Chapter 8.doc

3 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto Scarborough
Women's and Gender Studies
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

CHAPTER 8: Coming Out and Crossing Over: Identity Formation and Proclamation in a Transgender Community − much of the scientific focus on transgendered individuals has derived from an interest in understanding 'deviation' from the 'normal' and 'natural' two-sex system − transgenderism refers to 'the lives and experiences of diverse groups of people who live outside normative sex/gender relations' − persons who enact alternative gender presentations or who have internalized alternative gender identities are referred to as 'transgenderists' − while there are some similarities between the coming-out processes of transgenderists and gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, there are also salient differences − first, since around the end of the nineteenth century, homosexuality has been defined as an identity − as that identity and the communities and institutions built around it have become more visible, lesbians and gay men, and more recently bisexuals, have had opportunities to find similar others − thus, feelings of 'difference' are more easily identified, labelled, and accepted than they were before homosexuality defined 'who' the person was − while gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals have challenged the medical definition of homosexuality as a mental illness, they have, for the most part, adhered to the notion that sexuality is an important component in defining who the person is − most masculine-to-feminine transgenderists conform to traditional beliefs about sex and gender, whereas a minority attempt to step outside the gender binary by defining themselves in non-gendered or multiple gendered ways − for example, within the transgender community, the declassification of transsexualism as a psychiatric diagnosis has been hotly debated, with those seeking to challenge the medical definitions arguing that it should be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and those still seeking access to hormones and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) arguing that being diagnosed transsexual is the only way they may become the women they truly are − in other words, they must 'confess' their transsexualism in ways that adhere to medical models in order to proceed from one sex to the other − similarly, most transsexuals adhere to beliefs that their desires to live as women were the result of biological 'mistakes' that left them as feminine persons in male bodies − rather than choosing to live as feminine males, they opt to cross over to full-time womanhood − similarly, most cross-dressers look on their sartorial transitions as opportunities to express their feminine selves − they deem feminine behaviour in masculine attire to be highly inappropriate − while transgenderism is an issue of sex and gender, it does not entail aspects of sexual reorientation − thus, sexually active transgenderists must recognize, tolerate, and learn to accept an alternative gender identity; develop a repertoire of coping strategies to manage public presentations of gender; and, in some cases, manage the actual transformation of permanent identity and anatomy − whether gender transformations are temporary or permanent, the sense that one really is the sex associated with the gender portrayed involves a reexamination of sexual identity − for example, some anatomically male transsexuals and cross-dressers, in the process of establishing a feminine self, engage in sexual activity with other anatomical male persons − while the observers may morphologically define the experience as homosexual or same sexed, the social women experiencing the interaction define it as heterosexual − such activity is highly valued as a way of exploring femininity − for transgenderists, the discovery of a sexual identity, or a sense of who the individual is as a sexual person, frequently occurs within a sex/gender system − that does not address sexual issues among those whose sex and gender do not fit within the binary system − furthermore, those who do have SRS must sexually 'come out' to themselves and others by reexamining their sexual preferences and orientations − as gender and/or sex changes, the subjective arid social meanings of sexual interactions are also transformed − while gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals must come out sexually, their experiences are not confounded by alterations in gender and genital makeup − whereas lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are able to carefully control information dissemination, transgenderists must manage both their actual and virtual social identities on three dimensions − lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals can selectively come out, whereas transgenderists, because of changes in gender or biological appearance, are often forced out of the closet, creating awkward – or even dangerous – situations − transgenderists provide an opportunity to examine the private and public dimensions of achieving a new gender through interaction with others and the emergence and management of alternative sex, gender, and sexual identities Early Transgendered Experiences − gender constancy – a sense that a person's gender is a permanent aspect of self – is acquired between the ages of three and five years − for most children, clothing and other expressions of gender are signifiers of maleness or femaleness − in early childhood, cross-dressing and cross-gender behaviour appear to have been tolerated − however, as children advanced beyond the 'toddler' stage, they were pressured by adults and other children to recognize and adhere to traditional conceptualizations of gender and conform to masculine stereotypes − pressures to conform to the gender binary were often based on homophobic assumptions about gender 'deviants' − after an initial period of confusion about sex and gender, most children recognized that cross-dressing and feminine behaviour were deviant and, therefore, they tried to repress i
More Less

Related notes for WSTA01H3

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.