May 20, 2010

Gender Identity

Filed under: Gender — Chantelle @ 3:22 pm

I guess I should start by telling you that I am a fourth-year university student, finishing up my Marketing degree. It is all quite innoquous really, I have four classes left so I am hoping to finish up by taking night/online classes so that I can continue to work full-time into the fall. As a result, I am taking two classes this summer, one online and one night class.

My decision about what night class to take was a very practical one. For my degree, I need four classes. One of these is Comm 401, a management class I believe. When I decided to take summer classes, this class had already reached full capacity and so was out of the question. The other classes I need are three senior electives. (Senior electives mean and second-year or higher class of your choice, not necessarily in your degree.) My requirements were quite strict for summer classes. I needed that class to be held in the evening, I needed the class to be a senior-level, and I needed all of the requirements to join the class.

When it came down to it, I really had no choice about which class I would take. I ended up joining two Womens & Gender Studies classes, 201 (in-class) which studies Gender in Popular Culture, and 210 (web) which studies… well, I’m not sure yet.

I joined the classes not expecting much. The web class has reached my expectations, but 201 has really changed my perspectives about gender, and we have only reached the third class!

Last night, we had a young gentlemen come to speak to us. He calls himself Eric, and was once female. Normally, this would have appalled me. He went from being a tomboy named Kara, to completely transforming himself, and taking testosterone and having surgery to become truly, male. While he isn’t there yet, I certainly wouldn’t have known the difference had he not said something – in fact, he looks much like one of the boys that was in my class in high school.

The point that I am trying to make with this post is that, upon hearing Eric’s story, my mind was really changed about what it means to be male, or what it means to be female. What right do we really have to state, upon seeing the sex organ of a child at birth, that they must act and behave in accordance to society’s principles of ‘male’ and ‘female’? 

Why does it matter if one is a boy or a girl? Are we really so shallow that we need to know the sex of another person to define them in some way? Does it matter if you think someone is the opposite sex that they are, and become attracted to them? If the colour of one’s skin doesn’t matter, and a person’s weight doesn’t matter, and the length of one’s hair doesn’t matter, why does the type of genetalia they have matter? Granted, health professionals may need to know one’s biological make-up in order to treat them for illness or otherwise. Fine. But don’t limit that to M/F. What about the people who were once one and are now the other? What do they check off?

Okay. So someday in the future you want to have kids. Many of us do. Therefore, you want to choose a partner that has ovaries, obviously. Right? But just because someone is born with ovaries doesn’t mean they can, or even want to become pregnant.

I once looked at those who are transgendered, cross-dressers, gender-queer, etc. as being freaks. I will freely admit that, because it helps show you where I am coming from. But hearing Eric’s story… I will never, ever jump to assumptions or judge these people in the way I used to. They are human. People. Friends.


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