuals. For example, I am a woman and live full-time as such and expect people to respect that and use proper pronouns etc. At the same time I was born with certain parts and chromosomes that by some of the above definitions above would render me male. Certainly I would not want to be or allow anyone to refer to me directly as male. I identify as female.

  76. besomyka says

    Howdy all!

    I’m Rachel but go by Besomyka(@Besomyka) online. I’m a game developer, feminist, political hobbyist, and transgender woman. I’ve been reading and thinking about gender for over two decades now (I’m 36), and feel like I have a pretty good handle on myself, at least. That ‘good handle’ was only really achieved in the last 5 years or so, though.

    Being both transgender and feminist forced me to think a variety of ideas I had about myself, and my understanding of sex and gender. For much of my life up to this point, these things were not reconciled well.

    That said, I feel like I’ve only understood things to the depth that my internal conflict has eased, and I’m still curious about what else I can learn about both the subject and myself.

    Regarding my answer to #1, I don’t include any mention of my ‘transness’ because that’s not how I, personally, understand myself. In some contexts it’s an important distinction, but I understand myself, currently, as rather binary. I don’t feel like my internal sense of self has changed, only what I’ve presented socially, so … if asked how *I* identify, it’s sans trans.

    1. Gender Identification: Woman

    2. Gender/Sex Definitions:

    Gender: The core social self-identity that remains constant for me even as my public face kaleidoscopically changes from situation to situation. Generally this is a constant self that can be seen socially, but not always.

    Transgender: Someone who, in practice, has changed their otherwise constant identity that’s presented publicly. Usually because the previous self presented doesn’t match the internal sense of self for any number and variety of reasons.

    Woman: A gender label representing a broad collection of social and physical traits which, when compared stochastically to social expectations, consistently (but not necessarily completely!) overlaps with those expectations.

    Feminine: The label we give to those social and physical traits that we associated with the gender category ‘Woman’. Physically, these are traits most often influenced biologically by the hormone estrogen, and a lack of the hormone testosterone. Socially, these are traits associated with difference, pacificity, nurturing, and being socially open to expressing emotions in our current social context.

    Socially Constructed/Social Construction: Indicates that the subject has meaning only within a given social context. The meaning of the thing can change from context to context, and outside of the specific social contexts, that subject likely has no real meaning.

  77. Gnumann+, who lost his shotgun but will never loose his + (verging on the humane, fun-loving and open edge of radfem-ism) says

    Assigment 3:
    Hi! I’m Gnumann+ (formerly known as Gnumann).

    I have some gender knowledge from work (policy-making more or less loosely connected to anti-discrimination measures and legislation) and a smattering of studies in social anthropology, but I’m always willing to learn more and perhaps question my positions. All things trans* and queer is one of the subjects of gender and sex where I’m least knowledgeable.

    I’m a staunch antiessentialist feminist that believe that gender should be far less relevant socially (unless it relates to personal taste in “gettin-it-on”-activities(and even then it’s optional)), but recognize that we’re not by far there yet and there’s som ugly backlash from the progress that we’ve made.

    Not a native English speaker, but situated somewhere up north in a place reputed to be Socialist Hell (complete with a right-wing government that in practical politics is far left of Obama).

    I identify as a hetero cis white male – middle class with working class roots.

    Assigment 2:
    Sex – Biological group based on the individual’s role in reproduction, based on the mostly concurrent phenotypal sexual characteristics and chromosome make-up (xx vs xy for the majority). Usually determined binary in either male or female, though the underlying biological realities are more complex for a minority (intersex).
    Gender – A social role or image of self based on perceived sex. Sex made socially relevant. Though gender is based on sex, it doesn’t have to match biological sex. Gender is either ascribed (externally perceived by others) or claimed (experienced by self). Ascribed gender and claimed gender can conflict – either temporarily or permanently.Gender is binary (male/female) in most cultures, but some acknowledge undetermined, neutral or fluid roles as genders in their own right.
    Trans* – persons who experience a conflict either between ascribed and claimed gender, or between gender and sex. May, or may not also include persons who break gender roles by dressing up or acquiring characteristics of another gender than the one they identify/is identified as or persons who refuse to conform to binary gender roles.
    Social construct – the current result of a social negotiation of meaning (socially, as opposed to physical effect). For example – the sun is a physical object, but the meaning of the sun in culture is a social construct. The term social construct implies that the meaning has some reasonably stable common elements across the relevant culture.

  78. Dhorvath, OM says

    Alice,
    I hope that this discussion gives me a better way to deal with that. Certainly I will take your words and incorporate them into how I use male and female; I know given their lack of importance in my identity that I can easily step on the toes of those who find the words integral to who they are.
    ___

    Dysphoria. I don’t know, I am beyond comfortable with who I am. I am uncomfortable with people thinking they know me or that I have their side in a discussion based solely on my appearance. I guess for me it’s not at an individual level, but at a culture level that I question the labels presented to me. What would that be called?

  79. says

    A couple of other things about myself now that my mind is on it. I like tomboys. My wife is a tomboy (who also likes to be feminine sometimes and wishes I had more of an appreciation for the effort but I just don’t have that mindware). Despite the fact that much of my personality is stereotypically masculine, my personality has characteristics that are considered feminine. I like to talk about my feelings. I like quite a few girly things (I own more than 100 My Little Pony dolls and figurines). This bears more thinking about.

    @ whiskeyjack 31

    I’m not trans. I’ve never identified that way. But a few years ago, I first read the word, “cis” and I had a visceral reaction — I rejected it so strongly that I literally pushed my keyboard away from me. I’m identifiable as a woman, but I’ve never really identified *as* a woman. It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless, so to speak.

    That is an informative way to put it. Thank you for that.

    @ whiskyjack 58

    I have a pet theory that there’s actually at a minimum a significant minority of people who aren’t *really* cis — it’s just that they’re not trans and it’s never really occurred to them that it’s possible to be something in between. I think that a lot of people are going to have some revelations in the next few decades. If, you know, the world lets them.

    This. I totally agree. The number of times I see both men and women actively enforce norms among themselves lead me to believe that there is a huge number of characteristics that swap “sides” and can be frontloaded into personality though developmental programming (leading to many speaking of never feeling comfortable what their culture wants them to reflect, or feeling like what society wants is natural for them), or who don’t get the frontloaded programming and can choose a lot more than they realize.

    @ billaway 72
    Thank you for sharing that. Our society makes it very hard for people identifying as men to deal with sexual abuse and that is a thing that needs to change. This partially happens through role-models. But to have a psychologist involved? The idea of someone in that role abuse the role fills me with rage. You are resilient. I’m glad to see that you are coming to an understanding about how your experiences have shaped you.

    @ smhll 75

    So I know I may be inadequately prepared to be here. And if you want to have a 201 discussion here and I need to leave and review the Pre-Reqs, the 101 stuff, so that the discussion doesn’t founder, I can be okay with that.

    I’m pretty sure that there are many people here willing to answer any questions that you might have. I for one would hate to see someone remove themselves from participation because they feel like they don’t know enough.

  80. says

    @kalil I believe that when left unspecified dysphoria is already used in a broader context and refers to a depression or unhappiness and disconnect with the world around you in general. Personally, I think the term gender dysphoria as a concept can still apply in the context of those who have dysphoria with their gender but have no desire to transition in the MTF or FTM sense. i.e. I see no reason why a queergender individual couldn’t have gender dysphoria against the backdrop of male/female societal expectations. Unfortunately, society in general and the DSM is still stuck in such a binary way of thinking and often leaves them room to self-identify properly.

  81. opposablethumbs says

    Certainly I would not want to be or allow anyone to refer to me directly as male.

    That’s the kind of thing I had in mind when I noted that my own initial off-the-cuff definitions of terms could include a ton of fucked-upness on my part, and why I want to try and learn to be less wrong and hopefully to do better.

  82. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I’m here because I want to know more about myself, and understand others better, partly to avoid accidentally and thoughtlessly hurting them.

    English isn’t my first language, but I think I won’t have trouble grasping the concepts explained. Most of what I know about gender, I have learned here. No gender studies and things like that in my background. Just being a woman, and experiencing (and occasionally being hurt by) all the gender-specific messages we get from the moment we pop out.

    So, definitions from exercise 2:

    female – person with female genitalia

    feminine – various attributes from choice of clothing to mannerism that try to distinguish women from men in a way that makes women seem very different from men

    woman – 1. whoever says (feels, knows) she is a woman
    2. person I read as female

    Socially constructed/social construction – which originates from society rather than biology, and is therefore subject to change when society changes

  83. says

    @opposablethumbs & Dhorvath, OM

    I’m already slapping myself in the forehead for to my own definitions. For example:

    k. woman-an identity or label used by or given to an individual that defines them as fitting certain social and biological characteristics seen as feminine.

    I completely ignored the subjective experience of one’s own gender. I mean to say that personally the main reason I know that I’m a woman is because I feel that way. I would never say I know I’m a woman because I have certain social and biological characteristics seen as feminine. In a more crass way, I already identified as a woman when I still looked like a man. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that.

  84. morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor says

    Hi, I’m Morgan, and I was up all night being ohhhh soooo sick. Blargh. I will probably post my response tomorrow ’cause I can’t stay out of the bathroom long enough today to think.

  85. besomyka says

    @16 SallyStrange: I’m struck by your definition of Gender. Mine tended to focus on the internal and how I project, and you focused on how that projection is interpreted by others. It seems like maybe there’s a worthwhile distinction to be made between a sort of internal gender and the socially perceived gender.

    Also, there seems to be a lot of variance between how these terms apply to sex, gender, or both.

    @32 Tony! – I’ll take a stab at describing dysphoria. The most direct is what you probably know: the opposite of euphoria. I feel *bad*. But the obvious usually doesn’t help much. It probably feels like I”m just defining things rather than explaining.

    For me, being transgender is like Alice talking to the Caterpillar.

    The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

    `Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar.

    This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

    `What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!’

    `I can’t explain MYSELF, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, `because I’m not myself, you see.’

    `I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar.

    `I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied very politely, `for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’

    `It isn’t,’ said the Caterpillar.

    `Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; `but when you have to turn into a chrysalis–you will some day, you know–and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?’

    `Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar.

    `Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,’ said Alice; `all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.’

    `Well, I should like to be a LITTLE larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,’ said Alice: `three inches is such a wretched height to be.’

    `It is a very good height indeed!’ said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).

    `But I’m not used to it!’ pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone.

    One of the fingerprints of being transgender was an inability to visualize a potential me. When I was young, people would ask and I would consider, what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up. An actor? A software engineer? A musician? Each had it’s appeal, but nothing *fit*. Nothing had that quality which let me thing, “I could be that person”. There was no future in which I fit.

    And the problem wasn’t that I couldn’t figure out what I *liked*. I liked all those things; I liked playing bass, I liked coding tools, I liked acting. I just couldn’t see myself being those potential people. They were just ideas. There was no path from present me to those people.

    I couldn’t, that is, until I switched the gender in my head. The sort of ‘female version’ of those potential people felt connected to my present self. I wanted to be those possible people in a way that I didn’t before.

    Dysphoria made me feel dimensionless, like I was some sort of 2d projection in the world or a hollow marionette. I wasn’t connected to the room I was in, or the people around me, or my body. I had no real sense of self to anchor me.

    I guess I could come at it from other angles, but that’s my best stab at it :)

  86. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @eternalstudent, #65 [with seize, #68, seconding]:

    Crip Dyke: May I make a suggestion? Consider having PZ create a new thread for each new set of exercises?

    That thought occurred to me.

    To be honest, I didn’t know how popular this would be. A few folk in the Lounge said that they would be interested, and I know not everyone reads the Lounge, so I thought we might get as many as 15-20 people by Saturday night, not 50+ with 90 comments in less than 24 hours. I also thought that it would likely be mostly regulars, well used to navigating the site, because that would likely be the group who would know/trust me enough to dive into a Crip Dyke thread instead of a PZ thread.

    But we have a number of commenters who are either new or not at all regular, and I can’t vouch for everyone’s facility with navigating FtB/Pharyngula. This combined with the volume of the discussion does argue for a separate post for each commentary/set of exercises.

    alexanderz in #49 also suggested the possibility of simply updating the OP with new exercises.

    However, I’m extremely mindful that this is PZ’s living room, not mine, and that I can comment here without e-mailing him and making him do work, but creating an OP requires that I e-mail content and that he then create an entry. It’s probably not a *ton* of work, but it is nonetheless work for him. Updating may or may not be more work than creating another OP, I’m not sure. Add to that the fact that creating a post a day for a week or two under what would effectively be my byline may not be a precedent that he wants to set. He did have a co-blogging relationship with Chris Clarke, but he knew and was friends with CC. All PZ & I know about each other we’ve learned from reading each other here. We’re not friends (though he is always friendly to me!), he doesn’t do guest-posts often, and co-blogging is really inappropriate, it would seem to me, based on past precedent. A post a day with may name attached – even for the relatively short time of this work shop (a week or two) – might tend to make this blog feel less “PZ’s”. He is, of course, free to not give a shit. But he did build it, he does have opinions on what this blog is and ought to be, and if one of those things is recognizably identified with him, then more power to PZ. I don’t want the front page of his blog to reflect priorities that aren’t his. It might be that this discussion *is* a priority for him, but this thread grew out of requests/suggestions in the Lounge in a conversation that didn’t include PZ. His current gracious generosity to us doesn’t automatically signal that he wants to put up a separate thread for this discussion once a day.

    So, yeah, I’m mindful. But I’ll send him an e-mail if he isn’t reading already. It may be that what works best for PZ and Pharyngula nonetheless might require us to navigate a lengthy thread.

    If that happens I apologize, but I will take the issue to PZ.

  87. Sarahface, who is trying to break the lurking habit says

    Good $Time_of_day_where_you_are, all.
    I’m Sarahface, and I’m doing this mostly because I think it sounds super-interesting, and a little bit because I want to be challenged to think about gender in more ways than just the usual narratives.

    Hmmm… definitions…
    b. Feminine:
    To me, feminine means the set of traits that we code as ‘female’, which means it’s a big and somewhat nebulous group. It’s a descriptive word, not a proscriptive, and also (at least currently) suffers from a certain amount of bullshit and expectations. (i.e. things coded feminine are often seen as ‘easy’ or unimportant, people coded as feminine are looked down on more)

    c. Gender.
    Gender is part of your identity, and ties in with how you present yourself, how you ‘see’ yourself, the expectations that you/other people have of you, the roles you play/want to play. I think the last two are an unfortunate consequence of our culture, and should definitely be less tied to gender (and most other categories of identity)

    f. Masculine
    Masculine is a set of traits we define as ‘male’. Similar to feminine above. Equally, though, masculine and feminine could be described as things that male- and female-coded people do, but I think that makes them so huge as to encompass everything, and then you’d only need one word to describe ‘things that people do’. Maybe that’s something to aspire to?

    l. Socially constructed/social construction.
    I think a social construction is something that may or may not actually exist in ‘real life’ (eg. for gender – there are clearly differences in body type and how people define their gender) but the things we ascribe to it are somewhere between misguided and malicious, and we put way more importance on it as a characteristic than it deserves (e.g. gender has no bearing on how someone does most jobs, and yet some people still act as though it does.)

  88. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Alice Wilde, #78; Dhorvath, #81; opposablethumbs, #84:

    We’ll be talking about the implications of conflicting definitions more later, but I’m glad you kicked this off now. Just **noticing** that conflicting definitions exist in practice, among the people with whom you converse, is incredibly important.

    This is why it is so important that we are honest with each other in exercise #2 about how we actually use words. If we all cut and pasted from the OED, it would be easy to agree, “Oh, sure, that’s probably what people **really** mean,” without noticing the problems with communicating these ideas in practice when a speaker/writer thinks one of these words means and implies one set of things, but a listener/reader operates with a different (possibly overlapping, but certainly not identical) set of meanings and implications.

  89. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Besomyka, #88:

    I’m glad you brought up this quote from Carroll:

    `Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; `but when you have to turn into a chrysalis–you will some day, you know–and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?’

    `Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar.

    `Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,’ said Alice; `all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.’

    This passage can be used to help us understand the differences in perspective between people whose outlook I would call “transsexual” and people whose outlook I would call “transgender”.

    People are free to speculate on my meaning here, but I’ll leave it ambiguous for now. I’ll be posting enough on that topic later.

  90. says

    @Crip Dyke #91

    Just **noticing** that conflicting definitions exist in practice, among the people with whom you converse, is incredibly important.

    Not only that I think many of us have conflicting definitions in our own heads like I had shown earlier when I said:

    I’m already slapping myself in the forehead for to my own definitions. For example:

    k. woman-an identity or label used by or given to an individual that defines them as fitting certain social and biological characteristics seen as feminine.

    I completely ignored the subjective experience of one’s own gender. I mean to say that personally the main reason I know that I’m a woman is because I feel that way. I would never say I know I’m a woman because I have certain social and biological characteristics seen as feminine. In a more crass way, I already identified as a woman when I still looked like a man. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that.

    In a do-over I would define woman like this:

    Woman – One who identifies as a woman.

  91. LicoriceAllsort says

    I’m a USian cis-woman participating in this workshop to better educate myself about gender and to gauge the effectiveness of an online workshop in this format (possibly for use in my own work). I’ve done reading that is probably equivalent to 1 introductory college course on gender, and I’ve helped lead discussions in my volunteer organization about expanding our definition of a woman-only organization to be more inclusive of non-binary gender identities and presentations.

    My definitions (this is scary!):

    female – adj. In humans, identifying or relating more with persons who possess primary or secondary sex characteristics that are commonly associated with an XX karyotype.

    feminine – adj. Appearing or behaving in a way that is exaggeratedly female.

    woman – n. A person who identifies as female.

    male – adj. In humans, identifying or relating more with persons who possess primary or secondary sex characteristics that are commonly associated with an XY karyotype.

    masculine – adj. Appearing or behaving in a way that exaggeratedly male.

    man – n. A person who identifies as male.

  92. says

    LicoriceAllSort:

    feminine – adj. Appearing or behaving in a way that is exaggeratedly female
    [...]
    masculine – adj. Appearing or behaving in a way that exaggeratedly male

    What do you mean by ‘exaggeratedly’?

    (oh and given your nym, you can haz all the licorice in the world :)

  93. says

    1. Gender Identification:

    I have biologically male secondary sex characteristics. I’m told that I’m cisgender, making me a man, but I don’t really understand the logic.

    2. Definitions:

    Female: Sex characteristics in human beings include a labia, clitoris, vagina, uterus, ovaries, breast tissue, a relative lack of body and facial hair, a relative lack of muscle mass, especially in the upper body, etc.

    Male: Sex characteristics in human beings include a penis, scrotum and testicles, prostrate gland (literally every single time I say this out loud, I say ‘prostrate grand.’ Which is pretty appropriate, I think), a relatively larger amount of body and facial hair, muscle mass, especially in the upper body, etc.

    Feminine: As near as I understand it, “femininity” simply means behavior in accordance with cultural female gender roles and stereotypes.

    Masculine: As near as I understand it, “masculinity” simply means behavior in accordance with cultural male gender roles and stereotypes.

    Trans: To identify as or with a gender that is different than the one culturally associated with your sex, i.e. not a cisgender woman or cisgender man.

    Socially Constructed: An idea that arises at least in large part due to human culture(s), not derived from or based on objective observation that would be the same across all conceivable human societies. I.e. women sacrifice comfort or autonomy via ineffective or even painful footwear either: because their brains are hard-wired to make that sacrifice, whereas a brain of a different gender would not, versus doing so because society (in which another gender is more privileged) expects this of them, or finds it attractive and give some provisional rewards for complying with the notion.

    3. Introduction:

    I’ve been a feminist and tried to be an anti-racist ally and queer rights ally for as long as I can remember. These were my original and strongest motivations for giving up my religion when I was very young.

    I also want to be the best trans ally I can be, but I either don’t understand (to put it charitably) or disagree with (to put it bluntly) any actual information about trans or gender theory I’ve read, which has been a lot. I’ve read several books and whole blogs and tumblrs of trans folks, and I usually don’t even have a clue what is meant by “gender.” Regarding my own gender above, indeed, if I try and use the ideas of trans and gender theory to identify myself, I honestly have no clue what my own gender is supposed to be.

    But trans folks take a lot of crap and I’ve got to learn if that will make me a better ally, so I probably won’t even comment a whole lot here; I’m pretty much just here in hopes of educating myself a bit better.

  94. says

    1. Gender Identification
    Man/Male/Me … Although that’s *my* identification, other people have identified me as Woman/Female/Other on occasions when I was younger and more androgynous in appearance. But I’ve always thought of my sterotypically “male” or “female” attibutes, either physical or not, to be “me” and I’ve never had any disjunction between the physical properties/attributes/behaviours of me as Man/Male (Also a few stereotpically “Woman/Female” such as long hair and total lack of body hair!) and my inner identity/model of me as being Man/Male.

    2. Gender/Sex Definitions:
    a. Female.
    – An arbitrary** set of primarily physical attributes used to label about 51% of homo sapiens, without their consent, at birth.
    b. Feminine.
    – An arbitrary** set of behaviours and physical attributes expected of the homo sapiens in the “Female/Woman” categories but not only applied there.
    c. Gender.
    – A persons internal identity, which may or may not be affected by, or match up with, all the arbitrary** attributes, physical and behavioural, that are imposed on them. (see h)
    d. Male.
    – An arbitrary** set of primarily physical attributes, used to label about 49% of homo sapiens, without their consent at birth.
    e. Man.
    – What a member of homo sapiens calls themselves when the arbitrary** “Male/Masculine” physical attributes and behaviours, used to label them throughout their lives, mostly match up with their own internal self identity.
    f. Masculine
    – An arbitrary** set of behaviours and physical attributes expected of the homo sapiens in the “Male/Man” categories but not only applied there.
    g. Sex.
    – Usually divided into a binary based along the lines of sexual reproductive capability. Male/Female. But doesn’t cover all “male” and “female” the way I’ve defined here. More a scientific term that by no means covers all homo sapiens.
    h. Trans
    – Used to label homo sapiens who have a personal disjunction between the arbitrary** (Male/Female/Man/Woman) attributes and behaviours expected of and forced upon them and their own internal identity.
    … j is a subset of i is a subset of h …
    k. Woman.
    – What a member of homo sapiens calls themselves when the arbitrary** “Female/Feminine” physical attributes and behaviours, used to label them throughout their lives, mostly match up with their own internal self identity.

    ** (defined socioculturally)

  95. says

    Introduction and first report.

    Hi everyone, I’m Brian Pansky, I live in Canada, I’m in university taking mechanical engineering, I like art and philosophy, I’m a bit of a utopian dreamer…

    I’m interested in this discussion because of the pervasivity of gender concepts in society, because of its importance/connection to oppression in the world, and because about half a year ago I suddenly had a monumental shift in my understanding of gender that left the concept seeming perhaps meaningless, perhaps contradictory, very bizarre, more clear in some ways but more obscure in others…and stuff like that…

    I’ve read blog posts about gender related subjects, so I think I have more knowledge of the subject than most of the people I interact with in person, but I’m sure I know much less than people who study the subject, are involved with gender communities, or feel gender is important to themselves. And I have yet to read a book that CD recommended to me, though I hope to rent it from a library this summer.

    From this conversation I hope to gain clarity, if possible, about gender and what value it might have, and to see what other people think about these subjects.

    Exercise 2. Gender/Sex Definitions:

    a. Female.

    Egg producing member of a sexual species, or one possessing the biological components to accomplish this, regardless of their current capacity to function.

    e. Man.

    Most commonly I use this word to describe a male human, otherwise to refer to those who say that it refers to them and not to those who say it does not, and I accept their word as the final authority on this.

    i. Transgender.

    Not in the gender designated at birth, or not in the gender identified with at a previous time.

    k. Woman.

    Most commonly I use this word to describe a female human, otherwise to refer to those who say that it refers to them and not to those who say it does not, and I accept their word as the final authority on this.

    l. Socially constructed/social construction. [take it on only if you’ve already defined at least 3 and no more than 5 other terms]

    Something that exists only as a social phenomenon, and is “constructed” rather than discovered.

  96. ashleyjones says

    Gender identity:
    Girl/lesbian

    Definitions:
    Female- a person with the majority of these characteristics: XX chromosomes, breasts (if adult), ovaries, uterus, vagina, vulva, a system dominated by estrogen/progesterone

    Trans: a person who doesn’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and the gender roles associated with that sex

    Sex: being male, female, or intersex; a biological classification system

    Introduction:
    I’m Ashley. The words black, atheist, lesbian, skeptic, queer, kinky, and researcher are all pretty integral to my core identity. I’m doing these exercises because I see an opportunity for personal growth in it and I want to be a better ally. I feel somewhat educated on gender issues and the trans community but from a very genderqueer/faab perspective.

  97. Seize says

    @ kalil @ 46:

    ‘dysphoria’ might be a really good term to add to your list of definitions.

    This just caused a major lightbulb to go on for me.

    Thank you to Alice Wilde and particularly to besomyka for their perspectives.

    What besomyka describes in the excellent comment @ 88 is extremely similar to my own experiences of severe depression. As a young girl I fought against an intractable depression which developed gradually and completely from early childhood. There was no trigger; my family history is rife with the stuff. I deeply identify with the feeling that while my life was supposed to lead somewhere, I could not imagine where it was going to go. It was as though my very ability to “render” a self in my own mind’s eye had been impaired. I also identify with the feelings of emptiness and disconnect with the physical world. To me these seem like primary complaints associated with depression.

    What I think is most interesting of all the parallels here is that I see from your comment that you developed a lot of skills and behaviors in your time living in “the wrong shirt” which were finally able to blossom and come to fruit when you found yourself dressed befittingly. In the six years that my depression has been successfully been treated, all these disparate things I had learned and “achieved” as a younger person just…came together. The image I have in my mind is that a mirror had been found shattered and then suddenly cohered back into a single surface, reflecting light brilliantly. Only then did “going forward” make sense to me.

    Perhaps this description can help people understand the difference between “before” and “after” for persons who are trans. It’s not that who you were wasn’t important before the changes, or that you didn’t learn or have experiences or love people or make things, it’s just that there was no context for any of that information, any of that experience. When you find your context, that’s when you can take your experiences, and make a life.

  98. says

    I’m in my mid-twenties, USian, and I hope to get a better grip on my perception of my gender, as well as how others perception. I reckon I’m pretty ignorant about the whole thing. I’m a cis bi-romantic grey-asexual.

    ******
    Assignment 1:

    I would say my gender is ‘female’. This is an automatic assumption and it’s one that I find myself second-guessing on a more and more frequent basis. It doesn’t fit as comfortably as some of the other labels I’ve used, for example, Ace (asexual). I don’t, however, have anything in my vocabulary that does fit better.

    ******
    Assignment 2:

    a. Female- (1) Someone who has female biology.
    (2) Someone who considers themselves to be female.
    b. Feminine- to present in a generally female manner.
    d. Male. –(1) Someone who has male biology
    (2) Someone who considers themselves to be male
    f. Masculine –to present in a generally male manner.
    i. Transgender. –Someone whose apparent biology does not match their image of ‘self’.

  99. Seize says

    @ 81 Dhvorath, sorry I missed you the first time.

    Dysphoria. I don’t know, I am beyond comfortable with who I am. I am uncomfortable with people thinking they know me or that I have their side in a discussion based solely on my appearance. I guess for me it’s not at an individual level, but at a culture level that I question the labels presented to me. What would that be called?

    I think that’s what we would call resistance. Dysphoria may be the first signs of resistance: a discrepancy between the self and the culture has been detected, and one reaction is to accept the self unconditionally and resist the culture. I’ve learned today that most of us experience some resistance to cultural norms of gender.

    However, if the discrepancy is between the self and the more physical aspects of the person, you can’t always just accept yourself. In this case dysphoria might persist and you would need a different remedy.

  100. says

    *oh ya, as background I came from a fairly fundamentalist christian household, was told that combing my hair into a certain way at the front was girly in some way, was banned from using the only girl character in the Donkey Kong N64 multiplayer mode, and there were suspicions that me and my younger brother were gay (unfounded suspicions, it seems neither of us are) that led to some confusing and disturbing hostility from family members for a short time.

  101. gmcard says

    1. Male

    2. Definitions:

    a. Female: (1) A reproductive system that, if functional, generates egg cells. (2) An organism whose dominate reproductive systems are female as per (1).

    c. Gender: A synonym for sex.

    d. Male: (1) A reproductive system that, if functional, generates sperm cells. (2) An organism whose dominate reproductive systems are male as per (1).

    g. Sex: The classification of the dominate reproductive system of an organism: asexual, male, female, or multisexual.

    i. Transgender: The status of a person whose sex has been misidentified, or a condition in which a person of one sex identifies as a person of the opposite sex.

    3. I’m a white, American, soon-to-be middle age computer scientist. I’ve been a life-long atheist, liberal, and skeptic, having been raised that way by my parents (both scientists) and growing up in a small, deep blue alcove in the U.S. southeast. I have no background in gender theory. I’m an advocate for sexual equality and LGBT rights, but I’ve come to realize I have no idea what “transgender” would mean in the context of a culture that has eliminated patriarchal gender roles. I’m participating both for the educational opportunity and to better formulate my own thoughts on gender.

  102. says

    whiskeyjack #31

    3. I’m not trans. I’ve never identified that way. But a few years ago, I first read the word, “cis” and I had a visceral reaction — I rejected it so strongly that I literally pushed my keyboard away from me. I’m identifiable as a woman, but I’ve never really identified *as* a woman. It’s like a shirt that doesn’t fit very well at all, but it’s not so uncomfortable that I feel the need to change it — not when my option is the “man shirt,” which I can plainly see won’t fit either. I’d rather just go topless, so to speak.

    Holy crap! Thank you for this analogy!

    If I might modify it slightly to fit my experience, “female” is a shirt I look ok in, but it’s 4 sizes too large. So the armholes are hanging to my waist and the sleeves drag the ground, but the color is stunning. which is frustrating because I can see the *almost*.

    Please forgive any weirdness in the comment, my phone won’t let me preview to make sure the formatting came out right.

  103. caroline chambers says

    Hi,
    Lurker here and somehow I ended up with the wrong name for my user name and if someone could explain how to change that I would be grateful. I have been trying to log on or register since the topic started because I so need and desire this information. Thank you Crip Dyke and PZ. I feel safe here.
    As for the questions, I identify as female but beyond that I am unsure. I hope this series of posts helps me sort some things out. I come from a very confusing background and am currently in therapy and my therapist has suggested a gender specialist, so before I go that route I would like to see what I learn in this space.
    I don’t understand the HTML stuff so please be patient.
    Caroline

  104. Seize says

    Rawnaeris, I like your imagery, but it made me think something rather odd. It’s very…feminine!

    The fact that something esoteric could be gender coded seems ridiculous but…I mean, if language itself (in English) is gender-coded, I guess a metaphor sure can be.

    It also occurs to me that if this is subjective, then I’ve got to condemn a lot of other packed-in gender associations I carry around as being spurious, too.

  105. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    @caroline chambers

    There should be a shadow-bar across the top of this window that says, “Howdy, caroline chambers”.

    Click on that. It will take you to your profile.

    Scroll down until you find nickname. Type in a new one and then immediately under that there will be a drop-down menu box, with a title to its left “Display name publicly as…” This won’t change your log-in name, but it will change what appears at the top of each of your comments.

    If you like, you can include, as part of your nickname, something like, “Formerly caroline chambers” or “Queen of the universe” or whatever you like. Since it’s not a log-in name, it’s not (very) limited in length. E.g. me.

  106. sambarge says

    Wow. I’m late to the party. Can I still join? I’ll post and then read some more.

    I identify as a woman. I was born female and, claims when I was younger that I would grow up to be a boy or Han Solo notwithstanding, I’ve never felt any other gender identity.

    b. Feminine. – characteristics or traits culturally associated with human females.
    c. Gender. – a construction of characteristics or traits assigned to each sex.
    i. Transgender. – a person who identifies with a different gender than that assigned at their birth.
    k. Woman.- someone who identifies as female.
    l. Socially constructed/social construction. Feel free to take it on only if you’ve already defined at least 3 and no more than 5 other terms.- cultural norms or customs created to maintain the internal narrative of the society they serve.

  107. Caroline says

    Crip Dyke,
    Thank you for the information , I was totally blind to that black bar up thar.
    Caroline (formerly Caroline Chambers)

  108. says

    To CripDyke, replying to your comment about the threading and housekeeping issues @ 89; I suppose this goes to show that not all people read the comments, particularly on the social threads like The Lounge (which in practice, I find almost impossible to keep up with). Actual posts at the blog level actually garner a lot more attention, and as the comments kept rolling in I wondered whether the obviously large amount of interest would make the exercise a little too unwieldy; I am reading all of the comments, but the larger the thread gets the more I doubt if all of the other would-be participants will be able to. Anyway:

    If PZ is willing to generate a new thread on request, then I suppose it’s ‘no problem’, but I wholly understand your desire not to make this an imposition on him.

    If not, then the usual thing which happens with old threads is that it drops off people’s radar once it’s relegated to the ‘page 2’ category of older posts. If this is what is going to occur and people haven’t already done this, then I recommend going to the response form at the foot of the page and clicking on the option to subscribe to the thread. Yes, it means responses may pile up annoyingly in your e-mail and you get regularly bedevilled by little notification popups on your iDevice, but on the other hand you won’t lose track of what’s been happening.

    Also, if you’ve got the next exercise timed for Saturday-ish and 500 comments triggers a new page, I suppose we could push a whole lot of comments through to get to a second page of comments, so that your next major addition arrives as comment # 501? Maybe that would be too much of a good thing ;-)

    Thoughts on Exercise 4
    I selected my definitions randomly to prevent pre-biasing my responses, and I would have liked to offer one for what a ‘social construction’ is. I’m mostly happy with my answers (which I could no doubt improve on by reference to some others offered here – particularly Gnumann+’s definition for sex @ #80 above).

    Mostly though I’m disappointed that I missed one very important definitional aspect of gender that others have teased out, which is that gender isn’t just a noun – for something that we define for and about ourselves – it’s also a verb, for the process of what we do with respect to gendering others. The internal sense of being is only the reflexive aspect, as social beings we are brought up from birth to gender others to the extent it is almost unconscious – we even do it in a text-based medium like comment threads when we have little if any sensory clues. (And of course there’s also the linguistic definition which I thought about mentioning and tacitly ignored as it was already demarcated in the original post as being off-topic.)

    Obviously some of the words on the words list can be understood in a binary sense, so that if you defined any of Female, Feminine, or Woman, then it shouldn’t be very difficult to alter those definitions to arrive at Male, Masculine, or Man (aka ‘two for the price of one’). I couldn’t help noticing though (but didn’t want to draw attention till later) that none of the words on the wordlist seem to offer an alternative that is explicitly outside the gender binary – in the sense that aspects of trans* (words h, i, and j on the list) can be narrowly defined to exist within the so-called gender binary, whereas some gender identities break with the idea of it entirely.

    Another thing I noticed in some of the definitions is that they were made wholly dependent on other definitions – an example of what I mean is saying that what you consider ‘Male’ is entirely circumscribed by whom you define as a ‘Man’. Others have pointed out that people can simultaneously have masculine and feminine aspects to their person, and some definitions offered here would allow a ‘Man’ as defined to have ‘female’ attributes, or vice versa – and while some people are happy to embrace this sort of ambiguity, others find it harmful to be described this way. I’m interested to see to what extent defining words such as say, Female/Feminine/Woman, capture distinctly different ideas as opposed to being tied to different aspects of the one concept (I tried to avoid this definitional problem in my own, but I’m not sure I succeeded).

    Specific comments for other participants
    Sally @ 16, I showed this thread to my partner (she doesn’t normally read Pharyngula, but I often draw her attention to the cephalopod p*rn universally interesting stuff) and she remarked how she has a lot in common with your introductory account. I know Giliell also mentioned how your description spoke to her, but I thought I would mention that that sense of self-recognition in reading another person’s story chimed with another beyond just the two of you.

    John Pieret @ 61, your long quote from Al Mohler provided a slightly depressing example of someone who apparently starts from a place of inquiry and wanting to be considerate, but then goes completely off the rails because of his mistaken beliefs in the naturalistic fallacy and teh BIBLE. Also in terms of the science, he clearly doesn’t understand and misinterprets sex in nature as well. However… I was wondering whether that long aside belongs here at all, seeing as we have enough material to consider and talk about just among ourselves with our different points of view, without bringing in problematic views from someone outside the group who is not here to advocate it or defend it. I’d be happy for further discussion of that to go to the Thunderdome – here I think it potentially clogs up the thread (which is already getting quite large).

    Oolon @ 97, do you often encounter trouble counting to six? ;-)

  109. cicely says

    1. Gender Identification: Not-particularly-feminine, heterosexual female.
     
    2. Gender/Sex Definitions: (I’m going to take these out of order, and combine some.)
     
    b. Feminine; f. Masculine. “Performance art”, specifically, are you performing, to a consensusly-adequate level of “virtuosity”, those sets of behaviors locally/culturally accepted as appropriate to one of the classically-defined sexes/genders, while adequately failing to perform the behaviors yada yada to the other of the etc. Feminine to female, masculine to male, and where the conventional definitions tag the female to woman, the male to man.
     
    c. Gender: How you feel, sex-wise & “performance-wise”, inside yourself.
     
    g. Sex; a. Female; d. Male: What your chromosomes and hormonal influences have produced, in terms of physical characteristics. a. If the result suggests (truthfully or not) that you posses the requisites to internally conceive and carry a child (ova, uterus, etc.). d. If the result suggests (truthfully or not) that you posses the requisites to sire a child (chiefly production of sperm; after all, there are turkey basters).
     
    3. Introduction and first report: I’m cicely, long-time commenter of no particular erudition, and woefully under-educated. Since, I don’t tend to find myself having these conversations in meatspace, and only ever encounter them here, I’m trying to learn as I go—ideally without mortally offending people I’ve grown to know and whose opinions I value very highly—and many of whom have not had the privilege to choose whether they would be involved in these conversations, or not.
     
    Femininity and masculinity give me particular trouble, in my head, because I’m sure that there is no universally-accepted set of performances. For instance, I recall, some while back, someone (possibly rq???) saying that where she lives, reading is considered more of a “woman’s thing” because it isn’t physically active—while in my high school years, I was given to understand that reading was “unfeminine”, unless the books were the very slightest most trivial fluff-bits; by which I mean, Harlequin romances. Gothic and historical romances were marginally okay, but dangerously high-brow. History was right out, and the science and science fiction of my preferences where so far out as to not even register on the scale. Nowadays that boundary seems to have eased up.
    Also, I’ve noticed that several activities are considered appropriate for women/girls—playing the flute, cooking—unless we’re talking about professional, highly-paid positions to do those things, at which point, somehow, their “girliness” seems to evaporate. My reading in history suggests that whereas at one time brewing and baking were part of the in-the-home, housewife’s roles, as soon as it became more paid better, and became more “industrial”, suddenly men wanted women out of those fields. So. An ever-moving, very fluid target, in time and in place.
     
    And I am out of time, but I am also sure that I had more to add, and I haven’t even got to 4! Can I get an “I” for the assignment rather than an “F”, teacher? :P
    -

  110. John Pieret says

    Xanthë, Amy of my threads @ 115:

    Yeah, I hesitated to post it but it had stuck in my craw and it is among the many background noises this or any other discussion of gender/sexuality/persondom has to take place against. Feel free to ignore it but, unfortunately, they won’t ignore the rest of us.

  111. whiskeyjack says

    It’s really gratifying — and exciting — to me that a number of people “get” the shirt analogy. I’ve grappled with this a lot. I’ve always resented a lot about my body (I’ve been patiently asking my doctors for a hysterectomy for years) and my expected social role (I have to wear makeup, not in order to look pretty necessarily (there are plenty of women who *don’t* look pretty) but to look like I’m trying to look pretty, as I must buy into that notion that I ought to want to). I’m expected to want to coordinate my accessories and wear flattering clothes to the office (when I’d just as soon put on a shirt and tie and call it a day, like the guys) when I could honestly not care less if my shoes match my purse. Gender is a burden to me, and it’s not because I’m just too lazy to curl my hair every morning. It’s because it just feels so artificial and meaningless to do “what women do”. It wears me down. It feels wrong. I don’t want to play this game. And by god, do people notice when you’re uneasy about these things.

    It’s not just the clothes, of course. I reject way more about the “feminine role” than I accept. About the only thing I’d keep is the multiple orgasms. :P

  112. says

    By unholy waffles in an octopus’ garden, this thread moves fast when you’re not looking! O_O

    @besomyka,88:

    For me, being transgender is like Alice talking to the Caterpillar.

    That’s actually a surprisingly good analogy. Wonder if that’s related to why I liked those books so much. Despite how long ago they were written, they really resonated with me for some reason.

    On another note: I’ve noticed that a lot of definitions involve chromosomes as part of being female or male, and occasionally whether one produces eggs or sperm. Not saying it’s unrelated, but it’s a trait that’s been curious to me for a while. Mostly because those are elements that are almost impossible to tell without a thorough examination (there are not necessarily any difference in outward appearance between having XX and having XY with androgen insensitivity, for instance). This isn’t to say that they are at all bad definitions, but that I think it’s interesting that sex in society is generally treated as clear and obvious, while often defined based on traits that aren’t necessarily obvious, even if a person is as naked as a time-travelling X-man.
    I’m not sure how useful my ramblings are, but I think it’s pretty important to remember that most assessments of another person’s gender and sex are done based solely on secondary or even tertiary traits, without making it necessary to know if all unseen traits match the onlooker’s sex trait list. Does that make sense? ^_^’

  113. says

    Alice Wilde
    That’s why I don’t have a definition for “man” and “woman”. To define them as “chromosomes ….” is obviously incorrect. To define them as “making eggs/sperm”, too, not only because of trans* people but also because of infertile people. To define them as “woman= somebody who identifies as such” isn’t a definition, it’s circular, it assumes that everybody knows what a woman is. It reminds me of a book about birds I once had. The size of each bird would be describes in relation to the size of a blackbird, but no size was given for the blackbird, because everybody knows the size of a blackbird, right? Our hypothetical Martian friend would probably ask us if we’re drunk.

    +++
    I find it interesting that many women add “non-feminine”.
    What am I? Sometimes I’m extremely “femme”. I also can’t help having a body that is stereotypically “female”. Try pulling off an androgynous look when you’re a tripple-D. I also have long hair, I wear make-up, I like things that sparkle and jewelery, and I’m crafty as hell. Let’s not forget that I make delicious pink cupcakes. I also quite enjoy driving the car with the caravan attached, I’m the person who knows how to put up the tent, I’m the small-repairs person in this household, the geek in charge of computers and media, I love dragons and swords and the colour blue.
    So, what am I ?
    Non-feminine obviously doesn’t cut it, masculine doesn’t cut it, feminine is also wrong, so my answer would be “kill femininity and masculinity with fire and just let me be myself.”

  114. says

    1. Male. To the point that I don’t even play females in MMOs (not the same with stand alone games though, but then, I don’t go around showing people my hentei collection either. lol)

    2. Only going to say something about feminine/masculine. Its a bloody mess. Interestingly, a book from Terry Pratchett, on the science of Discworld describes the problem best, I think, when it goes into the exelligence parts – culture and what makes us human tend to be recursive. While we might have started out with some sort of a baseline, we also invented culture, which informs us what we “should be” within the framework of being human, and that so badly distorts what ever baseline is there that you can’t find it any more. So, maybe we “should be”, without all the cultural nonsense more like bonobo, but we can’t be, because the cultural factors recursively edit the final result, which then edits the culture, which then edits the result. And, yeah, exelligence is also other people, not just culture, so you get a whole bloody feedback loop there too, which has nothing to do with the culture, and is just what everyone bounces off each other, within their own group. So.. What do the words mean? What ever they bloody mean in your group. How does that define what someone *is*? Because what ever your group’s definitions says that makes you. Does this mean the result is sane, rational, or even healthy? Hell no. But, what it means is that you can’t edit the definitions, just by declaring them, “not so”. We don’t make the definitions, the bloody exelligence does, and.. it can be a total idiot some times.

    3. I have to say that.. A few years back I was probably average in understanding, if maybe, due to my own exelligence (i.e, family, etc.), far more liberal about a lot of things than the overall average. However, I also realize that there are things my father, my 10 year older brother, and especially some of the “friends” they may have, who hold to much less liberal views on some subjects, will say sometimes that make me thing, “What the F? How do you think that way about that?”, and on a lot of different subjects. It makes conversations bloody annoying at times, the most recent one being the insistence, on my part, that you can’t just hope for someone to “stumble” over an answer, and that even most of the genius stuff people come up with is often only possible “when” there is a lot of prior work, which leaves the genius as the guy that just works out how to get it all to fit properly, and his assertion that there are a lot of cases (like.. 3-4 in the last 10 years I can think of, which.. doesn’t seem like a “lot” to me), of people just accidentally stumbling over answers. Of course, then there is the other issue, which is recognizing that the thing you just literally stumbled over is actually useful for something (a factor that many people, and companies, have failed at, for as long as engineers, chemists, and so on have even been around). I definitely have expanded my views a lot on the subject, and, thankfully, as far as I am aware, only rarely stuck my foot in my mouth overly much on some subjects (and usually when I knew better, or should have). But, the more I do learn, the more certain I am that we would be much healthier as a species if we could get our exelligence to recognize that **some** things are never going to be fixable, and that the solution is thus not to harass each other over failing, but to find more adult, rational, and… shall we say, less than lethal (both figuratively, and.. sadly also literally in some cases) ways to address those inevitable bugs that crop up because, well, to be frank, the biological components are not designed to perfectly run, or be totally compatible with, the OS (i.e. cultures, assumptions, learned behaviors, etc.) we slapped on top of them. lol

  115. Søren says

    1)
    Male. I have ended up with what John Scalzi has called the easiest difficulty setting in the videogame called life.

    2)
    Male/Female: A person who has looks like, behaves like or self-identifies as a part of the group of men/women.
    Man/Woman: A male/female person
    Sex: The quality of being either male, female, both or something else.
    Trans: Someone who is not in either the group of males or females.

    That was surprisingly hard to get right (writing it in a foreign language didn’t help any). Probably because I haven’t thought sufficiently about it, and because they are very intuitive concepts. Probably also because I fit very well into a binary gender system, so it can be hard to see the walls that system creates, since said walls doesn’t really block me from doing anything that I want to do anyway.

    It didn’t take much time on the internet and in real life to figure out that my intuitive understanding of gender doesn’t work for everyone. Understanding how it feels to be a transgender person has proven harder.

  116. says

    Hi. Thank you, Crip Dyke for this workshop. I sort of cheated already and read comments before writing this because it is so interesting, though provoking, and useful. I love the challenge presented here, and may not always comment a response, but I will think on them and learn.

    I identify as a woman. But in the same way/level I identify as a reddish-blonde, above average height, afraid of heights, or pink skinned (with lots of freckles). In other words, I regard it as very small part of of me, informs such a limited part of my identity. I feel that this is in part due to my upbringing where gender roles were not rigid and attitudes about sexuality and gender were liberal. I realize my ‘nym seems to suggest some strong attachment to being a ‘girl’ but its one I’ve used for over 15 years and I just can’t think of anything better.

    As for definitions, it depends on context for me, whether a term is being used technically (as in medically or biologically) or not.

    Male: technical – having XY chromosomes, produce sperm, having a penis. non-technical – a person who says they are male.

    Female: technical – XX, ovaries, vagina. non-technical – a person who says they are female.

    Gender: For me this can be fluid and is a spectrum rather than binary and constitutes a personal identification on the male-female-neither spectrum, but I don’t usually use the word with that meaning unless I have time and energy to explain my position, and in that case it means the outward appearance and behaviors typically associated with males or females.

  117. says

    @Keveak #119

    I think I may need to re-read and reflect on those books as well as I took my name from them. Well, truthfully it was more the Disney movie since Alice was my “secret name” since I was a young child and I didn’t actually read the books until I was a teenager. I don’t remember if this sort of thing was in the movie and if it was it probably went over my head and I probably just related to being a lost little girl in a confusing and twisted world.

    @Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- #120

    I probably should have added so my “corrected” definition that I realized that it was circular and rather useless without a context. I was attempting to be somewhat facetious because of my frustration in attempting to come up with satisfactory definition. At the same time it’s not fully a joke because it’s also a definition that in the context of my daily life feels very applicable as well such as in “I am a woman because I say I am and I don’t feel the need to further justify this to you random inquirer because right now I need to go grocery shopping like anyone else”.

  118. says

    3. Introduction and first report:

    Oops, @Xanthe caught me out. I wrote definitions for all of them as simply as I could to try and get it clear in my head what the differences were as far as I was concerned. Then forgot to delete a couple so I only did 6 … So it goes. Onto my limited experiences in gender….

    So I’m James, I’m a cishet white bloke from a lower middle class background and had about as stereotypical male childhood as it’s possible to have. Always dirty, odd socks, fighting, climbing trees and being a massive pain in the bum to my parents. My tiny bit of experience of gender roles kicked in when I was 16 and went for a haircut on my birthday, the barber spent the whole time taking the piss out of my “girly long hair”. Which was only just over my ears … I think he thought this shaming was a good strategy for future work. In my case I rebelled, although I think it was just someone telling me what I could and couldn’t do not the inherent sexism or gender role policing. I didn’t feel particularly shamed about it, just annoyed at an authority figure telling me what I shouldt do. Which led to me eventually having very long blonde hair when I was at university in Leeds, no haircuts and very fast growing hair. There I had people shout “Lesbians!” at me and GF, which was mostly funny. Although buses with little kids asking their Mum/Dad if “that man is a woman”, really did embarrass and annoy me at the time. So I obviously had/have some issues about being misgendered, not sure why, I’ve never been particularly sexist or homophobic, which would be two reasons why it would bother me. But that is really it for me. Mostly just bumbling along not even thinking about what it’s like to be a different gender let alone trans and being a gender different to that you are perceived as being by others.

    Anyway TL;DR, I’ve got little frame of reference to understand all this, but want to .. Will go read others comments now.

  119. says

    Alice
    I think I have the privilege of being allowed not to worry about the definition. Because nobody challenges me. Well, there are the occasional “you’Re not a real woman because…” idiots, but usually the cissexist bodily attributes satisfy people.
    My criticism of the definition is in no way meant to deligitimize you. You say you are and who am I to claim to know better?

  120. says

    Miles @ #27,

    I’m just ignorant of the lingo (I even keep forgetting what CIS stands for). As for the difference between transexual and transsexual, all I know is spell check doesn’t like the first one.

    CIS doesn’t stand for anything – although there is a backronym of ‘Comfortable In [one’s own] Skin’ which is a later and incorrect meaning that has been overlaid onto the original meaning. cis is a Latin prefix which features in chemistry, history, and geography as well as sexology, and generally means the opposite (or the complement) of trans–.
    As for the difference between ‘transexual’ and ‘transsexual’, there is none – both mean exactly the same thing. Both spellings tend to be viewed as legitimate though most sources prefer the double ss one.

    John Pieret @ #117,
    I expressly did not suggest ignoring Mohler’s point of view, so there is nothing to be gained by suggesting that I should ‘Feel free to ignore it’. I am still inclined to think it was inappropriate here in this thread not least because it is something of a derail, and that is where I think I would prefer to leave it.

    Alice Wilde @ #124,
    You might be interested to see that I deliberately used a circular definition for ‘Woman’ above at my #39 which is almost exactly the same as your formulation in #93 and indeed, I explicitly pointed out that it was circular. It’s a feature, not a bug! My opinion is that there is no intrinsic problem with it definitionally, that is greater than the similar problems of inclusivity that would be raised by any other possible definition.

  121. says

    @besomyka #88

    I can definitely relate to how your dysphoria made you feel since I experienced similar feelings at certain points in my pre-transition adult life. But just to add another story I experienced dysphoria and signs of being transgender rather differently.

    I don’t really have a simple way of explain this it but I’ll try. I think the difference with me is that I was aware of that “female version” of myself as far back as I can remember. As I grew older it felt like she was being pulled further and further away from me and she felt more and more like a childhood fantasy who was then destroyed by puberty because this all caused me to became more and more aware of the world around me and my body. As this went on I more and more hated and resented the world, others and my own physical appearance. My dysphoria became to feel like suicidal despair and often a very tangible self loathing and disgust at my own body especially when I thought about or saw that I looked like a boy or man. It even made me feel physically ill. I don’t want to push the “trapped in the wrong body” stereotype because not all trans folk have that and I know it’s an assumption many trans folk find very frustrating but I definitely experienced something like that.

    Once I became an adult I sort of learned to let go of the “fantasy” of my female self. The consequence was I pretty much always felt a certain malaise and often depression about life. It felt sort of part of my “soul” was ripped from me (pardon the analogy). This was peppered with the occasional sinking feeling of knowing on some level that life would never be right. This happened most often when I looked at myself too hard in the mirror. I tried to “accept my fate” so to speak but I still sometimes would have reactions to something like being referred to as a man or bro or whatever. I hated it. As a result I distanced myself more and more from others and became more anti-social than I ever was which became increasingly harder since I eventually became parent who for obvious reasons couldn’t just stay at home all the time.

    Then as I became more aware of the concept of transgender and met others like me my world was shaken again. Now knowing I could become that female version I was supposed to be not doing it made those feelings of despair resurface becoming louder and louder as days went on until transitioning felt like it wasn’t an option but something I had to do.

    I still get that occasional twinge of sickness and despair especially at night when or if my wig comes off (I’m bald) and the makeup is removed (I still have a beard shadow) but at this point it almost feels like something I can laugh off and ignore because that “man” version of me feels more and more like a specter from my past rather than any part of my actual self.

    I know that was rather long story/explanation but I am having difficultly distilling my thoughts into something like a definition of dysphoria or transgender. I did try to focus on the feelings I had rather than the specifics of my life.

  122. John Pieret says

    Xanthë, Amy of my threads @ 126:

    I expressly did not suggest ignoring Mohler’s point of view … I am still inclined to think it was inappropriate here in this thread not least because it is something of a derail, and that is where I think I would prefer to leave it.

    OK, I understand and I apologize as I did not mean to suggest that you were ignoring it, only that it was fine to ignore it in the context of this thread.

  123. says

    @Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- #125

    No worries to be had. I wasn’t offended and in no way felt deligitimized by you. I didn’t mean to imply that so I’m sorry if I did. I’m quite excited about this discussion and happy to hear so many perspectives.

    @Xanthë, Amy of my threads #126

    You totally did say that. I think you did a much better job than I did because you included another perspective as an alternative definition. And, I totally agree with you about the inclusivity problems raised by most definitions. It’s similar to the point I was indirectly attempting to make but I think failed at. At the same time I understand Giliell’s perspective @120 and that the circular definition alone probably wouldn’t help and possibly only serve to confuse our ignorant alien friend or even cause them to think that gender identity is something one can dismiss altogether.

    I’m starting to think (to be honest I thought this the whole time) that simple definitions might not be the best way to inform our alien friend. That isn’t an attack on the exercise. I think it’s great and serves to highlight our preconceptions and lead into great discussion.

  124. aerialsquid says

    3. Hello, I’m Squid. Assigned female at birth, look the part, decided to roll with it. I’ve never given a huge amount of thought to my own gender identity–right now it seems to be “apathetic” because people calling me male doesn’t bother me either–so I’m interested to see what this brings out in myself and in other people. I haven’t done formal gender studies but I’ve done some amateur reading on the subject so I’m not coming in completely blind. (…and I’m on tumblr so I go through a lot of posts on people’s experiences and identities and occasional related ire.)

    2.
    b. Feminine — Possessing traits stereotypically associated with women.
    c. Gender. — Internal, self-defined identity of being female/male/other
    f. Masculine — Possessing traits stereotypically associated with men.
    g. Sex. — Catagory assigned to a body due to genital configuration and/or chromosomes. Can include male, female and intersex.
    i. Transgender – Someone who identifies as a different gender they were assigned as at birth.

  125. Dhorvath, OM says

    Seize @102/103,
    (Re my nym, please don’t sweat it.)
    Resistance fits, I will chew on that for a bit.
    ___

    Giliell @126,

    I think I have the privilege of being allowed not to worry about the definition. Because nobody challenges me.

    This. However, men are the audience that other men perform for, so much of that challenge is supposed to be implicit in social spaces. Given that, my lack of explicit performance hasn’t meant that other men think I am not attending the show nor decreased their value of my attention.

  126. Caroline says

    I wanted to mention that I could relate very much with the introduction Sally Strange wrote. I always said in the world of barbies I am a Skipper and in the world of spice I am a Sporty Spice:). I mostly feel on the inside like a person with lady bits who loves being a tomboy but who has to pretend( fem up) to attract sex partners or I get a lot of mistakes and mixed signals from men and women.

  127. LicoriceAllsort says

    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop! @ 95:

    What do you mean by ‘exaggeratedly’?

    First, thank you for your kind offer of licorice. I will chew on it to reduce the anxiety of having to defend definitions that I’m not wholly satisfied with. :P

    I defined male as “…identifying or relating more with persons who possess primary or secondary sex characteristics that are commonly associated with an XY karyotype.” I used “commonly associated” to emphasize that society plays a role in this, and I don’t want to limit my definition to only persons who possess XY karyotypes.

    I defined masculine as “appearing or behaving in a way that exaggeratedly male”. There is some sexual dimorphism in humans, but also huge areas of overlap. I see “masculine” as evoking (intentionally or not) the male end of the spectrum—beyond the area of overlap—of any the huge collection of traits that are “commonly associated with an XY karyotype”. (Some traits are biologically based, but many are a result of social conditioning.)

    On one hand, I think there could be an argument that anything that is done by a male person could be said to be masculine. But that ignores common usage of the word and also variations among human cultures in what traits are commonly associated with males. I’m not much of a wordsmith, so there may very well be a better word than “exaggeratedly”.

  128. says

    1 Male

    2 B Feminine – appearing and/or acting like a female
    F Masculine – appearing and/or acting like a male
    H Trans – a prefix indicating crossing or crossing over
    I Transgender – A person crossing over from their apparent gender to their actual gender

    3 I am a 72 y o straight white male. I was raised in NJ, was graduated from the USAF Academy in 1964. I am a decorated Viet Nam fighter pilot and software systems engineer. I was raised in a mainstream Protestant church and believe we should follow Christ’s teachings and treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve. I hold to our founding ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all.

  129. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    Just so everyone is aware. I’ve been around catching up on other FtB threads this morning, but had the kids and didn’t want to write anything important here while I might be interrupted. I’m now heading to seattle – a 6 hour round trip, plus socializing. I’m unlikely to comment on anything here until tomorrow morning, around 10am PDT, or noon Pharyngula’s official clock.

    I have just read the latest entries, and the discussion seems to be going well and respectfully, so I’m very pleased to have you all involved.

    See you tomorrow.

  130. whynot says

    1) I’m cis-male (also, I’m straight, which might matter to the way some people construct masculinity)

    2)
    2e) Man – my gender. A socially constructed concept. I’m of two minds as to the relationship between the concepts of man and woman. On the one hand they are not in a binary relationship – there are a other ways that people self-identify. On the other hand, it’s sometimes important to keep in mind that a high percentage of the population clusters around the woman and man poles. We may need to make generalizations about men and women (e.g. the way men treat women), even though we shouldn’t think of woman/man as strictly binary.

    2d) Male – my sex. Also a social construction; there are no biological criteria that neatly divide humanity into male and female boxes. I take the difference between my sex and my gender to be that being seen as male is a matter of how others see my body while being seen as a man is a matter of how others see my social status.

    2f) Masculine. I’d want to draw a distinction between masculinity and manliness, despite the fact that manliness is an extremely problematic term used mostly by questionable people. Sex and gender are widely thought to be descriptive (not true) but masculinity and manliness are unquestionably normative.

    Masculine is about the male sex, what society tells us a male body ought to be: bearded, deep-voiced, muscular, endowed. I don’t consider myself very masculine, and I’ve internalized the norm to enough of an extent that I feel bad about that. I don’t think the concept of masculinity is doing anyone any good, certainly not me.

    Manliness is about gender, what society tells us a man ought to be. Cartoonish exemplar: Idris Elba’s character in Pacific Rim. It seems to include things like poise, speaking authoritatively (and being heard as authoritative), giving and receiving respect, having courage (physical and moral), and having strength of character. I’ve internalized the concept to the point where it does feel for me like something to aspire to, though it is ridiculously problematic when those virtues are taken to be out of reach for women or inappropriate for women, as the very name manliness suggests. Mako Mori gives me some hope that we might be able to continue to think of these virtues as a group without the gendering.

    3) I have some training in feminist philosophy though it’s certainly not my specialty. I want to get better on a theoretical level, though that feels like a very cold thing to say. It’s certainly not my main reason. I think this might be important for me as a way of being a better human being and as a way of learning to treat others the way they want/deserve to be treated. For that, there’s no substitute for listening to other peoples’ stories. Also, it would do me some good to talk about my own gender identity as well.

    I’ve been around Pharyngula for a long time, commenting very infrequently (under pseudonyms I’ve lost the passwords for).

    I chose to focus on man/male/masculinity in my answers because I thought that focusing on talking about my own self-identifications might be a good place to start, rather than putting labels on other people.

  131. says

    This thread has my brain hopping.
    After reading comments, I realized how insufficient my “gut” definitions were. Then I started thinking that all the basic language is insufficient. I mean, how do we define female? Is there a way to define it? Are there any common traits (or one trait) that all “females” posses? Even if we say one is “female” if one considers oneself “female,” what factors about oneself make one label oneself that way rather than another?

    I’m afraid I’m not eloquent enough to get my meaning across, so I’ll just stop just short of babbling.

  132. whynot says

    1) con’t – I feel like I should mention something. When it comes to sexual orientation we talk about the Kinsey scale and acknowledge that most people aren’t absolutely and exclusively straight or gay. Is there something similar to be said for cis/trans? I feel close enough to cis-male to call myself that and feel like the shirt fits pretty well, but every once in a while it doesn’t quite right.

    4) Various people upthread have been talking about chromosomes as being the criterion for sex, (e.g. rq said “sex = genetic set of chromosomes determining female (XX) or male (XY)”) Not all human beings have XX or XY chromosomes. About 0.2% of humans have something different – that’s a lot of people! People with Kleinfelter’s syndrome have XXY chromosomes. People with Turner’s syndrome have either XO chromosomes (O=damaged/absent) or XX-XO mosaicism. Some people carry XXYY chromosomes. Sex and gender binaries aren’t binaries, not even at a genetic level.

  133. says

    @awakeinmo #141

    I think you are coming across just fine. Those are perfectly valid questions. The fun is that there are no perfect answers! I think having your brain hopping is a good sign.

  134. besomyka says

    @100 Seize : The line between gender dysphoria and depression isn’t particularly clear to me. I’m not sure there is a difference other than, perhaps, being able to identify a source. And fixing the biochem/gender presentation doesn’t mean that the depressive parts of it are solved either.

    I guess I consider it a particular form of depression that for me was closely tied up in how others perceived me socially, and how that presented self was reflected back to me in ways that either have confirmed, or delegitimized my sense of self.

    The other part that I haven’t gone into is the transsexual part like body perception issues (dysmorphia), and how that alone with a lot of internalized expectations led to a lot of shame… which also didn’t help much with depression.

    I guess I’d say that internalized expectations of myself, and gender dysphoria were the primary causes of anxiety, shame, and depression for me. As I addressed the former, the latter improved dramatically.

  135. says

    Alice Wilde
    Thanks. I am rather enjoying the hoppy brain. It’s been a while since I’ve found my thinking challenged like this.

  136. says

    Introducing myself: Hello! I’m a regular lurker, sometimes commenter, been around for years. This seemed like a great idea. I am a feminist woman and I have gender-diverse friends, so I’d like to think I have a fair bit of gender knowledge. I look forward to reading others’ comments!

    Exercise 1: I am a masculine woman. I initially said “I am a woman” but that didn’t feel quite complete. I still don’t feel comfortable identifying as a woman sans adjectives. I don’t know what this means about me, or about gender.

    Exercise 2:
    Sex- Biological designation or identification relating to characteristics associated with procreation, including but not limited to: sex chromosomes, external and internal gonads, sex hormones, and development of secondary sexual characteristics.

    Gender- Social designation or identification which is commonly but not always associated with sex as defined above.

    Trans*- Identifying as a gender and/or sex that is not the gender and/or sex that was assigned to you as a child.

  137. besomyka says

    @100 Seize: I meant to say this in the previous comment, but your phrase ‘find your context’ really resonates with me.

  138. besomyka says

    @129 Alice Wilde

    I find your experience pretty interesting! And although I had a different experience, I don’t find it difficult at all to empathize. In talking to other trans people, there seems to be a cluster of people that knew at a young age in some way, and a group that didn’t until their teens (or maybe even later). I certainly fit into the latter category, and you seem to fit into the former. I’m not sure what the difference is other than, perhaps, the usual human variation that I suppose we should expect.

    In thinking back, I think the earliest I had an experience that I recall and that that could possibly have been colored by my internal sense of self, was around when I was 9 or 10. Puberty filled me with shame for reasons that I couldn’t clearly identify in the moment, but that in hindsight seem obvious. Like not being able to shave in front of a mirror, or even buy a razor due to a very deep sense of shame.

    One might think that desperately praying every night that I wake up a girl the next morning would be a clue, too. With no words, no examples, and no context for my experience, I couldn’t understand it. Which meant I couldn’t deal with it. Eventually I pushed it all aside and fell into the mental trap I describe above, unable to visualize potential selves. Hollow.

    Now I think back and go, “Well yeah, if you give up on the possibility of being yourself, then you’re not going to be anyone. Duh.” I can look back and recognize that the validation I felt discovering for the first time that Samus was female, makes a whole lot more sense if I were a girl. I can look back and see that, yeah, feeling shame for growing facial hair makes a lot of (tragic) sense if I were a girl. None of that makes a much of any sense if I weren’t. They were just… things. Unconnected and unexplained.

  139. besomyka says

    @141 awakeinmo

    What you’ve said there is something that was in my head too a few years ago when I was really coming to terms with my identity. I’m not sure if I’m right, and I think this thread may challenge the conclusions that I’ve come to, but let me lay out what I’ve concluded anyway :)

    The short answer to your question is ‘no’. Now, I know that seems to contradict reality, since we make these classifications ALL THE TIME, but the answer is still no. Here’s why (I think):

    Nature is stochastic, not deterministic. It’s only on the macro level that things can seem deterministic. But every once in a while, the lie if given light. I bet, for example, that nearly every cis person on this thread has been misgendered at least once. Probably from behind, or at a distance. Maybe when wearing someone else’s clothes in an emergency, or when the other person was in a hurry and not paying much attention. It’s probably not common. You might go years without it happening… but it happens on occasion.

    Here’s the thing. Femininity is a set and contains thousands of individual elements. Some are directly social things like: long hair, skirts/dresses, elaborate jewelry. Others are biological: secondary and primary sex features. No one has all the feminine features. No one. But gendering someone isn’t deterministic. You observe someone, and you receive some subset of features, and then you’re brain weighs them and comes to some decision. Because it’s chemicals and chaotic, your decision is inconsistent, but it’s still made. You see a man or a woman.

    It’s incredibly hard to intentionally be androgynous in such a way that people can’t make a snap judgement. Usually people do, and then they see the contraindications and become uncomfortable because they conflict with their read of your gender.

    If you know the discussions of biology, maybe think of gender and sex in the same way you would think of species. From a distance, it SEEMS like you can make the distinction, but when you get into the details, all there is in fuzziness.

    So… there isn’t any deterministic way to assign the label, because reality just isn’t like that.

  140. says

    @149 besomyka

    With no words, no examples, and no context for my experience, I couldn’t understand it.

    It’s funny because though we are saying how our experiences are different I relate to this statement fairly strongly. I may have had a sense of the female me from as far back as I can remember but at the same time she had no place in the world as I understood it and the way I was told it was.

    As a fairly young child I would do things like wear my mother’s shoes and have my older sister dress me as a girl and put makeup on me. I coveted my sister’s toys and pretended I was a princess when I played alone. I still can feel the butterflies I would get in my stomach when I did something that I thought a girl would do. It was the best feeling ever. Still, very young I realized that all this wasn’t something I could express to others. And then, eventually, my parents caught on and put a stop to it. I internalized it hard because after that is was 100% secret. This was in a rural bible belt area in the 80’s and boys being anything but boys was unthinkable. So my girl self only lived in my mind. She was what I thought about when I tried to fall asleep, she was the characters in the books I read, she was in the tv shows I watched and the video games I played (you mentioning Samus speaks to me!).

    So how’s that similar? Well, one of the hardest things my wife has had trouble with coming to terms is how I didn’t know I was transgender all these years and to be honest it’s not something I have a perfect answer for. The best I can come up with was that the female version of me had no place in world as I knew it. I thought there was something wrong with me and based on my experience “knew” that no one would understand. I internalized it and well, did I ever try to cover it up. I was bad at it though. I got called every homophobic slur in the book. The other kids knew there was something different about me which of course made them assume I was gay. I did an awful thing and lashed back at others calling them the same kind of things as a defense mechanism.

    And well, I saw drag queens and “transsexuals” in movies and talk shows but I didn’t at all relate to drag queens and those who were labelled or identified as transsexuals at the time were always portrayed as spectacles, jokes, and predators (unfairly of course). I do remember one young transgender women pouring her heart on a talk show crying and desperately wanting to be taken seriously as the audience mocked and booed her. It terrified me and it shook me hard. I couldn’t be that. I couldn’t.

    I guess I’m trying to say that although I “knew” I didn’t have the context to place the female me into the world and when I tried I feared she’d never fit. I didn’t know I had options and it wasn’t until a few years ago for the sake of my daughter I started researching about gender non-conforming children and that’s when I gained a language and understanding that I wasn’t alone.

    Even as a toddler my daughter started exhibiting traits showing that she didn’t fit the traditional gender mold and this was causing issues with friends and family. My wife and I were always on board with letting our child be themselves and so we wanted to do everything we could to make that the case. As I poured through the internet looking for ways to help my world was shaken. I realized I was learning about me as well. Transgender children that were experiencing what I felt as a child. Transgender adults who where saying all the things I wanted to say and even some of the transgender adults were my age and so many even older and just like me were only now coming to terms with it.

    That’s what it took for me. A preschooler. Finally, shortly after my daughter turned five she starting insisting she was a girl and not a boy and that’s when I told my wife “me too”.

  141. grignon says

    I am Mark, a masculinized male

    Defs
    From the generic to the specific:

    sex: one of the reproductive poles==>female: supplies ova like gamete==>woman : reproductively mature human female

    gender: Standards of deportment and grooming attributed/assigned exclusively to one of the sexes within a culture==>masculine: those standards attributed to males

    transgender: being more comfortable abiding by the local gender standards of the opposite sex

    I am masculinized because I accept more masculine engendering than I reject.

    I’ve made this contribution because the nature of gender has niggled at me since the first time I saw the SNL skit about “Pat”. The character’s appearance and behavior were effectively ungendered and the humor of the situations came from the other character’s attempts to establish Pat’s sex and Pat’s apparently unintentional thwarting of their gender tests.

    I have questions I hope to see answered in the discussion.

  142. aerialsquid says

    @101 and 107 Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    That’s exactly how I feel (and I’m asexual too, so with a sample size of two it does make me wonder if there’s any correlation). Not exactly NOT female, but not entirely comfortable considering myself as such. “Almost” is exactly it!

  143. says

    @aerialsquid, *fist bump* That puts us at around three(?) aces who’ve declared as such on this thread? *waves*

    To answer your question, it wouldn’t surprise me much. Seemed like there were a lot of gender-queer/fluid and agender folks over on AVENs forum, which is my only other exposure to gender discussions. That sample was self-selected to be heavily ace.

    ***

    FWIW, I’m feeling considerably more comfortable in the “female shirt” today than I did when I was writing my initial post.

  144. Hj Hornbeck says

    Wow, I left this discussion for too long.

    Keveak @119:

    I’ve noticed that a lot of definitions involve chromosomes as part of being female or male, and occasionally whether one produces eggs or sperm. Not saying it’s unrelated, but it’s a trait that’s been curious to me for a while. Mostly because those are elements that are almost impossible to tell without a thorough examination (there are not necessarily any difference in outward appearance between having XX and having XY with androgen insensitivity, for instance).

    That struck me as well. The things that many people think are critical to the definition of “man” and “woman” are things we only discovered in the last few hundred years, and things that almost nobody will ever test or discover for themselves. I think it’s obvious that we’ve absorbed the scientific discoveries of sex and sexuality as a sort of folk wisdom, and from that fashioned a narrative about how sex works.

    It also brings up a good point. The X chromosome wasn’t discovered until the 1890’s. Sex-influencing hormones didn’t come until the late 1920’s, and while Mendel had hypothesized genes back in 1866 we never discovered their physical reality until 1940 or some point thereafter.

    So how the heck did people before then define “sex?” Or did they at all?

    I’ll leave that as food for thought. If you insist on answers, I recommend Making Sex by Thomas Laqueur, or if you’d prefer a quick skim I wound up summarizing that book in my lecture (search for “How does sex differ from gender?” to jump directly there).

  145. cicely says

    Keveak:

    I’m not sure how useful my ramblings are, but I think it’s pretty important to remember that most assessments of another person’s gender and sex are done based solely on secondary or even tertiary traits, without making it necessary to know if all unseen traits match the onlooker’s sex trait list. Does that make sense? ^_^’

    Totally!
    That’s why I said, ” What your chromosomes and hormonal influences have produced, in terms of physical characteristics. a. If the result suggests (truthfully or not) that you posses the requisites to internally conceive and carry a child (ova, uterus, etc.). d. If the result suggests (truthfully or not) that you posses the requisites to sire a child (chiefly production of sperm; after all, there are turkey basters).” And since we do not now live in a time where instance DNA analysis on-the-fly is a possibility (and never mind all those cop shows!), that determination is generally made visually—those secondary and tertiary characteristics you mention.
    -

  146. Hj Hornbeck says

    whynot @142:

    Not all human beings have XX or XY chromosomes. About 0.2% of humans have something different – that’s a lot of people! People with Kleinfelter’s syndrome have XXY chromosomes. People with Turner’s syndrome have either XO chromosomes (O=damaged/absent) or XX-XO mosaicism. Some people carry XXYY chromosomes. Sex and gender binaries aren’t binaries, not even at a genetic level.

    Nice, someone else who knows their genetics! I’ve also gotta give a hat-tip for mentioning mosaicism, which is scary frequent:

    As scientists begin to search for chimeras systematically — rather than waiting for them to turn up in puzzling medical tests — they’re finding them in a remarkably high fraction of people. In 2012, Canadian scientists performed autopsies on the brains of 59 women. They found neurons with Y chromosomes in 63 percent of them. The neurons likely developed from cells originating in their sons.

    In The International Journal of Cancer in August, Eugen Dhimolea of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and colleagues reported that male cells can also infiltrate breast tissue. When they looked for Y chromosomes in samples of breast tissue, they found it in 56 percent of the women they investigated.

    A century ago, geneticists discovered one way in which people might acquire new genomes. They were studying “mosaic animals,” rare creatures with oddly-colored patches of fur. The animals didn’t inherit the genes for these patches from their parents. Instead, while embryos, they acquired a mutation in a skin cell that divided to produce a colored patch.

    You might own one or even be one.

    But I should add that even chromosome count isn’t definitive. A person with a typical 46,XY karyotype may still look perfectly “female,” thanks to Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and the reverse can happen for 46,XX.

  147. kevinkirkpatrick says

    1) I’m male-sexed, man-gendered.

    2)
    2.1) Sex/Male/Female
    Sex=strictly biological; categorization of sexually reproductive species into:
    Male= members of sexual reproductive species who produce smaller/motile gametes and
    Female= members of sexual reproductive species who produce larger/immotile gametes.

    Note: biology, being messy, does not guarantee that all members of sexually reproductive species can be so classified; “sex=both” and “sex=neither” are very real and quite prevalent categorizations.

    2.2) Masculine/Feminine

    Feminine= physiological and psychological/behavioral characteristics of organisms that correlate with their categorization as females of a particular species

    Masculine= physiological and psychological/behavioral characteristics of organisms that correlate with their categorization as males of a particular species

    Note1: biology, being messy, yields correlation coefficients < 1 for pretty much all sex attributes. There are probable zero species on the planet for which all males have a particular masculine feature; or all females have a particular feminine feature.

    Note2: Masculine/feminine characteristics can further be divided into heritable and environmental categories. The former, e.g. height, would correlate independent of cultural influence; the latter, e.g color preference of blue vs pink, would correlate only within specific cultures.

    2.3) Gender
    Gender = categorization of humans based on psychological masculine/feminine attributes into "man" (those having psychological attributes that correlate with males) or "woman" (those having psychological attributes that correlate with females).
    Note 1: biology, being messy, does not guarantee that all humans can be so classified; "gender=both" and "gender=neither" are both real and quite prevalent among humans.
    Note 2: all evidence suggests that the only "real" masculine/feminine psychological attribute (inasmuch as it correlates independent of cultural influence) is an internal gender-identity; that is, a "sense of maleness" within most males and a "sense of femaleness" within most females. Gender can thus be further reduced to "a person's inner sense of being male or being female".

    2.4) Cisgender/Transgender
    Cisgender=people who can be classified as either "sex=male AND gender=man" or "sex=female AND gender=woman"

    Transgender=people who cannot be classified as either "sex=male AND gender=man" or "sex=female AND gender=woman"

    2.5) Transgender Bigoted Ignorance
    Holding the demonstrably false belief that all humans are, "deep down", cisgender. The ignorance is believing the falsehood itself; the bigotry stems from efforts, often to avoid cognitive dissonance, to silence any individuals who fail to adhere to this model and/or coerce such individuals to express masculine or feminine attributes they would not otherwise exhibit.

    3) I am the proud father of an 8-year-old cisgendered son and a 5-year-old transgendered son. My wife and I have taken on the mission to combat any and all transgender bigoted ignorance which threatens to impede either of our children's ability to live their lives as openly, happily, or with as much fulfillment as is possible. I've chosen to participate in this exercise to help me continue down a path of enlightenment away from my own bigoted ignorance; and to gain tools/insights which might better equip me to be the best parent I can be for my kids.

  148. says

    Alice, #151:

    That. So that. If it wasn’t for the internet and the increasing acceptance of LGBT rights (especially transpeople like Laverne Cox and Chaz Bono), I don’t think I’d have ever quite pegged what was wrong with me. The tipping point was Halloween costume shopping a couple years ago, but I couldn’t work myself up to finish the costume after buying my first pair of heels and putting together a vinyl miniskirt. YouTube helped too — FtB’s own Zinnia Jones has been something of an inspiration, as have CandiFLA’s voice lessons (miss her) and the fact that she was approaching 40 when she transitioned and still came out looking great. Now I’m just hoping my doctor doesn’t make me jump through hoops next time I see her.

    I made my final decision just under a week ago. A big chunk of my depression went away overnight.

  149. says

    @159 BrianX

    It’s funny but even though I’ve been visiting skepchick since even before it was morphed into a blog site and I followed PZ’s blog from scienceblogs over to FTB I somehow missed Natalie Reed’s blogs and Zinnia Jones’ and her videos. For me, the first thing that brought the transgender possibility to the front of my mind was the “Somewhere out there” episode of This American Life. When I heard the story of the transgender kids the first time I lost it. I’ll admit that This American Life makes me cry all the time but this was different. I couldn’t breathe, I had tears pouring down my face and I was shaking. Unfortunately, I was also at work!

    Ah, Halloween. That was almost a gateway for me. I used to make a habit of dressing in drag on Halloween in my late teens and early twenties. I think I was on the brink of figuring something out at the time. I even starting making a habit of borrowing women’s clothes from female friends and would wear them to the bar. Then one Halloween at the university bar one of the guys from my university dorm decided I must have seemed too comfortable and started to call me f****t and stole my wig. I told him to fuck off and things got physical and we had to be pulled apart. That scared me back into my shell.

    So you know, my final decision was only made last fall so I’m not far off from you. I had come out over a year before that to my wife but was reluctant to transition at the time. Finally, I told her I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to transition. That wasn’t even pre-meditated. It just came out of my mouth one day in the car and I knew it was final. My whole world changed at that point. A weight came off. My depression went away and colors even became brighter. I don’t want to assume my depression has disappeared entirely but I’ve never gone this long without it.

    I hope everything works out for you and that you’ve find all what’s right for you. I had to jump through some hoops and it took me two months to get a referral sent in to my endocrinologist (I was so frustrated). I didn’t have a family doctor though and a walk-in clinic was giving me the run around. Finally, with some internet sleuthing I dug up the number for the endocrinologist’s office on my psychologists’ recommendation letter that was to help with getting referred. I just kept calling until they got so sick of it that they got directly involved and, what do you know, they had my referral that day. Hopefully it all goes smooth for you. Other than that it basically has for me. I wish you the best!

  150. says

    @158 kevinkirkpatrick

    It makes me so happy when parents are willing to let their children be who they are. I am a transgender woman myself and have a 6-year-old (soon to be 7 as I get often reminded) transgender daughter. She was my own inspiration for coming out.

    My wife and I have the same mission as you. It’s been a chaotic couple of years for our family full of changes, battles, tears and love. I know that tearing down those barriers can be exhausting but I don’t know how anyone would want to do anything less for their children. I hope that you have the support you need and the love you all deserve.

  151. anne mariehovgaard says

    Very late here – didn’t think I’d have the time, but as it seems I will, I’ll just write this before I start reading :)
    Identity… female? Woman? Depends on what you mean by “gender” and “identity” I suppose. The reason why I’d like to do this is that I’ve come to realise that I don’t understand what people mean when they say they identify as one gender or another, and I would like to. Apparently you’re supposed to have some sort of inner sense of … something? I don’t think I have that, or at least it’s very weak. I’m Norwegian; “sex” and “gender” are the same word (kjønn). Obviously that doesn’t make it easier.

    Female – having (mostly) physical characteristics of the sex that makes egg cells; male – having (mostly) physical characteristics of the sex that produces sperm. Biology – anatomy, hormones, all of that. People can be one or the other (to varying degrees), or not really either. Feminine vs. masculine – traits, appearance and behavior considered typical of or suitable for women vs. men. Culture. Anyone can have any combination of such traits. Describing something as feminine doesn’t mean that I personally actually believe it is typical of or suitable for women (I usually don’t), just that it’s generally considered to be in this culture.

  152. says

    3. Introduction and First Report

    Hi folks, and thanks very much to Crip Dyke (who I got to meet in person at the Pharyngula meet-up last night, hurray!) for offering this opportunity. I’m a biologist with a background in neuroscience, specifically in sex determination, sexual differentiation, and the biological bases of sexual behavior. I’ve worked exclusively with non-mammalian vertebrates, but I’ve done a lot of reading on work in mammals because at the time I was doing my graduate and post-graduate work, a lot of the relevant work had been done in mice and rats and ferrets.

    Due to my background I think I have a fairly high level of knowledge about gender coming in to this discussion. However, there are two huge caveats. First, I am now a professor at a community college and I haven’t been in touch with the literature since moving into a teaching-only position. Second, I have not made anything like a comprehensive study of the literature on humans, and I expect to learn a lot during the course of the workshop. That’s what’s exciting about this!

    2. Definitions
    a. Female — the sex having the large, immobile gamete
    b. Feminine — the qualities ascribed to the female gender
    c. Gender — a social role that encompasses many aspects of an individual’s behavior and appearance in ways directly or tangentially related to their biological sex
    d. Male — the sex having the small, mobile gamete
    e. Man — individual belonging to the male gender
    f. Masculine — the qualities ascribed to the male gender
    g. Sex — a biological category that describes an individual’s reproductive role (see female/male above)
    h. Trans — literally, a prefix meaning “across”, used as a broad category to refer to transgender or transsexual individuals
    i. Transgender — someone whose gender self-concept is at odds with their biological sex
    j. Transsexual — someone who has undergone sex reassignment surgery
    k. Woman — individual belonging to the female gender
    l. Socially constructed — describes ideas, concepts, rules, etc. that are the result of a set of fluctuating societal norms and expectations rather than a fundamental biological or physical reality

  153. John Pieret says

    kevinkirkpatrick @ 158:

    I am the proud father of an 8-year-old cisgendered son and a 5-year-old transgendered son. My wife and I have taken on the mission to combat any and all transgender bigoted ignorance which threatens to impede either of our children’s ability to live their lives as openly, happily, or with as much fulfillment as is possible.

    It sounds like your children are blessed with very good parents.

  154. einsophistry says

    Hi, all. I’m here primarily to get better acquainted with some perspectives on sex and gender with which I don’t have much antecedent familiarity. My background is in biological anthropology and *whispering nervously* evolutionary psychology. I know, I know, but I’ve since grown much less sanguine about the latter, at least as it’s currently widely practiced, and have shifted gears toward philosophy and the cognitive neurosciences. I’d long considered myself a friend (if perhaps only a casual one) of feminism and social justice more generally, having been raised by a strong second wave feminist, but the conversations I’ve had over the past few years with fellow philosophy students and others in their circles of friends and colleagues have really helped open my eyes to some of the subtler ways prevailing gender norms and narratives can harm people—even people like myself, whose gender identification is pretty mainstream. I hope to continue my education on such matters in this workshop and to begin developing some tools to mitigate, prevent, or redress these various forms of harm.

    Definitions:

    Male: The sex that produces the smaller of two gamete types (where applicable).

    Female: The sex that produces the larger of two gamete types (where applicable).

    Man: A gender identification traditionally characterized by systematizing intelligence, sexual opportunism, and a tendency toward the use of physical force to achieve ends and to protect oneself and others.

    Woman: A gender identification traditionally characterized by emotional intelligence, sexual selectivity, and a tendency toward the use of nonphysical force (e.g., interpersonal and social influence) to achieve ends and to protect oneself and others.

  155. says

    kevinkirkpatrick:

    I am the proud father of an 8-year-old cisgendered son and a 5-year-old transgendered son. My wife and I have taken on the mission to combat any and all transgender bigoted ignorance which threatens to impede either of our children’s ability to live their lives as openly, happily, or with as much fulfillment as is possible. I’ve chosen to participate in this exercise to help me continue down a path of enlightenment away from my own bigoted ignorance; and to gain tools/insights which might better equip me to be the best parent I can be for my kids.

    Your children have wonderfully compassionate parents.

  156. sammywol says

    1 I identify as cis female

    2Gender – a social construct of expectations, generally pegged to a binary idea of biological sex
    Sex – a biological classification based on an individual’s chromosomes
    Trans – someone whose identification, in one or more areas, is at odds with general social perceptions of what it is/should be
    Woman – an adult who identifies as female
    Man – an adult who identifies as male

    3 I am a long time lurker and very occasional commenter on Pharyngula, since before the Freethought move. I have always (since I met the term) identified as a feminist and a rather militant secular humanist. I had my ideas of gender/sex/cultural identity expanded hugely reading Natalie Reed’s blog here (and later Zinnia’s) and found the learning experience dizzying but glorious. However it is still very much about learning and my mind still operates on layers of definition: 1-the ones I grew up with 2-the larger horizons I have met here and similar spaces and 3-the ones I am passing on to my kids which generally contain the phrase “of course, in real life, things aren’t quite that simple”. I would like to feel more confident that I am getting the distinctions of things like sex and gender right, for clarity’s sake, and also to crystalise my understanding to something a bit more succinct and useful.

  157. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    In these exercises, as in the first, your absolute honesty is important. I want to take a moment to stress that your responses to these next exercises are useless if you edit them – before or after you type them – to reflect what you believe you “should” think rather than your first thoughts/impressions. The work that we need to do first is that of uncovering assumptions and tendencies. If we conceal these through editing, we can’t be successful at that, and thus we can’t be successful at the more advanced/later work of analyzing how these assumptions came about, what role they play in affecting (or directing) our behaviors, what effects these assumption-crafted behaviors have (positive and negative), and whether and how to change them.

    Unfortunately, the value of these exercises will also be reduced if you know in advance why we’re doing them, or what you are expected to report back. Thus it is incredibly important that in this one case, you do not read all of the instructions before you begin to follow them. Complete each step before moving on to the next one and even before being aware what the next step might be.

    I will, of course, be providing more context and feedback as the workshop goes on, but please note that just because I’m not “lecturing” in the beginning, this does not mean the amount of new info from me is not going to remain static/near zero. It is important that I **don’t** provide definitions or other background info in the beginning so what we have a better chance to identify your own thoughts, assumptions, confusions, questions, and knowledge.

    To help make sure that each person completes each step before reading what the next step might be, I’m going to use separate comments for the next few steps. Read each of my comments and do the exercise in that comment before reading any other comment. Also, do that in order, please!

    Thanks for all your thoughts. I think the 3 days we had to gather a group has gotten quite a nicely sized contingent. Remember that now that we have gathered our group, we will be transitioning* to a schedule with one new set of exercises by me each day. I will try to get them up very late in the evening, but before midnight, PDT – which means before 2AM Blog Standard Time. The time will, of course, vary somewhat each day, but I will do my best to keep to this evening-exercise schedule. If forced by sickness or school to skip an evening, I’ll put up a note that I’m doing that and at least a few thoughts on how things are going/what from the previous day’s conversation might be useful in generating more discussion during the time you’re waiting for my next set of exercises.

    Finally, I have just recently sent an e-mail to PZ asking about creating an OP for each new set of exercises. For various reasons, I didn’t do that until just a couple hours ago, and he’s not yet responded (almost certainly asleep and/or traveling – I don’t know his travel schedule back to Minnesota from Seattle). As I said in comment #89, we can’t expect this, but we know he’s been very supportive of the conversation so just because we can’t expect it of him doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be willing to do it. We’ll just have to wait for PZ to have a chance to get my e-mail and think about it. I will let you know whether future exercises will appear as separate OPs as soon as I know so that those following by subscribing to this thread will know to look on the front page of Pharyngula if that becomes appropriate.

    cd.

    *see what I did there?

  158. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    The next 2 exercises are broken up into 4 parts. 5a and 6a will be in a single comment, followed by 5b and 6b, etc. As mentioned, do 5a and 6a together before **even reading** the comment with 5b and 6b, etc.

    Note that as long as we continue in a single thread, we will continue numbering from the previous exercises instead of starting again at 1. This allows persons who come late to the party to easily tell us which exercises they are completing and reporting so the rest of us aren’t confused to see a report in the current section that doesn’t appear to address the current questions.

  159. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.
    5a. Watch the following video:
    Video 1.

    6a. Your curious, good-natured, gender-naive martian friend would like to know what you’re up to. Please describe to your martian friend the main singer/performer; the actions of the main singer/performer; and what you think might be the message(s) or purpose(s) of the song/performance.

    This shouldn’t be long – perhaps 200 words max. However, you must type/write it up. Do not post it to this thread. Just type/write it up for yourself.

    Unfortunately for you, your martian friend’s telepathy makes it impossible for you to engage in takebacks. If you thought it, write it down, even if you’re embarrassed that you thought it, even if you wish you hadn’t thought it, even if you instantly recognize that the thought was objectively wrong (as wrong as 2 + 2 = the cube root of 17), still record it – word for word. It is very important that each word from your brain gets faithfully recorded on paper or in your internet device.

  160. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.
    5b. Watch the following video:

    Video 2.
    6b. Your curious, good-natured, gender-naive martian friend would like to know what you’re up to. Please describe to your martian friend the main singer/performer; the actions of the main singer/performer; and what you think might be the message(s) or purpose(s) of the song/performance.

    This shouldn’t be long – perhaps 200 words max. However, you must type/write it up. Do not post it to this thread. Just type/write it up for yourself.

    Unfortunately for you, your martian friend’s telepathy makes it impossible for you to engage in takebacks. If you thought it, write it down, even if you’re embarrassed that you thought it, even if you wish you hadn’t thought it, even if you instantly recognize that the thought was wrong (as wrong as 2 + 2 = the cube root of 17), still record it – word for word. It is very important that each word from your brain gets faithfully recorded on paper or in your internet device.

  161. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.
    5c. Watch the following video:
    Video 3.
    6c. Your curious, good-natured, gender-naive martian friend would like to know what you’re up to. Please describe to your martian friend the lead singer in this band; the actions of the lead singer; and what you think might be the message(s) or purpose(s) of the song/performance.

    This shouldn’t be long – perhaps 200 words max. However, you must type/write it up. Do not post it to this thread. Just type/write it up for yourself.

    Unfortunately for you, your martian friend’s telepathy makes it impossible for you to engage in takebacks. If you thought it, write it down, even if you’re embarrassed that you thought it, even if you wish you hadn’t thought it, even if you instantly recognize that the thought was wrong (as wrong as 2 + 2 = the cube root of 17), still record it – word for word. It is very important that each word from your brain gets faithfully recorded on paper or in your internet device.

  162. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.
    5d. Watch the following video:
    Video 4.
    6d. Your curious, good-natured, gender-naive martian friend would like to know what you’re up to. Please describe to your martian friend the main singer/performer; the actions of the main singer/performer; and what you think might be the message(s) or purpose(s) of the song/performance.

    This shouldn’t be long – perhaps 200 words max. However, you must type/write it up. Do not post it to this thread. Just type/write it up for yourself.

    Unfortunately for you, your martian friend’s telepathy makes it impossible for you to engage in takebacks. If you thought it, write it down, even if you’re embarrassed that you thought it, even if you wish you hadn’t thought it, even if you instantly recognize that the thought was wrong (as wrong as 2 + 2 = the cube root of 17), still record it – word for word. It is very important that each word from your brain gets faithfully recorded on paper or in your internet device.

  163. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    Now we need to go back and look at those descriptions you provided to your martian friend. Read back through each.

    7a. Find every pronoun you used to refer to the main singer/performer in Video 1. List them. Are there any gender conflicts between pronouns you chose? Using the pronouns you chose, what do you think is the gender in which you categorized the main singer/performer of video 1?

    Now write down the cues that led you to attribute gender to the singer/performer in the way that you did. Anything is fair game. Everything in the video + any knowledge that you brought with you to the video-watching exercise. If you have had a sexual relationship with any or all (you go!) of the subjects of this exercise, anything you learned in that context is fair game. If you believe that certain social conventions led to your attribution of gender, write down that social knowledge.

    Rewatch Video 1 if necessary to help you remember all the factors that led to your choices of pronouns and your attributions of gender.

    7b. Find every pronoun you used to refer to the main singer/performer in Video 2. List them. Are there any gender conflicts between pronouns you chose? Using the pronouns you chose, what do you think is the gender in which you categorized the main singer/performer of video 1?

    Now write down the cues that led you to attribute gender to the singer/performer in the way that you did. Anything is fair game. Everything in the video + any knowledge that you brought with you to the video-watching exercise. If you have had a sexual relationship with any or all (you go!) of the subjects of this exercise, anything you learned in that context is fair game. If you believe that certain social conventions led to your attribution of gender, write down that social knowledge.

    Rewatch Video 2 if necessary to help you remember all the factors that led to your choices of pronouns and your attributions of gender.

    7c. Find every pronoun you used to refer to the main singer/performer in Video 3. List them. Are there any gender conflicts between pronouns you chose? Using the pronouns you chose, what do you think is the gender in which you categorized the main singer/performer of video 1?

    Now write down the cues that led you to attribute gender to the singer/performer in the way that you did. Anything is fair game. Everything in the video + any knowledge that you brought with you to the video-watching exercise. If you have had a sexual relationship with any or all (you go!) of the subjects of this exercise, anything you learned in that context is fair game. If you believe that certain social conventions led to your attribution of gender, write down that social knowledge.

    Rewatch Video 3 if necessary to help you remember all the factors that led to your choices of pronouns and your attributions of gender.

    7d. Find every pronoun you used to refer to the main singer/performer in Video 4. List them. Are there any gender conflicts between pronouns you chose? Using the pronouns you chose, what do you think is the gender in which you categorized the main singer/performer of video 1?

    Now write down the cues that led you to attribute gender to the singer/performer in the way that you did. Anything is fair game. Everything in the video + any knowledge that you brought with you to the video-watching exercise. If you have had a sexual relationship with any or all (you go!) of the subjects of this exercise, anything you learned in that context is fair game. If you believe that certain social conventions led to your attribution of gender, write down that social knowledge.

    Rewatch Video 4 if necessary to help you remember all the factors that led to your choices of pronouns and your attributions of gender.

  164. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    Exercise 8: 2nd report. It is finally time to write up a comment and report back to the thread.

    DO NOT include anything from exercise 5 or 6. (although keep what you’ve written for use later in the workshop)

    Instead, report back on exercises 7 – what pronouns did you use for each featured performer? Did you feel completely confident in your pronoun choices **at the time**? If you didn’t consciously consider different options for pronoun use, definitely report that. Upon reflection, what gender did you attribute to each of the featured performers?

    Very briefly – using bullet points is fine – list a few of the most important cues that you used in your process of determining pronouns to use and gender to attribute. Then very briefly note how those cues were useful (were there rules you applied, e.g. “if facial hair is sufficiently thick, always use X pronoun”?) to the process you believe led to your pronoun use and/or gender attribution.

    A **secondary** message from your facilitator.

    Given the size of the group, I think it’s more appropriate to let ten or twelve people report back to the thread before anyone posts a second comment.

    Also, please try to note how many times you are commenting. If your comments are long compared to the average, limit yourself to 3 comments total for today’s discussion. If you comments are average or shorter than average, limit yourself to 5 comments total for today’s discussion. In each case this should include your 2nd report.

    I hope that limiting the number of comments each person makes to this thread you will feel encouraged to make your comments count. I think in general the quality of comment here has been high, and I’m quite pleased at the lack of trolling. But I don’t want the more talkative among us to feel the need to reply to everything, even when they don’t feel that they have an especially useful thing to say in response to a specific comment or topic.

    …and I don’t want the less talkative among us to feel swamped or to feel that they themselves are not doing their part if they don’t start responding every time someone mentions a topic touched on in their (the less talkative folks’) own reports.

    If you do nothing other than the exercises and one report per set of exercises, you’re making an excellent contribution.

    Thanks again, all. I look forward to reading your reports and your conversation.

  165. sammywol says

    Reply to Exercise 7 at 175
    Video 1
    Deliberate caution. Almost no pronouns at all. Mostly ‘the singer’ and ‘they’. One ‘she’ in the phrase ‘She is beautiful.’ I can’t remember how Conchita indentifies. So I tried to stay gender neutral. This is become an unconscious habit. The She slipped out once. Interestingly when I was thinking in terms of physical beauty. It was when Conchita was raising her arms for the first time in that slinky black dress and the effect is just ‘Wow!’ The arms are so elegant. It’s like something from Swan Lake. A ballerina. I suppose all that over-rode the mental filter.
    Video 2
    All female pronouns all the way. I saw Julie Andrews and have seen that clip before but not known it was from Victor/Victoria. I saw a famous female actress/singer/performer and not the character portrayed. Sorry Julie.
    Video 3
    Spent most of the time talking about transgressive tropes in general and thinking about how thoroughly messed up by this stage we must seem to my Martian friend. One pronoun. A ‘he’ but one I had to think about. In the end, as I have referred to the singer as ‘he’ in the past when not doing a gender based exercise I decided to over-ride any mental filtering here. TBH have never seen this singer as presenting as ‘feminine’ or ‘female’ but as presenting a transgressive figure, deliberately going against type. A facade that comes across less wholeheartedly in a couple of the band members who can’t seem to stop smiling even when they’re trying to be angry and scary.
    Video 4
    She, she, she, all the way. Again I am seeing Shirley Temple the actress, overlaid with Shirley Temple Black’s obituary and my childhood confusion between her and Shirley Williams MP. There’s a wealth of gender studies material going on here but at no point did I feel that she was presenting as anything other than a little girl, even if it is a weird pantomime of exaggerated little girlness. Cannot really separate the signifiers of ‘little girl’ from the pantomime of ‘cute’ and ‘non threatening’ which I suppose is interesting in itself.

  166. whiskeyjack says

    It’s easier for me to do this in paragraph form.

    8.

    a. The first video made me a bit anxious. At first, I thought that she certainly must be a woman wearing makeup to look like a beard. I don’t want to admit this, but I switched back and forth a bit between pronouns — she’s elegant! and feminine! but I think she’s trans! shut up, stupid brain, it doesn’t matter! she’s clearly a woman in her own estimation! — and I found myself looking for physical clues (shoulders vs. hip width, for instance) just to try to get a handle on things. It did occur to me again and again that a man couldn’t possibly have such a pretty face, or be so graceful, and her voice and mannerisms were very expressive and emotional and sensual… She seemed sincere in her presentation, though.

    b. Elegant, graceful, breathy, sensual, expressive, sophisticated and sexually intimidating — she is a very commanding woman. I’m confident in that. The physical cues are the opposite of the first — hairless, hourglass-ish. Oddly enough, I found her facial features stronger and more masculine than the first. That doesn’t seem to matter as much, somehow. Even her vocal range isn’t *distinctly* feminine — she and the first video have that in common.

    c. I don’t think this was a serious subversion of gender expectations. He seems like a very masculine man, wearing a lot of makeup and female-associated items more for shock value. I suppose that’s a subversion, but I don’t think it’s a sincere presentation of gender. I think it’s theater. He is masculine, muscled, hairy, inelegant (in the feminine sense) brutish, harsh, not even particularly musical, rebellious, intimidating physically.

    d. Impish, unassuming, delicate, precious, precocious. She seems just as rough, musically, as the previous one to be honest — slightly off-key, unpolished — but the effect is very feminine and non-threatening. Definitely female, even without the secondary sexual characteristics (though if her outfit had been different, I suppose I could have mistaken her for a boy) awkward as opposed to graceful — lacking the sensuality or the command of the other two female performers. It’s the non-threatening, adorable side of femininity.

  167. John Pieret says

    7a. I sensed that problem right away and temporized as he/she. I have to confess Conchita makes me uncomfortable and I guess that is his/her intent. It is jarring to see a beautiful woman with a beard or a handsome man in a dress. Nothing rational there, just a lifetime’s expectations. Even when sympathetic to all the flavors of trans, I guess I still expect them to more or less pick one or the other. Quite unfair I know.

    7b. Being familiar with the movie, I based all pronouns on my knowledge of the plot.

    7c. I didn’t really use any pronouns but referred to the group as a whole and recommended Queen instead.

    7d. Referred to Shirley Temple as a “girl” and “accomplished person.”

  168. John Pieret says

    Rethinking my answers to parts 7b, c, and d, @ 178:

    I would have referred to Twisted Sister’s lead singer as a “male” because of “his” voice, lack of breasts and general demeanor.

    I would have referred to the character Julie Andrews played as female because of “her” dress, makeup, etc.

    I would have referred to Shirley Temple as a “girl” because of “her” curly hair and dress but if you put Micky Rooney in the same costume at the same age, I probably would have called him a “girl” too.

  169. says

    Exercise 7a, Conchita: no pronoun conflicts: she, she, her, her, her; I gendered her as a woman. She is clearly evincing a feminine (or even perhaps hyperfeminine) style of gender, and I am happy calling Conchita a woman, even if I know that in practice she is performing a gender expression as beneath the performance in real life the singer identifies as a gay man and the act falls into the category of drag – but Conchita is an obvious distinct persona from her creator and it is a convention to differentiate between the actor and the rôle (in my country, no one is even slightly confused by Edna Everage never being seen in public with Barry Humphries, and she’s hardly ever gendered as male).

    The aspects of performed gender or attributes – long hair, eye shadow and artificial lashes, face makeup, feminine style of dresses (or ‘modesty’ rose petals) and even a feminine aspect to the pants/leggings, along with appearance of breasts – mark her as a woman, even if some elements happen to be cosmetic, e.g. breastforms which like the beard, is applied as make-up. Even the beard is not a negative detractor of gender here – “not all women” lack beards. And it is a rather neatly trimmed beard. Vocally the song is written very well for her voice and displays the best parts of her range; it doesn’t stray too low where she would lack power or reveal a ‘gear change’ and doesn’t test absurd heights.

    Exercise 7b, Julie Andrews: no pronoun conflicts: her, she, she, she; I gendered her as a woman. Julie is again performing like Conchita a stylised femininity, the revealing split in the slinky dress the better to see her legs as she goes through the motions of her choreography, and wears a shiny hairpiece; even with her large vocal range (going through her lowest chest notes in a deliberate glissando all the way up to lyric soprano at the end of the song) there is no indication that we are to interpret her gender wise as anything other than as a woman.

    Exercise 7c, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister: no pronoun conflicts: his, he, he’s, his; I gendered him as a man. Here the style seems to resemble a mixture of hyperfeminine appearance, even becoming a parody of expressions of femininity – over the top facial make-up, especially the eye shadow and rouge on cheeks, sexualised leather costume (but not with obvious attempts at hinting at having breasts, unlike Conchita), frizzy permed hair. However, there is an obvious mixture of gendered performance: vocally Dee Snider doesn’t attempt concealment of his adult male voice, unlike Conchita; both aspects of his posture and aggressive actions and body language through the video shout out both his masculinity and the anger of the song. To the extent that the rest of the band equally appear with cross-gendered mixtures of masculine- and feminine-coded performance, it didn’t occur to me not to gender Twisted Sister as male in spite of the name (→ sister) unlike Conchita Wurst whom I gendered as female; the difference to me is that Conchita doesn’t seem to regard her own performance as parody.

    Exercise 7d, Shirley Temple: no pronoun conflicts: her, she her, she’s, her; I gendered her as a girl. Her clothing is androgynous and having a childish voice I might have been tempted not to gender her at all (especially as Shirley is a good unisex name!), but I did priorly know she was a girl. In the introduction to the song she appears to be imagining herself as the pilot of the plane and therefore giving a deliberate masculine hint to her performance – demonstratively swinging her arms and pointing, lowering her chin to pointedly deliver her words, and the way she plucks at her shirt as though she were flexing braces! (This being the 1930s, of course a pilot has to be a man… *sigh*) Once the song proper begins, she adopts a range of equally stereotyped feminine mannerisms or dancing motions, including the cliché Hawaiian luau dance. So, no difficulty reading her as a feminine child here.

    Exercise 8. Yes, I felt totally happy with my choices at the time, however I would note I wasn’t entirely free in ‘choosing’ gender for each because in none of the four cases did I approach the matter from a complete lack of pre-existing knowledge. (And I’m still happy with my choices after the reveal of what exercises 5 and 6 (a)–(d) were about doing.)

    The most significant aspects that contributed to gendering the singers for me were: body language and deportment above all; clothing choices (other than Shirley Temple, who’s wearing a rather plain shirt); make-up and hair styling; body shape (compare Conchita’s and Julie’s figure-hugging dresses with Dee Snider’s leathers!); and aspects of vocal range – Julie Andrews obviously a lyric soprano; Conchita Wurst a contralto who avoids using a clearly masculine sound in the lowest part of her range in the song; Shirley Temple a child treble; Dee Snider a baritone or low tenor.

  170. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    7a

    he
    his
    her
    his
    her

    I don’t know a lot about the performer, but what I gathered is that he presents as a man, but has created a woman persona as well. I tried to use pronouns according to whether I was talking about one persona or the other.
    That might be telling something about my unconscious biases, or not, but I consider the “he” the performer’s default. “She” is part of the artistic self that the performer presents to us with. That doesn’t make her any less real, but it kind of makes her the second identity. Again, I don’t know enough to assess whether the performer would agree or they would say that both “he” and “she” are their identity and neither is primary.
    It is a bit weird to use “he” in one half of the sentence and then switch to “she” in the other, while talking about the same person. I guess there’s that dreaded societal influence that encourages me to think of gender as binary.

    7b
    I referred to the performer as “she” throughout my comment.
    I’m somewhat familiar with the movie that the video is part of, but don’t remember the details, so I didn’t want to go with gibberish and went with just my impression of the linked video without context.
    Which probably makes this part pretty much useless.

    Anyway, she presents as a woman in the video (a dress, performance that isn’t too stereotypical, but I would definitely call it more feminine than masculine), I know the actress is a woman, so that’s what I read her as.

    7c
    I used “he” throughout my comment.
    The performer is playing a bit loose with “rules” about how women and men stereotypically look, but I’m still reading him as a man. There’s the hair, the make-up, but I consider it just the kind or performance that was popular at the time, partly a sign of rebellion and shaking off convention.
    But in the end, the singer as far as I know is a man, and I didn’t really think about considering him anything other than a man.

    7d
    I referred to the performer as “she” throughout my comment.

    There wasn’t really much thought there, considering her gender. As far as I know she was a woman. In the video she’s very much a stereotype of a little girl… with the little dress and ribbons and the hair.
    There’s also something about her performing with all those men, that I’m not sure would have been played the same way were there a boy in her place, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of too creepy to think about.

    But yes, I didn’t really have any doubt about using female pronouns here.

    —————————————–

    To sum up why and how I chose pronouns all through the exercise:
    – From what I know about the performer

    This was mainly it, but I notice that some things strengthened my views when it came to already having read performers as women:
    – Feminine clothes
    – – feminine mannerism
    When it came to the performer I read strictly as male, there was the “yes, but” element considering his attributes that could be read as feminine (make up).

  171. elltee says

    Exercise 8:

    Conchita Wurst: I used the pronoun “they” to refer to this performer. I used this pronoun because I am not sure what pronoun this person prefers. I did not attribute any particular gender to this performer. My first instict, though, was to use the pronoun “she”, and I consciously decided not to. This singer’s gender expression is a mix of elements traditionally considered feminine and elements traditionally considered masculine, and I felt it unfair to assign a gender to them.

    Julie Andrews: I used the pronouns “she” and “her” to refer to this performer. I’ve read/watched interviews with her and I don’t recall ever hearing that she prefers anything else. I did not consider any other pronouns.

    Dee Snider (Twisted Sister): I used the pronouns “he” and “him” to refer to this performer. This is due to the fact that I don’t recall ever hearing that he prefers anything else. I did not consider any other pronouns.

    Shirley Temple: I used the pronouns “she” and “her” to describe this performer. I’ve never heard that she prefers anything else. I did not consider any other pronouns.

    Sorry for the short boring answers to the final 3. Due to my my fairly high confidence in what pronouns they use for themselves, based on my cultural knowledge of them, I didn’t use any visual cues or apply any rules other than “use the pronouns they themselves use”.

  172. anne mariehovgaard says

    A bit hampered by not being a Martian, and knowing who these people are/how they describe themselves, but…
    a. Mostly avoided pronouns, “he” a couple of times. Not 100 % confident, but the singer looks like a very feminine man to me, male not just because of the beard but also because 1. the tits don’t look real when he lifts his arms, 2. feminine shape of hips seems to be mostly due to posture, 3. some aspects of body language/mannerisms are “feminine” in a way I associate with gay men, not women. If I didn’t know this person, I’d still say “they” as I wouldn’t be sure.
    b. She. 100 % confident. I know she’s playing a guy but that didn’t seem important in that scene. Woman, female, feminine. Can’t see the shape of her body as clearly as in the first video, but what I see looks female. Nothing in her body language or voice to suggest otherwise, although she actually seems a bit less OTT feminine (and/or less submissive) than Conchita.
    c. He. 100 % confident.A masculine man. Very big, tall, strong-looking, aggressive body language, manly voice, wearing makeup but not in a way that looks feminine. Transgressive I guess, but more “masculine doesn’t have to mean grey and dull” than “”you don’t have to be masculine just because you’re male”.
    d. She. 100 % confident. A very feminine little girl. Hard to tell with kids really, but the way the scene is set up she clearly switches from her girly self to “pretending to be a boy” while singing a “boy” song, to amuse the adults.

  173. says

    I used the pronouns he/she according to the cultural skripts about masculinity/femininity. In most cases it’s easy to read somebody’s gender depending on what they wear, what attributes they are trying to emphasize and what names they use.
    When those clues are not sufficient or “mixed” I either try to find out what pronouns somebody would like to be called or I use the neutral “they”.
    While I don’t actually like the idea of gender performance, it is a thing.

  174. says

    Ehm I think I misunderstood the task.
    Let me try to fix it. Please understand the above to be my task #8

    7a) She, because Conchita Wurst is a female stage persona. I would use “he” to refer to the person in his normal life, because I know that he does identify as a cis-man off-stage.

    7b) She. The performance was very stereotypically “feminine”, obviously titilating for the male audience (and entertaining for the female audience* for the aesthetics)

    *We all know that lesbians don’t exist ;)

    7c) He. Seemed to be a 1980s style rock performance, an aera and sub-culture where men wore their hair very long and often used make-up for shock value. Contrary to the make-up used by a and b, it’s not meant to “beautify” him. Given the cultural context, those features didn’t read “feminine” to me, especially not with the emphasis on broad shoulders, physical strenghts and the voice.

    7d) She. And half-way the video gave me creeps and then I thought how fucked up have we become that cute girl + lots of grown dudes = creepy automatically when the whole song is clearly supposed to display innocence on the side of the kid and care on the side of the men.

  175. Asher_Jak says

    7a. She/her. No gender conflicts. I think she is a man who performs drag. I refer to her as she because when drag performers are performing they typically use the pronouns of the gender they’re performing as. I believe I read that Conchita identifies as a man a while back as well. Also given that her name, Conchita, is slang for pussy in Spanish that kind of gives it away that she’s a drag performer.

    7b. She. No gender conflicts. I’m aware that Victor/Victoria is a movie about a man who has to present as a woman for some reason, be that wacky hi jinx or identity validation. I don’t know if she’s a man in drag or a trans woman so I played it safe and used female pronouns.

    7c. N/A. No gender pronouns used so no conflicts. I just happened to not use pronouns in my description because I think the lead singer is a man and the boy is a boy so there’s multiple “he”s which might have gotten confusing. The only feminine presentation that might make me think this person is not a man is the long hair and make up but I don’t consider either of those to be exclusively women’s territory so I went with male.

    7d. She. No gender conflicts. I think she’s a girl because I’ve never heard otherwise and Shirley Temple was THE icon of adorable girlhood for a long time.

  176. says

    I did not consciously consider different pronouns. I felt reasonably confident.

    7a. She and her
    7b. She
    7c. none
    7d. She

    8. I used eye size and shape, hair length, makeup, body language

    Body language was the only actually useful one.

    In these videos facial hair which I would normally use would have given a false positive for male with the first video. I did however have prior knowledge that influenced me to only use feminine pronouns.

    With the third video I think I discovered that I have male=default as that was the only video that I did not comment using a gendered pronoun at all.

  177. says

    7
    Video 1 I used female pronouns, one with a question mark. I was consciously choosing to use female pronouns because of the way the performer presented, but the question mark indicated that I was thinking of the performer as “male person presenting as female” and using the pronoun out of politeness. The beard made me think “biologically male.”
    Video 2 I used female pronouns and identified her as female both because of how she presented and because I knew the actor and the character were both female.
    Video 3 I used male pronouns and simply noted the makeup as being “part of the rebelliousness” of the theme, while the performer presented as male.
    Video 4 I used female pronouns because of overall presentation and because I know the actor is female, but noted the low voice as being “masculine.”

    I’m judging overall presentation to choose pronouns, but apparently, deep down, a beard trumps overall presentation. Pretty sure that deep down, a penis or vulva trumps overall presentation too. Something I am struggling to overcome.

  178. Caroline says

    7a. I used they and performer
    7b. Julie Andrews, performer and then she
    7c. I was triggered by the intro so I didn’t watch it
    7d. she, little girl

    I was uncomfortable, not with the performance, but with the task of relegating gender to someone without knowing them or what pronoun they would like me to use. My best guess was that the person in video 1 was a drag queen performer. I saw a very feminine performer who wears a beard.Very nice song by the way. Brought back memories of my blast from the past I was involved with for many years who was a cross dresser who presented to the public a hyper masculine persona, so you just never know. Our conflict was him wanting to be humiliated into cross dressing whereas I saw nothing punitive in putting on silk robes and such if he enjoyed them. I guess I really took offense at presenting as woman being a humiliating thing. I hope that is not TMI.

  179. opposablethumbs says

    7a)
    Her. Hirself. Not confident, as I did not know what Wurst hirself prefers.
    Categorised as a woman or a genderqueer person – I was thinking as I watched that I don’t know what Wurst prefers. Cues include clothing, body language, figure and beard. Social knowledge drawn on includes “diva” performances and expectations wrt clothing, body language and body hair.

    7b)
    she; no hesitation. Categorised as a woman. Cues include clothing, body langugage. Social knowledge drawn on includes western Musicals and familiarity with Andrews having always (afaik) identified as a woman.

    7c)
    They. Categorised as men. Cues include facial hair, body language (aggressiveness), voice type. Social knowledge drawn on includes glam rock, which emphasises masculinity (“we’re so fucking macho we can even wear makeup and jewellery and we still have bigger dicks than [whothefuckever]” is what this version of the glam rock look “says” to me)

    7d)
    she, her; categorised as a girl. Cues include hair; social knowledge drawn on includes knowledge that girls at the time (and pretty much now) had a vanishingly low chance of becoming pilots; also familiarity with Temple having always (afaik) identified as a woman. The way she is manhandled – the food, passing her from hand to hand – is extremely creepy to me.

  180. says

    7a He, He – press stories, body shape, female mannerisms lack fluidity

    7b none – Women by their clothing, hair and makeup

    7c He – boys at table have boy’s clothing and short hair

    7d She, her – girl’s dress and hair style, men in suits and short hair.

  181. says

    Exercise 8:
    Video 1:I actually didn’t use any pronouns in my description of Conchita Wurst, but if I had, I would have used she/her, as that is the convention among drag performers. I am entirely confident that this is the convention. If I were using Conchita’s real name (which I don’t in fact know), or discussing her life offstage I’d use male pronouns, though, since as far as I know he identifies as male.
    Video 2: I used female pronouns to refer to Julie Andrews, because I am aware that she is a woman and identifies as such.
    Video 3: As above, I’m aware that the members of Twisted Sister are men and identify publicly as such, and I used male pronouns for them.
    Video 4: Female pronouns. See above about knowing beforehand the gender of the performer.
    Cues:
    I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but usually:
    *Clothing styles. I could rattle on for pages about details, but basically I know what clothes are socially coded for a given gender, and take someone’s choice of clothes as a clue to their gender presentation.
    * Body shape: Commonly, visible breasts are an indication that someone may be female.
    *Facial hair: Visible facial hair is a common indication that someone may be male.

  182. says

    Copypaste fail, I composed in a different window and cut off the last part of the response:
    *Mannerisms/presentation: this is a big one, and a very hard one for me to define; basically it amounts to ‘the way someone is performing their gender’. In the event that someone isn’t actively performing gender, I use the physical cues listed above as a baseline, because I figure that, like myself, they’re gendering by default, as it were.

  183. says

    I’m a little concerned that I answered these wrong somehow. I did 6a-d first, without looking at 7a-d or 8 at all, but the way that I answered the questions actually contained a lot of, and maybe even all of 7a-d in them as well. I took the Martian thing very seriously and this was the result. I guess I’ll see what everyone thinks.

    6a: A song by a performer named Conchita Wurst. It’s a very well done song and the artist brings a lot of passion and skill to the piece. Conchita is a contestant in a singing contest from the continent of Europe. She is performing a song with the theme of transformation and rebirth, a transformation that is a wonderful and good thing to them. They are mixing different aspects from what (western) human society has traditionally considered to be male-associated, or female-associated ornamentation and mannerisms.
    A male characteristic is the layer of short hairs discoloring her face. This is normally not seen on human females even though there are human females that do have facial hair (it’s a cultural thing). Their voice is also a voice that would normally be thought of as a more masculine voice, but they are softening their voice in ways that are more traditionally feminine. I am unsure of any other male characteristics, but they are essentially trying to look like they are obviously biologically male.
    The rest of the presentation includes a large number of female characteristics, but they are all social in nature making them stand out as a contrast of physical male, and social female according to cultural standards. The hair on her head is worn in a long, wavy, flowing style normally worn by females (sometimes by males but from what I remember those males usually have other physical or social characteristics that add “maleness” like lots of strength, or accumulated social power in entertainment). In every scene Conchita is acting, decorated, moving, positioned, and included in scenes that are very common for entertainment to limit to female humans only. The rose petals in the bathtub for example is something that I have never seen a male human do in any entertainment whatsoever, complete with suggestive posing such as the bare leg positioned over the other.

    7a. I referred to Conchita as a “she”. I did deliberately because since they were presenting themselves in a female manner it seemed a safe assumption that they wanted to be seen in a female way though I have no idea what sort of pronouns this person might prefer. I don’t actually know if they were born male, but I suspect that is the case. I based this on the fact that they seemed to have a more male skeletal structure and apparent lack of breasts though that probably is not definitive.

    6b. I am also watching a scene from a movie, a song by Julie Andrews. The presentation of the video shows the different ways that human males and females are traditionally encouraged to present themselves in western culture, in a video that emphasizes a woman as an object of desire. Julie is wearing lots of shiny, sparkly decorations and moves and holds herself in certain ways considered feminine, such as holding herself in a more open or “accepting” way that compliments some of the lyrics (the “come on and play me” possibly referencing a sexual encounter between her and the imaginary jazz singer she singing to). Her dress sways to reveal her body in multiple parts of the video. The female dancers that appear later in the piece also compliment this in that they are dressed more provocatively with more body showing than their male counterparts.
    The male dancers in contrast tend to hold themselves in rigid postures and make sharp movements such as clapping and finger snapping in their introduction, though there is an exception in the male dancer reclining on the stage. The clapping and snapping lets the men set the rhythm that everyone else moves to, though Julie is also snapping so that may be a more ambiguous observation. They are all dressed in ways that prevent them from being considered for more physical enjoyment as their female counterparts are.
    At multiple parts of the performance Julie is positioned with multiple males, suggestive of her liking to be surrounded by partners which positions her as something to be enjoyed by others, or just surrounded by men (the stares of the men in the audience compliment this). For example at ~1:40 she is positioned between two men in what could be a fun or suggestive way. At ~1:55 she is surrounded by many snapping male fingers and hands.

    7b. I referred to Julie Andrews as a “her”. I don’t think there are any conflicts in how I described them and my answer already includes a full description of various social factors that led to my use of the pronoun as Julie was presented in ways that are very culturally female (I’m taking the Martian thing very seriously). It’s possible that they are not really biologically female but I don’t actually know so I may be in for a surprise.

    6c. This is a music video by a band called Twisted Sister. It’s interesting because while they apply some traditionally feminine characteristics to themselves in how they wear their hair, how they wear makeup, and how they name themselves “Sister”, the glitter in the performance, the whole presentation of the video is hyper-masculine by cultural standards.
    It sets itself up as a act of rebellion against authority from the very start, an act that is something that is traditionally a thing only males are supposed to participate in as protagonists. In fact the only individual woman in the video only plays an accessory role in supporting the rebellion of sons (who transform into the other band members and take part in the rebellion) or patching up the father with a first aid kit. There are some women in the crowd enjoying the music so the message is not totally one that only boys should rebel, but the men in the crowd are more obviously positioned.

    7c. I did not use any gendered pronouns in my description of the third video because it was mostly a group of men wearing some female characteristics in a non-serious way. Again, I don’t really know if any or all of them are what is commonly thought of as biologically male, but I grew up during the period of time where this band was popular and I have not heard anything about any of them being anything but stereotypically male over the years. I also described social conventions in my original description.

    6d. The last video that I am watching is an older performance by the actress Shirley Temple. It’s presented as a young girl singing to a group of adult men about how she wants to abandon all her toys (traditionally male toys) and be a captain of a ship with those men as her crew (a social role that is traditionally male). Despite the fact that she is dressed and styled in feminine fashions, she is acting very masculine in assertive speech and tone, with rigid posture, pointing and other movements. She even swaggers.
    It’s presented as cute, with the men looking at her in an amused way that strikes me as being amused that a girl would want to do things thought of as male. At one point a man even picks her up and puts her on his lap and then she switches to a more cute feminine posture with her hands clasped as if in prayer under her chin, as though she is reverting back to a traditional female role. The role candy plays in the piece seems to underscore the fact that her fantasy is not to be taken seriously, the ship is named lollipop, it is heading to a candy store, there are anthropomorphisized candy people at the destination and the body of water is also named “peppermint bay” in addition to other examples. It’s like the desire to become a captain is not really serious, it’s all a way to get candy that is reinforced by props. At the end she has a tummy ache as if her fantasy is one that will only lead to disaster for her, and the final part has everyone laughing at the performance.

    7d. I referred to Shirley Temple as “she” and “her”. I don’t see any conflicts in my use of the terms, despite the fact that the girl was acting like in stereotypical male ways, because the context deemphasized that aspect as I mentioned in my description, leaving her more traditionally female in role. Again the various cultural factors were already in my description and I don’t actually know if Shirley is an any way different from what tends to get thought of as stereotypically female.

    8. I feel confident in the pronouns that I used, but I could easily be wrong and if I found out differently I would change my use for these people in the future. There is no consensus on how to handle the pronoun issue in any of the communities that I have read so if I get no message ahead of time I will either try to be a neutral as possible (not for this assignment though, I went with other conclusions for the purposes of the work), or try to read into the intent of the person as best as I can. I know nothing about these people personally.
    For Conchita Wurst I used “she” because that seemed to be way that her (first use on that one) performance was intended to present her, and it looked like a self directed work. Physically male traits wrapped up in socially female context so I gambled they might prefer she/her.
    For Julie Andrews, given the date of the film and the context I also went with she/her, but this was a movie that they might have had no choice in writing or directing (I gambled on her role as just that of an actress, and perhaps unwisely as someone fine with her culture). So I used she/her, but it’s always possible that they might not be someone that likes such pronouns.
    For Twisted Sister I just used the neutral they because it’s a group. I actually use they in singular references all the time though (and don’t care about the grammar nazies) and a lot of that is from trying to be sensitive to people that might have gender reference sensitiveness. I guess if I had to gamble I might be willing to gamble “he” for these folks, but I would be easily correctable.
    For Shirley Temple I used her/she. Given the world she lived in I had no trouble gambling she/her, but again I would be correctable.
    Items used in making my choice:
    *Presentation by the person with guesses about how much of the media was the choice of the person.
    *The era that the person performed in with guesses about what they might have preferred.
    *The role they played relative to other actors in the work, and the overall tone.

    I have to admit that some of this leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable with my choices. Only with Conchita did I have their choices as a possible reasonable item for a decision. But with everyone else it’s likely that they had less choice in presenting themselves in a way that would let others know what they might prefer. Without better social tools to make decisions I’m glad that I normally try to be neutral.

  184. says

    8a. I categorized the gender of the performer in this video as male because I believe that’s how they usually identify. I wrote from the perspective of behind the scenes and about the performance as Conchita. When speaking directly about Conchita I did use the pronoun she as my memory is telling me that is how the performer thought of this character but I could be wrong. It wasn’t really anything in the video that lead me to do this and was strictly this prior knowledge correct or incorrect that lead me to do it this way.

    b. I referred to the singer in this video as female and I referred both the the character and the actress Julie Andrews this way. My fuzzy memory is telling me that Julie Andrews is supposed to be playing a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman or something like that. I have never heard Julie Andrews identify as anything other than a woman so I used she for the actress as well. Again this had nothing to do with the cues in the video and I was going with prior knowledge.

    I referred to the lead singer as he because I believe the singer Dee Snyder (spelling?) identifies as male. I think the band name Twisted Sister and the on stage persona were never used by the band to directly subvert thinking on gender but more for shock value since existing cultural prejudice would cause some to be shocked by this. Again I used male pronouns because I correct or incorrect prior knowledge and not visual clues.

    It’s Shirley Temple. I used female pronouns. I don’t think any specific visual clues factored into to it again since I recognized her and the song from the start. I think that Shirley Temple has always identified as female and so that’s what I did and really didn’t think too hard about it otherwise.

  185. rpjohnston says

    Exercise 8:

    Video 1: I used “Ze” and “Hir”. It was pretty obvious that the singer was deliberately trying to use flagrant stereotypes of both genders – such as a beard that would make Aragorn weep in shame, heavy lipstick and eyeliner, a dress with a feminine figure but manly shoulders – and from that context, I was reasonably confident that the singer was at least biologically male (as far as could be discerned while clothed). The purposeful performance was clearly to make a statement, though whether ze was a cis allied of trans* and or trans* hirself was unclear, and due to my lack of knowledge either of Wurst or hir persona, I decided it was best to use neutral terms.

    Video 2: I used she and her. Although she had a strong jaw, she still looked and very much sounded like a woman, and given that this was 30 years ago and looked like a typical movie context I figured it unlikely that there would be a suggestion of trans*.

    Video 3: I used he. The singer was obviously masculine, the clothing would be inappropriate for a woman, he sounded masculine, and the drag was cheap enough that it was pretty obvious he was going for the “man-in-drag” look rather than true ambiguity, like Wurst in Video 1.

    Video 4: I used she. A cute little kid in a 1030’s family-friendly endearing movie singing a treacly tune is an unlikely place to find a subtle exploration of trans* issues, and as far as I know Shirley Temple was female.

  186. Hj Hornbeck says

    6a. My literal first thoughts: “ooo, she has a beard!”

    But articulating that a bit better, we’ve got someone singing a song about phoenixes or rising again or something. It sounded like a fairly conventional musical number, was presented in a straightforward manner, and by itself was utterly boring.

    The only portion of note is the mixed gender signals being sent. This person was dressed as a woman typically does in our culture (hence “she”), wore make-up and styled her hair like a woman, and even her actions during the song, such as being unclothed in a bathtub full of rose pedals, telegraphed she was a woman.

    But not every signal pointed towards “woman” as a gender identity. She had a well-trimmed beard, which is almost never associated with women but is quite commonly found on men. There were other ambiguous signals, such as her voice, but just having that beard tossed a monkey wrench into our gender assessment gears and forced everyone to think “hey, something’s wrong here.” I got a strong jolt when I saw her turn to the camera the first time, as my instincts said exactly that.

    Oh yeah, and did you know humans constantly assess the gender of one another by looking at clothing and behavior? Weird, eh?

  187. Hj Hornbeck says

    Oh, uh, forgot to speculate on “why” in 6a. In short, the goal was that “jolt,” to make you feel like something is wrong then self-analyze.

    Anyway, 6b: This was a jazz tune, more to my liking. This time around we had a number of performers, in addition to the woman who got most of the attention, as well as a story in the form of cuts back to the audience and their reaction (as well as their reaction to other’s reaction). Not bad, though a bit glossy. There was the usual sexual innuendo you see with these performances, like when the woman laid back on people or forced a performers’ hands to keep hugging her.

    Why were they doing this? Presumably they’re setting up a plot point where a man in the audience falls for the main performer on stage, stirring feelings of jealousy in the woman seated next to the man. Otherwise, there wasn’t much of note in the clip.

  188. gmcard says

    8a. Not having any previous knowledge of this performer, I unreservedly used male pronouns (until hitting the comments, and then it was the neutral “they/these” as in “these commenters are ignorant bigots/they should throw away their computers until they can act decently towards other people”). Admittedly, if you only played the first 8 seconds, I would have used female ones. The beard is the primary cue, but nose shape also looks male to me.

    b. Knowing the performer but not the movie, I unreservedly used female pronouns. Given knowledge of the performer, cues based on the character were ignored.

    c. Knowing the performer and the piece, I unreservedly used male pronouns. Given knowledge of the performer, cues based on the character were ignored.

    d. Knowing the performer and having seen clips of the song before, I unreservedly used female pronouns. Given knowledge of the performer, cues based on the character were ignored.

    My categorizations stayed the same after further refection.

  189. says

    Crap, now I see what I did wrong. I was supposed to just type the 7a-d for myself. Sorry about the wall o’ text everyone.

  190. says

    Exercise 8: 2nd report.

    what pronouns did you use for each featured performer? Did you feel completely confident in your pronoun choices **at the time**? If you didn’t consciously consider different options for pronoun use, definitely report that. Upon reflection, what gender did you attribute to each of the featured performers?

    video 1) didn’t use pronouns, was not confident.
    video 2) said “she”, fairly confident, even said “woman”, basically no consideration.
    video 3) didn’t use pronouns, but leaned towards “man”, a little consideration.
    video 4) said “girl”, was fairly confident, basically no consideration.

    list a few of the most important cues that you used in your process of determining pronouns to use and gender to attribute. Then very briefly note how those cues were useful (were there rules you applied, e.g. “if facial hair is sufficiently thick, always use X pronoun”?) to the process you believe led to your pronoun use and/or gender attribution.

    cues: looked at clothing, fashion, grooming, body/face shape, voice, facial hair,

    use of cues: Dresses, makeup, longer well groomed hair, high voice, hips significantly wider than waist, large breasts, would be taken to indicate a person was a woman. Low voice, prominent brow, wide shoulders, muscles, large jaw, facial hair, would be taken to indicate a person was a man. Mixture between these two sets would lead to uncertainty, but I’m not sure how to quantify or specify the degrees of certainty, except to say that the person’s body features would be more important than what kind of styling or clothing was used, particularly “secondary sex characteristics” I think they are called such as facial hair or breasts.

  191. says

    7a

    The performer is expressing — her? her. — her desire to become (or just to be?) herself, regardless of what others or society might think, and doing so in a way that seriously transgresses social “norms” regarding gender and presentation. Dare to be yourself, be like the phoneix, “rising from the ashes” of your past.

    I’m using she/her because in this performance, the performer is explicitly presenting as female, and it’s only polite to refer to her as the gender she’s presented.

    I am unsure how this person identifies in everyday life, though I would guess they ID as male because of the beard.

    7b

    What… what am I even watching?

    This one… okay, I avoided pronouns, I guess, because I had no clue what was going on. (Still don’t, and I suspect there is a lot of context I’m missing from the source material.) The instructions were “write down your thoughts, unedited”, and that’s… that’s what I’ve been doing. My thought processes are often “nimbly-bimbly, jumping from tree to tree meow.” (Sorry!)

    7c

    I think, referring to the band members with male-coded pronouns is appropriate because — while they wore (exaggerated) feminine makeup — they were still identifiable as male and wore male-coded clothing in “feminine” colors (pink) accented with a few actual items of female-coded clothing.

    7d Shirley Temple

    I can’t, with this one. I just can’t. It Tastes Like Diabetes, and I’m watching my blood sugar.

    8

    I’m almost never certain of my pronoun use, unless a person has explicitly indicated that they have a preference. I’ll admit, I often default to visual and behavioural cues — some of which (long hair) can be very ambiguous — and just… assume… from there. (This has backfired more than once, when “she” turned out to be a very pretty boy. Not that I was upset, just slightly caught off guard.)

    Also, um… I feel like I’m doing these all wrong. Everybody else has so much to say, and says it so well…

  192. says

    Very interesting exercise.

    a. she/her, singer, but only somewhat confident. In fact I admitted to my Martian friend “I’m not sure what pronoun she prefers, but I went with she/her because I perceived a woman performer with a beard”

    b. no pronouns used, only Julie Andrews. I know the movie quite well.

    c. “these guys are no David Bowie” no pronouns used for the main performer, but it would have been he/him

    d. girl, quintessential girl. I don’t see any possible confusion there?

    I’m a little late to this thread, and my time zone doesn’t help. But its so interesting to read everyone’s take.

  193. says

    7a.
    Didn’t use pronouns there, it seems. I do that sometimes, seems like a good way to avoid misgendering others, though I do really want to actually refer to people with their preferred pronouns as well if I know them.
    I stated the gender I think the singer personally identifies as, based on what I have gathered from reporting (mostly that from fellow LGBTAI+ people, not trusting mainstream news to correctly gender people). I honestly could not have guessed terribly much without that knowledge, though I would have guessed the performer identified as a woman if I had to guess, which would be accurate to the persona, but not the singer’s personal identity as a cis man, if I’m correct. That is why I generally don’t like using pronouns that are gendered about people who have not told me their preferred pronouns.

    7b.
    Seems I used “she” and “her” one time each, despite making a big deal (well, a short sentence) about only using them due to thinking them likely correct. The cues and social knowledge behind that choice of pronouns is pretty much just that the person is one whose name I believe I have heard before and whose presentation, coupled with the video being fairly old (transphobia is bad enough when it comes to the film industry in present times, I don’t think trans characters where even a mainstream possibility back then, let alone characters or actors who were not the gender they presented as), would indicate that it was accurate. Much shakier grounds than having the performer’s own affirmation, but that would not necessarily be available, particularly for cis performers, as it is often assumed obvious that everybody is cis and obvious which gender they are. I could certainly be wrong, though. ^_^’

    7c.
    Didn’t use pronouns other than “they” in this one, I’m afraid. I categorised the singer as a cis man, due to what I know of the singer, though I could again be wrong.

    7d.
    I used “she” once, when describing the performer. Pretty much based that on the fact that the role was presented as being a girl, based on the time period (even more transphobic than the eighties, yay.) and on what little I know of the actress.

    Exercise 8.
    Used pronouns mostly based on knowledge about the performer’s identity, but gendered characters based on clothing, voice, knowledge about cultural norms of the time and prior knowledge about the creator of the character (e.g. I knew, or thought I knew, that Conchita Wurst was a persona and as a character is a woman, while the creator identifies as a cis man).

    PS: Did pretty much all of this while really sleepy, so I might not make much sense. ^_^’

  194. says

    Some more thoughts on this: in high school I played often played male parts in plays. I played them as honestly as I could, and I expected the audience to agree to see me as male and describe the character in male pronouns. But what about if they were describing my performance. “she did a good job” sounds more right to me than “he did a good job” because I identify myself as ‘she’, although ‘he’ would be a compliment to my acting ability. I think I never assumed the audience would not see me as a female in a male role, what with my boobs and all. So with video a, there is a similar idea in that the character is clearly female whereas the performer portraying her is not.

  195. wirebash says

    Ex. 7a.
    Woman, girl, her, she, person.
    Four female nouns and a neutral one. I think I characterized her as woman.
    At least, in the pronouns I referred to the main singer as female. That’s what her physique tells me. Her behavior is what you’d expect from a female singer. But bbeaaaard. The beard confuses me. What’s she trying to express with that? It certainly is unique, that part of her. She’s a strange mix of old school feminine traits and new stuff, stuff that doesn’t fit in my perception. I don’t think the typical way of characterizing people holds up here.
    Ex. 7b.
    Female, dancer, she, her.

    All female. It’s nothing extraordinary about her performance, from what you’d expect from her gender. There’s some provoking stuff, but she doesn’t mix up masculine traits with her personality.
    Ex 7c.
    Male, female, awesome.
    He was originally a male, but he mixed up masculine and feminine traits in a way that I perceive as provoking, but not as causing discomfort.
    Ex 7d.
    Girl, her
    Yes, she’s clearly a girl, everything about her physique, clothing and behavior matches that. (Boys of her age wouldn’t/shouldn’t? sing in front of an audience of your dad’s coworkers. Girls sometimes would.
    Ex. 8
    Mostly based on gut feeling. The person in 5a seems to purposely use concepts related to gender/sex as a way of expression, while the rest of the videos don’t. Characterizing people based on their sex/physique alone never worked good enough for me. I look at more things when I form an internal picture of someone, such as behavior, the way they dress, race, what I guess their religion and background is, social status, use of language, dominance in conversation, how they relate to other people. There’s a lot of knobs, and sex is just one of them. I don’t think I specifically try to estimate someone’s gender as opposed to sex. Estimating one’s sex is easy, it follows from one’s physique. Gender is in most cases correlated with sex (afaik cis is most common) but is also related to behavior and how one expresses him/herself. Mostly other people initiate conversation with me, so I can guess their gender from there. I’m afraid to initiate a conversation with someone else and get their gender wrong. I try to be as neutral as possible when I don’t have a clue about someone’s gender. So far that’s worked out well for me.

  196. says

    7a) I saw Conchita as ambiguous as far as gender, so I used “their” the one time I used a pronoun for them. I wasn’t sure what to think. Liked the performance, though.

    7b) I referred to the character and actress as women. As far as I know, Julie Andrews identifies as a woman, and I think she was playing a woman acting as a man in drag (more or less?). I need to see the whole movie for once.

    7c) I didn’t actually use any pronouns to refer to any individuals in Twisted Sister, but I group them all as men from what I’ve seen of groups of that kind and their voices. I really like the lead singer’s hair. Nothing about it seemed odd to me, but I think I can see how it would seem odd to others.

    7d) I referred to Shirley Temple as a little girl because that was a young Shirley Temple. As far as I know, she identified as a woman. If I didn’t know about her, the hair and dress would have been my cues.

    I had previous knowledge (to some degree, anyway) about the performers in three of the videos, but the first one confused me. It was nice, though, and fun.

    @ Rawnaeris, #154:
    Here’s another ace calling in. I used to be on AVEN, too, but things happened.

  197. jedibear says

    Interesting thread.

    I’m late to the party, but I’ll bang out the first four quickly:

    1. I identify as male: simply working with the equipment I was issued, so to speak. I’m not terribly attached to it, nor am I terribly likely to be confused for anything else, being a largish and hirsute ogre of a human. I don’t conform in all respects: I have no use for spectator sports or sports culture, prefer to play female characters in roleplaying games (though I would never try to pull it off onstage,) and in some cases have strayed onto the feminine side of a more obscure boundary due to not being aware it was there.

    2. (taken in order, eliminated opposed definitions since those can be viewed as redundant)
    a. Female: A biological classification. In humans, females produce eggs and bear children.
    b. Feminine: Traditionally considered as characteristic of females.
    (The usage of feminine/masculine is bound up in culture and tradition with which i don’t entirely identify and I find them meaningless in many contexts and surprisingly often in feminist literature.)
    c. Gender: One of two rigidly-defined traditional identity constructs, traditionally assigned socially based on sex.
    e. Man: An adult of the gender traditionally assigned to human males.
    g. Sex: Biological classification of humans as male, female, both, or neither; chiefly with respect to reproductive characteristics.
    i. Transgender: A person who strongly identifies with a gender contrary to traditional expectations.
    l. Social construction: Any thing that is created and sustained chiefly by the social convention that it exists.

    3. As I said, interesting thread. I have found myself brushing up against transgender people here and there and finding I don’t really grok the phenomenon. It doesn’t help that the first transgender person I met in person was a generally disagreeable person regardless and that has doubtless colored my perceptions.

    4. Few definitions are greatly in disagreement with mine, which are admittedly colloquial and imprecise. I mostly notice that I used variations of the word “traditional” a fair bit, and I didn’t see anyone else do that. I also shied away from defining gender as entirely an internal perception, because it’s rather more socially involved than that.

  198. kevinkirkpatrick says

    ——————————————
    Sorry, this got verbose, will pick up exercises in response later today…
    ——————————————
    @Alice,
    Congratulations on your personal journey and transition. I hope living your life as 100% “you” is as joyous and exhilarating as it should be! I share your sentiment, by the way, of feeling joy at yet one more family putting their transgender child’s happiness and well-being above psychologically-damaging social mores. I think the “challenge” of raising transgender kids really does boil down to one thing: dealing with bigotry and assholes. Personally, we didn’t encounter too much of that – mostly well-meaning ignorance which ultimately responded well to education/information. However, I don’t want to make light of just how challenging other parents may have it; so if what I write below comes across as too dismissive of what you’ve had to endure in that regard, please accept my apologies (and feel free to enlighten me!).

    @Alice Wilde, @John Pieret, @Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!
    Thanks. The thing is, we’re not fantastic parents. We’re average parents with a healthy heaping of routinely Dropping-The-Fucking-Ball (last week I replaced an outlet because my older son shorted it out trying to retrieve a metal prong stuck in it – first with a magnet and then metal tweezers).

    More pointedly, we handled our younger son’s gender identity, well, pretty horribly. For over two years, our 2/3/4 year-old child had to match wits with two 30+ year old adults (the two adults who should’ve been on his team from day one) as we subjected him to daily negotiations of just how boy-ish he was allowed to present. He was bribed to wear tutus to dance class, forced to keep his hair long, and often deceived into believing that his boyish girl clothes [he had lots of spandex/sports wear, all from the girl section of the clothing stores] were actually “just like what boys wear.” Lot’s of things packed into this, but I’d deliberately buy and wear pink shirts to the office to show that pink was a boy color too (almost sounds good devoid of it’s manipulative context). To this day I ask myself, just how difficult would it have been to let him wear a tuxedo to his aunt’s wedding like his brother got to wear – why was such a happy/fun occasion for my older son something my younger was forced to endure?

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not living in the past, and I’m not beating myself up for not doing this parenting thing perfectly. I’m simply putting it out there for full disclosure. I would hate for the way we handled our son’s gender identity to be considered some un-toppable “bar of excellence”. Though I take yours and others compliments in the spirit intended, it really saddens me about our society that *our* handling is seen as a spectacular thing. If I went back with a grading marker, we were mostly in the C to C+ range, maybe hitting a B- on a few things.

    In contrast: I consider the upbringing that many transgender children experience, particularly those who are coerced and shamed into repressing and internalizing their identity into adulthood, to be psychological abuse, pure and simple. I sympathize with parents who subject their children to such treatment to the same degree I sympathize with Jehovah’s Witnesses parents who let their children die rather than get blood transfusions: fuck all.

    I despise the notion of “the plight” of parents of LGBT children. To those who say, “woe is me” when your kids aren’t fitting the cis/straight template: cut the shit. Woe are your kids; they’re going to be contending with enough assholes in this world, don’t add two more. Parents of children born without sight or hearing; paralyzed in a car wreck; or diagnosed with terminal cancer – that’s “plight”. Those parents, working to give those kids a happy and fulfilling life against those circumstances: that’s where regular parenting gets kicked up to “heroic” levels. But allowing your children, LGBT or not, to be themselves? Teaching them to embrace and cherish who they are and how they identify? Standing up to those who would abuse or demean them? Giving them your unconditional love and support… unconditionally? That’s not heroic. That’s parenting.

  199. kevinkirkpatrick says

    Edit:

    Woe are your kids; they’re going to be contending with enough assholes in this world, don’t add two any more.

    Apologies for underlying implication that parenting is somehow only done in “two”s.

  200. anne mariehovgaard says

    Huh. Looking at my response vs. other people’s, it seems that, to some people, feminine appearance=she and masculine=he. Not just as a sort of statistical thing, “people in dresses are usually women” (and are likely to want to be referred to as “she”), but that that’s what it’s about, somehow? Have I got that right? If so, that’s very different from how I think. Possibly because feminine/masculine seem like almost completely arbitrary, artificial categories to me*. I’ve only fairly recently come to understand that not everyone feels like they’re playing dress up when they’re “dressing like a woman/man”… (Not that there’s anything wrong with that :D I love playing dress up)

    *I’m a short hair-jeans-and-Tshirt (&leather jacket&DMs) lesbian who’s perfectly happy to wear skirts & high heels & makeup to work, or if I just feel like it. If I don’t wear makeup or other obviously-girly stuff I’m not-infrequently read as male despite being just below average height for women where I live, and needing DD/E-cups… I think that’s mostly about body language. I take up more space than most women my size, I think. I’ve actally had people express surprise when I tell them how tall (short) I am; somehow I manage to look taller…

  201. Dhorvath, OM says

    Starting note, I didn’t use man, woman, or, I think, any gendered pronouns, but I did use gendered adjectives so I am working with that instead.
    7a:I used feminine to describe this performer based on the exaggerated make up, restrictive dress, head tilt, eye movements, etc. Described the beard as a gender bending accessory. I would gender as bender, they seem unwilling to be bound by norms, but quite happy to immerse themselves in norms while doing so.
    7b:I used feminine to describe this performer based on the outfit, make up, and my prior knowledge of the performer. There was nothing that stood out to me about this performance, maybe because I know it, but I am not sure that is the whole of my subconscious reasons. I would gender as woman, comfortably toeing the line for their venue.
    7c:I used garish to describe these performers. Keeping in mind that I grew up when this video came out and it was practically the favourite tune/video of myself and my classmates it’s very hard for me to separate what I know from new reactions, but I see this video as the band being overtly different in every way they could think of from button down comic father figure. I would gender as men using outfits to rebel.
    7d:I used child to describe this performer. To be clear, this video makes me cringe and I could not finish it. My child is approximately this age and neither they, nor their peers, act like this so my coached reflex goes off and I wonder how much time Shirley Temple had to be a kid. Still, I am quite sure that it never crossed my mind that the performer was other than a young girl.

  202. khms says

    Introduction and first report:
    I suck at introductions – in fact, I pretty much hate the concept if I have to do more than “hello, my name is X”.
    That said: why you’re choosing to do these exercises Sounds interesting.
    what level of gender knowledge you feel you have coming in Read people talking about it (like here) quite a bit – whatever that’ll turn out to be worth.
    what you hope to get out of this See if I can learn something new.
    Any other background information For example, see para 1 above. Also, if English is a language you learned as an adult Yup.

    feel free to include anything (or nothing) that you wish to say about exercise 1

    1. Gender Identification: Use a word or short phrase to express your gender identification.

    I’m not sure I’d accept “identification” as a good description for how I feel about these things – it’s not completely disconnected, but I think it is a rather small part of what I identify as. Of course, I might be mistaken.

    Anyway, I’m a (from what I read) almost atypically simple version of hetero male – as far as “what I am”, not “what society expects from me”, that is.

    Think of this as your private answer to your best friend, who knows tons about you and with whom you have shared intimate experiences and secret language

    Huh. Talk about reasoning about elements of the empty set. This one made me laugh out loud.

    “So, what is your gender?”

    I’m not sure how I’d react, given that empty set thing.

    I just remembered – a certain Martian named Smith was one critical impetus in my learning English better than necessary to understand a manual …

    Was it automatic for you? I believe so – but it happened so long ago I no longer remember.

    a. Female.
    b. Feminine.
    c. Gender.
    d. Male.
    e. Man.
    f. Masculine
    g. Sex. [In this case, you may omit any definition that relates to “gettin-it-on” activities.]
    h. Trans (with or without an asterisk, as “Trans*”)
    i. Transgender.
    j. Transsexual or Transexual. You may also choose to explain any differences between these that occur in your usage.
    k. Woman.

    a./d./e./k. I typically use these to describe the obvious two positions of the standard hetero construction. I tend to be hesitant to use any of these terms for any other position, as I believe I really do not know enough about those.

    l. Socially constructed/social construction. Feel free to take it on only if you’ve already defined at least 3 and no more than 5 other terms.

    I rarely use those, but whatever the society in question has come up with as a definition (as opposed to any other source, for example biology).

  203. Helena Bowles says

    1. I am a woman

    a) Female: the sex that produces large gametes. In humans the sex with at least 2 X chromosomes and no Y.

    b) Feminine: the set of performative behaviours and attitudes socially expected from female humans

    c) Gender: the overall term for feminine/masculine

    g) Sex: the physical manifestation of female/male/intersex

    h) Trans*: general term for a person who feels strongly that their sex does not correlate with their gender (who may or may not identify more strongly with the physical/performative aspects of a different sex/gender)

    k) woman: human showing female sex attributes

    I am a middle aged woman living in the UK. I have a long history with 2nd and 3rd wave feminism. I identify as bi but don’t talk about that too much as I’ve been in a relationship with a man for 25 years and have two children.

    My reason for doing this workshop is that I’ve been struggling with my feelings about/response to transgender people for some time. By which, I want to be clear, I have no personal feelings of animosity – I don’t get it at all (that’s why I’m here) but if whatever degree of surgery/hormones/personal presentation makes a human being feel happier and more comfortable with themselves then I will go to the barricades for their right to do/have those things – on the NHS, funded by insurance, whatever. And as for what someone wants to be called – the personal pronoun, the “gender” of the name chosen – well, respecting that is just good manners. So what is my problem (and, I accept it is *my* problem, not the problem of anyone trans* who might read this)? It really comes down to the apparent gender essentialist nature of some trans* discussions and my own personal response to the idea that someone can become female. OTOH, I’m *really* not with the 2nd wave Radfems who I have seen spew bile in waves of hate and bigotry without any attempt at compassion to a group who are some of the most oppressed in society and who suffer some of the most appalling and unacceptable prejudice – that I do NOT want to be a part of – and yet I have feelings and reservations that need to be explored and this seemed like a place where I could do this without hurting people who have already been hurt too much, and to improve my understanding without expecting anyone trans* to take the time to educate me.

  204. Helena Bowles says

    ETA: Female *usually* at least 2 X chromosomes – there are, of course XOs

  205. Seize says

    @ Alice Wilde @ 129 and then 151

    Thank you for another personal description of dysphoria. This one was less familiar to me, as I never had a feeling of “rightness” early in life — there was no Camelot to return to, not even in my mind.

    I am very interested by your reports of being “scared back into your shell” by the behavior of members of our shared culture — abuse hurled at a transwoman on a television show, abuse hurled at you in a bar. The fact that you could be too scared to be yourself says a lot about our culture.

    @ <b<besomyka @ 144/147

    The line between gender dysphoria and depression isn’t particularly clear to me. I’m not sure there is a difference other than, perhaps, being able to identify a source.

    I would actually go ahead and state that depression and gender dysphoria are one in the same for purposes of organizing with and empathizing with people who have also experienced these extreme, disruptive negative emotions. Important caveat: neurodiversity is incredible, and if it turned out that every person’s biochemical, hormonal version of depression/dysphoria was as unique as their facial features or memories, I would not be the least bit surprised. So, I choose to identify with your experiences, while leaving each of us space to be unique and individual, and to have different particulars to our experiences of a similar affective event.

    The other part that I haven’t gone into is the transsexual part like body perception issues (dysmorphia), and how that alone with a lot of internalized expectations led to a lot of shame… which also didn’t help much with depression.

    Ah yes, here is a place I cannot identify with you. I have great comfort with my body, most certainly with which parts are where and which sorts of parts I have. My neurotype has no aspects of body dysmorphia, for which I am grateful. Perhaps you might find empathy here for people who have experienced body dysmorphia of diverse kinds, such as those suffering from eating disorders.

    I guess I’d say that internalized expectations of myself, and gender dysphoria were the primary causes of anxiety, shame, and depression for me. As I addressed the former, the latter improved dramatically.

    I think this is an important observation. To generalize and revert to my “native tongue” of psychopathology, your experience seems to reflect that no depression is ever purely situational or purely organic.

    ‘find your context’ really resonates with me.

    :) I am glad! Just kinda came up with it. It feels right for me, too.

    8. Crip Dyke’s prompt.

    I gendered 7a as feminine, 7b as feminine, 7c as masculine, and 7d as feminine but notably a child. My primary influences for 7a and 7d were previous publications or writings I had read about each person in the video which used certain pronouns. I was not familiar with the people in 7b and 7c. The paucity of clothing is what caused me to gender the main player in 7c as feminine, while the aggressive, violent behavior of the main character in 7c caused me to gender him as masculine.

  206. LicoriceAllsort says

    7a. xe, hir — ambiguous or unknown gender. I chose that because I’m not familiar with Conchita Wurst, and the coiffed beard plus the makeup, eyelashes, hair, and nails indicate a good deal of care and thought that went into selecting both masculine AND feminine beauty markers. Usually I will select gendered pronouns based on the gender that the person appears to put effort into communicating. I briefly considered she/her based on a simple tally of feminine vs. masculine markers, but in this instance it looks like Conchita is deliberately choosing an ambiguous gender presentation, so I stuck with something more neutral.

    7b. She, her — female gender. I chose that because I’ve only seen Julie Andrews present as a woman, and in this video her clothing—a long, formal gown and elaborate headdress—is most often worn by women.

    7c. He, him — male gender. I chose male because AFAIK Dee Snyder identifies as a man, and in the 1980s, elaborate makeup and tight clothing in metal bands were more gender neutral. (It’s a shame that it changed, and now I wonder why it changed?)

    7d. She, her — female gender, which I chose based on prior knowledge of Shirley Temple and the recollection that she identified as a woman, as well as her attire in this piece, which is consistent with that of a young girl. (Unrelated, but after having watched the other videos, I was a little disturbed by how inappropriate this video seemed—a short skirt with visible bloomers on such a young child and all these grown men fawning over her.)

  207. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    A message from your facilitator.

    For those who have not yet found out: From now on we will be having new, separate threads for each new set of exercises.

    Since PZ set up this thread originally, I don’t have the ability to edit the OP. However, in the future, when a new set of exercises is posted, I’ll edit the OP of the previous set of exercises to include a link, making it easier for folks to hop from thread to thread.

    In the meantime, you can browse PZ’s front page to see any new workshop-related threads AND receive nuggets of wisdom from Our Dear Leader. Or you can simply skip to Online Gender Workshop 2 using this link.

  208. says

    I used gender-neutral pronouns for the first video, as I do not know how the performer identifies. I pointed out that female and male secondary sexual characteristics were both exaggerated, in contrast with the more common androgynous portrayal where they are both minimized.

    I used female pronouns for Julie Andrews, male pronouns for Dee Snider, and female pronouns for Shirley Temple. To the best of my knowledge, that is how those performers identify. I do not have much more information about the characters – I haven’t seen the two films, and the music video doesn’t have much background information – so I didn’t differ from the performers’ presumed gender.

    It didn’t occur to me until reading some other comments here that Shirley was trying to move like a man, though I did point out that pilots were usually male at the time. And as far as I know, it’s still a relatively male-dominated occupation today.

    I did think that Shirley looked an awful lot like Jake Lloyd in the Phantom Menace, though. Someone write that fanfic.

  209. khms says

    Exercise 8: 2nd report.

    a.”his/her”. Because it was reported that the artist didn’t ask for either.

    b. None. Because too many cues from here, and too few from memory at the time.

    c. None. Mainly because I completely failed to care. It didn’t seem important to the message, neither its good points nor its flaws.

    d. None. Because I was too revolted to remark. However, I was not in doubt who that was – enough cues from memory.

    Very briefly – using bullet points is fine – list a few of the most important cues that you used in your process of determining pronouns to use and gender to attribute.

    It seems I actually used only one: actual knowledge about the individual case.

  210. says

    LicoriceAllsort:

    (Unrelated, but after having watched the other videos, I was a little disturbed by how inappropriate this video seemed—a short skirt with visible bloomers on such a young child and all these grown men fawning over her.)

    Yeah that definitely set my creep-o-meter off.
    I also have no clue what that song is supposed to be about.

  211. khms says

    @220 ryangerber

    It didn’t occur to me until reading some other comments here that Shirley was trying to move like a man,

    Strangely enough, I had the strong impression of a child consciously aping an adult female performer. All those gestures fairly screamed “adult female” to me. Which is why I was so revolted.

  212. opposablethumbs says

    consciously aping an adult female performer.

    Yes, which as you say contributes to the high level of creepiness of the whole scene, considering the juxtaposition with her chorus of adult men and they way they handle her. The lines at the beginning where she supposedly pretends to be a boy are delivered so as to announce that this is very much a girl playing a boy’s role just for a moment – and it looks very like the performance of a woman apeing a man (emphatically not actually seeking to pass as one). The whole performance seems ultra “safe” – saying that it’s oh soooo adorable when these cute, pliant little things ape their betters.

  213. sammywol says

    I was surprised by the depth of creepiness in the Shirley Temple clip. I guess my sensitivities to this sort of thing have got heightened over the years. I don’t recall identifying with her characters much as a girl. It was all a bit pantomime/exaggerated to me then is all. However, the persona seems a lot darker to me now. Very deliberately disarming: please don’t hurt me I’m so cute and helpless. The end of that bit when she is being passed from hand to hand down the carriage though when she tries to pull down that horrendously short dress and get her balance, literally surrounded by faces and hands, Yergh!, it makes me want to claw my eyes out.

  214. AMM says

    I’m late to the potluck, as usual, but here’s the dish I brought, I hope it’s not too cold:
     
    1. Gender Identification:
    male-bodied, but I don’t identify with either gender. (I have yet to find anything associated with “being a man” that I want to have within a mile of me.)

    I’m not happy with being male-bodied or having grown up as a man, but the only realistic alternative I’ve ever seen is suicide, which I’ve thought about most of my life for other reasons (generally hating who I am and my life), but have never gotten to the point of actually doing anything about.

    So far, I feel like I would have been happier if I’d been born a girl, but I’m not sure how realistic that is.

    My “identity,” to the extent I have one, I’d say “techie”, although music and being decent to people are also big parts of who I am.
     
    2. Definitions:
    male/female: having the anatomical features associated in most people’s minds with male/female.
    masculine/feminine: a set of traits, behaviors, etc., that society expects from one sex and expects the other sex to shun.

    man/woman: either (i) living in the role and being more or less accepted
    by society as a man/woman or (ii) having a body that would be classified as male/female.
    sex: the category (male/female) one is or would be assigned to based on anatomical features.

    gender: which role one lives in (or perhaps wishes to live in.)

    trans, transgender: these have something to do with not identifying with or feeling like one’s assigned gender, but the usage of these terms seems to slide around a lot.

    transsexual: someone who switches over to the other gender role from the one they were assigned at birth.

    socially constructed: anything that exists only because people agree it does. E.g., money, government, fashion. This doesn’t mean there aren’t physical things they are based on. E.g., the borders of Britain are a social construct, but the island is not, even though they correspond to the same place.
     
    3. Introduction
    As mentioned, I don’t identify with my assigned gender. Actually, I don’t even understand what it means to identify with a gender, though I realize there are people for whom it is very important. BTW, this is why I don’t mention “identity” very much in the definitions.

    I was born and raised as a boy in the USA South, where men are men and women are girls and never the twain shall meet. I always hated what I was expected to do and be because of being a boy, and I still feel that way. I generally conform to these expectations as little as I think I can get away with. I’d say I have been a life-long feminist even before I heard the word, except that I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me as a male to do so (it feels like appropriation.) So when I first heard the term “social construct”, for example, it simply put a name on a concept I’d had for a long time.

    I started wearing skirts roughly 10 years ago, mainly because I found a community (Contra dance) where men in skirts are accepted, and have been very slowly considering adding more feminine elements to my presentation.

    Since reading Zinnia Jones’s Sept. 10, 2013 post “That was dysphoria?”, I’ve been considering the posibility that I am in some sense transgender and always have been without knowing it.

    I’ve been wandering the WWW, looking for discussions of transgenderness, especially by people who are transgender. I’m no expert, but I think I know more than 99% of the people in the USA (not that that’s saying much.)

  215. epiblast says

    1) Male, probably.

    2) A lot of these have other definitions that I use in other contexts, e.g. grammatical gender in linguistics. These are the definitions that most pertain to this thread.

    Feminine – Conforming in behavior or attributes to what a human group expects of prototypically egg-producing members.
    Masculine – Conforming in behavior or attributes to what a human group expects of prototypically sperm-producing members.
    Gender – (has MULTIPLE definitions pertaining to this thread)
    a – A system of cultural expectations of behavior and attributes associated with prototypically egg-producing or with prototypically sperm-producing humans.
    b – A human’s identity in terms of self-assessment along dimensions associated with definition (a).
    Sex – Assessment of a human’s genital anatomy in terms of how it conforms to expectations for a prototypical producer of eggs or sperm.
    Transsexual – One whose gender by definition (b) does not match their sex as assigned by culturally empowered authorities in early life.

    None of these are perfect; for one thing, I think “penis-having” is more likely to come up in actual conscious thoughts on the subject of “maleness” or “masculinity” than “sperm-producing” for most people, without any consideration as to what defines a penis. I deliberately avoided genital anatomy here because “penis”, “vulva”, and other such terms have squishier and more complex definitions than do gametes, as well as a greater range of possible variant (intersex) states. “Prototypical” is there because some individuals that the vast majority of a given culture would call men or women do not produce gametes. Definitions of these terms that would be fully sufficient to explain them to our Martian friend would be more like encyclopedia articles.

    3. Introduction

    I was assigned, raised, and socialized as male, and have a body that conforms to all common expectations for maleness. As far as I am aware, I have never experienced any dysphoria concerning this status. Hence, “male”. The “probably” is there because I’ve never felt “male” in any intrinsic way, one that would persist with my brain were it removed from both my current body and my current cultural milieu. I’ve thought often about what it would be like to have a female body (or, for that matter, some variety of intersex body) and/or to experience female socialization, and although were I suddenly transported to one I would of course experience a great deal of surprise and confusion, as I would upon discovering any type of sudden transformation, in and of itself being something other than male does not strike me as obviously desirable or undesirable relative to being male. I’m not sure I would experience any dysphoria were I to find myself in the body and social assignment of a woman. That said, of course there’s no way for me to know.

    I bring this up in part because of Ozy Frantz’s “Cis by Default” (which is unfortunately lost now, apparently), in which it is suggested that some individuals have little if any gender identity and thus end up “defaulting” to cis. The description there sounded enough like me that I hedged “male” somewhat here. “Male” is the label I was given and that I’ve never had any problem living in, but I’m not sure I have any attachment to it outside of that.

    I’ve conformed to stereotypically masculine behaviors for social convenience, but my actual personality profile when I’m being fully genuine (which has been seen only by a few people I know very well and a handful of others in specific contexts where the normal rules of gender performance were happily absent) is an apparently random assortment of masculine and feminine traits that would probably be seen as effeminate in a man and tomboyish in a woman.

  216. epiblast says

    As for 5-8, I was confident in my pronoun choice (“she, he, she”) for the people shown in videos b-d. I was less confident in my choice for the person in video a (a “they” based on not knowing anything about the person in question), or for the character in video b (a somewhat uncertain “she”). I was obviously able to assign a pronoun to those performers I knew, and was uncertain about the pronoun to use for the character in the second video mainly because the film in question was “Victor, Victoria”, which I have not seen and which I have heard deals with gender identity in some fashion although I’m unclear on the details. Like most people I use multiple factors in mentally gendering someone, but for me the strongest factor, the one that can most readily override the others, is the voice. A male or female voice seems to override what I can see of their clothing/other manmade gender presentation, or their physical features unless they are completely naked. I will reassign an individual appearing to be one gender to another if they, or another source which I have reason to believe conforms to their own assessment, correct me.

  217. Helena Bowles says

    I’m running late with this – real life etc. I’m going to carry on as I think this is an important and useful thing for me to be doing.

    Video 1 – Conchita Wurst
    pronoun – he
    rationale – beard, male face/body shape and musculature
    uncertainties – I know very little about Conchita Wurst. I don’t know if he’s “just” a drag performer, or a transvestite or transexual. I also don’t know what his preferred pronoun is (which I would use if I knew it). His gender performativity in this clip is feminine – make up, slinky dress, hair, body language but he has chosen to grow/add a beard which suggests a deliberate attempt to subvert that gender performance.

    Video 2 – Julie Andrews
    pronoun – she
    rationale – as far as I know Andrews is a woman. She has a female face/body shape and musculature. The clip is similar to Conchita’s in relation to the performativity of a type of socially accepted femininity
    uncertainties – I know the film and in it Julie Andrews plays a woman who plays a man who plays a woman – a woman in drag (which is interesting in relation to the feminist concept that all women are expected to be in drag all of the time by the imposition of socially acceptable femininity)

    Video 3- Twisted Sister
    pronoun – he
    rationale the same, male facial/body shape,
    uncertainties – none, really. the performance of femininity they do (if it can be called that) is a parody. Whether that’s aimed at women or they think this a way of subverting gender expectation, I don’t know. Given metal provides another performance of masculinity, if that’s what they think they’re doing, I thing Conchita Wurst is far more effective…

    Video 4 – Shirley Temple
    pronoun- she
    rationale – I know Shirley Temple is female.
    uncertainties – Would I be able to tell if not? Probably not. She’s dressed quite androgynously for her, and for a little girl with a socially constructed femininity. Being prepubescent her voice is equally androgynous.
    (And, yeah, ick, ick, ick. Autre temps, autre moeurs etc but that video gave me the creeps…)