11 11 2009

What causes transgender-ness?

In what ways does choice play a role in the lives of those who are transgendered?

If we accept that gender is a cultural construct, in what ways has the construct changed over time since the 1960s when the gay/lesbian revolution took place?

See links to Transgender sites.




16 responses

12 11 2009

I think there is not a clear answer to any question involving the definition of gender because I believe it may be a combination of factors. I am sure that culture plays a significant role in defining gender roles, but I do not think it is the sole reason one may question their gender identity. Biological factors may play a role as well but there is also something to say about personal choice. So I cannot say for sure that there is a specific reason people may not feel like they are of the right gender but I can see how each of these factors can affect a person’s sexuality.

12 11 2009
Brian Powers

It’s not something I’d ever thought about, and I think, that as Cory said, there are most likely multiple factors that go into what we perceive as “gender”. If it is scientifically proven that there is a chromosomal oddity that causes an individual to think of themselves as the gender that their sex is not, then its hard to argue with that. However I think that there are almost certainly those that make the choice to be one gender or the other regardless of this. I think the way that you express yourself to others, and their perceptions based upon what you represent yourself as, is all that matters in establishing “gender”. In this way, it is certainly a social construct, but it is influenced by biological factors.

17 11 2009

The only way choice plays a role in transgendered lives is their choice whether or not to conform to societys views of how they should be or go with how they feel. Many transgendered people dont suddenly wake up feeling like the opposite sex. Many of them have always felt that they were in the wrong body and were merely afraid to make it known or instead carried out their lives how they want suffering severe culturally based consequences. Since gender is a cultural construct it seems to have merely changed in being open or not. Before the gay/lesbian revolution most people kept to themselves and hid their “faults”. The revolution allowed for people to be open about who they are and find others who are like-minded and could offer support especially since the “revolution” also brought about a influx in homophobia and violence towards GBLT community.

18 11 2009

I agree with L, in that the only choice concerning them is that if they decided to go with society on how they view themselves. Perhaps there is no set gender, as we’ve breifly discussed the area were there are actually three genders. Perhaps there are more than just the average two genders? If anyone has ever talked to people who are convinced they are in the wrong body it is hard to argue with them that it was their “choice” to decide that they were put there. They had no “choice” to what body they were placed in. The revolution allowed these people to come out and really start bringing forward their feelings and their struggles. It was also a way to have people start to accept this, and study this. Finding a reason to why this happening and if in some way we could “fix” it or at least make these people much more comfortable with themselves. Unfortuantly with these acceptances also came about a violence aspect, that L briefly mentioned. But these are struggles they will have to conquer just like Africans and Women had to get through.

19 11 2009

I don’t think that being transgendered, gay, lesbian or bisexual is all cultural/environmental. I think there are a lot of genetic variables as well. Being said, I think that choosing to become transgendered is not the issue, but rather to out oneself with it. I think society has a huge role in whether or not someone is comfortable coming out as a transgendered person. I feel like if we keep looking at this as something someone “chooses” to do, i.e be male while they are really female or vice versa, we are saying as a society that it is a wrong decision (when being yourself should never be a bad thing).

24 11 2009
Ryan Caouette

I agree with most of the comments posted above in the sense that being transgendered is not all about choice. Certainly, being “out,” being oneself, is a concious choice, and is probably a significant challenge for most transgendered people. But for the most part nature (i.e. biology) plays the more predominant role in transexism. After all, I can’t imagine anyone who would choose to face hatred, scorn, and physical and verbal attacks, nor can there be many people who would choose to undergo dangerous and long-term surgery in pursuit of their identity. Indeed, feeling trapped in the wrong gender is something one is born with. It is a life-long “battle” in a way, one that never seems to end for the person involved.

Having said this, there should never be a reason to discriminate someone based on thier gender or sexual orientation. But those on the “battle lines” (meaning the far-right conservatives) do seem to have some ammunition by arguing that transexism is a choice. For if it is, one can choose to conform and assimilate with the rest of society. By admitting that transexism is “natural,” much of thier argument flies out the window. No one can choose to be born black, a woman, handicapped, etc. When people understand this point, there will be much less discrimination in the world (one can hope!), and the issue of transexism will likely recede into the background of politics.

25 11 2009

There often seems to be some confusion associated with the word “choice” when discussing statistically unusual sexualities and/or genders. I wish that the “nurture” of the nature/nurture dichotomy did not dissolve into the term “choice,” which implies a conscious and deliberate dedication to some position or situation. It seems to me that there is relatively little “choice” when it comes to one’s identity – even the non-“natural,” the environmental/cultural/social, elements that influence our lives and our perceptions often do so seamlessly, and we do not feel their consequences to be necessarily “chosen.”

27 11 2009
Debra Picchi

Another issue – how have the women’s and gay’s revolutions affected gender constructs….I would like to believe that the person I am today would be very different from the person I would have been in the 1950s. This is due to the ways in which the two revolutions have allowed us re-think our gender
identities. I think I am allowed to do, think, and “be” much more than I might have been allowed in the past. I have more choices. This opening for women and for gays (and African Americans with Civil Rights who came before the other two revolutions) (and men who have benefited too) can only be viewed positively.

2 12 2009
Brian Powers

I think that without the sexual revolution, we would definitely as a society still have certain moral perceptions regarding LGBT rights. Without it, I think life would be much more difficult for people who fall under one or more of those categories had these previously accepted standards remained to this day. There would inevitably be widespread repression of those who felt as though they were trapped within the wrong body, and sought a change. The Women’s revolution has provided for a lot more, (if still maybe not enough) sexual freedom for women in general, and particularly those who may be experiencing difficulties surrounding gender identity.

3 12 2009
Kyle Brooks

Well i believe that there is no answer to why people are transgenders, and i don’t believe that we should make up, or assume reasons why people are this way. the choices that transgenders people have is how they will live with it, the way they chose to live their live. These choices are very important, because it is affecting how this person will live their lives, and in today’s society, these choices are very hard to make, due to the stereotypes and attacks that people have made in the past. I do believe, however, that today, some choices are easier to make, because i do believe since the revolution in the 60’s that some choices are easier to make, and it may be easier and more excepted than before.

3 12 2009

personally, someone being transgendered is not an issue to me, just as long as it does not affect my life . these people make their own decisions and will do what they want with their bodies, as long as they are not hurting me, my family or anyone else, then why is this such an issue? We are a nation that has continuously given rights to several groups of people that had previously been denied; African Americans, Women, Gays and lesbians, etc., so these people should be able to enjoy the rights that every citizen of American thats for granted. I feel that being gay or lesbian has become more “socially” ecceptable within the past 20 years in America, however being transgendered has not had the same effect on society and rightfully so. While these people deserve every right to do what they want with their body and also to enjoy the rights of every American citizen; Transgendered people will just never become socially accepted in American Culture, or at least within the next 100-150 years. this is just a fact of life, while maybe your neighbor, your teacher and several of your friends think being transgendered is acceptable, several people would disagree and almost puke at the sight of a transgendered person.

Overall, i do not look down upon, nor do i make fun of transgendered people, it is their life decision. while i do not make fun of them, several people do and will to their face. I would never want to wish that type of ridicule on someone and if they have the strength to do what they feel is right for themselves, then more power to ya.

4 12 2009

Hey guys, transgenderedness is not to be considered a stigma or looked down upon with society in the world, however it is…for now. This phase is a new hype becasue of the willingness for those to “come out” and with the new advancements in technology makes it more possible for those to complete their full transformation. Like it was back in earlier times, blacks and other minorities have had their fair share of troubles, and to solve this we developed the Civil Rights movement. Transgenderness is just a new thing to debate or have negative feelings about and in some time it will become more accepted in our culture becasue of so many more people being open about their sexuality.

7 12 2009
Wilka Murphy

I agree with Willis and Justin; this is the new issue that American’s and others all over the world are facing. There have been many issues in the past concerning choices and rights regarding women and African American’s. Yes, it may be the new “hype”, but in my very strong opinion I do not believe that medicine or any new technology can explain a person’s decision to call themselves transgendered. Feeling as if you don’t belong in your body and were born the wrong way is not something that we “normal” people should think we can explain. We will never know why this happens and that scares us. Technology seems to be the answer to worldly problems these days. I do not see this as an issue but a liberation for those who have felt this way for years; they see the rights and strength of those who are gays and lesbians to come out and show their love for one another and it encourages them to come out as well. And there is nothing wrong with that; it is sad that in our society something new and so different to us cannot be left alone and accepted. No one takes the time to step back and place themselves in their shoes, I am sure they do not find it easy themselves. After all, it is hard to come out and be subjected to ridicule and have everyone judge you when you are only trying to be yourself. That is why I believe we cannot explain it, I see someone who is transgendered living out their life and I know it is something that cannot be helped, that person knows the dilemma they face and choose to come out regardless because it is who they are. I applaud them for this and I hope that someday people will learn to accept and live their own lives without having to judge or be judged by others.

7 12 2009
Natasha W.

Choice plays a very big role in the lives of those who are transgendered. As a biology major, I do not believe there is a firm medical reason for why people come out as transgendered. This would give the public the impression that it is a disease that needs to be eradicated. No, it is a choice. A choice that only the individual can make. Cultural and social aspects influence the individuals decision, and they choose to be in the body they feel most comforable. They are aware of the hardships and scrutiny they will face taking this road. Ths does not change the individuals mind, and some may resort to taking their own life because they are so unhappy. The decision, although extreme is also a choice. Transgenderd people are not an epidemic and I do not believe they are a phase or hype. They are people who had to hide in the shadows for hundreds of years, prior to now because they were forced to accept themselves as they were. Times have changed, a door was opened for them and they are all using this opportunity to lift their voices up and tell the world this is their choice, their decision, and it isn’t changing. No hype, just a conversation long overdue. I may feel indifferent about this subject for my own personal reasons, however I respect how brave transgendereds are to defy the norm and do what they think is right.

8 12 2009

I believe that transgendered individuals will face the same challenges gay and lesbians first had when they started to integrate into mainstream society. I feel that being gay or lesbian has become more “socially” acceptable within the past 20 years in America. While these people deserve every right to do what they want with their body and also to enjoy the rights of every American citizen there will be a period of time that the American public will shun those who are transgendered and will continue to do until it becomes more accept in our society.

10 12 2009
Sam Bizon

I honestly think there is so much unnecessary pressure put on transgendered and other atypical sexual oriented people, but not by those opposite of them. I think transgendered and homosexuals think they are exceptional and place themselves on a pedestal, even though they claim all they yearn for is equality. until transgendered start feeling more comfortable with themselves, us heterosexuals and ‘one gendered’ won’t feel comfortable lol. Unfortunately, like Time said, in our society it will not be accepted by everyone, but it is just like anything else that is outside the norm.

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