September 29, 2013

IconGenderf*ck? There’s a label for that…

Hattie Lucas’ article last week got a lot of attention. For those of you who got a bit lost in all the labels being thrown around, here’s a quick guide.

Sex

This is the easy bit. Someone’s sex is the male or femaleness of their private parts. Vagina and boobs – BANG, female sex. Penis and balls – male sex.

Getting down to the nuts and bolts...

Gender

So what’s the difference between gender and sex? Well, gender is more of a psychological concept. It’s the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with a sex.

Always with the bow...

Genderqueer

This is where things get interesting. People who identify as genderqueer typically identify with traits of both the male and female genders. If there were a scale with male on one side and female on the other, they’d fall somewhere in the middle.

Barbie or Ken? Barken?

Genderfuck

Genderfuck is a similar concept, whereby the person deliberately defies gender norms by sending mixed messages about their sex.

Oooh!

Bigender

Bigender people fill the full spectrum. They identify as fully male and female, generally switching between the two.

The best of both!

Agender

Agender is the term to describe people who don’t have a gender at all, or prefer to identify as a person rather than a gender.

Why choose?

Transgender

This is when someone’s gender doesn’t match their sex. Trans* people may identify with any of the above labels, or simply as male to female trans* (mtf) or female to male trans* (ftm). In this, the person may seek to transition, thereby altering their sex to match their identified gender. This can be done with hormones and surgery.

Chelsea Manning, one of the most high profile trans* people in the media.

Intersex

Being intersex involves a variation in sex characteristics. This throws the above definition of sex out of the window, as intersex people are often born with the sex organs of both male and female sexes. Their chromosomes may also vary on the traditional XY – male and XX – female. Often, intersex people are operated on at birth to ‘correct’ their sex. This can result in the person finding their gender doesn’t align with their sex. They may have this corrected in later life. Other intersex people may not have had surgery in childhood, and later opt to have it in adulthood. Some are raised in one gender and later identify as another. Others may describe themselves as agender, bigender, genderfuck or genderqueer.

Caster Semenya, a modern poster child for intersex ambiguity in international athletic competition.

Labels, labels, labels…

Sometimes it’s best to leave the labels on the soup cans, as the cliché goes. The strip below is a personal favourite in this regard.

Love is love! Enjoy who you are, whoever that may be.

 

2 Responses to Genderf*ck? There’s a label for that…

  1. That’s for the postings, but most of this stuff I already knew. I place myself into Transgender MTF and for the first time in my life I feel at peace and very comfortable with who I am. I cannot believe how long I’ve denied the truth about my gender confusion (trying to be male when I knew I was female), but I can now spend the remainder of my life as a happy female heterosexual in a long-term relationship or marriage to a gentle and supportive man. So thanks.
    Anika

  2. Siobhan says:

    I know that the definition of “Sex” that opens the article is reassessed later on, but I’m not sure the opening gambit here is very useful: “This is the easy bit”. I don’t agree, at all, and it’s not just the experiences of intersex people that tells us this is not the case. “Sex” is just as much a social construct as “Gender”. If this claim seems ridiculous to you, ask yourself: why can I consider gender as socially constructed, but not sex?

    Both concepts are based on the notion that an essential biological binary exists to differentiate human beings into two camps, in this case: male and female. However, this perspective is based in the false belief that there are two overwhelmingly common combinations of: a) genital size and shape b) reproductive organ functionality and c) hormones. That’s simply not true.

    Though it is quite difficult for some to think about sex as anything other than “fact”, this view isn’t useful in terms of trying to undo binary thinking with regards to gender. The definitions above keep coming back to the idea of a spectrum, and of fitting somewhere between the poles of “man” and “woman”. The notion of a circle might be more useful, but I think a deeply embedded faith in the binary of “sex” really gets in the way of this more creative–and arguably more realistic–way of thinking about gender (and of course, sex).

    “Intersex” does not need to be regarded as between male and female. Intersex people are, and can be, defined as of a completely different, new “sex”, without reference to these two terms and medical standards we’ve created. Despite what the title of this article claims, there aren’t enough labels (the possible but still limited categories of “asex”, “bisex”, “transsex”, “sexqueer” and “sexfuck” are all collapsed into the singular “Intersex” here), but then lables aren’t always necessary or useful.

    Dismantling gender and sex norms and normativity might be easier if we start by questioning existing frameworks (which is really difficult! But potentially revolutionary!)

    Thanks!

Sophie Cairns

Video

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