Gender Construction?

Often when you hear someone’s transitioning story (from one sex to another), they stated how right it felt, how they began to feel more comfortable in their own bodies, how they felt that finally they could represent themselves for who they truly were or some variation of those expressions.

Before I began reading about gender, I thought that the need to alter your birth anatomy was the result of our society making gender roles match up to one physical sex. I thought that we could absolve the need to alter our biological sex by just ridding ourselves of the notion that a certain gender must coincide with a certain sex, but now I am not sure that is entirely true.
But then what is it? In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler also questions the origin of gender construction, how does someone become a certain gender? When do they acquire a gender? How does gender affect/determine (?) the desired physical body?

Is gender culturally constructed? If so, then why are there exceptions to the binary sex and gender code? How is it possible that two children of the same biological sex, living in the same environment, could grow up to have different genders?

I have heard some transsexuals say that they felt they were born into the wrong body. Are there certain souls made for certain sexes and sometimes souls are born into wrong bodies? It is to do with sexual preferences and how you would like to inflict/receive pleasure? Judith Butler defines a transsexual as someone with “discontinuity between sexual pleasures and body parts”, they require invisible parts for the pleasure they want. How did this discontinuity arise? Are you born with it? Socialized in to it?

 It seems there are many possible answers, please share some of yours!

~ by genderambiguous on April 18, 2010.

2 Responses to “Gender Construction?”

  1. A recent People magazine headline, “Why is Angelina Turning Shiloh into a boy? Is it harming the three year old?” and the raging online debate provides an interesting case. First, I wonder about our hypervigilance at keeping track of celebrities and their children; it seems as if they are a measure against which we rank ourselves. Secondly, I wonder about the implications of the “harm” of perceived gender bending of a three year old. Would we claim there might be “harm” if we saw a celebrity girl in a princess outfit marketed by Disney? It seems that much of the online debate is about Shiloh’s choices and personality,and likely these bloggers are forcasting what this might mean for her future. The online reaction to Shiloh’s choices, and Angelina’s permissive parenting are a reminder that our willingness to act on our preferences is shaped by culture.

  2. I hadn’t seen the controversy over Shiloh, but that’s a great addition to the discussion, thank you!

    I like the focus on the perception of “harm” – as though a gender outside the norm is so damaging that a parent encouraging or even allowing the gender expression is “harm”. And I love the Disney princess comment. I get hives when I see some of the highly gendered and highly commercialized kids stuff out there, because we don’t seem to think critically about the messages we’re sending regarding gender and gender roles.

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