Advanced search

Please help me untangle why gender is such an issue

(214 Posts)
nomorecrumbs Tue 08-Dec-20 12:26:31

I see myself as an old-school feminist, I believe that people should have equal opportunities regardless of their sex, and if people do not want to conform to gender stereotypes then more power to them. In fact I reject a lot of gender stereotyping as it’s socially, not biologically, prescriptive to me and I don’t think gender scripting should be pandered to.

Where I get muddled is trying to understand why trans people seemingly want to change their gender. In doing so, aren’t they conforming to societal notions of what it means to be a “woman” or a “man”? Why isn’t this just biologically based rather than socially, as to me the social aspect can be a load of bollocks?

E.g. I would love to ask a M2F trans why they “feel like they are more female”. Is it because they prefer pink, long hair, feminine clothes, traditional womanly traits? If so, why not stay a biological man and do these social things anyway? Is it fear of peer rejection? I don’t see why they have to just conform to gender stereotyping, basically, and wish any sex could just wear and do what they want without being pigeonholed into “genders”.

I’m concerned all this talk over gender is just reinforcing potentially damaging social stereotypes of what it means to appear male or female.

OP’s posts: |
lucylucky1977 Tue 08-Dec-20 12:29:07

Dress equals lady, short hair equals man, it’s so reductive.

parietal Tue 08-Dec-20 12:34:33

i agree. gender = a bunch of harmful social stereotypes

cheeseismydownfall Tue 08-Dec-20 12:36:18

I think you've already untangled the issue yourself grin

I see current gender ideology as being 50% driven by "look-at-me-I'm-so-interesting-and-complex", 48% driven by the problem of being gender non-conforming in an increasingly gendered society and 2% driven by actual gender dysphoria.*

*made up figures

midgebabe Tue 08-Dec-20 12:38:11

Unless you believe that men and women are fundamentally, inately different at anything other than the physical sex level, you can't really believe in transgenderism

Counter to that however

I do believe that many teenage girls truly believe their is something wrong with their sex and want to remove all those body parts. Ie it's the sexed bits of their bodies they feel are alien to them. I suspect this is a mixture of hormones, rapid body changes and the way society treats women and girls

Positrans Tue 08-Dec-20 12:48:24

How "masculine" or "feminine" you are is different issue to your gender identity. People often confuse the two and there's a lot of misinformation out there so that's not surprising.

Lots of trans girls for example are "tomboys" and have no particular interest in princesses and sparkles, but they still feel themselves to be girls. That's gender identity.

Truth is that trans people are just like anyone else. Some trans women are feminine, some are not, and most of us are a mixture. Same for trans men - I have a good friend who is a trans man and he's very camp and very gay.

It is true that many trans women and girls are afraid not to be seen to be feminine because people use that to invalidate them. I know of a little trans girl for example who is terrified to have her hair cut too short in case anyone mistakes her for a boy, and of course, the gatekeepers at gender clinics have been known to refuse to treat any trans woman or girl who isn't stereotypically feminine enough.

jadelou85 Tue 08-Dec-20 12:52:49

I think the reason you’re ‘muddled’ is that you’re trying to understand complex human behaviours without the necessary qualifications / expertise.

HecatesCatsInXmasHats Tue 08-Dec-20 12:55:03

Lots of trans girls for example are "tomboys" and have no particular interest in princesses and sparkles, but they still feel themselves to be girls. That's gender identity.

How do they still feel themselves to be girls? What is it that they're feeling that is unique to girlhood?

Positrans Tue 08-Dec-20 12:59:18

@HecatesCatsInXmasHats that's what they call "gender identity" - it's a person's own innate sense of what sex they are. Scientists think it's biological.

Not everyone has a sense of their gender identity mind - some people are agender. That's fine too of course. Other people have a very strong sense of their gender identity and there is every level in between, including gender identities that fall somewhere between male and female.

Lifeaintalwaysempty Tue 08-Dec-20 13:00:21

@nomorecrumbs you’ve got it.l and furthermore I agree with @cheeseismydownfall synopsis of this ideology. It’s the new way to be different, it’s the new way of dealing with the suffocating gender stereotypes and I think a small proportion of this issue is people with genuine debilitating dysphoria.

christinarossetti19 Tue 08-Dec-20 13:02:36

jadelou85 isn't that what we're all trying to do in some shape or form? There isn't an 'understanding complex human behaviours' course. Our understanding of ourselves and others evolves and develops as we have different experiences as we grow.

No-one need a qualification or pseudo 'expertise' to be curious and empathic about other human beings.

nomorecrumbs yes it is indeed muddled. There is no doubt at all that some individuals experience gender dysphoria which, like other dysmorphias, is psychologically extremely distressing. Children and adults who experience this need access to prompt, specialist psychological support.

This is a bit different from the 'I'm a woman because I say I am or because I like wearing make up and dresses' narratives that, at the current time in history, seem to be associated with the notion of 'gender identity'.

HecatesCatsInXmasHats Tue 08-Dec-20 13:03:31

it's a person's own innate sense of what sex they are

How do they have an innate sense of what sex they are? What does that feel like? How do they know that means they're the opposite sex?

Lifeaintalwaysempty Tue 08-Dec-20 13:03:39

@Positrans which scientists think that the social construct of gender identity is in fact biological.
And how does one feel oneself to be a ‘girl’, if this is associated neither with their biology or whether you conform to a gender stereotype or not. What then even is a girl?

christinarossetti19 Tue 08-Dec-20 13:05:52

What does 'I have a gender identity that fall somewhere between male and female' actually mean?

You are your biological sex. You don't feel like it, you just are it. You can't identify out of it at will, nor can you change it.

That's to way for one minute that people's relationship with their biological sex, sexed bodies and associated gender stereotypes aren't hugely problematic, painful and distressing at times.

But we know that good psychological therapy and support can help people a lot.

Doyoumind Tue 08-Dec-20 13:06:48

Positrans how can someone feel they are something they physically aren't, especially when you strip away gender stereotypes? It reminds me of a twitter thread of female presenting trans boys which was actually a depressing read.

I can't know what it is to truly be a man any more than I can truly know what it is to be my sister. It doesn't make any sense.

I do believe in a dysphoria that makes people extremely uncomfortable with features of their body but that isn't the same as being positive you are something you manifestly are not.

Elsiebear90 Tue 08-Dec-20 13:08:51

I suppose if I woke up tomorrow in a man’s body would I be happy with that and feel that body fits who I am as a person? Absolutely not. That is often the way trans people describe how they feel, that they just know that they are a woman/man, but they’re in the wrong body. They often describe being children and being certain that they’re the opposite sex, despite being told repeatedly they’re not.

I often wonder if I was born with a male body whether I would adapt to it and accept myself as a more stereotypically feminine man or whether I would feel I “should” be a woman and be very distressed about not having a female body, I think it’s hard to say if you’ve not experienced it.

Doyoumind Tue 08-Dec-20 13:09:16

*Dysmorphia even

Lifeaintalwaysempty Tue 08-Dec-20 13:11:57

Yes. You are your biological sex because it’s written within your DNA from the point of your conception.
On the outside that can look however you want it to look, that’s your business, you can act however you feel comfortable doing so, we should be fighting the gender stereotypes that suggest otherwise, instead they are being hugely amplified via this ideology of a gender identity.

Positrans Tue 08-Dec-20 13:12:21

No one knows exactly how they have that innate sense. That's still being unravelled.

All I can tell you is that by the age of 4, I had a sense of there being boys and girls in the world, and the feeling that I was one of the girls, and that was coupled with certain parts of my body feeling like they didn't belong to me. The feeling that I was girl was my secret but it was a constant throughout my childhood into adulthood. Thanks to the wonders of medical science, my body doesn't feel weird any more.

Humans are social animals and social animals have social groupings, so it makes sense that there might be some instinctive sense of which group you are in.

Last thing I saw about the science was posted on Twitter. It was this link to the Endocrine society:

Which says:

The medical consensus in the late 20th century was that transgender and gender incongruent individuals suffered a mental health disorder termed “gender identity disorder.” Gender identity was considered malleable and subject to external influences. Today, however, this attitude is no longer considered valid. Considerable scientific evidence has emerged demonstrating a durable biological element underlying gender identity.1,2 Individuals may make choices due to other factors in their lives, but there do not seem to be external forces that genuinely cause individuals to change gender identity.

EdgeOfACoin Tue 08-Dec-20 13:15:04

Positrans what is gender identity if it is not biology and not stereotypes? What does feeling like a boy 'feel like'? What does feeling like a girl 'feel like'? How do I know what my gender identity is? Why are hormones and surgery required to align biological sex and gender identity?

Sorry, I know this is a lot of questions but they are all genuine. I've seen them asked on here before but they never seem to get answered.

HecatesCatsInXmasHats Tue 08-Dec-20 13:17:22

I have two daughters. They are completely different. Neither of them particularly conform to gender stereotype. Some people find it challenging that one of my daughters is really into climbing, she can get quite high up a tree before feeling uncomfortable. I have noticed this causes discomfort in others because they are conditioned to believe in gender stereotypes - little girls don't climb trees. I believe this narrow way of thinking about the world constrains us all and may lead some children to believe their bodies are 'wrong' for their innate sense of who they are.

Your use of the term "Tom boys" interests me and suggests that you are not immune from this societal conditioning. It's a sexist and regressive term which implies that 'girls' behaving in a certain way are more like 'boys'. They're just females doing things they enjoy doing.

Male and female are the only fixed thing about us.

christinarossetti19 Tue 08-Dec-20 13:20:28

Positrans the report in the link is over three years old, and the assertion that the use of HRT in children is 'effective, relatively safe (when appropriately monitored), and has been established as the standard of care' was just last week debunked by the Royal Courts of Justice.

Well, we don't know about the appropriate monitoring as GIDs didn't bother with that, but effective, safe and a 'standard. No way.

Positrans Tue 08-Dec-20 13:20:41

@EdgeOfACoin perhaps my previous post will help answer some of your questions.

For your last 2 questions - if you are not aware of your gender identity, it probably means you are agender. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Something like a third of people are in some sense vague about their gender identity.

As for medical interventions - it's the same as women who aren;t trans but who grow a full beard, having a medical intervention like laser to remove it. Not all women with beards do that, but most non-trans women are uncomfortable sporting a beard, and trans women are the same, except it's more than a beard.

nauticant Tue 08-Dec-20 13:22:43

Not everyone has a sense of their gender identity mind - some people are agender

It means this:

Some people don't believe in gender identity. For these people we apply to them the gender identity "agender". Everyone can have whatever gender identity they want but they must accept at least one of them.

Lifeaintalwaysempty Tue 08-Dec-20 13:24:44

@Positrans I do think there is a spectrum between those who have debilitating dysphoria and have surgery and other interventions to live as the opposite sex, and whilst I still have major concerns about this in relation to young people and where this comes from and what they are being told to believe, I also see it as very different to someone who considers themselves the opposite sex (and therefore everyone else must too) without any intervention or ‘stereotypical’ behaviour.
I am the opposite sex simply because I say I am, is extremely problematic to me.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in