Whatever one’s opinion on the subject of people making this sort of transition, it’s pretty hard to defend the mocking language choices employed in these edits as somehow being in any way “neutral”.
It’s heartening to see via cases like this how wikipedia still manages to maintain pretty solid neutrality overall - often overwhelmingly better than most other common sources of information. They do a pretty good job of balancing things, and cutting out the most extreme views on both sides of any given situation.
Aw… sounds like the poor congressionally addressed dear is confused about gender.
Your tax dollars at work!
The whole “womyn-born womyn” bit doesn’t sound like a man, it sounds like a woman who’s what other, usually less bigoted feminists call a “TERF” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist).
“Radical Feminist” in this case usually means a feminist who wants to completely do away with or seriously overhaul the current syetm of gender and gender roles, and they believe transgender women can’t be “real” women because they “still have/at one point had male privelige” and transgender men are women attempting to pass as male to take advantage of patriarchy (both of which are bullshit accusations)
If you actually stop and think about it, though, gender itself is quite weird and confusing.
The fact that we expect people to behave in different ways, and the fact that we ourselves treat people differently, based purely on the visual cues present from the expression of their biological sex is kind of bizarre when you think about it logically.
Gender is an invented social construct - an arbitrary tradition or custom. We associate “feminine” physical features with “feminine” behaviors, and “masculine” physical features with “masculine” behaviors, but these have no real connection to our a person’s biological sex. Even the defininition of what is “feminine” or “masculine” varies widely from place to place, culture to culture. In some cultures, “masculine” men wear makeup and hold hands with male friends, while in other cultures, “feminine” women get piercings and tattoos.
However, the fact that most cultural gender traditions follow certain trends universally, and the fact that these values have remained pretty constant throughout most of recorded history (and even the potential influences of our own biology and evolutionary history) means that when people suddenly start reevaluating gender, it becomes confusing - particularly when the entire thing is exacerbated by the limitations of language and cultural conception, and muddled by complicated and complex tangential concerns such as sexuality and personal identification.
We should certainly all agree to take offense to people being mocking and being intolerant of those who defy our cultural expectations, but we shouldn’t try to frame being confused about what is quite honestly a bizarre and complicated sort of flux in cultural expectations as itself being “bad” or somehow wrong.
Or to put all that more succinctly: being a jerk is bad, being confused is not.
You missed the sardonic humor that was central to my post: for decades transsexuals and other transgender individuals (including me) have been labeled as “confused about gender” by individuals with very little compassion, less understanding, and near zero willingness to try to understand what our (quite varied) stories and experiences in gender are. By labeling the transphobic congressionaly-addressed individual as “confused about gender” I am flipping the script.
Transgender individuals—at least the one I am, the many I have known, and the more I have learned about—are among the least confused about gender (their own, or anyone else’s).
In the words of Margaret Cho, speaking about her long dead high-school drag-queen friend’s response to being told he or she didn’t know what she was “I KNOW WHAT I AM!”
The individual defacing the website with transphobic color commentary manifestly does not know what transgender people are, does not, in fact, know what “man” or “woman” means with the kind of depth that transgender individuals (or the “gender elite” as I like to think of us ), and gender-literate people like yourself do.
The kind of confusion that results from a commitment to sanctioned self-ignorance is a confusion that is worthy of disapprobation.
The staffer stated that their wiki entries were official business of that Reps office. If so - they should be identified.
I disagree. I think, in that one comment, they’re trying to sound like a radical feminist. But the rest of the agenda makes it clear this person is not only transphobic, but righteous about it. What kind of person with that attitude would pretend to be a radical feminist, but get the tone so wrong? I suspect it’s somebody who really really wants to write “Feminazi.”
Here’s the fun part. If I’m right then the author of this particular comment is a man pretending to be a woman, denouncing “men pretending to be women.” Projection much?
“Wonyn-born-womyn” sounded to me like something lifted from Viz Comics’ Milli Tant; but then I guess this might be Poe’s Law in effect.
We’re talking about a congressional staffer here. There’s a hell of a lot more reactionaries working in congress than there are radical feminists (and more men than women). That alone indicates it’s almost certainly someone who’s conservative and more likely than not a man, mocking radical feminists.
I was thinking exactly the same thing. This is also clearly an individual who, based on their response, is proud of their actions and willing to defend them. If so they should have no problem identifying themselves. In fact they should be happy to participate in a public debate/discussion with Ms. Cox or another transgender person.
I’d really like to see that.
Admittedly I’m not a transsexual or a transgender individual, and I’ve not been labeled “confused about gender” by others, so that explains why I didn’t get your comment as a reference.
I personally think that consciously trying to control the way your culture responds to your physical appearance is kind of bizarre, but then again I also dislike things like make-up and fashion trends on principle, so I’m clearly something of an outlier. If I had my way, gender would be abolished entirely - which I suppose makes me a radical extremist in terms of gender politics.
I do think you’re largely right - transgender individuals are certainly more acutely aware of gender within their culture than most, and logically that seems like the obvious influence that leads them to transition in the first place. Much like how those who convert religions typically do so because they actually take the time to study and are far more knowledgeable about religion compared to the average unquestioning believer, those who choose to transition from one gender to another seem to choose to do so only after a great deal of study, reflection, and consideration.
For my own part, being so radical as to wish to eradicate gender entirely, I find it difficult to conceptualize the notion of actively conforming to either set of standards. Since “masculine” and “feminine” are arbitrary, the chief thing one seems to gain by transitioning between genders is to receive the external societal treatment one may prefer. But I’m opposed entirely to the concept of discriminatory behavior based on a person’s physical form in almost every regard, so the thought of actively choosing which kind discimination I would rather receive from society at large just seems alien to me.
Then again, I’ve long been an intensely private individual, with my personal identity largely divorced from how others see or treat me, so that might account for my difficulty in conceptualizing such things. I don’t view myself as “masculine” or “feminine”, because I exhibit both sets of behaviors varyingly.
Ideally I’d like the world to not discriminate based on whether some behavior I display is “masculine” or “feminine”, but I realize that in anything but the very long term, that’s really just wishful thinking. I do conform to certain expected behaviors when in public, but chiefly out of convenience, not out of identity or personal need. It’s just less effort.
…which is why I can at least sympathize with transgenders, even if I lack the personal experiences to truly empathize. Choosing to transition necessarily involves choosing to actively go against societal expectations, and that’s an exhausting and alienating thing to do. You either go crazy trying to explain your non-conformity to every single person you ever meet who balks at it, or you find ways to disguise your non-conformity so other people don’t notice it and badger you about it, or you just isolate and alienate yourself to avoid having to talk to people - all of which is pretty darn soul-draining.
That takes a sort of dedication I certainly do not possess. And while I can’t personally relate to that sort of drive, I can at least respect it - even if I ultimately wish it wasn’t necessary.
In short, fuck gender. It’s patently absurd and it makes people miserable. Just try to treat everyone the same way for a given scenario, regardless of what they look like, and maybe in another century or two we’ll all collectively be over this nonsense.
I think there probably is a biological basis for gender roles, which would explain their seeming universality, and how rare alternative roles are. This isn’t to say people who want to supercede biology are bad, biology isn’t destiny.
I think in issues like this the causes are so complex that we may never hit the bottom of it. Biology probably sets the base, culture fixes it, and individuals can give both the finger.
Eh. I can think that people are confused about gender, and still be compassionate, and understanding.
Not to sound like a troll. But if you aren’t confused about gender you haven’t been paying attention. Gender is horribly confusing, even to “normal” (“conventional”? Sorry, dont have a word for it, being that it is all so confusing.) people like me.
Of course there’s a biological influence - I mentioned as much in my first post.
That said, I think you’ve got the right of the general situation. Biology is the base, culture then distorts, and individuals add the finishing touches.
But it also works in reverse, to an extent. Individuals, by choosing to defy culture, can reshape and change culture. And if we can reshape our culture, we can in theory design it to suit our needs and desires. And since culture modifies biology, if we as individuals consciously work to build a culture that counteracts the worst flaws of our biology… well…
I agree - everyone is confused about everything.
Any time I meet someone who says they know something absolutely (outside of fields like mathematics or engineering), my first gut reaction is that they’re full of it.
Humans are jaw-droppingly good at being completely wrong and being utterly convinced otherwise. Once you recognize the pattern, you see it everywhere. Absolute confidence is a mark of either ignorance or delusion.
Hence, if you ask me, “What are you?”, I doubt I could answer absolutely, even after many hours of reflection and brainstorming. I could tell you countless details about myself, and I could tell you whether I believe those qualities fit within various given definitions and meanings, but I can’t possibly tell you anything utterly absolute.
Relatively speaking? That’s a different matter. So long as we can agree upon various relative terms, I can then compare myself to them and give certain relative answers. For example, if asked “Are you a Humanist?”, I would first ensure we both have the same general notion of what Humanism actually entails, and then assuming we do I would say, “In general, yes, I’m largely Humanist”. But if you insisted on a yes or no answer, I’d be unable to give one with any degree of accuracy or veracity.
Sorry for missing it. Working on my first cup of coffee, so my brain is still protesting.
Looking back, individuals are doing amazing work on making culture more open. Even in my short lifetime amazing progress has been made. Not to say there can’t be more, there always can be. Sometimes I feel a bristle of pride when people who were considered deviants even a decade ago are now prominant, and accepted by the masses. I love it when the random masses bash down bigots, where a decade ago those masses would have been the bigotted ones. It gives one hope.
Though, to be a pedant, the time scales where culture could influence biology are so immense as to be unreal.
You might be surprised.
Modern surgery is one example. Biologically speaking, cutting people open and removing their organs is madness - but in our culture it is now considered relatively routine. Diet is another example. What we choose to grow and to eat has a huge impact on our biology.
Of course, my point was less about altering our biology through culture, and more about using culture to mitigate the flaws produced by biology.
We can’t realistically stop things like birth defects or genetic health problems, but we can culturally be more aware and accepting of those who suffer from them. We can’t prevent every accident-caused disability, but we can ensure that our culture properly integrates individuals suffering from such conditions. That sort of thing.
And likewise, we may be genetically predisposed to be violent, emotional, destructive, tribal, irrational apes, but we can reinforce cultural values that work to mitigate those qualities within ourselves.
Ah… Point taken, and agreed. I was thinking “biology” as long term natural changes, ala evolution. Though when it comes to transcending our apishness, my optimism declines greatly. We might be moving towards more liberal identity issues, but we still love killing people, and probably always will. Look at today, gay marriage is a thing, we can discuss things such as this article without armies of bigoted scorn-monkeys attacking, but we still blowing up a bunch of brown people in far away lands over… Something?