if i send my professor a picture of me drinking a beer called revolution, he’ll totally accept that instead of the response on art theory and expressionism i’m supposed to be writing, right?
if brecht is allowed to exist, then i’m allowed to say that a picture of me drinking a tangentially symbolic beer on a monday night is not actually portrait of the senior gazing into the abyss but actually a commentary on arbitrarily consigning meaning to created images.
look, i get it, okay, i really do. some women find power in make up and high heels and traditionally feminine things and that’s great and so on and so forth but i really, really need to see more recognition that for some women those are just one more arena in which patriarchy has deemed that they have ‘failed’ and it is not fair to get mad at us when we point out that a thing that makes you happy is used to criticise and marginalise us
Listen up feminists and LGBT activists! Yes, you who worship the holy trinity of “sex, gender, and sexuality” in your educational literature! Yes, you who suddenly discovered transgender folks sometime during the 1990s and decided that, for their sake, it would be super important to draw a clear distinction between “sex” as a biological, bodily fact and “gender” as a mode of social identification!
You’re doing it wrong.
Sex is not “what’s in your pants.” Sex is not chromosomes. Sex is not hormones. Sex is not biology. Sex is neither a penis nor a vagina. Sex is not breasts, nor is it chest hair, prostates or ovaries.
I’m a transgender woman. For the next few months at least, what’s in my pants is a penis. I have a prostate gland. I have a Y chromosome.
“Aha!” you say. “So your sex is male but your gender is female! That’s what makes you transgender.”
Wrong. Try again! “Sex” is a social decision made at the moment of birth (or earlier if your parent[s] get a sonogram). We only assign children a “sex” because of gender, because we feel the cultural imperative to sort people into two dichotomous populations based on the presence or absence of a tiny bit of flesh. “Sex” is gender in doctor’s clothing: nothing more, nothing less.
Yes, we have bodies. Yes, those bodies have characteristics. Yes, those characteristics have gendered meanings in a cisnormative world. But this “sex” you keep on looking for, that you incorporate into your ostensibly trans-inclusive curriculum? It. Doesn’t. Fucking. Exist.
The only people who need to know details about my body parts are my doctors and my lovers. Do you fall into one of those two groups? No? Then you don’t need to know what’s in my pants! You don’t need to know what my chromosomes are. You don’t need to know my estrogen levels (although they’re quite high, thank you very much).
All you need to know is that my name is Samantha, I use female pronouns and I pee behind the door with the dress on it. Guess what? We can teach people all of those things without them knowing anything about my body.
In fact, you should just quit talking about “sex” altogether. Try using “assigned sex” to talk about doctors’ decisions and the ways in which those decisions affect peoples’ lives. But quit trying to act as if we can empirically sort bodies into two categories that pre-exist gender norms. We can’t. And you’re hurting precisely the people that you think you’re helping with your convenient sex/gender split.
Some teenagers refuse to be classified as male or female.
"For Nancy, a 55-year-old mother of three, the notion of a child who wants to be gender-neutral has been difficult to understand. She knew about individuals who were born in female bodies but felt male inside. She’d never heard of someone who wanted to be neither and had asked Kelsey more than once,
“Are you sure? Are you sure that maybe you’re not just a boyish girl?”
Kelsey was sure. For Kelsey, identifying as agender wasn’t an immediate realization but a gradual awakening, a recognition that what applied to other girls didn’t seem to apply to Kelsey.
People would say Kelsey was pretty, and it made Kelsey squirm — not because Kelsey felt unattractive but because other people’s definitions of pretty, or handsome for that matter, didn’t work.
Dresses and makeup only made Kelsey feel uglier, but boy clothes weren’t right either. It wasn’t about being a tomboy. It wasn’t a personality trait. It wasn’t even about the clothes, although those were an immediate shorthand for Kelsey’s discomfort. It was something different and deeper.”