Hi, Come sit with me as I explore the topic of gender! In this part of the series I will address the question “what is gender?” The true nature of gender has become a very contentious issue, so I thought I would take on this question on a more personal, subjective level. I have taken classes on gender throughout my courses in English in the mid 2000s and, more recently, I have been forced to study what gender means as a result of my coming out as transgender. I am, by all means, not an expert in this matter, and as I said, this will be a subjective interpretation. So, please don’t defer to me as the sole source of the definition. I merely would like to offer you my viewpoint so that you can take it or leave it in constructing your own views on the term and its meaning.
Femaleness versus Maleness
Speaking from a strictly binary, traditional perspective, there is a range of gender values that exist along a continuum between absolute maleness and absolute femaleness. Of course the binary view of gender is false, so really people can exhibit a degree of maleness or femaleness at the same time. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, i.e. there are some traits that are both male and female. So someone can present on both a male and a female spectrum at the same time as well as presenting traits that are both masculine and feminine. I think I do still want to present somewhere on the masculine scale. I don’t currently present too heavily masculine, but I would like to keep some of my traits that I’ve accumulated over life. I do actually like some masculine things. However, I would like to present as much further along on the feminine scale. Currently, I don’t think I present at all as feminine and I’ve liked feminine things my entire life. Now that I’m transitioning, it should be slightly more socially acceptable to do so.
Gender is not Genitals
Gender has almost nothing to do with what genitals a person was born with. After all, our genitals are hidden from view nearly 100% of the time in public spaces, yet people still get categorized as male or female based on many other criteria. Therefore, genitals cannot play much of a role in the characterization of gender. The common misconception that genitals determine gender is fueled by the common misconception that sex and gender are binary. However, I have proven this false in a previous post. Sex and gender are intertwined to some degree, but I will have to investigate this in another post. In truth gender is determined, at least externally, via many different psychological, social, and physical presentations.
According to wikipedia, the different psychological factors that make up gender are not necessarily biological but are a combination of biological baselines and socialization. According to the article, women tended to perform better in “fine motor skills”, object reference when navigating, “reading facial and body clues”, and “have more advanced verbal skills”. Also according to the article, men were found to have advanced motor skills in aiming and throwing and “visualize geometrically and rotationally” while navigating. Therefore, those that present the above traits present as more masculine or more feminine depending upon the particular traits they are presenting. Psychologically, I would like to present as having less anger, more compassion, and more social awareness and presence than I do currently.
Unlike psychological aspects which are internal, social aspects are externally prescribed modes of behavior which are then internalized as proper. These aspects are all heavily based on the particular culture in which a person lives so they are different all around the world. Since they are culturally prescribed, they are, therefore, imaginary i.e. they are not rooted at all in physical laws. One of the biggest social aspects of gender is how different gendered individuals are meant to interact with individuals of the “opposite” gender. As an example, one gender stereotype that is currently being slowly overturned is that women are meant to take care of children while men are meant to work. Women have been going back to work since the 60s, and there are many more stay at home dads than there used to be, especially since the 2000s. Socially, I would like to take a more active role in my social sphere. As a man I feel pretty non-existent there. I am hoping to join in on the solidarity inherent in the transgender and lesbian communities.
Physical aspects of gender are the aspect most rooted in biology. However, because gender is a social construct, biology does not determine gender. There are certain bodily characteristics that are seen by society as feminine or masculine based on that culture’s interpretation of gender. The primary and secondary sexual characteristics caused by a person’s chromosomes and hormonal balance (estrogen vs testosterone). Once again though, these hormones and chromosomes act across a spectrum (i.e. intersex individuals and transgender individuals) and do not present as two binary forms of human being. For example, not all men are without breasts and not all women are lacking in facial hair. For me personally, I identify female traits as breasts, less facial and body hair, hips, less prominent brow, less sloping of the forehead, rounder chin, etc. The list goes on and on. Once again, these are just my preferences in terms of physical femininity for myself.
Thank you for sitting with me. I will claim for the billionth time that this post is completely opinion. I am not at all an expert on gender expression, so I am not the end all be all authority on the subject. My hope with this post was to show you some of my views toward gender as well as some of the science that is out there. My goal was *NOT* to offend anyone. If I have offended you, I deeply apologize and hope that you will point out any errors in judgement on my part so that I can correct them. I would prefer this post to be a dialogue than a monologue. If you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments, and as always please like the article if you enjoyed reading!
At first i had trouble thinking of some of my pet peeves, but upon asking my wife, she gave me a good one:
Pretty much anything a person can do with their mouth annoys me. Today we were at the ice cream shop and there was a woman next to us enjoying her ice cream thoroughly. She was actually making a slurping noise as she licked the ice cream, and I wanted to run screaming out the door.
I as, a child, was raised to chew with my mouth closed because nobody wants to see chewed up food in your mouth, it’s just polite. I know some people who are not raised that way, they relish chewing their food with their mouths wide open, lips smacking, food sloshing about. For me, it’s terrifying. But, I feel really rude if I eventually have to ask someone to stop eating like that. It’s gotten to the point before where I’ve just had to leave the room. Believe me, my insanity runs deeply, even my own chewing sounds drive me crazy. I can’t eat in a quiet area by myself or else I drive myself mad. If someone wanted to drive me mad they could just lock me up in a quiet, cozy room and give me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat. I can’t stand the sound of my own chewing. The worst thing about it is that, even if the sound is being drowned out by music, you can still hear some of the sounds of your own chewing through your bones…THROUGH YOUR BONES!!
Okay so now I have to talk about my number one pet peeve when it comes to mouth sounds: kissing. I cannot stand the sound of kissing whether it is myself, someone in my surroundings or even a couple on television. It’s the sucking sounds. It’s essentially the same thing as chewing with your mouth open. That’s why I don’t like sex scenes in movies or the romance genre in general. It used to be because I was jealous and lonely. Now, I just find the sounds of lovemaking annoying and gross. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate the acts I just have to block out the sounds.
Thank you all for listening to me. Please leave a like if you enjoyed this article. Please also share your pet peeves in the comments!
Okay I’m going to get political here. So, if you’re not a leftist, progressive, snowflake, you probably are not going to want to hear what I have to say.
So, the Bush era felt like one of the worst times of my life. I felt like there was a general weight over the country. After 911, it felt like nobody was allowed to say anything bad about the United States or else you were “letting the terrorists win”. It definitely wasn’t as bad as it is today where anything negative is viewed as an outright lie, but it was the worst it had been in my lifetime. Then the Obama years came and everything really started to lighten up a little. We finally had a lot of good things happening for different classes of people that, up until that point, had been downtrodden and ignored. Now we have the Trump era where it’s unfashionable not to be a bigot and discrimination is the majority party platform. So I suppose what I miss is that sense of trending toward progressivism that we had during the Clinton years and the Obama years.
The Bush years were bad, but mainly felt like the republicans were just trying to freeze things in place. With Trump we have politicians actively trying to turn back the clock on policies and reinstate discriminations that were made illegal decades ago. It’s really disheartening to see that we’re actually losing progress as a nation. It’s exhausting to have to fight and fight against the negativity and open racism and discrimination and sexism and homophobia and anti-trans bs that’s put out there by our own freaking government every single day.
During the Obama administration, it felt like there was a general trend toward acceptance at least. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty wrong with the centrist liberalism that he stood for, but at least he wasn’t taking us backward. We were moving forward at least little by little. That’s what I miss. Moving forward. Progressing. That’s why I identified as a progressive even before I was a part of the LGBTQ community. I think it’s probably the same for other progressives and liberals out there. We don’t want to see our country move backwards, and I think most people don’t see a reason to openly hate other people for random reasons that are out of their control. I’m hopeful that this is just a dark period in our nation’s history and not the end of our history as a nation. I’m hopeful that Trump won’t get a second term and the whole nation will come to its senses and elect at least another centrist. I’m really hopeful that the millenials rise up and vote en force and actually vote someone in who can effect positive change. I’m really worried though that the Republicans have gerrymandered the voting districts so badly that we’ll never get out of the funk that plagues our house and senate. Hopefully I’ll look back on this post in a better mood in a couple years, but we’ll see what time has in store for us…
If you’d like to leave your thoughts please do so in the comments! As always please like if you liked my post!
So in ten years I will be 46 years old, my son will be turning 13, and my wife and I will have been married for 15 years. If I’ve been married for 15 years, then my wife and I will be having our third 5 year celebration. We’re actually having our first celebration this summer in a couple weeks. We’re having an 80s/90s theme so we can have an excuse to dance to a bunch of 80s and 90s music and eat pizza with all our friends from our wedding reception.
My son will be getting ever closer to high school, so I’m hoping that we’re living somewhere where he can make some good friends and get a good education.
I’m hoping that I’ll have found a good job by then that I actually want to stick with, and I’ll have gotten over my anxieties around bad bosses. By that time I would have been able to complete a doctorate degree if I’d wanted to. This is something that I’ve really been thinking about lately. It would take four years to complete. So, I could have a job in an academic setting by that time. If I’m not in an academic setting, I hope to be in charge of a group of people by this time. My specialization is in accounting, so I’m hoping that I’d be a senior accountant by this point at least. I’m hoping I’d have a little more confidence in myself by this point too.
By this point I’d be done with my second puberty and pretty well done with my transition from male to female. So I’m hoping that I will have transitioned socially well before this point in time. Perhaps in the next five years I’m hoping to have socially transitioned.
In terms of depression, I’m hoping that I will have found some coping techniques that work for me by this point. I’m really worried at this point that it’s just something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. It would be nice by this point to have found some medicines that actually help me deal with my symptoms without making me dreadfully tired.
This is all assuming that our country survives the tumultuous times that we’re going through and LGBTQ people aren’t being hunted in the streets.
By far the worst habit that I have is drinking too much frozen coffee. I like to get Dunkin Donuts’ frozen coffees, but they are the absolute worst thing for you. The only thing I could be doing that’s worse for my body would be smoking cigarettes. When I get stressed out my body wants to go straight for the sugar injections and the chocolate. The frozen coffees give me both. It’s too bad that nearly everything in my life right now is causing me huge amounts of anxiety. If I could get away from this one habit, I could probably start to lose all the weight I’ve managed to gain because of anxiety drinking.
Eating Too Much
I love food but unfortunately I have a crappy metabolic rate. I’ve been seeing a nutritionist, and one of the things that she recommended to me was that I start using a smaller plate when I eat a meal. Our plates are probably about 12″ in diameter, but what I should be using is a 9″ plate, which we do have. Whenever I eat comfort foods, I tend to go back for seconds and thirds etc. This is my second worst problem, and I am actually starting to work on this a little bit. We do have the plates and it is actually somewhat more convenient to use them with meals. I always thought it was a bit daunting to eat the portions of vegetables that the good diets say you’re supposed to eat, i.e. 1/2 your plate, but with a 9″ plate those portions aren’t so bad, and the protein and carb portions are still large enough to be filling.
The third part of my problem with my weight is my sedentary lifestyle. I just don’t exercise. I find it really boring. I’ve tried various ways to make it interesting, and nothing ever really sticks. I bought some gymnastics rings and hung them up in our garage, but I’m not really strong enough to use them for anything fun yet. I did get into jogging for a while, but I was living with my parents in a pretty small town and there was a state park really close by. I could ride my bike down to the park and they had one road that was nearly perfectly 3.1 miles or 5km. That was pretty fun running out in nature like that. Unfortunately, my wife and I live in a slightly more populated area and there isn’t really anywhere like that within a reasonable distance that I can go to anymore. I would really like to get back into running because it seems like it was the one thing that was able to engage me. I think perhaps I need to just look for a place to run and load up my phone with some tunes or spend some data on spotify or something.
Thanks for sitting with me. If you have any suggestions on how I can get back into exercising or you want to tell your own stories about how you got back into exercising or a good diet routine, please leave a comment!