Genderkid sent in a link to a story in The Morning News about the Teen and Transgender Comparative Study, an art installation by Charlie White at the Hammer Museum in L.A. A description from the story:
The series is a correlation of two stages of transformation, pairing teen girls (12-14) with like adult [transgender] male-to-female…
More from The Morning News:
In the images in White’s series, both figures are blossoming into womanhood, though each along a different path. As observers, however, we have been taught to view the subjects in much the same way: with sheer terror.
For just as the original 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers warned of Communism’s impending doom, and stories of men with hooks were concocted to frighten young girls from riding in cars with boys, so often have Hollywood summer comedies acted as cautionary tales for the male who would cast his desire toward either the pubescent or transgendered woman. Because in the right skirt or the right application of makeup, each has proved alluring to our hero…
Indeed, both sexy underage girls and transgender women who “fool” unsuspecting men are often portrayed as threats to (straight, adult) men. The “Lolita” figure is long-standing, and portrayals such as the Ally McBeal plotline in which a man falls in love with a transgender woman without knowing she is trans present the possibility of men being “fooled” into having sexual or even long-term romantic relationships with a transgender woman. Both teen girls and trans women are threatening and can get a guy in trouble.
Of course, we’re more accepting of one of these types of trouble than the other, and we shouldn’t be surprised that trans individuals who are “discovered” may face dire consequences for “fooling” men who have an intense investment in a rigid type of heterosexual identity and fear ridicule by peers, such as the three men who killed a transgender teen in California. (And I don’t mean to imply here that women don’t ever feel uncomfortable with or attack trans individuals, but the murders I’m aware of all included male perpetrators.)
Anyway, it’s a pretty fascinating set of images. Thanks, genderkid!
UPDATE: Commenter EGhead says,
This analysis also neglects that society insistently refuses to acknowledge transgendered women as women, even though they are, while insistently acknowledging girls as women, even though they aren’t.
Fair enough–I think that’s a good point.Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.
EGhead — June 19, 2009
I much prefer the intent of the artist-- to show the process of entering (physical) womanhood... although even that is problematic-- to the commentary that sees these depictions of girls and women as threats to men. I'm tired of men having to enter into everything, but if we're going to throw them into the mix, it should at least be in acknowledging how threatening THEY are to teens and trans women. This last point was touched on, but only in passing.
EGhead — June 19, 2009
This analysis also neglects that society insistently refuses to acknowledge transgendered women as women, even though they are, while insistently acknowledging girls as women, even though they aren't.
x — June 19, 2009
Transgendered women aren't women. They're transgendered women.
Huge difference. I'm sick of society telling me being born female is exactly the same as having major reconstructive surgery and taking hormones to look traditionally female.
genderkid — June 19, 2009
x: Transgender people are born with different bodies than cisgender people, but gender isn't about the body -- it's about identity. Some transgender individuals don't even want surgery or hormones.
Most trans people feel that they are "born" with their gender identity, just like cisgender people -- so you could say that a trans woman WAS born female; she just wasn't recognized as a woman at birth because society read her body as male. (I don't think identity can be reduce simplistically to nature --I don't think anyone is born a woman or a man-- but I still believe it's impossible to change one's gender identity by will.)
Ali — June 19, 2009
Spot on EGhead.
and x, no one is saying trans women (trans men) are exactly the same as cis women (cis men) I'm not exactly the same as any other woman on earth, and I'm not talking about DNA. We're saying that trans women are women. And where do intersex people fit into your pithy analysis?
Cara — June 19, 2009
You're a bigot. And I'm sick of society telling me that people who are transgender aren't "really" the gender they identify as.
Really, I'd like to know what society you're living in, that is out there saying that a trans woman is equal to a cis woman. Because I'd like to move there, and get away from assholes like you.
Ali — June 19, 2009
Actually, I think I like Cara's response better than mine ;)
raphael — June 19, 2009
i think this art really points out (and maybe plays around with) the popular idea that trans women are "men who become women," that is, have rejected one gender and decided to swap it for another. "i'm a guy but i don't like that, so i've decided to make myself into a woman instead."
a terribly shallow misinterpretation, and all too common ...
instead of saying, y'know, "hey! the doctors made a mistake; this person was assigned male at birth, because her bodily appearance seemed to suggest that interpretation. but our inference was wrong, unfortunately. her mind and psyche is actually female, although we didn't know that at the time. so she's correcting that medical error by living in her real gender."
anyway, hm, that's what it made me think of. thanks for the links!
Titanis walleri — June 19, 2009
"instead of saying, y’know, “hey! the doctors made a mistake; this person was assigned male at birth, because her bodily appearance seemed to suggest that interpretation. but our inference was wrong, unfortunately. her mind and psyche is actually female, although we didn’t know that at the time. so she’s correcting that medical error by living in her real gender.”"
Wouldn't it be nature (or rather, embryological development and/or DNA) making the mistake?
Anonymous — June 19, 2009
I think I like this blog a little less every time I check it. There's apparently no room for debate here, there is right (which is whatever the liberal majority deems as such) and then there is wrong(anything that doesn't jive with the PC police who are trying their darnedest to stomp out all opposition on this blog).
I too take issue with the idea that transwomen are women in the same sense that biological females are. And get this--I am not a bigot. If we're talking about gender, and gender identification, okay, I get that, gender is a social construct.
This may be a little scatterbrained in its organization, excuse me.
I don't mean to speak for X, but as I see it, my idea of a woman, that is, a woman like myself, is someone who grew up a girl, dealt with having a girl's body, and being treated as society treats a girl.
There's room for variation in my "pithy analysis" (of course that wasn't directed to me, but call this a pre-emptive strike) of gender. I don't think that transgendered people are any less, or even "weird" compared to cisgendered people. I just think it's okay to make a distinction, because, duh, there is one.
I don't know why I bothered posting this, it's really just arguing over semantics, i'm just sick of how opposing ideas are treated here. Chill the eff out, most people are here to discuss, not attack or be attacked.
Ali — June 19, 2009
But anonymous, different societies treat girls in different ways, yet you don't here people saying that women from X country aren't really women because they got a fairer shake at equality than country Y. And you're right that trans men (usually, depends on when transistion starts) don't know what it's like to grow up as boys and trans women don't know what it's like to grow up as girls (again, depending on when transistion starts). But they usually get all kinds of shit thrown at them for not being gender varient either. So where does that leave them?
Ali — June 19, 2009
er, that should be "not being gender conforming";
and hear for here and anything else I goofed on.
Ali — June 19, 2009
And what about when trans children do start transistion early on (I've heard of some as young as 5 living as their identified gender)? They grow up being treated as that gender, so does that mean they are real men/women?
Cara — June 19, 2009
Anonymous, by telling trans women that they are not women you are attacking them. Period. There is no way around that. And by telling them that you're really a woman and they're not? Yeah, it makes you a bigot.
Also, please don't include me in your little analysis. I fall under your idea of a "real" woman, and you know what? I don't want to. To me, being a woman doesn't mean stomping all over everyone else and their gender identities, and using the fact that I was treated like a girl when I grew up as a means to tell other women that they're not women. And I don't want anyone including me under an identity that does supposedly mean that.
Also, nice erasure of trans men.
Rebecca — June 19, 2009
Cara, have I ever told you that you're awesome?
Word to everything you've said here.
Anonymous — June 19, 2009
All blogs are echo chambers, even the supposed "intellectual" ones.
Ali — June 19, 2009
So in other words, you can't/won't answer my questions.
Sarah — June 19, 2009
Cara (and also Ali) -
Can I just agree with you, completely? :)
Speaking as another woman that would fit Anonymous' definition of a "real" woman, I have to say I want nothing at all to do with the womanhood Anonymous is trying to construct. To me, that is no different, no better, than those that have decided, and continue to decide, what constitutes appropriate womanhood, the standard by which all of us are measured against, and found wanting (naturally).
I have mtf trans friends I gladly and without hesitation call women, not to mention intersex friends, who don't fit Anonymous' nor X's definitions. I would rather be allied with them.
The only identity as woman I own is my own. Any other woman owns her own, and that's a definition I fight for as a woman, a sociologist, and a feminist. I'm personally looking forward to the day when attitudes like those of X and Anonymous die out ... at least now they are being called for the bigotry they are.
And I really do love the art project, it's an excellent commentary on the construction of the progression into womanhood in our culture.
Nataly — June 19, 2009
Nobody wants to debate a bigot. If you want to debate, you need to not come here saying hateful things.
The Daily Sawce, [Friday, 6.19] « sawcebox — June 20, 2009
[...] Teens and Transgendered Women: Threats to Society. Sociological Images features images from an art installation which juxtaposes female teens with MTF transsexuals. No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this post) 0 Comments [...]
md — June 20, 2009
To the "Can I just agree with you, completely?" club:
The majority of people are not themselves a trans gendered person or know a trans gendered person, so possibly make certain statements that you find to be "hateful" or bigoted because they simply don't know any better. But when their comments are shot down so vehemently and they are accused of bigotry, all that does is alienate them, making it so they don't want to engage in a conversation with you or learn about the topic more.
Furthermore, I'm not sure why someone who questions whether or not someone with a penis is a woman is considered hateful, but then someone else who calls another commenter an asshole is considered to be "awesome"? Last time I checked, calling someone an asshole was hateful.
(sorry for the grammar etc. I'm at work and am in a hurry)
Ali — June 20, 2009
They weren't questioning whether someone with a penis is a woman, they were outright saying that someone with a penis is not a woman. And they deserve to be called out on that. Cara has a lower tolerance for that kind of thing then I do and sure, people can call her out on that, but being a long term reader of hers and knowing what she deals with everyday I believe her response was just as valid as mine and others.
I mean it's not like it's the 1st time a woman has been chastised for her "tone" or language.
Ali — June 20, 2009
and it might just be me, but i tend to think that calling someone an asshole is a hell of a lot less hateful than refusing to acknowledge someone's gender.
Ronni — June 20, 2009
I don't presume to know what claims Anonymous is committed to. But there is a more generous way to read her comment.
Instead of reading her to be saying that transwomen are different from women, let's read her as saying that transwomen (transmen) are different from ciswomen (cismen). I think we can all agree that that is true.
And then the question that Anonymous invites us to consider is: what is the morally and politically appropriate way to honor that difference?
Anonymous suggested that we should acknowledge some characteristic features of ciswomen's upbringing that are different from what we might expect transwomen to experience. I think many subsequent commenters have been suggesting the importance of the characteristic forms of prejudice that transwomen and transmen experience, which ciswomen and cismen do not experience. There have also been some reminders that transgendered people may share many of the experience we associate with cisgendered people, depending on the age of their transition.
If we take Anonymous for her word, that she really is trying not to be bigoted, AND we see that she's already on the defensive, I don't see why we should choose anything other than the most generous reading that her comment permits.
Ali — June 20, 2009
anonymous started out by criticizing the blog because some of the commenters were angered by someone claiming trans women aren't real women (and in the process erasing trans men and intersex people). Then when I pointed out the holes in her argument zie apparently decided to flounce instead of answering or even acknowledging.
But yeah, let's give hir the most generous reading.
AR — June 20, 2009
When it comes to whether someone wants to be called a man or woman, I'm completely indifferent and they're usually not, so calling them what they want to be called is a simple matter of politeness more than actual recognition of their identity. I'd extend the same courtesy to anyone with a strong preference for that sort of thing, though as with transgenderism I would have no real appreciation for what the big deal is almost all of the time.
the 1st anon ITT — June 20, 2009
First off, thank you, md and Ronni. Also, I stepped away from my computer for several hours, but I guess that worked out well for a lot of you: you could pretend I was running scared.
To Ali, while I'm thinking of it: I don't think that discrimination and persecution are necessarily parts of the female experience in every culture. In most of Western culture, though, oh hell yeah.
I was a bit harsh about this blog before: it's not the blog I take issue with, it's the commentors that feel the need to police the comments so's no one (that is, no one who agrees with you) has to be offended. md was spot on with the bit about alienating those with differing views. A lot of you seem not to desire discussion, but rather, agreement, and affirmation of your own long-held beliefs. This is why Conservatives watch Fox News, kids. Also, Ronni's reading of my post was far more gracefully stated than what i said, thank you.
I'm not saying that any transwomen or transmen are weirdos, I'm just saying they are FUNDAMENTALLY different than other women or men who were born physically female or male. As to the erasure of transmen, we're discussing transwomen, and so that's who I was focusing on.
I'm not attacking anyone. Don't tell me that I am.
If anything I've said seems insensitive or bigoted (it's not, by the way, and get over your own self-righteousnous, please), I think I should mention that gender means VERY LITTLE to me. So much so, that I guess I sort of project, and assume it's not very important to most people. Reluctance to be labeled/use labels and all that. Being a woman DOES NOT DEFINE ME. I don't think it should define anyone. For me, it's a box I tick on forms. And there's a lot of grey area.
To me, gender is more continuous than discrete (and I'm speaking of gender, not sex, although, hell, that's not so discrete either) and terms like "woman" or "man" can refer to anyone who identifies themselves as such for all I care. When I think "woman", i think of someone like myself with 2 X chromosomes, first off. I think "biologically female". Which is another pretty meaningless label as far as I'm concerned. I'm not saying transgendered women aren't women, or that their label needs such a qualifier as "transgendered" tacked to the front, unless we're getting into talking about psychology or minute physical differences and stuff. I guess that's my point: I'm looking at it as a scientist (as in, that's about where it matters), rather than as someone working on their political correctness merit badge.
That was probably all over the place, sorry. But yeah, in summary: get off your damn high horses, I only posted that first thing because I've gotten sick of the attacks and reluctance to discuss anything that would be genuinely controversial to those who read this blog.
anonymous — June 20, 2009
Okay, sorry to contribute even further to the clutter, but just to clarify, the first post in this thread that was marked "anonymous" was posted by myself, as was the post marked "the 1st anon ITT" was also me. It occurred to me later that things like "ITT" might be a little obtuse and nerdy for this crowd, sorry.
anonymous — June 20, 2009
I need to learn to proofread.
Sarah — June 20, 2009
The way I look at it, you're still stating that you're the one that gets to decide who gets to claim what gender identity. How about respecting the gender articulations of other people for what they are? As I said above, the only construction of woman I own is my own. But for the record, I really do have no problems seeing myself as a woman as being closer to the womanhood of my trans friends, than apparently your highly narrow one.
And XX is "biologically female", since when? I have intersex friends who are XY, were born with vaginas, grew up as women, but have no uterus and only went through a female puberty because of artificial hormones. Are they not someone "biologically female"? Do you require fertility? A presence of a uterus? And for that matter, what on earth has biological markers got to do with being a woman?
Seems to me you're busily constructing a hierarchy, not a continuum.
wiggles — June 20, 2009
gwen, you touch on this a bit when you acknowledge that the "threat" of the "Lolita" figure is more socially accepted than the threat of the "deceitful" trans-woman, but I don't get the part where people are conditioned to view adolescent cis girls with "sheer terror." There seems to be a lot of fetishizing of adolescent girls for me to believe they're seen as figures of terror. In my experience, the "Lolita" figure having "seduced" a grown man only seems to come into play as an excuse to deflect responsibility from statutory rapists, real and aspiring.
You also mention cautionary tales like the Bloody Hook stories. I'd add Little Red Riding Hood. But I perceive that more as an effort to inflict terror on young girls - to control them and guard their "virginity" or "chastity" or whatever under threat of gorey death (probably originally to fetch a better bride price for keeping her hymen intact.) It's the wolf and the guy with the hook who are framed as the figures of terror in those tropes, not the young girl.
And as far as "Lolita" goes, Nabakov acknowledged that Lolita was a victim and Humbert was her victimizer so, again, Humbert's the terrible figure there. And most ignorant and uncritical views of that story I've seen around is that it's a quirky little May-December romance. Sick, I know, but Lolita isn't terrifying according to that perspective either.
Transwomen though, they're seen as gay men who trick hetero cis men into doing womanly sex things. That's essentially what's supposed to be scary about them, right?
I'm interested in your thoughts on this.
wiggles — June 20, 2009
bah, subject-verb agreement eludes me!
Gwen Sharp, PhD — June 20, 2009
I think we're taught to view teen girls' SEXUALITY with terror--so parents are terrified of their daughters being sexually active and especially getting pregnant. And then there's the fear that "sexually precocious" teen girls will tempt men by seeming more mature than they are or even lying about their age. So I think there are various ways in which we sort of fear teen girls' sexuality in our culture.
I think it's really fascinating that Nabokov's depiction of Lolita was of a girl sort of forced into a sexual relationship by a creepy older guy when she has few other options, but over time it's taken on a more voluntary or even teen-temptress element, so that figures I've seen referred to as "Lolitas" are teen girls who actively flaunt their bodies and try to entice older men. I was also thinking of that song that goes "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets," and of course Lola was also a name Nabokov gave Lolita so I've always assumed the song sort of referred to that, though maybe I'm wrong.
Does that make more sense of my sort of jumbled ramblings?
Alyson — June 21, 2009
the 1st anon ITT: "I think I should mention that gender means VERY LITTLE to me. So much so, that I guess I sort of project, and assume it’s not very important to most people. Reluctance to be labeled/use labels and all that. Being a woman DOES NOT DEFINE ME. I don’t think it should define anyone. For me, it’s a box I tick on forms. And there’s a lot of grey area."
I think it's awesome that you get to feel that way. As a cis woman, that is your luxury.
As a trans woman, my gender is denied to me at every turn and has been all my life. I had to struggle to get to the point where people take my gender for granted as much as (I assume, and I apologise for that assumption) they always have done for you, and I gave up an awful lot (time, people, my degree, my reproductive capability, and for a few years my mobility; that last one is more of a special case) in the process. And if I say or do the wrong thing people can *still* take my gender away from me.
So that's why I feel strongly about my gender. I wish I had it your way, but I don't and I never will.
That said, I don't see why it matters so much to differentiate trans women from cis women in such a way. Women can be divided along all sorts of lines, but the default assumption seems to be white/middle-class/cis/educated/able-bodied/neuro-typical - and on the web, North American. How much time shall we spend arguing the bloody obvious, that a woman who differs from that default has a different experience of life, or her gender, of womanhood, in support of the bloody daft, that therefore she is not a woman? Or not a woman "in the same sense" that default women are?
...as for the pictures, I think they're neat. It's rare to see images of trans women presented in such a way, without the usual montage of female artefacts being applied to an "unsuitable" body.
wiggles — June 21, 2009
Thanks for the response, Gwen. I think I get what you're saying. Parents and society in general are definitely afraid of girls' sexuality, because there are a lot of control mechanisms that have been in place for a long time that don't exist for boys.
I just think the Lolita-seductress-monster is an example of how teen girls are framed as a threat in a joking *wink wink* sort of way to deflect responsibility from more responsible parties who may fetishize or prey on underage girls. I don't believe the threat's generally seen as a real one.
I checked Wiki about that song, by the way. Apparently it was written for the play 'Damn Yankees' in about 1955. The book 'Lolita' was written about the same time and released in the U.S. in 1958. I think any association between the book and the song were made after-the-fact, but I've heard associations between 'Lolita' and that song too.
anonymous — June 21, 2009
Thank you for your comments. And thank you for not attacking me, but rather providing illumination on the subject. I did not intend to offend you, or anyone else here, and I apologize if I did. I don't want to deny anyone their gender, and you are absolutely right about there being a million different ways to subcategorize women, and no one has the right to say which of these ways are more or less valid. And you're right that these differences between women don't really matter that much...I only said something in the first place because I could see where X was coming from, and I thought it unfair that X was not allowed to join the conversation because they had a difference of opinion--X's comment could've been more gracefully stated though, for sure.
I don't often feel that I am in a position of privilege in most respects, so it sometimes takes me a bit to notice the times when I am.
This kind of discussion is difficult to have on the comments page of a blog.
For me, biological markers have pretty much everything to do with MY being a woman. I don't feel like I'm particularly feminine...I do my gender pretty well I suppose, not because I feel like it's such a true expression of my inner self, but because it's easy to dress up this template with the accouterments of femininity...as someone who is generally recognized by almost everyone as a "woman", I have that luxury, and I understand that not everyone has that luxury. People without this luxury CAN STILL BE WOMEN. I UNDERSTAND THIS. Please, cease telling me just how I view the world...I think I might know myself a bit better than you do.
Anyway, I think my first comment was sort of a devil's advocate move--it really does disturb me how often opposing viewpoints are so quickly snuffed out, or at least given very little respect on this blog. If that's the environment the creators of Sociological Images are striving for, that's fine--I just expected more.
We're all adults here, or at least, mature and intelligent enough to not only find and read a sociology blog, but also respond to/discuss it. If you really disagree with someone's views, isn't there part of you that wonders why they could possibly think that? Aren't you curious? And further more, if you're so convinced that they're so damn wrong, why aren't you trying to persuade? Why are you more concerned with attacking than, I don't know, helping someone to see the error of their ways? Calling someone an asshole and a bigot is not going to win any souls for your cause.
ashivers — June 22, 2009
The question is how do we define gender? How do we define sex? Your sex is your biological identity of being a male or a female. Your gender is your roles/characteristics that you display to distinguish you between male and female. As a society I believe we characterize our gender by our biological determinant. I would agree with what your born with is who you truly are no matter if what changes you have done to your body. Now, if you prefer to be the opposite sex that you were born into then that is your choice. I don't believe in minipulizing your hetersexual partner that really think your the sex that you display. I think that is psychologially damaging and could severly cause someone to hurt by another person violently. So how society see you really doesn't matter because they wouldn't know if your transgendered or not. But, when it comes to relationships and sexual partners then that scenario becomes a different story.
Original Will — June 23, 2009
Titanis walleri - "Wouldn’t it be nature (or rather, embryological development and/or DNA) making the mistake?"
Not in all cases, no. Sex (and I'm talking about biological sex, here, not gender) is not as binary as we've largely been led to believe. Even ignoring the occasional XXY or XXXY or what-have-you combination, it's actually surprisingly common for babies to be born with indeterminate sex organs. Doctors may make a quick assignment and even do a bit of surgery to make sure that the kid conforms to one of the two check-box categories. Of course, at that age, you can't tell which personality the kid has and this can lead to all kinds of problems down the road.
Charlotte — June 23, 2009
Just a thought on why a biological woman would be uncomfortable with a MTF trans woman and/or not consider her a "real" woman:
I don't know if my experience is common, but I assume so, in that I never felt completely "girly", nor completely "boyish"...all I knew was that I was tougher and taller than all of the boys, but suddenly was told that I was going to gush blood out of my genitals. I was eleven when I had my first period. I wasn't raised with my mother, so my adoptive father let me stay with her that summer. She told me that I'd need to start shaving my legs and armpits, plucked my eyebrows, and taught me how to apply makeup. I didn't want anything to do with it.
Twelve years later I'm now a "beautiful" young woman. I still feel uncomfortable with living up to the ideal that I am expected to. I constantly wonder if anyone really likes me, or if they just want to fuck me. I've learned how to dress, apply makeup, curl my hair, all skillfully...I know how to walk in extremely high heels. Men and women alike (I'm bisexual, perhaps unsurprisingly) constantly judge my beauty before my intelligence.
A woman who has had such an experience, or otherwise was uncomfortable with puberty...maybe she feels as though she fought through a battle, and that to be called a woman is what she "earned" through cramps, blood, bras, shaving, etc.
That all being said, fuck it, I'm going to stop shaving my armpits, wearing bras, and wearing makeup...oh, no, I can't, because I might lose my job.
Alyson — June 24, 2009
Charlotte: "A woman who has had such an experience, or otherwise was uncomfortable with puberty…maybe she feels as though she fought through a battle, and that to be called a woman is what she “earned” through cramps, blood, bras, shaving, etc."
A woman who has had such an experience would have, I hope, more empathy regarding the childhood and adolescence of trans women, which is -- to generalise -- replete with its own suffering.
"Men and women alike (I’m bisexual, perhaps unsurprisingly) constantly judge my beauty before my intelligence... That all being said, fuck it, I’m going to stop shaving my armpits, wearing bras, and wearing makeup…oh, no, I can’t, because I might lose my job."
All that applies to me, too; unless you're making a separate point, I'm not sure why you brought it up.
Andrew — June 24, 2009
Re: "Anyway, I think my first comment was sort of a devil’s advocate move–it really does disturb me how often opposing viewpoints are so quickly snuffed out, or at least given very little respect on this blog."
Four people disagreeing with you and debating the points in your comments - but allowing you the freedom to express them - does not constitute censorship or disrespect. For the most part, it appears that you got exactly the kind of response one should expect when entering a discussion in an attack pose by characterizing your fellow posters as "the PC police."
whatwhat? — June 24, 2009
did anyone read past the first 3 lines of ashivers's post?
"I would agree with what your born with is who you truly are.... I don’t believe in [manipulating] your hetersexual partner that really think[s] you['re] the sex that you display. I think that is psychologially damaging and could sever[e]ly cause someone to hurt by another person violently."
Alyson — June 24, 2009
I did, but these days I'm happier speaking to the people who are perhaps halfway round to acceptance; someone who believes my very existence is "psychologically damaging" is probably not worth my time :)
Ali — June 24, 2009
Thanks Andrew. Everytime I hear someone complaining about political correctness I just want to scream, "It's not being PC, it's respecting other people's humanity and not being an asshole!"
And thanks for sharing your experiences, Alyson.
Grizzly — June 29, 2009
If an African American boy came to you and said; "I don't want to be black. I feel more comfortable and natural as a white person." Would you try to convince this boy that he actually is black and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and he should embrace who he is. Or would you encourage him to bleach his skin and straighten his hair?
Hel — June 30, 2009
It bothers me that all the posted pictures seem to be Caucasians. I hope the images in the art installation are more diverse.
Jay — November 30, 2009
so what you are contining to say is that males who undergo the surgury to become what thye really do want to be female are not real women!
but why is it that you ahve to come out born a real female to be a girl don't you think just maybe that males who feel and want to be whta they really fel they really are are exactly that it is far more then what you are born with betwwen your legs that make a female and or a male far more!
Rachel — December 14, 2009
If I may chime in, being one of the M to F people. I will not pick on any of you or agree with any of you. I am only trying to help you see what it is like for me.
I grew up a male by age 5 or 7, can not remember specifically when, I realized I was different and thought I was a freak and well over time thought constantly of killing my self in the back of my mind. My actions and attitude where increasingly becoming devoid of life and emotion. By the time I went through puberty I was nothing more then a human android. It took a friend who had helped me through many death attempts to finally put the peaces together why I was such a freak. I moved out of my parents house and found help in a city hundreds of miles away. Finally I could get the help I needed I thought like some bigots did about my self. That I was not a woman and should die because I did not fit the bibles or any religions idea of a man let alone a woman. After getting on hormones and talking to others like me, M to F and F to M, I saw my own life reflected in their words and saw I was different then genetic women but not less of a women. As I transitioned to living full time as a woman I suffered many times people telling me I was a freak, I should die and asking me, when they had the courage to, why I am doing this. I told them the truth as best as I understood my self and could explain in a manner that they would understand.
I would come to fine that this willingness to be truth full and honest about me being Transgendered could get me KILLED. I was shown a web sight and also had personal experience how the label women or man on a Transgendered person can get them killed by people who sound like X, I am only using you X because your post has the same kind of words I am talking about.
Some of these transgendered people died because of how you define man and woman. Some died because of their own fear, because they so badly want to fit X's or Anon's definitions so that they are simply excepted and human beings.
Yes X and Anon I am one of the T-girls who would do her self in because I can not be a woman like you. I want to have had what you genetic women have gone though so badly I would do my self in just on the off chance reincarnation is true and I can come back a woman the way you are.
Cynthia — January 3, 2010
All of you are really not getting it. Every single PERSON has an inherent right to be who they will be. Period. Discussing it as if any of you have a say in what each individual does is bias. Just accept a person as they enter your sphere without defining what they are and wow, you might learn something special about that person. I am me, period.
Steph — January 19, 2010
I interpreted the art as beautiful- on one hand, the woman on the right could be the girl on the left grown up. But once you know they are two different people, and the older one is transgendered, it made me think of the comparison that they are both blossoming into women. I couldn't believe the chauvinistic interpretation presented by that article. There is nothing to fear from either of them- unless, of course, you only think about sexual norms for straight males. Which is an extremely narrow point of view for anyone, even the straight males of the world.
Erica — January 24, 2010
What is the cost of happiness and comfort?
I myself am a transwoman, I may have been born in a body that looks like a male, but I have never felt like one. I have survived child abuse (sexual, emotional and physical) and neglect which shattered every aspect of me. My happiness and comfort are driven by the fact that I feel like a girl inside despite what I see in the mirror. All I want is to be happy so I can heal the wounds that were opened recently from remembering my childhood that I repressed.
I would be excited to be able to express myself as a woman but I cannot because of the fear I have of others. Yes I know that people will be bigots, but in the end to a person like me, its literally killing me.
The truth of this is beyond the concept of values as it is an infallible right for all humans to feel comfort and happiness. But for me; regardless of my past; my cost of happiness and comfort is my life in the end... For if I am not happy and comfortable with myself my life is at risk due to my childhood.
I don't really know where I was really going with this, but I felt I needed to say it.
Lauren — February 16, 2010
I just found this piece and the images are interesting to stare at.
The point most of the commentary misses is that transgender women ARE women.
For those that see T women as men dressed as women, you are incapable of seeing the reality here. Such thought is a regurgitation of what society can not understand about T people because society simply denies any divergence from the long taught binary state of existence of sexes.
The Earth is round. Simple to believe now but for thousands of years such thought was inconceivable. That's the most directly related analogy you can contemplate.
I'm not saying that everyone is ignorant but all of us should keep our minds open and free of prejudice which will make us incapable of true honest thought.
Researcher — June 7, 2010
Transgenders suffer from a “gender identity crisis” rooted in their “unaffirmed sexual identity” that can be termed “sexual brokenness”. This initially occurs during absorption of psychological trauma within the maternal womb during gestation of the fetus and is identified as “utero-psychological trauma” caused and inflicted by various external means, influences and sources encountered by the pregnant mother and transmitted to the fetus. Other traumas can include strangulation or suffocation during passage through the birthing canal that debilitates and skews the male child’s masculine nature to become effeminant; producing the condition of “sexual brokenness”. Hence, this is why Transgenders "feel" they were "born feminine trapped in a male body" unaware that they are in a skewed psychological state that they erroneously perceive as perfectly "natural" (and the same applies to homosexuals who believe their homosexuality is “natural” since birth), and this confused psychological state is termed “symbolic confusion”. Due to the presence of the symbolic confusion that cannot recognize or apprehend the sexual brokenness, the sufferer attempts to remedy the dilemma in the wrong manner by accepting it and undergoing transgender surgical disfiguring procedures, “self-mutilation”, as an “assault” to their “authentic sexual identity” that they are severed from with an inability to connect into it and reject it due to the initial psychological trauma, a reactionary form of “self-hatred” against the sexual identity they were to genuinely become. Consequently, there is nothing "natural" about the Transgender state; it is an individual who has succumbed to "self-distortion" and the subsequent and conscience decision to implement "sexual disfigurement" via sexual reassignment into a monstrosity of society.
Nelly — June 8, 2010
There's a whole lot we don't know about "gender" and the science is far from settled about the nature of transgenderism. While there is an activist force that insists that one can merely claim a gender to make it so, there is actual science to be conducted to even figure out what the claim to gender really means in terms of genotype and phenotype, among many, many factors that must be studied. It's fashionable to take the activist view that just saying one is a woman makes one a woman, but science isn't so easily swayed.
arugula rose — June 9, 2010
It doesn't matter if it's nature or nurture or anything else. Transgender people aren't hurting anyone. It's like the question of being gay. Who cares if it's nature, nurture, or choice. Being queer doesn't hurt a soul.
Science is never going to answer the question of who "really" is a woman because a "woman" is a concept, and science doesn't define the content of concepts. Science only shows the links between different phenomena in particular circumstances. It's not going to define for us what being a "woman" means, whether it means internal affiliation, genotype, shape of genital organs, chromosomes, brain shape, or anything else. Any more than science can tell us what a "marriage" is or what "democracy" is. These are all concepts we come up with to organize our world, and their value is a function of how well they work for individual people.
Science is in fact swayed by results. And the results show that, for people whose internal sense of gender identity does not match how they are socially received, physical intervention (top or bottom surgery, hormones, etc.) results in far better outcomes than mental ("therapeutic") intervention. Physical adjustment creates happier people than treating trans people as mentally ill. That's a result that "science" has started to notice. Case closed.
lyssa — July 12, 2010
We're supposed to view these with sheer terror? lol
Weeeeell, I'd say I'm more full of terror because there seem to be naked underaged girls.
Lexi — July 18, 2010
One problem with saying you should 'differentiate' between the cis and the trans is ME.
You say 'oh, this woman is trans' and what, you suddenly know she grew up hanging aaround with boys and trying to awkwardly learn football? That she spent her childhood sureptitiously trying on makeup and dresses? You can suddenly know that she is superfemme? Or that she spent a little time thinking she was a gay man?
I'm sorry, but you know none of this, and any assumption based on this is a prejudice as bad as any other.
Take the following argument:
"You are a trans woman. You didn't grow up as a girl, with our troubles, so you cannot be counted as one of our number."
and transpose it onto The Fresh Prince of Bel Air:
"You are a rich black man. You didn't grow up in a rough area, with our troubles, so you cannot be counted as black."
Like any analogy, it isn't foolproof, but as an overall concept what is different?
As for trans and pubescent girls being 'threatening'... uh, Crazy Old Doctor Freud much? :]
Logan — August 14, 2010
Does anyone remember when African-Americans were disliked because of the color of their skin, or what the Nazis did to the Jews because who they are? Maybe the fact that we hate what we can't understand... of maybe we hate ourselves because we can't change what we are? I see and hear so many people talk about how transgender people are a blight... heard the same thing back in the 70's about how African-Americans were the blight, then the gays, or smokers or mentally disabled people? Anytime something new comes to play in our little worlds we hate. or we try to kill it! People never really think that on this small planet called Earth we got to share it with each other period and if you don't like it go find another world to live on.... I mean come on people who says that a person with their own personalities can't decide for themselves if they are male or female... we change things in our lives everyday if they don't fit what we want right? How come a man or woman can't what they feel is right for them? In some cases I think the problem is real women will lose out with real men, or even vice versa. Simply because a trans-female(male) has spent enough time in their original life to understand what the opposite sex whats in a relationship. Who knows what people are going to find to bitch about next but the long run we are all HUMAN! so put that in your book and remember and get on with living your life.
m Andrea — September 28, 2010
I know this post is old, but I'd like to point out that these images are sheer marketing propaganda designed to make the viewer subconsciously assume that the female is much younger than the transgendered person, as if the viewer is witnessing a "before" and "after" puberty type shot. For legal purposes, I bet the females are all over the age of eighteen, possibly nineteen, which means they are in fact quite a bit smaller then the transgendered person. And of course the way the pictures are framed focuses all the viewer's attention on the identically applied makeup, identical hair, identical blank expressions and identical skin tones as if to imply that a few identical accessories are all that is required to be considered female while focusing attention AWAY from the many differences which are then carefully hidden.
One of them weighs fifty pounds more than the other, for starters, with a great deal more bone mass. I know some trans like to say that taking hormones makes them lose bone mass but if they did then they'd all be diagnosed with SEVERE oestoperosis. And we have NO idea what their personalities are like, at all.
Researcher — September 28, 2010
Most people do not understand hate. The "hatred mechanism" manifests when people feel "threatened" due to their own insecurity, and thus resort to "defensive action" for self-protection where they unconsiously attempt to circumvent exposure of their own insecurity because confronting the insecurity is severely painful and usually present due to a childhood assault, violation or abuse, thus their reaction is via an antipodal action contrary to the insecurity and the threat, itself, unified with anger and hostility.
Carl A. — January 5, 2011
A little late to the game...
One thing that needs to be considered is a sort of "cost-benefit-risk" analysis.
The problem with acceptance of teen girls is the risk of costs. Basically, you have biologically adult or biologically juvenile-adult humans with at least some adult motivations but the social status and protection afforded to children. Combine that with a male brain that's as focused on secondary sexual characteristics (that teen girls definitely have) as much as the social norms governing sexual behavior and you have the risk of consensual sexual interest/activity or perception of it that has serious, life changing costs included.
The solution--of course--is to use social controls to push teenage girls out of the social environments where physical interactions are even possible.
Transgendered people are somewhat different. The cost-benefit-risk has two components--social and "biological"--where the biological is tied to being a "functional" reproductive partner and the social is tied into the whole perception of gender roles and sexual roles.
For some, the risk of being homosexual or seen as homosexual is very real because of their religious (and therefore social) beliefs. Being seen as a homosexual challenges their place in the social networks they rely on.
For some, it's a matter of perceived deception by transgender people based on the differential--real or not--between societal gender roles. There are costs and benefits to each gender, a bias toward or against one's own gender, and they see people who cross from one to the other--something many people can't imagine themselves doing--as "cheating the system". This can prevent them from seeing the more personal costs of being "mismatched" for transgender people.
And, for some, they simply see transgender people (and teenage girls) as using or having an un-competeable or unfair strategy that threatens to break down the system they rely upon for support and survival. It's not so much a "should" thing as much as "must" thing when you have someone--say, a middle aged woman--with no/little marketable skills who depends on the social norm of the man-as-supporter. While she can (and women often do) learn how to become self-sufficient when their social situation changes, her sunk cost really creates a challenge for her compared to other women who aren't so dependent on the same social norm.
So, in many ways, the "hate" is a defensive reaction to perceived challenges to the ways of life people have sunk a lot of effort into. The way to change it is to either change the perception (assuming there isn't a real challenge), target those who have little investment so far (i.e. the young), or change the way of life. To change the ways of life, you have to understand it, identify an alternative that is as successful/preferred, and nudge people to transition. (Or force them through technology or economics.)
omgpleasestop — February 27, 2011
I HATE when people compare African Americans to gays. Gay is a choice...being African American isn't. Gays were not hung,enslaved,couldn't drink out of the same drinking fountains as others, separated from their families and roots, given different names and their master's last names. It's very disrespectful to black people to compare the two. African American is a race that can't be changed. Gay is mental which means a man can change himself into a women and women can change themselves to men because of the way they feel in their minds. So PLEASE stop trying to put gays and blacks in the same category. It's rude, wrong and neither are the same.
Hellspite — February 27, 2011
omgpleasestop, well you ask people not to compare African Americans to gays. How about you not talk out of your ass by saying being is a choice, I believe there are alot of people out who would disagree with you on that part. and I think you need to read how the gays were treated by the Nazi's during WWII the Jews were not the only race being treated like shyt. And there are those redneck a-holes out would lynch a gay person just as fast as a colored..... excuse me I mean African-American. Believe I'm not gay either but I have friends who are and pisses me off with stupid open their mouths before they know what they talking about!! please don't take offence, I am by no means calling you stupid just go read before saying something
Truesky — March 20, 2011
Being gay is a choice , ive heard women say they've become lesbians just because women can please them better. I had a friend who was straight turned to being a lesbian then went back because men pleased her more. You can turn gay and stop being gay it's a matter of choice. it seems like being gay develops in a persons childhood for some it's a choice for some it's not
irritated — August 3, 2012
FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: People who change their sex are TRANSGENDER, NOT TRANSGENDERED. TransgenderED implies that something happened to them to make them that way. "Oh, the poor transgendered female." Transgender, however, is simply an adjective describing how a person was born, as someone would be born short or bright or heavy. It's correct to say "transgender person" or "transgender man/woman" or "he's transgender".
Many of you have completely lost the purpose of this article.
Sexuality: Queer people can help the gender of the person they love as much as straight people can help the hair color of the person they love. If you're not somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, then you won't understand. It's just a natural part of who a person is. Surely, there are preferences, but no one turns their sexuality "on" or "off".
Gender: Gender is an idea that we've created ourselves. SEX is different- sex refers to what's under your pants (which is really irrelevant to anyone but you and your partner). But gender can be male, can be female, can be somewhere between the two, or can be neither. For someone to be "male" means masculine, baggy jeans, short hair, and a "female" may be feminine, wearing skirts and having long hair. That's the beauty in this article, because despite sex as assigned at birth, your gender expression may be completely different.
SO, on behalf of LGBTQ folk, please speak on issues of which you're knowledgeable. I ask this because some of the comments on this thread are absurd. Just having an opinion is not enough reason to make a whole bunch of noise about it, and the simple fact that you have an opinion also does not mean that it is grounded in any fact. Both women in each picture are facing womanhood, simply at different times in their lives. The most proactive mindset a person could have toward both subjects is simply courtesy.
TRANSGENDER, not TRANSGENDERED
Dgpinkangel — November 13, 2012
This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard
in de serie tee… « man vs woman — January 13, 2013
[...] http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/06/19/teens-and-transgendered-women-threats-to-society [...]
Bo Misift — January 26, 2013
Fine dear Gwen Sharp, PhD but as someone before me just pointed out: using 'transgendered' show lack of understanding for transgender individuals and why an adjective shouldn't be conjugated. I am not transgendering you! Please correct that, it's painful to read at the end of an article that started real fine.