Transgender or Genderqueer

This week’s reading seeks to explain the label transgender as an umbrella term including “transexuals, transvestites, drag queens, drag kings, female or male impersonators , genderqueers, intersexuals, hermaphrodites…” (Valentine p.33). Transgender becomes an alternative for the gender binary of wholly male or wholly female. However, Valentine points out that by using transgender as an all-encompassing term we might “render the specificity of transsexual experience as invisible” (p. 34). Using transgender to explain any person who does not follow gender norms seems problematic to me, I feel genderqueer is a much more appropriate term. Those who are transgender and desire to live in a body not assigned them at birth are a specific population and should not just be erased or grouped in with non-normative genders and sexualities.

Further, we learn that younger genderqueers reject the term transgender because of its institutionalization (Valentine p. 34). At first glance one would agree, arguing that institutionalizing someone’s sexuality or gender is of no business to us. However after listening to a classmate speak on the unfortunate importance of institutionalization for transgender people to receive insurance for such surgeries, I understood the significance of its institutionalization. While it may not be ideal, transbodied people can take advantage of insurance coverage if their bodies are institutionalized. lists all the treatments one must undergo to receive sex reassignment surgery – while some are seen as unnecessary or as blockades, insurance does cover them making the transition a tad bit more affordable. What this proves is that transgedered people are a specific group that should not just be lumped together with other non-comforming genders and sexes. I believe the term genderqueer is much better for an all encompassing non-normative group.


Kathleen Hennessy


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