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Gender stereotypes traditionally classify gender binary as male or female based on genitalia. However, the perception that gender is dictated by genetic biology is unfair and certain groups of people are unhappy or upset because of the incongruence between the gender-signifying sections of their body. These people are transgender. Transgender is a broad word that refers to those who are born male or female but grow up with a gender identity that differs from the gender given to them at birth. Susan Stryker, the author and a transgender transitioned from being a man to being a woman, explains in her book Transgender History that the concept of transgender is relatively new to the world and society has treated transgender individuals as social queers who have deviated from the normal standard and behavior of gender (Skryker 2). In this sense, society tends to be organized in a way that favors the genders that fit into the normal discursive and ignores conceptualizing transgender as another gender discourse. Consequently, many transgender spend their lifetime struggling with the desire to be accepted as either male or female corresponding to their feelings, which sometimes leads to other concerns such as anxiety and depression. As Margret Schneider, a Professor of the University of Toronto, and her team explain in the research study “Report of the APA Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance”, the feeling of dissatisfaction may be so intense to the point that leads to gender dysphoria, a condition of feeling discontented with one’s gender identity (Schneider 39). This paper discusses the challenges of coming out as transgender, the courage it takes to get out and the persecution and prejudice faced by individuals who revealed themselves as transgender.
Gender becomes something one must confess through social signifiers that may not only be interpreted within the existing social order. In “Coming out and Crossing over: Identity Formation and Proclamation in a Transgender Community”, Patricia Gagne, Richard Tewksbury, and Deanna MacGaughey, describe that in western societies, gender identity was largely dictated by external genitalia which is the initial signifier of sex and other reproductive anatomy (Gagne and MacGaughey 479). Similarly, in Undoing Gender, Judith Butler, an American philosopher and gender theorist, explains that the transgendered persons are primarily affected by the perceptions that the society has against the individuals who have a transgender orientation. The society views the transgendered as people with a disorder. The argument by Butler serves to explain an adverse effect that the society has against the transgendered. Correction of genital physiology is often conducted on young transgendered individuals without their consent. The intent of the corrective surgeries is to ensure that the intersexual person either becomes a man or woman based on the genetic orientation that is preferred by the members of the society. Notably, some bisexual people are often taken into surgeries without their consent, an issue that leads to mental torture for the different individuals who are faced with the given problem (Butler 58). In “Transgender Identity at a Crossroad”, Eliabeth Reis, a Professor of the University of Oregon, highlights some key apparatuses responsible for revoking the gender binary system. On the religious ground, the Hebrew Bible claims that a woman or man who wears clothing of the opposite sex is an abomination to the Lord (Reis 656).
The framework that stifles on the social rights or any given rights is pegged on the social norms that relate to the issue of transgender. The social norms are built on given apparatus that tend to enable one to have an understanding of how the society views the transgender persons. First, the ideological state apparatus is a tool that shapes the mindset of the members of a given society into agreeing or disagreeing with some norms (Makadon 76). The way the media frames the question of the transgender persons and how they link or relate to the members of the society serves to shape the perception of the public against the transgender individuals. The arguments against the transgendered person are in line with the social norms of binary system. Media often highlights the religious, biological, psychological, and legal cases in which the transgendered persons are discriminated. In religion, being a transgendered person is viewed as an act against nature and morality. Biologically, doctors are often not content with an individual born transgendered and would recommend a corrective surgery to compel the individual to identify as a man or a woman against their consent. Psychologically, the society views the transgendered persons as the ones having a mental disorder. Legally, the transgendered have no official pronoun that can be used in their reference.
The motive of the society in imposing some norms against transgendered is explained by Butler in the article, Undoing Gender. According to Butler, the social identity and psychology of the transgender are primarily affected by the perceptions that the society have against the individuals who have a transgender orientation (58). The argument by Butler serves to explain the adverse effects that the society may have against the transgender. The motive that the society may have is to correct the genital physiology based on their view of that which is normal. Notably, some bisexual people are often taken into surgeries without their consent, an issue that leads to mental torture for the different individuals who are faced with the given problem (Butler 58). Often, the society is not ready to accept persons with different genitalia and may serve as the reason of the intersex genital mutilation that is often advanced against the heterosexuals. The perception and the motive of the society into aligning the sexuality of a given child to fit within the context of the binary sexuality further compel the heterosexuals to be viewed as specimens and not humans (Currah 55). A team of professionals often results in the professional making decision on what needs to be done to the child to fit in the line of binary beliefs such as the identity of the biological makeup, genetic and chromosomes align the child with being male or female. Such leads to the development of the view of an aesthetic version of ethics perpetuated by lack of consented by the person who needs to undertake the given medical procedure. The motive of the society does not conform to self-autonomy and is primarily driven by the social acceptance standards that tend to manipulate the members of a given social group into agreeing with the social codes and standards of the society. Coming out as transgender is a task that requires one to come out strongly and defend his or her sexuality in the society. The society is often against the progress the transgender persons based on the stereotypes and would compel the heterosexuals to commit into not engaging in any activity that is often associated with the LGBT individuals (Currah 76).
According to the Stryker, the author of the book The Transgender History, the society often views gender based on the biological makeup of a given person (5). However, the community needs to recognize that no individual has control of the biological identity and morphology that he or she has to acquire. The biological makeup of a person is often uniform and ought not to serve as a belief of discrimination that is being facilitated by the given person. The make of the society tends to favor the majority with the majority being in the position of decision making of the acts that are either accepted or rejected by the given society. Notably, the transgender persons are fewer and may not have absolute control over how the society needs to view or receive them (223). As a result, it takes an act of bravery for a heterosexual first to accept him or herself before making the bold move on enlightening the society into accepting the way in which they are wired to be or to operate. The first struggle with bravery that the heterosexuals have to encounter is the need to define the pronoun that one ought to use. For example, the heterosexuals have to decide if either one is a male or a female (Stryker 9). To many transgendered persons, coming ought and revealing that he or she is a heterosexual is, thus, an emotionally tasking decision. The social institution further compels the transgendered persons to go through an excruciating experience since some of them have to face moral condemnation for a reason to which they have no control over. Drabinski (306) asserts that the social institution compels the transgendered persons to go through an excruciating experience since some of them have to face moral condemnation for a reason to which they have no control over
According to the authors of Coming Out and Crossing Over Identity Formation and Proclamation in a Transgender Community, Gagne, Tewksbury, and McGaughey, coming out is an issue that largely affects the transgender people (478). Currently, the transgendered are coming out of the closet and accepting their status against the negative public perception. They have the autonomy and audacity to reveal their true identity and enlighten the society to accept them as they are. The increased activities of the transgendered to accept their nature challenges the binary belief of the society whereby only men and women are the recognized gender in the society. The author further establishes that coming out results when the lesbians, gays, and bisexuals have the courage of revealing their sexual identities and identifying with a given social group that is contrary to the sexual orientation that is accepted within the binary system of the society. The society has a single process of accepting people who are straight and whose gender aligns with the sexual morphology. Therefore, the transgendered tend to consider themselves as not being sexually legitimate. The feeling of illegitimacy is the primary reason for them to hide in their cocoons and subsequent failure to come out and say how they are sexually wired. The association of gender with genitalia, thus, is the notion that needs to be demystified to facilitate the transgendered persons to fit within the society (Valentine 313). Additionally, the society has the role of demystifying the pronouns for the different gender identities to further shred off the identities of the various persons in the modern-day society.
Despite the resistance that the transgendered persons are facing in the society, there is need to recognize their efforts in seeking recognition in the society. The transgendered are proud of their identity and sexual orientation. The brevity of the transgendered persons is evident in the way through which they express themselves in public and the relationships that they develop with each other. According to Lovelock (p. 5), “Transgender identities attain coherency in representational form through the extent to which groups of established and recognizable, historically and culturally specific images, discourses and epistemologies feed into one another within the text, in order to produce ‘transgender’ as a legible subject position that makes sense within a particular social and historical context.”
Additionally, some social institutions are making significant progress in providing facilities that can be well accessed by an individual from all the gender types and groups. For example, many public restrooms fit the needs of men and women and tend to isolate the other gender groups. However, the increased advocacy has led to the creation of bathrooms that match all the gender groups in some universities within the United States of America. According to Lehtonen, the human rights of given persons is often based on the capitalist system and their wealth status (243). Therefore, the need to maintain the social position of the bisexual people needs to be driven by the need for empowerment and focus on uplifting the economic status of such individuals. According to Drabinski, no one has the choice of gender and gender serves as a disciplinary apparatus in which one has to be aligned and obey (305).
In conclusion, the transgender groups are brave in coming out to the public and informing the public of their sexual orientation. In recommendation, the government and social institutions need to address the discrimination that the transgendered are facing. For example, there is need to establish a legal pronoun that needs to be used by the transgendered in signing for official documents. Additionally, there is need to pass a legislation that would compel the doctors to seek consent of the transgendered persons, including children, before mutilating their genitals in a bid to fix them into the binary system. Concisely, the brevity of the transgendered is increasingly evident in the society. However, further research needs to be conducted on how the social perceptions that undermine the rights of the transgendered could be revered to enable the society accept the transgendered persons.
Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.
Currah, Paisley. Transgender Rights. Minneapolis [u.a.: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2006. Print.
Drabinski, Kate. “Incarnate Possibilities: Female to Male Transgender Narratives and the Making of Self.” Journal of Narrative Theory. 44(2). 2014. Pp. 304-329.
Gagne, Patricia, Tewksbury, Richard and McGaughey, Deanna. “Coming Out and Crossing Over: Identity Formation and Proclamation in a Transgender Community.” Gender and Society.11 (4). 1997. Pp. 478-506.
Girshick, Lori B. Transgender Voices: Beyond Women and Men. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2008. Print.
Lehtonen, Sanna. “I’m Glad I Was Designed”: Un/Doing Gender and Class in Susan Proce’s “Odin Trilogy.” Children’s Literature in Education. 2012. Pp. 242-259.
Makadon, Harvey J. The Fenway Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians, 2008. Print.
Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. 2008. Beckley, CA.
Valentine, David. Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. Internet resource.
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