Transgender Basics

// 19 February 2008

From Helen G:

Transgender Basics is a 20 minute educational film on the concepts of gender and transgender people.

Two providers from the Gender Identity Project discuss basic concepts of gender – sex, identity and gender roles – as three transgender community members share their personal experiences of being trans and genderqueer.

The film targets service providers and others working with the LGBT community, but it also provides a fascinating glimpse into gender and identity for the general public.

“Our culture likes to make things simple, and gender isn’t.” Carrie Davis, Transgender Community Organizer, in Transgender Basics.

“It was the constant fight of me saying ‘there is nothing wrong with being this kind of girl,’ as oppose to, ‘well, I’m not a girl.'” Nicco Beretta, participant in Transgender Basics.

Click here to view the film at Google Videos.


Comments From You

Katie/David // Posted 19 February 2008 at 1:28 pm

Yes, gender certainly isn’t as simple as the ‘mainstream’ bi-polar gendered culture seems keen to emphasize. I think that gender is more like a rainbow: some people are butch, some are femme – but there are so many of us who fall somewhere along the scale in-between – or even outside of it.

Yet the pressure on us all to identify as, and conform to ‘female’ or ‘male’ norms, is all-pervasive and largely operates on making everyone fearful of the consequences if we do not. Therefore, it’s so very difficult, nigh on impossible, to follow our own paths and be who we are. I feel that this insistence on patriarchally-defined gender conformity at all costs is very damaging; both to individuals and society.

I think there should be some sort of legal recognition of those of us who don’t really define as either male or female. At the moment, we’re simply marginalised.

Laura Woodhouse // Posted 23 February 2008 at 5:15 pm

Hi Helen,

That was really interesting, thanks for the link. Binary gender is so restrictive and, for me, one of the roots of women’s oppression in that it has for centuries allowed men to “justify” that oppression by claiming that we are naturally inferior, suited only to housework and childcare etc etc. I want to live in a world where individuals are just individuals, and I certainly think that recognising a gender spectrum rather than a binary will help us to get there. Ultimately, though, I want a genderfree world, where looks, clothing, emotional responses, activities, speech – everything – is free of gendered connotations, where there is no masculinity and femininity. Not realistic right now, I know, but I like to have an ideal in my head.

The genderqueer individual said some particularly interesting things, I thought. Like her/him (s/he didn’t specify which pronouns she preferred – we need to change language!) I’ve never felt any connection with socially constraucted Woman, I really dislike femininity (for me, not necessarily in others), and I realised recently that I never actively identified as a woman (rather than just me, a person – though I tick F on forms) until I became a feminist and found a need to identify as a woman in order that I can recognise and address the problems that women face precisely because we are women. That’s why, while I ideally want a genderfree world, I feel like we currently have to recognise women, have some women-only space, talk about violence against women, for example, because we cannot move on until women are valorised and the problems of gender based violence and oppression are dealt with.

Laura // Posted 23 February 2008 at 5:18 pm

Arg, I made that all a bit me, me, me…But, as Katie/David said, we certainly need legal (and societal) recognition for those who do not identify as simply male or female, and just to accept people how they are, in the identity that makes them feel comfortable and happy – that’s what’s most important, when it comes down to it, and not the political ins and outs of whether or not people agree with certain transgender issues.

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