purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
[personal profile] purpletigron posting in [community profile] transgender
I hope this question is OK - please delete if not.

My question is about the usage of the terms 'sex' and 'gender'.

I find it useful to distinguish between sex - as biological genotype or phenotype - and gender - as social construct (and grammatical!) etc.

May I ask about how other readers define these terms?

Date: 2009-05-01 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I think you'll find quite a few people on here who find sex distinctions a bit problematic. There are times when genotype does not match phenotype and other times where genotype isn't at all what we'd expect. (Think intersexed conditions).

That said, I do tend to distinguish between the two when speaking to medical professionals. I feel that my GP needs to know that I have a uterus and ovaries even if I'd prefer to ignore them. That's why I wish there were more options on medical intake forms. Male, female, intersex (with a sub-box to specify which condition), ftm, and mtf (where ftm and mtf refer to physical transition status rather than gender identity) under sex and then a fill in box for gender would be my ideal.

I also have some issues with viewing gender as purely a social construct due to my upbringing. I was raised in the *exact* same way as all of my cisgendered male friends, there weren't even parental differences as I was raised far more by community effort than my biological parents. I am still trans. I was told I could be anything I want, do anything I want (so long as I didn't hurt anyone), be anything I want. I want a penis. I am trans because of my body, not my socialisation. Claiming that gender is 100% socialised discounts the experiences of people like me.

Date: 2009-05-01 02:49 pm (UTC)
floit63: (08)
From: [personal profile] floit63
Oh these are the kinds of questions I encourage. It gets people thinking rather than deciding that one term or another is automatically bad.

I actually like the idea of a continuum for both sex and gender. It takes all possibilities into account without making any one option seem better or worse than any other.

By gender I tend to mean the internal feeling of being male, female, both, neither, other, etc. Sex I use to mean physical characteristics that may or may not have been medically altered (so transmen who haven't had any form of medical transition would be female, transmen who've started t/had top/etc would be FtM). Meaning a person could be genderqueer and ftm, female and female, genderless and male, or any number of other options.

Date: 2009-05-01 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
This is EXACTLY why I love these kinds of discussions. There are so often arguments about terminology, but many of the terms we use have different meanings to each individual. Half the time we're arguing about things we don't actually disagree on.

I don't have any strong feelings about my sex either way and I've never had it tested. I tend to go by the "what you think it is until proven otherwise" model. So my physical sex would be FtM because I was born female (as far as I know), but now have male secondary sex characteristics. Then my gender would be male because...well, that's what I identify as. I'd be ftm-male.

I don't tend to use the "what other people" think model just because there are so often times when what people think and what a person sees themself as conflict. Most people within the trans community would consider me genderqueer. I'm not in any way, shape or form genderqueer. I simply happen to not be a butch-macho-man stereotype.

Inter-gendered isn't a term I'd heard before. I rather like it.

Date: 2009-05-01 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I WISH it was me! That's Nicky Byrne, a member of the Irish boy band Westlife. The picture is almost a decade old, but he's still just as attractive.

Date: 2009-05-01 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
Haha, nah. Most people ask if it's me. Unless you're a serious fan you likely won't recognise him. It's like automatically knowing which member of the Backstreet Boys is Howie.

Date: 2009-05-01 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I write in my own answers on forms which don't already give the option which I require. I think your suggestions are really useful there.

Oh I do that all the time. Sadly, I do it most often on surveys designed for transpeople (No, my GENDER is not trans. Sorry).

And...I am completely confused by the second half of your response. My gender is male, but I could have lived rather happily as a woman if I could have a male body. Actually, life was a hell of a lot easier when people saw me as a slight tomboy than it is now that I'm an effeminate man (some of that is likely due to moving to a FAR less accepting area). Am I answering the question at all?

Date: 2009-05-01 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I'm sort of talking about the same thing. I have absolutely NO idea what feminine social roles and behaviours are. I was raised in a world where men cooked, women played football, and everyone was considered equal. I've since moved, but I still get really confused when people act like women must do one thing and men must do another. It doesn't occur to me to act like anything other than myself. So my behaviour would be the same as it is now, but I suppose the perception would change.

Date: 2009-05-01 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I think I would have noticed differences much sooner if my community as a whole hadn't been so egalitarian. As it is I didn't leave until I was nearly 21 and then I didn't move to an area where egalitarianism and a gender neutral upbringing ISN'T the norm until this past year (I'm 24 in September). So I still have problems recognising that not *everyone* was lucky enough to be allowed to be themselves from a very young age. Hell, I have problems noticing that I'm doing something socially unacceptable because to me a man knitting isn't a big deal.

Date: 2009-05-01 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
I was very very lucky. My childhood community was almost utopian in how everyone worked together. It's since changed slightly, parents don't know each other, families with more conservative views have moved in...I don't think children growing up there now would have the same acceptance level I did.

Date: 2009-05-01 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
Yeah. It's why I'm such an advocate for community involvement and diversity education in schools. With the exception of a handful of people whose families didn't approve of the rest of us anyway, everyone I grew up with is now accepting of just about anything. So long as everyone involved consents (and is capable of giving consent) we really don't care that much. I give the vast majority of the credit for that to the schools and youth organisations, they managed to teach a level of acceptance that not all parents approved of. (GLBT, gender equality, fine. Polyamory...well, there you had parents who disagreed).

Date: 2009-05-01 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
It was all very light handed. Starting in kindergarten we were taught that all people are different and that's ok. I shared a birthday with 4 of my neighbours (long story) and when we turned six all of us received a different Barbie doll. Asian, African-American, "standard" Barbie, Latina, and one in a wheel chair (that one had to be customised). Now, all four of the other kids were boys (and still are as far as I know) so that alone tells you what my childhood was like.

Bullying of ANY sort was not allowed. There was a "first punch" rule where you were allowed to defend yourself as long as the other person began the fight, but that was as close as we got. Every incidence was looked into, all physical bullying was reported to the police (who did not hesitate to give assault charges), and punishments were handed out liberally.

Teachers also encouraged debate. REAL debate, not the shouting matches you often get in school classrooms. If there was something the class disagreed on we would take a day to present sides. Anyone who wanted could present and then the other students were given time to ask questions. Sometimes we'd come to a compromise, other times we'd agree to disagree.

I don't know that any one thing lead to the environment, really it was more a combination of different beliefs about how children should be raised. We were treated like adults with valid opinions and then expected to behave accordingly. If we didn't we were punished and told why our behaviour was unacceptable. By 8th or 9th grade it had all seeped in to the point where acceptance of people and other views (even if we disagree) was the default.

Date: 2009-05-01 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
Yeah, now I want more people to comment. It's always nice to have genuine discussions about these things.

Date: 2009-05-01 04:23 pm (UTC)
ten: Naked male torso (Default)
From: [personal profile] ten
Very generally I consider 'sex' biological, and 'gender' social, probably because of my background in Sociology. University likes having neat tearms for everything.

However, when I personally think of 'social' I don't think of 'as defined by society' but rather I think of 'as defined by one's personal view on how to conduct and see yourself in a social environment'. I also don't see gender (or sex for that matter) as a binary thing... in very broad terms I believe there is at least male, female, trans (a state of changing gender with a start and end point), neutral, and fluid (changing gender without an end point). Most likely many many more, or at least many nuances.

I don't think creating categories is inherently a bad thing. It's just not for everybody, which is what many people can't understand, and that is what creates problems so often.

Date: 2009-05-01 04:30 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] floit63
Just as a note: your post was screened because you're not a member of the community. Subscribing allows you to read posts, but not post anything yourself and I've screened all comments from non-members in an attempt to cut down on trolls.

Date: 2009-05-01 04:32 pm (UTC)
ten: Naked male torso (Default)
From: [personal profile] ten
Ha! I knew I forgot something!

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