Friday, February 24, 2017
Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identityhttp://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/
by Katherine J. Wu
figures by Brad Wierbowski
The article genderates (pun) some discussion --
Allison Wunderland --
Gender is not binary.
Sex is binary — on a genetic/biological level. That said, you really should read up on intersex and how that works — on a genetic level. Gender, on the other hand, is socio-cultural. Your reading in this field might start with Anne Fausto-Sterling “Sexing the Body” and then move into Judith Butler “Gender Trouble” etc. etc. Bibliographies on both these works are a good resource for bringing yourself up to speed in the gender studies field.
Let me further note here that homosexuality used to be viewed by the APA and the DSM as pathological. DSM5, just recently revised, changes the terminology in gender ID from “disorder” to “dysphoria” . . . Transgender is not viewed as a pathology. It’s classed as a mood disorder in the anxiety/depression realm.
Dysphoria — sharing the Latin root w/ “eu-phoria” is fundamentally a mood. Moods do not necessarily correlate to some sort of neuro-pathological state (e.g. like schizophrenia, psychosis).
Gender presentation by and large is a socio-cultural function. Essentially presentation is a sort of linguistic process whereby we communicate gender through cultural “semes” — signifying cues that mark gender (e.g. skirts, beards).
Gender-mapping, that process that goes on in our heads and tells us ontologically and existentially who we are, that process as this article explains is determined by “nurture” in the womb. There are two windows in natal development for sex differentiation: First exposure to testosterone in the womb determines physiological development, penis/testes. Second window of natal exposure determines the epistemological “gender mapping” in the natal brain which codes sexual identity. Lacunae of sufficient testosterone, or inhibition to the effects of testosterone may result in a human who is physiologically “male” but nonetheless epistemologically “female” or some other variation along the infinite continuum of the sex dyad.
Anecdotally — I’ve been “trans whatever” since I was about four years old and able to distinguish that there are gender distinctions. It’s taken me nearly 70 yrs to come to terms with who I am and what I feel. As an academic in gender theory, I’ve been inclined to attribute “gender” to a socio-cultural, male hegemonic, hetero-normative dyadic oppression. It’s altogether existentially affirming to know that how I feel and who I am has fundamental biological underpinnings.
It’s not just all in my head