A New Look On Sex and Gender

Up until recent years, trans people have been misunderstood and often discriminated against for their life choices to live as the opposite sex assigned to them at birth. When first studied, transsexualism was characterized as “gender dysphoria syndrome” in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. In order to gain approval for a trans person to get a sex change, one had to lie and abide by characteristics associated to gender discourses. In doing so, trans people had to fib their way into getting surgeries. This of course is extremely problematic. In the articles by Sandy Stone and Emi Koyama, I wish to acknowledge the problems transsexuals face in terms of cultural acceptance. With Stone and Koyama both addressing the need for equality and understanding of trans people, I find their points valid in the push towards a better understanding of gender studies.

In Stone’s “The Empire Strikes Back” she responds to Raymond’s provocative article we as a class read last week. Her references to trans biographies points out that all accounts have fit the description of “passing.” As defined, passing means “to live successfully in the gender of choice, to be accepted as a ‘natural’ member of that gender. Passing means the denial of mixture.” (Stone, 231). This, meaning that a trans person erases his/her previous life experiences from memory and focuses only on living as the other desired sex. Stone points out that this “forecloses the possibility of a life grounded in the intertextual possibilities of the transsexual body” (Stone, 231).

As we are all well aware by now, having knowledge from previous gender studies classes, gender and sex are two separate concepts that attribute to a person’s being. When this division was discovered during second-wave feminism, gender was seen as something socially constructed whereas sex was biological. But in Koyama’s article, “The Transfeminist Manifesto” she points out that transfeminism brought about the idea that both gender and sex are socially constructed. “Transfeminism” when defined is “primarily a movement by and for trans women who view their liberation to be intrinsically linked to the liberation of all women and beyond” (Koyama). This focuses that transfeminism brought about has finally given trans and intersex folks the voice they have strived for. Sex is not looked at as “predetermined” anymore. This saves trans people from the assumption that they were born with a “biological error” when it comes to their sex organs. With a greater understanding of this and in turn acceptance, transfeminists will push forward the idea that all women of all types have total control over their body and how they want to treat it and be viewed.

I was searching more on the web for other peoples thoughts on transfeminism, I came across this tumblr page: http://whoneedstransfeminism.tumblr.com/. In it, various people give their reasons as to why this movement is important. I always like reading what the public has to say, and for the most part these entries are positive. Most entries point out the inequality and how transfeminism can help stop it. I believe this source is important because it shows how accepting the public can be on this topic. It shows that our culture may be more understanding than expected. Though many of these entries come from personal experience, the public display is a push towards educating others.

Colleen Griffin



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