Gender

As I made my way through Target’s isles today I came across the children’s section, and I noticed the distinction between children’s clothes, toys, diapers, and the list can literally go on.  I began to wonder wether parents were reinforcing gender roles onto their children and began to question why parents are so obsessed with dressing their daughters in pink onesies and their sons in blue?  What is it about the color pink that automatically makes people associate it with femininity and blue onesies with masculinity?  And I wanted to know what I could do in order to provide my child with an environment free of gender expectations.

I began to remember Susan Stryker’s article and the definition she associated with gender which is; considered to be cultural, and sex, biological.  I began reflecting on the discussions we’ve had in class, thus far, and the readings we have been assigned.  I couldn’t help but revisit Clare Sears and Jaime Cortez pieces.

Clare Sears article All that Glitters: Trans-ing California’s Gold Rush Migrations, did an amazing job of describing the distinction between men’s labor and what was considered to be women’s work.  The history given in the text regarding the migration of miners and the clear gender imbalance during the gold rush meant gender roles were being practiced by men primarly.  To my surprise the number of men compared to women during the gold rush, women were 2% of the population, meant that men were washing  their own clothes, cooking their own dinner, and doing “women’s work”.  There were plenty of women but instead of counting indigenous women as acceptable women they would rather wear dresses and indicate themselves as being female for the day.  “The problem of “‘too few women”‘ in gold rush California, then, was more accurately a problem of “‘too few women acceptable for marriage to Euro-American men”‘ and it had several causes that predated midcentury mass migration (page 385).

Jaime Cortez’s article Sexile, describes Adela’s journey from being Cuban inhabitant to being exiled from his birth home and eventually transforming into a woman.  My favorite page has to be page 25 because she demonstrates how no matter how much people hate who she is, she will continue to be who she feels she is. The people that Adela meets are individuals that found themselves rejected from their birthplace because they defied the social construction of gender roles.  She was able to find a community and developed a culture that best supported her through her changes.

So why is it important to discuss this issue in trans-studies?  Well these conversations are hard to come by, and although these issues affect us all; these conversations are not happening nearly enough.  I think of the countries or states that have recently made it illegal to be gay, lesbian, transgender otherwise you can serve time in prison and even supporters are facing sentences.  I hear this news and it makes me question how far our humanity has come? Where people can’t be with the one they love because its now illegal to love who and how you love. If we don’t speak up concerning the rights of others we are allowing ourselves to be one day silenced by higher powers as well.

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One thought on “Gender

  1. After reading your description of gender I can only think about the modern gender roles and stereotypes as well. Whether it is in the media, everyday jobs/ roles, or even supermarkets like you mentioned, society is faced with it on an everyday basis. With this it is even more saddening that these binaries are taking place all over the world like you mentioned within Sexile, but also in Transing and Transpassing across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran. In class when we watched the quick film where a transwomen is being called out by a fellow transwomen for her appearance, we see the set standard for female appearance within the country and how as a female it is disrespectful to not oblige by the set status quo. This “status quo” however has been placed among society through older generations who have placed these standards among the youth just as you have mentioned parents reinforcing gender roles and appearance from a very young age. These enforcements start at a young age and lead to the assumptions that then reflect their gender expression throughout their lifetime. When there are only choices A and B and nothing out of those set of binaries there’s a sense of conformity to identify as one or the other, leaving those who don’t identify with these set constructs looked down upon within society. As gender being set at birth, around the world people grow up with the mind set that they must conform and maintain their reputation of male or female, because of government, and social pressure. Within the trans community in Iran the government has given support to surgeries so they maintaining of male and female stays restored. In conclusion as outlined within your response, gender is a constant structure of set standards that society has inflicted upon around the world.

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