Gender identity is defined as “A persons sense, and subjective experience, of their own gender.” (Wikipedia) Unlike your biological sex, which is the sex you were born as, gender identity does not have to mirror your sex. Striker mentions gender identity in the work “Transgender Story”. Striker states, “For most people there is congruence between the category one has been assigned to and trained in. Transgendered people demonstrate that this is not always the case.” (Striker 13) Striker’s work also says “sense of ones self not of the gender role they are assigned to.” (Striker 13) Gender identity is specific to each individual. Gender identity is not binary nor is it limited to only male and female. Gender identity is also separate from an individual’s sexuality.
Towle and Morgan bring up the term third gender in the “Romancing The Transgender Narrative”. In the reading, it is explained that third gender is a western concept that breaks away from the idea that there are two genders. Third gender is uniquely western and is used as more of a psychologized, medicalized, and moralistic term. The reading mentions that “western binary systems are not universal or innate.” Like gender identity, third gender acknowledges that transgendered people do not have to identify with the sex they were born as, or accept the gender role they were assigned to. Although third gender addresses that a dichotomous gender system does not work, it is a blanket term and very general. Third gender does not acknowledge the many variations of identity outside of male and female. This takes away the individuality of those who fall under the third gender category. Third gender excludes many identities, and not everyone who is neither innately male nor female will identify with the term third gender.
One issue I have with third gender is that when you use one blanket term to categorize a certain type of people, those who fall under that category will be judged, stereotyped, and generalized. When you categorize and label a certain type of people as being of the third gender, they are subject to discrimination whether or not they themselves identify with third gender. Any image established with third gender, good or bad, will be associated with everyone who falls under the third gender category. Aside from the generalizations associated with third gender, it is important to understand that gender identity is a concept that goes much deeper than simply male, female, and third gender. It is important to continue to educate people in the western world on gender identity opposed to third gender.
Its great that more and more information on transgender studies is becoming available. Old and dated information is constantly being reviewed and revised and adapted to fit present-day society and culture. I look forward to learning more about gender identity in class.