Now that we have the basic terms, we can begin to categorize people according to where they are on gender, gender identity, biologic-sex....
HOLD IT! There are a lot of problems with categorizing people:
1) Vague & Arbitrary Boundaries: Both gender & biologic-sex are ranges with infinite variety. It's always dangerous to translate a continuum into a limited number of blocks. Individuals on the border between two categories have characteristics of both. Assignment to one of them is arbitrary and misleading.
2) Diversity Within a Category: In other words, people within a single category are diverse. A certain trait might apply to some, but not to others. And many individuals in one category have traits that are characteristic of a completely different category.
Categories are only vague generalities that simplify conversation.
3) Descriptive, not Directive: Assignment to a category must begin with an assessment of the individual, followed by placement into a best-fit category. Outside authorities must not first assign an individual to a category, and then force them to conform to the attributes of the category. For example, it's inappropriate to declare that someone is a woman, and then expect them to wear dresses and like dolls.
"Non-conforming" indicates that the individual has been incorrectly categorized. It does not mean they are "abnormal" or "mentally ill".
ANDROGYNE: Someone whose gender is an equal blend of both female & male personality traits. The terms “butch” and “tomboy” have been used in the past. Currently used terms include "gender queer" or "gender variant." ...Although an androgynous person's personality is neither queer nor variant.
CROSSDRESSER: Someone who alternates between totally female and totally male gender expression. A male crossdresser spends most of his time as a man: he looks like a man, acts like a man, has the same interests as other men, and he has male friends. However, on a couple of days or hours each month, he adopts a female appearance, has female friends, and enjoys female activities.
INTERSEXUAL: A person with an "uncommon" biologic-sex. ...There might be extra or missing chromosomes, or maybe gene mutations, high or low hormone levels, or countless other possibities. As scientific understanding has advanced, it turns out everyone has something unusual about their biology. Within the general population, as many as 1 in 10 qualifies as being "intersexual".
Further complicating the problem, it turns out that most people with biologic diversity have no symptoms. An individual may get married, have children, and seem to be just like everyone else. ...Until a medical test happens to be done for some unrelated problem and -- oops! -- a man's chromosomes may not be XY, a uterus may be hiding in his abdomen, a man may have a female leg, or whatever.
TRANSSEXUAL: Someone who was forced to adopt wrong-gender expression in early childhood. For example, a 2-year old girl may be forced to pretend to be a boy, just because she happened to be born with a penis.
Pretending to be the wrong gender always causes great personal distress. Inevitably at some point, the individual won't be able to bear the pain any longer. So they transition from wrong-gender expression to right-gender expression. Depending on circumstances, the transitioning process may include hormones and/or surgery. Transsexual women have different needs and face different challenges compared to transsexual men. The word "transman" is generally used for the latter, to highlight those differences.
TRANSGENDER: A category that includes androgynous people, crossdressers and transsexuals. These three sub-categories have little in common with each other. The people in each sub-category have completely different needs and issues. As a result, the term "transgender" has become a primary source of confusion, misdiagnosis and discrimination.
Many people mistakenly believe that the word "transgender" refers to transsexuals only. Others apply the term to androgynous people, completely ignoring the needs of crossdressers and transsexuals. Almost everyone ignores the existence of crossdressers altogether. ...And there are some who include drag queens and female impersonators, even though the performers only wear a dress for a few hours at the club. They dress for entertainment, and it has nothing to do with their gender.
A policy that might be appropriate for one sub-category (eg, unisex restrooms for androgynous people) may be harmful for another sub-category (unisex restrooms out and belittle transsexuals.)
Words determine attitudes
GENDER EXPRESSION: Gender Expression is how a person looks and acts. It's whether hair is grown long or cut short, skirts or pants, make-up, hobbies & activities, and so on. Gender Expression is a form of communication: it tells other people whether you're female, male or somewhere else on the gender spectrum. One glance and bystanders know whether or not they should invite you on a date, hold the door open for you, or ask about the Superbowl score. However, Gender Expression may or may not be "honest":
RIGHT-GENDER EXPRESSION means that outside appearance matches inner soul. Innate gender personality traits can be freely explored and expressed -- which brings joy and fulfillment.
WRONG-GENDER EXPRESSION means that outside appearance does NOT match inner soul.
Occasionally, parents force their young girl to pretend to be a boy. They threaten, hold her down, cut her hair short, dress her in pants, and demand that she like trucks instead of dolls. Or a boy might be given a doll and forced to wear a dress. Wrong-gender expression always causes great distress for the individual -- too often leading to suicide.
SEX: Sex refers to biology: chromosomes, hormones, genitals, gonads, chest development, hair distribution, body fat distribution, physiology, neuroanatomy, and so on. Biology is only loosely & indirectly linked to whether a person is female, male or androgynous. Some women are born with a penis, and some men have a vagina. A woman remains a woman after a total hysterectomy. A man remains a man even after a groin injury or prostate cancer.
GENDER TRINITY: (Also known as "Third Sex") One third of the human population doesn't fit into the Gender Binary. Some "Gender Experts" have recommended that a Third Sex be "constructed", to include all the Binary rejects. The only characteristic Third Sex people would have in common is that they "don't conform" -- ie, Not-Male & Not-Female.
Gender Trinity doesn't do away with the Binary, it enhances it.
The "Third Sex" approach has been legally proclaimed throughout Southern Asia & Japan, England & Australia, Germany ...And even Oregon. Passports, driver's licenses, voting cards and other ID documents mark the holder as being "Third Sex". Unfortunately, Third Sex people have only limited rights or protections in the country of issue, and no rights in many other countries -- because existing laws & procedures refer only to "Male" & "Female", not "other".
MENTAL ILLNESS: (Also known as "Gender Identity Disorder" or "Gender Dysphoria".) An alternative to Gender Trinity. Instead of creating a wastebasket gender, Binary rejects are labeled "mentally ill", even though no actual defect in mental processing has ever been identified. The Mental Illness Myth allows more discrimination and violence than the Gender Trinity Myth.
GENDER IDENTITY: Gender identity is who you are. Everyone is born fully aware of whether they're female, male, or a mixture of both. Gender identity lasts a lifetime. It never changes.
GENDER: Gender is one aspect of a person's personality. Everyone is born with a set of core personality traits -- their own unique blend of gifts, challenges, needs and insights. This mixture of core traits, perspectives and mental processes is present at birth and continues throughout life.
Due to differences in brain construction and communication paths, it's possible to list a group of personality traits & characteristic brain processes that can be categorized as "FEMALE", because people with structurally Female brains almost always have those traits.
Likewise, a "MALE" has Male brain structure and corresponding Male personality traits & thought processes. (For more about brain structure, go HERE.)
Note that not everyone with a Male brain has a penis; and not everyone with a penis has a Male brain.
And relatively few people have ALL male personality traits. The vast majority of people have a mixture of both male & female personality traits. An "Androgynous person" has an equal mixture of both female and male traits.
"Psychoanalytic theories are something like a cult, if not a religion, and are often quite incomprehensible to ordinary clinicians. To them, their explanations and analyses many times appear far-fetched, even absurd, in spite of their often intriguing and sometimes poetic quality."
-- Dr Harry Benjamin, The Transsexual Phenomenon, Julian Press (1966) p 32
Strange Terms That Commonly Appear
The following terms pop up everywhere in conversations and on the internet, but they're vague and misleading:
QUEER (or GENDER QUEER): Another word for Androgynous, highlighting the idea that androgynous people don't "conform" to a strict gender binary of either total-Males or total-Females. Being different means they're "Queer" -- intended to be derogatory. Not only that, refusing to "conform" is obviously an intentional act of defiance.
So the gender rebels have proudly adopted the word "Queer" to show the gender police that they'll flaunt the stereotypes and dress however they want.
Of course, being androgynous isn't queer at all.
QUESTIONING (or GENDER QUESTIONING, GENDER CONFUSION): When a child is born, they're "assigned" to be a boy or a girl. Society expects them to acquire all the stereotypes associated with their "assignment".
At some point, one third of the population look in the mirror and say, I'm not what you say I am. Those individuals embark on a quest to discover where they fall on the gender spectrum, and to find out how to communicate their true inner self.
During that quest, it could be said that they're "questioning" their "assigned gender", while they're "confused" about their true gender. Of course ALL children go through a "gender exploration" phase between 4 - 10 years of age, and nobody says they're "questioning" or "confused".
The Gender Police attempt to block exploration outside the binary, which may slow down the process. Widespread misinformation about gender doesn't help either. But ultimately everyone eventually discovers who they truly are.
"Questioning" or "confusion" might describe a phase of normal gender exploration, but it's certainly NOT a gender category per se.
The New Gender Paradigm
There's a vast literature that tries to explain how trans people can become so "abnormal". ...And how to rid the earth of them. It's revealing that no theory has ever concluded that transsexuals are simply a part of normal human diversity -- or that it's okay to improve their quality of life.
Here's an overview of the myths that are the foundation of today's "Gender Studies". Of necessity, they're sufficiently contradictory and confusing so they can be used to justify even the most absurd claims:
THE HOLY BINARY: This is the starting point. At some point in the early 20th century, someone proclaimed that humans come in only two flavors: Male and Female. Every Male is an exact clone of all the others: They have identical biology. They have the same strengths, weaknesses, desires, interests and perspectives. Similarly, all Females are the same and are all destined to play the same roles in society.
SOCIAL CONSTRUCT: As in: "Gender is a 'Social Construct'". Supposedly every human has been born genderless -- no baby boys; no baby girls. The myth criticizes misguided stone age social leaders invented a way to arbitrarily categorize people and called it "Gender". Half the population was labeled "Male" and were brainwashed to follow an arbitrary set of stereotypes. The other half became "Females", with their own set of stereotypes.
Sociologists claimed to be the masters of the whole system. They could choose how many genders they wanted, and they made up the stereotypes. They directed the brainwashing program. They could "deconstruct" the old gender system (throw out the Binary), then reconstruct a new one.
During the 1960's and 1970's, the theory was put into action. Hundreds of baby boys were turned into girls. Except, ten years later it was glaringly obvious that those children remained boys, in spite of everything the sociologists could do.
In spite of the colossal failure, Social Construct remains the basis of psychology, sociology and anthropology.
GENDER MONOTONY: A "Social Construct" with only one gender. About one-third of the human population is androgynous. -- They don't fit into the "Male" or "Female" categories of the Binary, and they resent society's efforts to force them to conform.
For them, the best solution would be to get rid of the Binary altogether: No gender. No indoctrination. No stereotypes. Everyone exactly the same as everyone else.
Monotony shifts the wrong-gender distressandrogynous people endure onto the shoulders of the people who are comfortable in the classic "Male" and "Female" roles. After the Gender Monotony reformation, Males & Females will have wrong-gender distress.
BODY IMAGE: Body image is how you perceive your body. It's the biologic aspect of gender expression. Each person carries an image of what the body of a female, male or androgynous person should look like. For example, some people think the epitome of femininity is breast size. Others focus on an idealized genital appearance. Masculinity might be measured by beard and body hair, but many insist on a muscular build instead. Hairy chest or smooth chest?
Body image emerges from a person's values and experiences. Pre-op transsexuals are distressed by not having a body that fits the body image of their innate gender identity. As a result, medical transitioning must focus on improving the match. ...Guided by the patient's body image, not the doctor's.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Someone's selection of a romantic partner. It's a compromise between...
(1) SEXUAL ATTRACTION What turns you on? (It's Innate, can't be coerced, but may change over a long period)
(2) RELATIONSHIPS Whom do you Love -- earnestly & deeply, with total trust? For whom you're willing to sacrifice everything? (Falling in love depends on where you are, whom you meet, and what your current needs are.)
(3)INTERCOURSE PATTERNS How often? With total strangers? Fantasies? Positions? (Physical needs change from time to time, depending a lot on past experiences. Fulfilling those needs depends on mood and current opportunities.)
With so many variables, the concept of "sexual orientation" is meaningless. For example, 18th century sailors might have intercourse with each other during the months at sea, all the while dreaming of the woman he'll meet when the ship finally reaches port. Some experts call that "sexual fluidity". I call it opportunity and compromise.
Usually a religious leader, social scientist, or a morality enforcer will fixate on one behavior (such as arousal by pornography) and judge all people by that behavior. ...So they can label a man a "homosexual" even though he's never actually had any sexual activity with another man.
Note that sexual orientation has nothing to do with a person's gender (personality) or their biologic sex.
That is, transsexuality is NOT part of being "gay".
Most Transgender people are NOT Transsexuals. ...But term ambiguity allows researchers to distort their findings to promote transphobia. They study transgender people who are NOT transsexuals, but they use those results to determine transsexualpolicy.
Most policies of trans discrimination & harassment can be traced to some kind of verbal abuse.
The study of Gender involves the use of terminology that must be given a very explicit unchangeable meaning, if it is to be any use to anyone outside the ivory tower specialty cults. Unfortunately, "experts" use commonplace terms (like "sex" and "gender") but with a very different meaning compared to how mainstream society understands them. As a result, the audience can't understand what the expert is saying. The result has been a widespread misunderstanding about how human sexuality works.
By necessity, the study of Gender and Transsexuality must begin with a dictionary. In this list, care has been taken so that each term is unique & precise. Always be careful to use words so that their meaning is clear and consistent. And ask questions whenever a writer or speaker dances from one definition to another for the same word.
One day, the gender community should start working from only one sheet of music.
AUTOGYNEPHILIA: Many mental health professionals believe that all transsexuals fall into one of only two categories: (1) Autogynephilia: A person who is all-Male in both gender and biology. Except he can't find anyone to go with him on a date. So he decides to put on a dress and go out with himself. It works out so well, that he falls passionately in love with his female self. He's so enamored, he undergoes surgery to become his female self.
HOMOSEXUAL TRANSSEXUAL: (2) The other imaginary category of transsexuals. An all-Male individual is born gay, and he feels intensely guilty about his "deviant" or "sinful" sexual orientation. So he transforms himself into a woman, so he can legitimately have sex with a man.
Except, wouldn't an all-male man be distressed by pretending to be a woman? And what gay man would want to become a woman?
GENDER ASSIGNMENT: The Social Construct Myth includes a belief that doctors and experts can give a baby any gender they want. Any baby who disobeys their "Assignment" ruling is at least Abnormal, but may even be insane.
"I IDENTIFY AS": In this myth, gender is self-assigned rather than having an expert do it. The individual merely announces, "I identify as a ______." (Fill in the blank: man, woman, androgyne, crossdresser, intersexual, transgender, queer, or whatever.") No supporting evidence is necessary. Everyone else is required to accept the announcement without question.
The Gender Fluidity Doctrine adds that the individual may change their self-designation at any time: They may choose to be a male at 9 am, a female at noon, and an intersexual at 6 pm.
At this point, Gender Theory has become so absurd and out of contact with reality that only devoted extremists actually believe in it.
When the genitals fail to do their magic, the individual is supposedly at fault (due to sin, mental illness, rebellion, etc.)
NON-CONFORMING: Most "experts" accuse transsexuals of "not conforming to their gender assignment" -- as if transsexuality were merely a form of childish protest and social rebellion.
GENDER EXPANSIVE: Since being transgender is NOT an act of rebellion, "Gender Expansive" has been suggested as a replacement for "Non-Conforming". I assume that gender is "expanding" to include people who don't fall into the "Female" and "Male" binary system.
© Cassandra Branch 2016
OUTING: For gays, a public announcement of individual sexual preferences. For transsexuals, public disclosure of an individual's medical information. In a hostile society, discrimination, harassment & violence inevitably result from the disclosure. The person doing the outing is the sponsor of the destruction that ensues. For an example, go HERE.
PASS: A person's ability to appear in public without being recognized as transgender. "Passing well" is the holy grail of crossdressers and transsexuals. It's necessary for survival in a hostile society. A wide variety of training and medical interventions are available to improve an individual's ability to pass. Outing destroys a person's ability to pass.
REGRETTER: An individual who undergoes medical transitioning, but afterward realizes that they've made a mistake. Regret may result from an incorrect diagnosis, unfounded expectations, continued distress, lack of social support, or from medical complications. Regret is given as the justification for providing poor medical care to transsexuals.
STEALTH: A person who passes well can disappear into mainstream society -- or, "go stealth". No one is aware of their medical history or status. Of course, outing destroys a person's ability to "go stealth" -- often permanently.
TRANSITION: Transitioning is the process of moving from wrong-gender expression to right-gender expression. The process may include any or all of the following -- depending on circumstances and individual needs: adoption of stereotype (clothes, mannerisms, lifestyle, etc); hormone treatment; surgery; legal document change; etc.
TRANSITIONING STAGES: The journey from wrong-gender to right-gender doesn't occur all at once. Transsexuals go through stages of self-discovery and self-expression. And the endpoint differs from person to person. Because of differences in social acceptance, transsexual women go through different stages compared to transmen. For transsexual women, go HERE. For transmen, go HERE.
TRANSPHOBIA: An irrational fear of or hatred for transsexuals. It may result from individual preconceptions, a lack of understanding, or insecurity. It may also be a political ploy to distract or transfer anger & frustration onto a visible (innocent) target.