Monday, July 28, 2014

TIMEs are changing...

I recently took a college course at UW Tacoma criticizing media, where one of our discussions was about the invisible battle going on in our society for transgendered individuals. Watching the film "Boys Don't Cry" for a sex & gender in film class opened my eyes to the disturbing attitude our society has towards people who have done nothing wrong, and you would be hard pressed to find any individual, gay or straight, who feels completely comfortable in their own skin.

Time magazine recently featured the very first transgender person on their cover, Laverne Cox, with the headline The Transgender Tipping Point. Although this is a great step forward for understanding and accepting transgender individuals in society, it barely grazes the surface of the issue.

My husband is not ignorant. He considers himself to be open-minded when it comes to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. But when a story about a person undergoing a sex-change operation, his mind closes right up. He is quick to judge if the man "makes an ugly chick" or "how weird/gross" the whole thing is. He also continued to call the individual "he" even though she was living as a woman and had undergone surgery to become one.

A woman who becomes a man is entertaining on television, but a man who becomes a woman is a deep threat to masculinity. It seems that as a straight man, being attracted to someone without knowing that they were not born female was a humiliating experience. A friend of my husband had something similar happen on an online dating site and is still being teased about it at work; it comes too close to the line of being homosexual, especially in a workplace that is entirely male in the department they work at.

I was quick to correct my husband and remind him that it is politically correct, and more respectful, to use the gendered pronoun that the person is living by, regardless of the gender they were born. . I referenced what I had learned in my UWT course, explaining that ‘sex’ referred to the biological gender we were born with but ‘gender’ was how we identified with. Most newspapers and magazines, including Time, follow this format as well.

What the media often fails to pick up on are the hate crimes aimed toward transgender people often by heterosexual males who feel threatened by this gray area between what is male or female. Although our society has made wonderful advancements in the LGB portion of LGBT, we have a long way to go before transgender individuals are accepted. Maybe a Time magazine cover will someday feature a transgender man or woman with a headline announcing their accomplishments as a person, not because of their sex/gender/lifestyle choices.

1 comment:

  1. Thank your for your post! I think that issues related to the trans community are often challenging to discuss, particularly for those of us who identify with the gender which we were assigned at birth. You talk about the "gray area between what is male or female" and I think many of us would be surprised to discover that biological sex is all a gray area.
    I worked for several years in a urology office. The variation in the physical and genetic presentations of male and female is great. There are some individuals that are born with a mismatch between how we identify their external characteristics and what we understand their phenotypic sex to be. Even with individuals whose physical bodies are considered a match to their genetic predisposition there can be great variation. The physical manifestation of sex characteristics is a very broad spectrum and many times individuals display characteristics associated with the other sex (for example facial hair on women or breast tissue on men) while we still recognize them as a particular sex based on other characteristics. Once we are able to recognize that our categorization of individuals into 2 boxes is somewhat arbitrary, perhaps we can better accept those who do not feel that their physical bodies represent their inner selves.