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.