What Do We Mean By Transgender: An Education

Courtesy: Read Olivia at Sex and Identity: Redefinition Required
Disclaimer: While utmost care has been exercised in avoiding terminologies that would dishonor anyone’s feelings, practice, orientation or belief; inclusion of any such word should be treated as purely un- intentional. Should you come across any offending term; the same should be notified of at the earliest so the necessary changes could be made. Apologies in advance for such Commitance if any. Images have not been included on purpose; we do know how Humans look like. Thoughts expressed here are of a mind with straight orientation.

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Often I had sat wondering what does all these terms mean and the difference if any; such as:

  • Cross- Dresser
  • Eunuch
  • Gay/Lesbian
  • Male woman
  • Trans Gender
  • Trans Sexual

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I had completely become numb (and not dumb) thinking why not allocate Eunuchs a third sex? I happen to Refer Wikipedia and there, a whole new set of definitions sat staring at me.

Eunuchs/Mtfs and Sexuality are two very different topics that we are still shying away from. I had included this in one of my earlier Blogs as well.  I had made a mention of that based purely on my own understanding till then. It seems that I had not been very different from what I had been pondering about. The sad part is, nobody wanted to talk to me about this and just silenced me saying there were other Grave Issues on hand. Wonder what could be graver than not being Identified as Human? Here I have tried looking into both of the issues staring at us making us look ugly since we have shut our eyes on it.

Did some more research and here is what I have found:

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Eunuchs

source: wikipedia

A eunuch is a castrated man; usually one castrated early enough to have major hormonal consequences.

The term usually refers to those castrated in order to perform a specific social function, as was common historically in many societies. The earliest records for intentional castration to produce eunuchs are from the Sumerian city of Lagash in the twenty first century BC. Over the millennia since, they have performed a wide variety of functions in many different cultures such as: courtiers or equivalent domestics, treble singers, religious specialists, government officials, military commanders, and guardians of women or harem servants. In some translations of ancient texts, individuals identified as eunuchs sometimes historically included men who were impotent with women, as well as those who were celibate.

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Hijra

source: wikipedia

In the culture of South Asia, hijra are physiological males who adopt feminine gender identity, women’s clothing and other feminine gender roles. They have a long recorded history in the Indian subcontinent, from the Mughal Empire period onwards. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival.

In Pakistan, many hijra live in well-defined, organized, all-hijra communities, led by aguru. These communities have sustained themselves over generations by “adopting” young boys who are rejected by, or flee their family of origin. Many work as male sex workers for survival.

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Transgenderism

source: http://ai.eecs.umich.edu 

At times, boys may not be that. Although they may have normal XY Genes, normal Male Genitalia, and are raised as boys, they nevertheless have the Gender Feelings, Body Feelings and Gender Identity of that of Girls. Similarly, some girls aren’t girls at all, but should have been boys. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. And it’s always been that way.

Perhaps, once in every 200 to 400 births something must go amiss in the early stages of Pregnancy so that Sex Hormones do not have the usual action on the Integration of the Foetus’s Brain. In these cases, children are born having a Brain-Sex (Neurological Sex) and innate Gender Identity opposite to that as indicated both by their Genes and their Genitalia. Since these Infants look normal, they will be raised in the Wrong Gender for their Brain-Sex (Neurological Sex). Being raised in the wrong Gender causes them Profound Gender Dysphoria and mental anguish as they grow up. These are the “Transsexuals” (TS), the most intensely affected of the “Transgendered” (TG).

In many more cases, perhaps as many as one out of every 50 children, it appears that the “Transgendering Effect” is less pronounced but still present to some degree – and this occurs in both boys and girls. We can estimate these numbers from the numbers of Gender-Variant people who have always coalesced in and around the Gay Community. Although a small fraction of that community, they are perhaps as much 1% to 2% of the overall population! This group of children presents a wide range of variations in Cross-Gender Feelings (just as the group of Intersex Children present a wide range of genital configurations). Many of these Transgender Children will have major adjustment problems if forced into too strict a Gender Role.

Women notice these cases, especially the very Feminine little boys who really should have been girls. They’ll often even say among themselves “he should have been a girl”.These common-sense reactions to feminine boys are seldom discussed outside the closed company of women. Fathers especially will make every effort to “straighten out” such boys. The Feminine Boy is mistakenly thought of as “Pre-Homosexual”. Every effort is then made to “save the boy from that fate”. On the other hand, the girl who feels like a boy can often become a “tomboy” and not get criticized for that – in fact she may even gain approval for being outgoing and aggressive and tomboyish in our male-dominated society. However, she may still feel the same degree of Gender angst about her assigned Gender Role as does the MtF transgender boy.

There is no Social Script for such a boy to tell someone “I feel like I’m a girl”, and to get Active Assistance with their Gender Problem. Instead, Transgender Youngsters often pick up the idea from parents and school-mates that they are “going to be gay men”. Some may later even try to “become gay” and be accepted in the gay male community, when in fact that very seldom works. Gay men seek men as partners, not people whose Gender Identity is Female. The last thing in the world that an MtF youngster could ever become is a Gay Male who is into his masculinity and his male parts even more than the average guy!

Many other Transgender Youngsters will secretly find ways to cross-dress in girls’ and women’s clothes as a way of exploring and enjoying their Feminine Gender Feelings, often starting to do this well before puberty. The denial of opportunities for openly expressing their gender longings and the need to maintain complete secrecy about their Crossdressing are often the source of tremendous angst, anxiety and depression among these kids.

A few MtF Transgender and Transsexual Teenagers will try to appear openly as pretty girls, and may attract straight boys as love partners (i.e., boys who will love them as girls). Other MtF teens will seek the company of girls, and will become attracted to them and love them as if they themselves were Lesbian. In such cases, if their girl friends are accepting of them, they can be Wonderful and Attentive Lovers and Partners. However, many Transgender Youngsters will become so Ashamed and humiliated by their Female Tendencies that they will hide their “Terrible Secret Longings” from everyone, sometimes even from themselves, for a long, long time.

For those who are strongly Transgender or Transsexual, living without having a properly assigned gender produces a nightmarish separation from the dance of life. Whether it’s dating, finding love, courting, marrying, raising children, and generally doing all the little everyday things that continually celebrate one’s own Gender, the Transgendered are often left stranded on the sidelines, to watch as Spectators. Or worse yet, while feeling Ugly and Ludicrous in their Male Social Appearance, they are forced to “Act Out” empty of all feeling a role that is alien to their inner female nature.

The overall name for the intense form of these Cross-Gender Feelings is “Gender Dysphoria”. (This condition is often called “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID). However, we refrain from using the word “Disorder”, because we consider this condition to be a Natural Variation in Human Gendering. Instead we use the phrase “Gender Dysphoria”, referring to the angst felt at being forced to live in the wrong gender.

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Trans Sexualism

source: wikipedia

Trans- sexualism is when an individual identifies with a physical sex that is different from their biological one. A medical diagnosis can be made if a person experiences discomfort as a result of a desire to be a member of the opposite sex, or if a person experiences impaired functioning or distress as a result of that gender identification. Transsexualism is stigmatized in many parts of the world but has become more widely known in Western culture in the mid to late 20th century, concurrently with the sexual revolution and the development of sexual reassignment surgeries. It remains controversial, however. Discrimination and negative attitudes towards transsexualism often accompany certain religious beliefs or cultural values. There are cultures that have no difficulty integrating people who change gender roles, often holding them with high regard, such as the traditional role for ‘two-spirit’ people found among certain native American tribes. France has been the only country in the world to remove transexualism from its list of mental illnesses.

Gender Binary System

source: http://genderbinary.wikidot.com

Have you ever been stared at? Laughed at? Ridiculed and humiliated incessantly? Wondered if you were a man or a woman?

  • Or both?
  • Or neither?

Have you ever not fit the mold that society wanted you to? Have you ever felt different and unaccepted for reasons beyond your control? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a significant part of the reason is our socially constructed Binary Gender System. If you have always fit the mold and never really questioned the essence of Gender and Sexual Orientation, then this article is especially pertinent to you. The trials and tribulations suffered by the Transgendered mostly go unnoticed and this needs to change, for the benefit of those being mistreated and misunderstood; at the expense of society as a whole. The Restrictive and Exclusive Nature of the Binary System complicates a Transgendered person’s ability to Self-Identify and consequently complicates the relationship betweenGender and Sexual Orientation.

According to Riki Wilchins, an activist who focused her work primarily on issues of Gender explains the culturally embedded Stereotypes of Man and Woman. She claims: “Man is the Universal. Woman is defined by her opposition to Man, by what she does not have i.e., the Penis. The one thing she has that Man does not is reproduction and sexuality”. But what do Man and Woman have to do with gender? And in turn, how does gender affect sexuality? In the case of Transgenders, this is an especially difficult issue to resolve. In order to attempt to answer these questions, specific case studies will be examined and analyzed.

Mollie Biewald was a brave and daring individual. At the tender age of 15, she wrote about growing up both confused and confident. She recalls being in seventh grade, “when three or four times a day I’m asked whether I’m a boy or a girl, and when I answer they laugh at me.” Furthermore, her teachers (people who are supposed to be respectable, tolerant, role models), referred to her with male pronouns for weeks, even when one day she was brave enough to wear a skirt to school. At 12 years old, the binary system seriously complicated Mollie’s ability to self identify. Genetically, Mollie has all the biological characteristics of a female. But does her biological structure define her gender or her sexuality? On the surface, one would probably just assume Mollie is a butch dyke or just simply a lesbian. But this is not the case. Mollie is sexually attracted to girls but she personally feels like a maleDoes that make her straight? It’s hard to define Sexual Orientation when it is so difficult to identify as either just male or female and labels prove to be inaccurate.

What people need to understand is that there are separate male and female biological organs, but these biological components alone do not encompass gender. Unlike transsexuals who choose to have surgery to alter their perceived “gender”, many transgenders do not want surgery. Perhaps this is because we are born the way we are, and cosmetically changing yourself does not truly change the person on the inside thus making it somewhat of a superficial procedure. Some Transsexuals would completely disagree because Surgery finalizes the Transition. But what if some people don’t want a Transition? Why is it so important to fit a Societal Mold? And more importantly,when are people going to realize that we are all PEOPLE, and we should not be restricted to being defined as a label. We should not be judged by our “gender” or sexual preferences, but by our actions. (Alas!)

The final case study is Mr. Barb Greve. Born with a Female Anatomy, Barb always identified as a male, as early as he can remember. Although he surrounded himself with all types of women, mostly Lesbian and Feminist, he realized the only thing he really had in common with them was the sexual attraction towards women. He sums up Gender nicely, “I’ve learned that gender is not as simple as Biological Sex (which can be altered); nor can we simplify and limit Gender’s Definition to Social Constructs. I believe Gender to be a Combination between Biology and Social Roles. We all choose to express our Gender in different ways. For some people, this means limiting how they are in the world; for others, it means Challenging Stereotypes.” Barb struggled with Gender and Self-Identity for years, just wanting to fit a Stereotype, a Demon induced by the Binary System. There is clearly a distinction between Gender Expression and Gender Identity. Barb unsuccessfully tried to fit the Mold of either Male or Female. This is what most Detrimental about the Binary System in Society is. The need to make Gender one or the other Sacrifices and suppresses life Experiences of people like Barb. Barb concludes that being forced to choose either male or female, “would mean denying a large part of who I am. My journey is not about Transitioning into one of the Two Acceptable Genders. It is not a Political Statement. It is about becoming a whole person. It is about being the best person I can be: a Transgendered guy named Barb.” These are exceptionally brave words.

In a society devoid of more than two ‘accepted’ genders, it is time we realize the futility of such an oppressive system. First there was the gay community, then the lesbian and gay community, and then the lesbian, gay, and bi community finally resulting in the lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender community (LGBT). Gay, lesbian, and bisexuality all focus on sexuality and much less so on gender identity and gender expression. The LGB are all comparatively easy terms to classify but the T is the more difficult part. In the binary system, being gay or lesbian works because it fits the mold of male and female gender. Even bisexuality somehow fits the mold because gender is not taken into account, solely the fact that a person is attracted to both sexes. It is time to refute all the gender stereotypes and accept and embrace that there is much more to gender than just male or femaleUntil we do, brave and confused people will continually be denigrated by a hierarchical society with such skewed norms. What is normal? Or natural?Only what society decides and dictates. Thus there is still hope.

I may be a straight male, but I may also like fashion, emotions, and passions, characteristics typically associated with the female mold. Does that make me Transgendered? No. It makes me a human. The one intrinsic value we all share. We are who we are, and we should not have to put ourselves down or live in fear and confusion. Clearly gender itself is a restrictive term and it clearly not mutually exclusive to sexual orientation. We are people attracted to other people. I think it’s fair to say we all want to love and to be loved. The way to break the Binary System is to be Open minded. The seemingly less apparent and most important part of the Binary System is its affect on people who define themselves as straight males and females, who ‘fit’ the mold. The problem with this is fear. Once you fit the mold, why detour away from it? So what if a super athletic football player likes to cross dress? The dichotomy between male and female is so restricting, it polarizes distinct attributes typically associated with either male or female, which over time, has created stereotypes deeply engrained into society. If anything, the Transgendered community should work as an eye opener to all those who have never really questioned gender or sexual orientation. How many straight people ask themselves that why they are straight and not gay? Not many. But by being true to yourself and not fitting the mold, you are not restricting yourself to such a Flawed Binary System. Society constructed this system, with the right work, awareness, and exposure, society can just as easily deconstruct a hierarchical system that encourages stereotypes and suppressed the beauty of uniqueness and individuality.

Conclusion:

  • Definitions of Hijra and Eunuch are not very different
  • By not awarding them a Sex Identity, the Society still supports a Slave System; that is exactly what they were.
  • Some of “US” are born as boys with missing or under- developed genitals.
  • And few of us as girls with Male Genitals
  • Some of us may possess different Sexuality than our Biological Sex
  • Some of us may not identify ourselves with the born gender (and not sexuality). In other words we may want to be identified differently than our Biological Sex and yet choose our Sexuality as per our Biological Sex. It indeed is confusing to really understand at 1 go; it is even painful for the people trapped in this defunct system. Try and imagine their apathy. Simply put, they wish to identify themselves as and choose sexuality differently and not coherently relating the two; it confuses them. For e.g., I may be born as a woman (biologically), wish to be identified as a Man and yet would choose sexuality which may be lesbian or not; or perhaps both.
  • How justified it is that we have simply as if unanimously agreed to not Identify Eunuchs, MtFs and the Transsexuals as Human Beings and have denied to grade them a respectable Sex Identity and Respect?


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4 responses to “What Do We Mean By Transgender: An Education

  1. Good stuff! Needs to be printed and circulated at T2F and other places (preferably under your letterhead).

  2. S Khan

    A great and influential piece of literature, please get it published in any daily national Newspaper

  3. Nuzhat Kidvai

    Good article. What about keeping this in the reading section at T2f Zaheer?

  4. Fatima

    A great job indeed. There’s still a lot people should know about it.

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