Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Is Your Gender?

There's been a lot out there in the media about track and field athlete Caster Semanya and is she female or male and what the testing has declared and what the consequences might be and so on. Gender identity. There is a show airing on the National Geographic channel tonight- an episode of their show "Explorer." It's titled "Sex, Lies, and Gender." I am often fascinated by the role of gender in our society. I have female genitalia and a female reproductive system. Therefore, I am a woman. What does that even mean? What if I was born with a uterus and ovaries and testes? What if I was born with female parts but truly believed I was supposed to be a man? What happens when your body doesn't match your mind? And is it just in your mind? Or is it more than that? Part of your genetic make up that isn't clearly defined? How does masculinity or femininity play into it? I am female but I am really not very feminine. But I'm not masculine either. Here are some facts listed on the NatGeo website about Gender: WHAT IS GENDER? There are boys... and there are girls. For millions of people these basic categories of gender don’t mesh with their reality. Learn more about gender differences around the world with these facts: The word "transgender" refers to a person whose sexuality cannot be defined as male or female, as well as a person who presents themselves as the opposite sex. In 1952, Christine Jorgensen was the first person to undergo a successful sex-change operation. Intersex status is highly valued in Navajo culture, which recognizes three sexes: intersex individuals, males, and females. The major groups of vertebrates include species that are solely female. Anthropologists commonly refer to people in various cultures who exhibit behavioral and aesthetic tendencies of the opposite gender as “two-spirited.” The word “androgyny” is a combination of Greek words for man (andros) and woman (gynaika). Androgyny first emerged in the U.S. among homosexuals during the 1970s and quickly moved into the mainstream by the 1980s. Some icons who defied gender stereotypes include: Annie Lennox, Boy George, David Bowie, and Sinead O’Connor. Studies indicate 74% of transgender youth in America have been sexually harassed at school and 33.2% have attempted suicide. The transgender population in America experiences up to 60% unemployment. Within North Piegan populations, some women who exhibit characteristics typically attributed to men such as aggression are called, “manly-hearts,” though they are physically female. In some places in Africa “woman-marriage” is a practice where two women marry each other and one assumes the cultural status of a man. In Moha, Hungary, there is a ritual called the “chicken kill” in which young men disguised as women travel from house to house. *** Fascinating stuff! Really gets me eager to see the show tonight. I hope you will tune in and share your thoughts. If I don't watch it tonight, I am recording it so I will watch it soon.

4 comments:

Flartus said...

I love hearing about cultures that aren't so fixed in their gender roles and relations. It helps to moderate the Puritanical strictness of this country by putting it into a global context.

Teacher Tom said...

I'll probably miss the show (given my habit of falling asleep as soon as the TV is on) but I find this interesting as well.

I always say that any sentence that begins with the words, "Women are . . ." or "Men are . . ." is a false statement.

Jackie E. said...

I recently wrote a blog on the whole Caster Semenya fiasco. I found your post very interesting and enlightening. It really and truly is a combination of nature and nurture in my opinion and God does NOT make mistakes. Who am I to judge anyone? So I choose not to...

Lori D said...

As a post-transitioned transgender woman, I found the story on National Geographic compelling, especially the piece about the young trans girl named Josie. I love when shows like this present the facts and really educate people while telling a heartwarming story. I encouraged my own family all around the country to watch...we'll see if they did.