Why I Do Not Use “Gender Variant”

If one views “gender” as a social construct that has varied a great deal across time and in various cultures rather than as some form of unvarying absolute truth, a binary of one or zero, black or white then the very idea of “gender variant” is patently absurd.

It has become a force of faith based reactionary thinking to assert that there is such a thing as an essentialist based gender binary that one can be a variant of.

I’m an atheist and a secular humanist, and a whole hearted skeptic  when it comes to ideas that seem to have as a core the reificattion of women as members of the second sex, inferior and less human than men.

It seems as though the bulk of bullshit about gender does just that and is in fact an end run around much of second wave feminist theory that attacked the validity of sex roles in the early 1970s.

I read a recent post on on Transgender News, one of the mailing lists I am on that feeds me articles and ideas that I use to develop posts for this blog.  Meryl Sizemore posted the following, “[Style] [USA] Long Hair on Little Boys: Right or Wrong?”  To read article go to:  http://www.stylelist.com/2010/04/19/long-haired-boys/.

Naturally this article started me sputtering like an impression of Lewis Black, “What the Fuck? What the Fuck?” What ever happened to the feminist idea behind, “Free to be You,  Free to be Me”?

It is as though the George Rekers with their perverted religiosity and homophobia have started dictating a program of indoctrination of absolutes of masculinity and absolutes of femininity as a homophobic and transphobic method to prevent the development of LGBT/T folks.

The abject failure of this indoctrination should be obvious.  Leading reaparative therapist Charles Socarides and one of the founding fathers of groups like NARTH had a gay son that he was unable to cure.  Phyllis Schlafly, ultra right wing traitor to women and embracer of the idea that women should love the roles she so obviousl did not embrace for herself raised a gay son who is alleged to be a leather queen.  Tim and Beverly LaHaye, right wing religious con artists and peddlers of schlocky apocalyptic rapture bunny fiction have a gay son.

Schlafly’s gay boy and LaHaye’s gay boy are leaders of Concerned Women of America.  A supposed institute of women that doesn’t trust women enough to run it, part of the vast right wing corporations that peddle their neo-Nazi crap along with their Ayn Rand bullshit.

All these organization believe that gender defines who is a “real man” and who is a “real woman”.

But the reality is that the “gender binary” exists mainly as a tool of sexist indoctrination in the ideal of male superiority and female as object.

Hence the childhood indoctrination into strict sex roles and the panic regarding same sex marriage.

Yes same sex marriage is a threat to the idea of marriage that consists of a male head of the household and his wife as same sex marriage makes a case for marriage of equals.

In truth gender is not an absolute set of traits that one can be a variant of.  We abuse the very idea of what transsexualism is when we speak in terms of gender identity.  What we actually mean is core sex identity.  That which tells us what sex we are.  It is not a new concepts although Julia Serano named it that.

To me gender identity seems more about the various shades of masculinity and femininity than about being male or female.  When one starts analyzing oneself and one’s traits we find most people are shades of masculinity and femininity, which is to say that no one actually fits into any sort of gender binary.  If the very idea of there being a 100% masculine or 100% femenine is a fiction then how can there be a gender binary?

And if there is no gender binary how can one be a variant?  Doesn’t that make everyone a variant?

8 Responses to “Why I Do Not Use “Gender Variant””

  1. tinagrrl Says:

    Well, if EVERYONE is variant, just think how much money all the various “life coaches”, various and sundry shrinks, and those selling everything from soup to nuts, soap to shorts, can make by “branding” crap as REALLY “masculine” or “feminine”.

    If we must ALL fit into a specific, yet constantly moving, little box called masculine or feminine, we will ALL need Counseling (with a capital ‘C’).

    For that reason, I never “changed my gender” — I changed my SEX, and allowed myself to be ME.

    • Suzan Says:

      I remember one of those strange headlines in a spread in Vogue Magazine in the mid 1970s when many women were going bra-less. Something to the effect of “New for Fall The New Feminine Bras”. WTF? Aren’t all bras by their very nature “feminine”?

  2. justsayin' Says:

    Some people I have known over the years seek to be outside the box, they thrive in the role of ‘other’. It is part of their id that they are abnormal and bizare in some fashion. Personaly that is so not my cup of tea.
    By dismissing the concept of ‘normal’ are we not disenfranchizing the intentionaly odd of their identity?
    It makes no diferance what we think, society has desided that there is such a thing as normal. The nature of the belief model enables said concept to reality, as it is what is percieved by the majority.
    Normal to me, is an ideal that many (most) seek to attain.
    Me I feel normal. I am a standard run of the mill late in life MTF. Nothing odd at all. I am so patheticaly meeting the standard norm (exception no children) that it brings on a feeling of normalization. Before I started transition I felt abnormal. But now that I know that I am rather a comon creature in my peer group I see I am normal.

    My gender is normal now. Before it was not.
    We must alow for the concept of normal. Some people rely on the construct as a tool for personal growth.

    PS: good article made me think.

    • Suzan Says:

      My gender has always been a mixture of things; some masculine, some feminine. What changed was my sex. Before I was considered a sissy hippie boy and now I’m considered a dyke commie hippie old woman. But there has always been a combination of traits and interests.

      Like being able to build a computer and cook a meal. ETC. I’m not boxed in a misogynistic role.

  3. Andrea B. Says:

    I don’t get all this gender this, gender that stuff.

    The whole identification thing makes no sense to me at all.

    No one identifies me by what I do, dress or how I act, except other TS people and a bunch of demented perverts called psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers, priests, nuns and popes.

    All I know is this.

    I am me.

  4. Riki Says:

    ‘ the reality is that the “gender binary” exists mainly as a tool of sexist indoctrination in the ideal of male superiority and female as object.’ – yes, yes, yes.
    I absolutely agree that the ‘gender binary’ is “ideological” – that it exists as a set of ideas that serves the interests of the rich white men who run the world.
    Unfortunately that ideology has big real world effects – eg try to buy a t-shirt for a 5 year old that is not either a pink princess or a blue thug – or as in your cited article about hair length.
    However I think the idea of gender variance is quite useful – precisely because we are all gender variants – nobody actually fits the idealised picture of the religious bigots. So when a ‘gender variance ‘ model is counterposed to a ‘gender binary’ model it is trying to say that people exist on a continuum, or spectrum, or can have both masculine and feminine characteristics etc. As an attempt to undermine that dichotomous approach, i think it is valuable. It is a bit like Hirschfeld’s almost 100 year old idea of ‘sexual intermediaries’ – where every individual has a unique combination of ‘manly and womanly characteristics’ in his terms – although his approach was much more biologically based, where most of the gender studies approaches to gender variance are social constructionist.

    Bras – I think there are “man bras” now, for obese men who want to flatten out their B or C-cup breasts so they are not visible! – so maybe they do need to advertise their bras as feminine.

    ‘sex identity’ – Milton Diamond distinguishes ‘sexual identity’ as body based from ‘gender identity’ as social interaction based since at least 1982 – see his website.

    • Suzan Says:

      Actually it is quite easy to avoid the pink princess or blue thug t-shirt for your five year old if you have sufficient political consciousness

      Hirschfeld and diamond are both totally irrelevant to me. I don’t waste my time on the thinking of either of them. I’d rather read Emma Goldman or Simone de Beauvoir or Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein etc.

      Julia Serano, Viviane Namaste and Jay Prosser offer more that is relevant than any person whose life has not been touched by transsexualism or transgenderism possibly could.

      But mostly I do not bother reading men regarding gender and sexism. Being male causes them to be misogynistic either consciously or not. It goes with the terratory. Mlae privilege like white skin privilege or class privilege is like that.

  5. tinagrrl Says:

    “Gender” —- grrrrrr!!

    Nothing angers me as much as all the fuss some folks make over “gender”.

    First, a little story: Very soon after my SRS, while I was still eith the woman who tossed me away, I asked her if she noticed any major changes in me. I was still very insecure, very worried about acceptance, being “read”, and all the other stuff that will make some new post-ops very insecure.

    Her response was: ” You are exactly the same —- it just fits better.”

    “It just fits better” should be impressed on everyone who talks about “changing gender”. We change our SEX, not our gender.

    We might allow some previously suppressed aspects of our personality emerge. We might even indulge ourselves with some very “feminine” displays — clothing, makeup, etc. — but, after some time passes, we will “settle in”, and allow our “true selves” to emerge.

    Usually everyone’s “gender expression” is a mix of what we call male and female traits. No one is “purely” one or the other.

    I suspect that’s why so many men are so conflicted, so mean, so clueless — they are trying too hard to be “masculine” — the poor babies.

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