Women's Study Semester 2
Transgender and Intersexed
Anne Fausto Sterling
Fred. A Bernstein
Anne Fausto Sterling
The Five Sexes, Revisited
-a professor of Biology and Women's Studies at Brown University
-writes and researches on issues of gender identity
a revision of an essay she wrote in 1993
Suggested need to expand current two-sex system to include at least five sexes
interest individuals reflect the inadequacy of our two sex system
system needs to reflect the full range of human sexual diversity
intended the proposal to be provocative and to raise awareness, but didn't
necessarily intend her naming of the five different sexes to be taken seriously
addresses recent changes she has seen in the social climate regarding
-people whose bodies, chromosomes or hormones contain characteristics of both
-independent of sexual orientation
-state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned
-independent of sexual identity
Sexual ambiguity: the patient centred approach
-critique of near universal practice of performing immediate, corrective surgery on
thousands of infants born each year with ambiguous genitilia
spokei n front of the same doctors she was accusing of reacting with surgery and
doctors received her with respect
many had already spoken of need to scrap current practices in favour of
treatments centred more on psychological therapy
F-S cites momentas a watershed in the evolving discussion about how to treat
children with ambiguous gentitilia
Male Female Herms Merms Ferms Who is an intersexual?
Idealized, platonic, biological world = human beings are divided into two kinds
males- x and y chromosome, testes, a penis and clearly defined secondary sex
characteristics like muscles and facial hair
female -xx chromosomes, ovaries, a system to support pregnancy and feral
development and definable secondary sex characteristics
Who is an intersexual?
Represents all chromosomal, anatomical and hormonal exception to dimorphic
Number who might be subject to surgery as
past 100 years or so, physicians have been the ones to define children as
And to offer "remedies"
infants who are both with chromosomal differences but no physical differences
are often no treated
children whose external generals seem to be at odd wit their gonads have often
or doctors could assign a gender
Intersexual conditions are not diseases and don't need to be treated as such
If making gender assignments, doctors should minimise irreversible assignments
Surgical intervention especially
Strop treating a child with general ambiguity as a social or medical emergency
Emphasize therapy, not surgery
Treatment must combine medical and ethical principles
Must be less drastic
Surgery should only be performed on infants to save their lives or to substantially
mrpove their physical well being
Physicians may assign a sex to an interest infant based on the probability that
the child's particular condition will lead to a particular gender identity
Need to recognise a child may reject an assignment
Parents and doctors must listen to the child
Parents must have access to all information and options available to them
Gender as continuum
Medical and scientific communities don't have language for such diversity
Language must be revised to account for existing diversity
NATFI: North american task force on intersexuality Formed in 1999 to review clinical responses to genital ambiguity in infants
Involves surgeons, endocrinologists, psychologists, ethicists, psychiatrists,
geneticists, and public health officials
Seeks to establish new nomenclature (a system of names) that don't rely on
preconceived gender categories
Suzanne kessler, psychologist, argues we need to move away from our focus on
More sexual identities than genitilia can account for
Need legal protection for those whose cultural and physical gentials do not match
Eliminate gender on identification
Fred Bernstein, On Campus, Rethinking biology 101
Bernstein writes for various American publications and covers topics ranging
from architecture, law, travel and art
Essay was published in 2004
Remain in between
Prefer to describe themselves as gender queer
Signifies that they reject the either or male female system
Gender indentity is distinct from sexual orientation. Gender identity pertains to
how a person feels about being male or female; sexual orientation pertains to
who you are attracted to sexually
Small university in middletown, connecticut
offers a hall for students who do not want to designate their gender
campus health services no longer requires students to select M or F
Allows students to select a gender neutral option on housing questionnaires
Gives them the option to live with other transgender students
Many parents argue that gender experimentation is a phase in college
Why is that a value judgement?
Issues for transgender students
Cost of hormone treatment for those who want it
Individuals wanting gender assignment surgery are required to live as member of
the opposite gender for a full year before surgery
many see this as unreasonable UNIT 4: Histories of Feminism
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Best known as a sociologist and economist in her own time (Women and
Now best known as author of "The Yellow Wall-paper"
Suffered from clinical depression throughout her life
Lived in a time when depression was pathologized
Identified as hysteria, often seen solely as a "woman's disease"
After the birth of her daughter, Gilman experienced a sever depression
If she were alive today, she would probably be diagnosed with postpartum
-At the time, her husband put her in the care of S. Weir Mitchell, a well-known
doctor who supported the rest cure for women
-Believed that women were too delicate to handle the rigours of intellectual
-Advocated that women suffering from depression not be allowed to read, write,
or experience any sort of intellectual stimulation
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Gilman later said in her autobiography that Mitchell's cure almost drove her crazy
YW is somewhat autobiographical, but Gilman is not the narrator
Multidimensionality of story: can be read in context of:
-stories about writing
-the history of healthcare- esp. mental health
-analyses of gender relationships
"ancestral halls", "haunted house" (178)
Isolation: "quite alone", set back from the road, 3 miles from village, "hedges and
walls and gates that lock" (178)
Ominous: "there is something strange about the house- I can feel it"
"It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with the windows that look all ways,
and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first, and then playroom and
gymnasium, I should judge, for the windows are barred for little children, and
there are rings and things in the walls"
the wall paper "is stripped off.. in great patches all around the head of my bed"
Woman "stooping down and creeping" behind wallpaper (16)
Paper changes as the light changes 187 "I am getting a little afraid of John"
Rational/ irrational ways of apprehending world
Different ways of looking at world
Narrator (unnamed_ imaginative, fanciful- description of house
"John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror
of superstition, and he scoffs openly at an talk of things not to be felt and seen
and put down in figures" (178)
J: "Laughs at me, but one expects that in marriage"
J: "worst thing is to think about my condition"
J: to "feel" angry/nerbous is to "neglect proper self-control" (179)
Nursery is place for children-> those with an overactive imagination, needing
protection, need to be controlled
Story about writing, writing as resistance
"this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind"
"absolutely 'forbidden' to do work until I am well again"
writing "exhausting" but only b/c "having to be so sly about it"
"there comes john, and I must put this away0 he hates to have write a word"
"I think sometimes if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the
press of ideas and rest me" -> "it is so discouraging not to have any advice and
companionship about my work" (181)
"Cousin Henry and Julia" -> but "john says he would as soon put fireworks in my
pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now"
J's sister Jennie: "O must not let her find me writing"
"I don't know why I should write this"
History of health care, mental health
"john is a physician and perhaps.. that is one reason I do not get well faster"
"if a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and
relatives that there is really nothing the matter… what is one to do" -> "my
brother is also a physician.. and he sys the same thing"
"John says if I don't pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell.. I don't want
to go tree at all. I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just
like John and my brother, only more so"
Dr. knows best: "you really are better, dear, whether you see it or not.. I am a
doctor dear, and I know"
Idea that patient has no idea what is going on;patient can't be trusted; patient's
feelings and instructs are disregarded
"can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?"
"John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage"
Presumption that others know what is best for women:which room, whether she's
ill, what her treatment should be Irony of "fourth of July" which is "over" -> no independence for narrator (183)
Infantilizing of women: nursery, "blessed little goose" "little girl" "bless her little
"Best her little heart, she shall be as sick as she pleases"
Behind paper is a "woman" who "creep" by night, unseen; " all the time trying to
climb through. But nobody could climb through"
Complicated gender politics: Jennie coded as masculine- on John's side
Infantilizing of women: nursery, "blessed little goose," "little girl"
In spite of you and Jane (193) -> slip?
Who is Jane?
Is "Jane" the narrator's conforming, accommodating self
Of the woman behind the wallpaper, reluctant to come out?
Irony: She can only feel freedom in insanity
20th century British writer
Advocated for women's rights
Well known novelist, essayist, editor
Struggled with depression throughout her life
Committed suicide in 1941 prior to start of WW11
"The story of shakespeares sister"
Excerpt from A Room of One's Own, an extended essay
First published during 24th October 1929
Based on a series of lectures she delivered in October 1928
Given at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at
Central argument of essay: "a woman must have money and a room of her own if
she is to write fiction"
Highly controversial at this time as it emphasises women's need to do work
beyonce traidiotnal duties of childrearing and managing the home
Still limiting though, as the only individuals who can really achieve money and
rooms of their own are upper and middle class white women who already have
access to money, time, and space
Claims there were no women writing during the early modern period
Stream of consciousness
Status of women, marriage The daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents choice was
liable to be locked up, beaten and flung about the room, without any shock being
inflicted on public opinion
It was still the exception for women of the upper and middle class to choose their
own husbands and when the husband had been assigned, he was lord and
master, so far at east as law and custom could make him"
Status of Women, marriage
Fictional women, specifically Shakespeare's women, are strong, intelligent,
Indeed, if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would
imagine her a person of utmost importance, very variou; heroic and mean;
splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a
man, some think even great,er but this is woman in fiction. in fact, she as locked
up, beaten and flung about the room
Presence of women in literature
Specifically literature written by men
Women are importance in literature
But insignificant in real