Unless you live under a rock, you have probably noticed that the topics of transgender and transsexual have made their way to the forefront of social and political conversation. What I have noticed is many people weighing in on the conversation are proving themselves to be ignorant by using terms in the wrong context. I am not talking about political or social correctness. I am talking about a lack of education on the difference in the terms people use to argue their viewpoint. If you want to prove a point you need to use words in the proper context otherwise your arguement is ultimately invalid.
Contrary to what the first definition of your google search spits out to you, gender and sex are not synonymous. Man and woman is different than male and female.
I am not making this up. Open a sociology or psychology book and read the definition of gender. Open a biology book and read the definition of sex.
Your sex refers to the biological external anatomy you are born with, male or female. Gender is used in reference to the social and cultural attributes associated with men or women.
You can not use gender as a biological explanation for social and cultural differences.
Imagine having the ability to start your own civilization on an island where no one has any recollection of past social norms or gender roles except for you. You have the power to define social and cultural norms for your society. You decide that men will clean and stay home with the baby. You decide clothing companies will advertise dresses to men. You decide the norm for womens “business casual” is a pant suit with a tie. Football is now targeting a mostly women audience. Cheerleading is a sport for men. Anyone who does the opposite is criticized for straying from the norm.
So now you have this society where people who wear dresses and makeup and participate in cheerleading are men. In your mind all of these things line up with your previous social construct of a woman. So is the person a man or a woman?
My point is to prove genders are just social constructs we give definition to. There is no scientific basis for what a man or a woman should be. Sex, on the other hand, does have a scientific basis. Depending on your chromosomes you are either a female or a male. Obviously you cannot naturally change your biological sex. However, wearing make-up, drinking wine, cooking, cleaning, being a nanny, wearing dresses or high heels, none of the things associated with being a woman, change your biological sex. Even if they are done by a man. Unfortunately, society has created a misconception that depending on whether you were born with a vagina or penis you are supposed to fulfill certain roles and enjoy certain things. A female should participate in the things we’ve sorted into the box for women and a male should enjoy the things from the box we labeled men.
If we didn’t group people into socially constructed boxes transgender would not exist. If we didn’t label things as though they were more fit for the interest of a woman or a man people wouldn’t feel like they align more with the opposite gender. Gender wouldn’t exist. It would be just as normal for a male to wear make up as it is for a female and WHY WOULD THAT BE SO WRONG? They are still a male, they still have a penis, it does not make them any less of a male. There just wouldn’t be social constructs making them feel bad about the things they have interest in as if they should be a woman instead. No one would have any reason to identify as a woman or a man and everyone could do as they pleased without other people worrying whether their actions lined up with A TOTALLY MADE UP CONCEPT.
Humans love to dichotomize things. Black or white, man or woman, rich or poor, day or night, winners or losers, dead or alive. The popular cliche “theres two sides to every story”. Our brain is kind of hardwired to simplify complex situations into two choices. It makes decisions easier. Humans are complex creatures. To reduce ourselves and everything around us to either ‘this’ or ‘that’ is to miss out on a world of variation and possibility and uniqueness. Just because someone decided certain things were the norm does not mean it is truth or absolute or even right. Its okay not to participate in follow the leader.
In most conversations regarding the topic, mental illness is mentioned. I’m not sure I’m convinced this is a mental illness at all. It seems to me transgenderism is a product of a society with dichotomized expectations for a very complex species. Like I said, if we had never created certain roles labeled as women or men, the problem would not exist.
High suicide rates are also almost always mentioned. This is not because these people are mentally ill, this is another product of how our society choses to function.
Up until the last 200 or 300 years people lived in much smaller closer knit communities. Humans are biologically programed to feel safe and happy in environments where they are part of a small group and have a sense of belonging. It gives us a feeling of worth. Now, we live in a world where its very easy to feel disconnected because there is an excess of individualism to which we have not yet adapted. On top of that, those in the transgender community are ridiculed for not adhering to social constructs and so they do not integrate into society well. They feel a detachment from society and eventually a detachment to life which results in suicide. Being part of a society where you have support and are accepted gives meaning to life, that is part of human nature.