Key Term Self-Identity

This semester I ventured into the world of women gender studies but specifically transgender studies. I chose this course not because it was a part of one of the segments, but to gain more knowledge of the LGBTQ community and how individuals of this community self-identify or prefer to self-identify. Little did I know I would become extremely fascinated with the topic enough to open up to others who identify differently from the gender they were assigned at birth to further my knowledge on the subject. I must admit that I always thought of the word self-identity as one being able to freely self-identify themselves in any expression they choose, but I didn’t think there gender would change in the identification. For this blog assignment I chose the key term self-identity and two different articles that related to the key term that furthered my knowledge of what self-identity means to others.

In the article “I Know What I Am” by David Valentine discusses the notion that people who do not identify by their gender assigned at birth can be placed into at least one or two categories. Valentine conducts interviews with the girls in what he describes as the “meat market”. This is an area where many gather for multiple reasons, one major reason being prostitution. He quickly discovers that the girls in the meat market all define themselves differently ranging from fem queen to butch and they prefer not to be categorized. Valentine finds this similar to his previous encounter with Rita he writes “Like Rita (who I quoted in the introduction), Anita claims a number of different identities: gay, drag queen, man. While she did not claim to be a transsexual or a woman, she did not dispute my characterization of her as “living as a woman” (3.1) and noted that she does “everything like a woman” (3.2). In other words, being on hormones and living as a woman did not make her wither transsexual or a woman. But later in the interview, she said: “I don’t wanna go back to a man, you know,” implying that even if she is not a woman, she is no longer a man, despite her earlier assertion that “I know I’m a man” (3.3)(Valentine, 115). Valentine starts to understand that the interviewees cannot be classified into a certain category he goes on to say “In order to reach people you wish to help, you need to understand and use the categories by which they understand themselves” (Valentine, 134). This relates to our transgender studies course in multiple ways. One way is how society sees people who do not conform to the heteronormative norms and are considered being the “others” and not being represented successfully in society.

Self-identity is also mentioned in the article “Romancing the Transgender Native Rethinking the Use of the “Third Gender” concept written by Towle and Morgan. The article discusses the concept of the third gender being used to describe individuals who do not fit into the heteronormative social norms. Towle and Morgan disagree with this concept due to the fact that it is just another social construct to classify those individuals who do not fit into the gender binary and offers more limitability than heteronormativity. This article relates to our transgender studies course by redefining how society has placed numerous gender binaries on society forcing us to conform according to our assigned sex at birth. When in reality we should review our current understandings of personal identity and stop trying to force others into a certain category; the new one being third gender.