I’ve decided to make a place where people can have someone say a few sentences about them using their proper pronouns, because I bet there’s a lot of people who don’t often get to hear themselves discussed using the correct pronouns.
I’m not writing a novel, so it’s not…
Click image to view larger.
Hey, I think it’s worth mentioning that the genderbread person was made by a heterosexual cis dude who plagiarized his sources and failed to credit the trans and queer people who had the original ideas (and, I would argue as a trans person, misunderstood what it means to be trans and/or non-binary). Here is the source for that information: http://storify.com/cisnormativity/the-genderbread-plagiarist
Also the genderbread man is bullshit. Like, I get that it’s Trans* 101 Designed For Cissexists but it’s actually bullshit.
The only thing this blasted infographic does right is separate out gender expression from gender from sexual and/or romantic orientation from assigned sex (what the fuck is “biological sex”?? but we’ll get to that in a minute)
1. Gender Identity: Gender does not exist on a sliding scale with a certain rating for “maleness” and a certain rating for “femaleness”. Gender is not binary, there are more than two options. People can be men, women, both, other, separate, everything at once. Gender can be fluid or static, gender can shift after major life events, gender can be known from birth or “discovered” in your 50s. And not all people who are neither men nor women identify as trans*. Many other cultures have different understandings of gender outside of the western gender binary (and if you’re white you don’t get to use words like two-spirit okay just don’t be that asshole).
Furthermore, gender doesn’t just exist “in your head”. Gender is a complicated multi-layered experience that I would argue is only relevant within the context of society. Gender impacts the way you relate to your family, to society, to gendered roles, to your job, to your body, to every aspect of your life. Though this is most commonly cited when trans*people respond to “not fitting” in the roles assigned to them by society, this is true of cis-people as well. Now this is not to say that all women (cis an trans*), for example, fit the stereotypical roles for women, but the existence of those roles and stereotypes certainly impacts their lives, whether they are conforming to these roles or resisting them or not thinking about them much. Same goes for men of all stripes. Nonbinary people are likewise affected, believe me.
Claiming that gender only lies within your head is belittling and dismissive. Transgression upon gender roles or stereotypes or challenging the sex and/or gender binary leads to real-world consequences for many people, from mild social sanction all the way up through violence and death.
2. Gender Expression: This would be more accurately titled “Presentation”, which is the word I use both for the combination of clothes, makeup, haircut and mannerisms that a person can control, as well as body type, facial structure, or other things a person may not be able to control. Essentially, presentation means having to do with appearance, whether that appearance is deliberately constructed or not.
While I can see where the idea presented in the infographic comes from—most presentations or means of presentation (clothes, makeup, shoes, mannerisms, etc) are in white western society coded as feminine or masculine (often neutral), this is not always the case from the perspective of the individual, and once again the two little sliding scales fail to adequately address that complexity.
Some people deliberately select modes of presentation that they feel correspond to or match their gender, or don’t. For many of these people presentation is in fact “gender expression.” This may take the form of a woman feeling most comfortable in dresses, or a woman wearing her hair short with cargo pants as an expresssion of her masculinity AND femaleness, or a man wearing his hair short, or a gender-neutral person deliberately selecting a mix of “masculine” and “feminine” clothes. Some people use presentation as a way to perform their gender and may identify more with femme than female, and some people only express their gender in a meaningful way inside their own home while wearing a cis-presenting mask outside it.
Some people deliberately eschew paying heed to the gendered nature of many presentations, or select clothes for reasons other than gender performance or expression. Some people wear skirts because they like skirts and not because they identify with the feminine-coded nature of skirts. Some people wear tight-fitting clothing because it’s comforting to do so, and some people wear jeans everywhere because they’re practical, and some people wear the uniforms designated by their jobs or professions with varying levels of (dis)comfort.
The takeaway here is that presentation may or may not have anything to do with “gender expression” and when presentation is gender expression it doesn’t always match the stereotypes associated with that gender.
3. Biological Sex: Here’s where we really hit the clusterfuck.
The thing is “biological sex” is just as much a social construct as gender (keep in mind that social constructs impact our lives in real and meaningful ways).
Sex isn’t actually binary.
There are many kariotypes (XX, XY, OX, XXX, XXY, etc.), combinations of sex hormone levels (high estrogen and low testosterone, or androgen insensitivity, or high testosterone and high estrogen, etc.), genital configurations (“penis” or “vagina” or “enlarged clitoris” etc.), and secondary sex characteristics (breasts, hair on body and/or face, fat concentrated around hips and thighs, fat concentrated on belly, etc).
You can have an XY kariotype and androgen insensitivity (so your body doesn’t respond to testosterone) and be assigned female at birth as a result.
You can be assigned female at birth and have an OX kariotype and then fail to develop “typical female” secondary sex characteristics at puberty.
You can be assigned male at birth and have such low testosterone levels that you never develop facial hair or much body hair.
The list goes on. Nearly combination of these things that you can think of occur, and they do occur, and almost all people fail to hit all the markers for “female” or “male” at some point in their life.
4. Sexual and Romantic Orientation: So we’ve seen than gender isn’t binary and sex isn’t binary either and I hope it would follow logically that being attracted to “sliding scale male” or “sliding scale female” or “sliding scale both” is kind of nonsensical.
People of any, all, or some combination of genders and body types can find people of any, all, or some combination of genders and body types attractive in a sexual or romantic fashion, and romantic and sexual orientations don’t always have to match.
The genderbread man is a gross oversimplification based on some harmful assumptions.
Gender does not exist only in your head, it impacts your entire life and has serious real-world consequences.
Presentation may or may not have anything to do with gender expression and it’s kind of asinine to assume that presentation can only exist within the context of “sliding scale feminine” and “sliding scale masculine”.
Sex is a social construct with, again, serious real-world consequences and the biology of those body-traits that can be “sexually dimorphic” is a lot more complicated than just genitals.
And romantic and sexual orientations don’t have to be related to any of the above.
but people who get all ‘think of the children!’ when you mention putting queer characters in kids shows piss me off so much
because I am thinking of the children
the queer children who are living in a world that tells them they are wrong at every turn, that denies their existence and refuses to allow them a happy ending
I’m thinking of those children
CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color is in the midst of a 41 month prison sentence for defending herself against a violent, racist and transphobic attack in Minnesota which resulted in the death of one of her attackers. Actress Laverne Cox is portraying an incarcerated trans woman in Orange is the New Black. Through a powerful in prison interview, and investigative filmmaking. This film confronts the issue of transphobia and the culture of violence surrounding trans women of color.
While we are all conveniently lumped into just four letters, there are different needs for inclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is not wrong to ask or examine LGBT organizations based on their Transgender inclusion. If they say LGBT… They should be LGBT.
And do not use the T if you are only catering to or addressing FTMs.