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Author Topic: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex  (Read 1197 times)

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Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« on: November 05, 2014, 07:50:09 AM »


3 minutes and 50 seconds(ish) of trying to explain something incredibly complex in far too little time. Obviously, there's a bit of explaining that needs to be done, especially on the points that he actually does kind of get wrong.

Quick. What is the definition of a creature's sex? Answer:

"either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions."

Okay, cool. But what does that actually mean?

The answer is: Not a lot. Practically nothing, really. Sex is a social construct developed for ease of categorizing individuals (whether human or animal) into two distinct groups. However it's poorly defined and basically morphs into whatever the author needs it to be to define what they want how they want to define it. Let's take Ants, just as an example.

Ants come in four varieties. The Queen, the Drones, the Workers, and the Soldiers. According to SCIENCE the Drones are the only "Male" ants, with the other three types all being female. But since Workers and Soldiers have no reproductive functions whatsoever shouldn't they be sexless, by the textbook definition? Technically, yes, but when it came around time to determine what "Sex" ants were the only question really asked was "Does it have a penis?" because that was the bias floating around the world in those social circles. There was "Has a penis" and "Doesn't have a penis" and that was your sexual binary. Admittedly, there were some exceptions: Creatures that had both got to be hermaphroditic!

And while Hank does lightly touch on the idea of Intersex he doesn't really get into the painful (to biological essentialists) truth: Everyone can have any reproductive capability thanks to modern science. Scientists have found a way to transform skin cells into both Sperm and Ovum. Meaning that a Woman could provide Sperm for a Man's Egg and they'd have a baby neat as you please. Or that a single person of any gender could create both a sperm cell and an egg cell and reproduce all by their lonesome with no one else's DNA involved.

Of course there's also the idea of wider hips or higher testosterone or any number of any other tiny details we ascribe to "Male" or "Female" sex, but those things don't always line up, either. And different environmental factors can alter any of those facets during development. But there's one thing that never changes and marks you indelibly as one "Sex" or the other: Your Genetic Code.

Except that it doesn't thanks to a variety of different genetic structures (XXY, XYY, Etc) and the fact that your genetic structure is about as "Set in Stone" as a puddle of muddy water. See, all life on Earth has something called an Epigenetic Structure. This is separate from your "Actual" genetic code which represents who you are, currently. And everything from a cold climate to prolonged stress can alter your epigenetic code in a wide variety of ways. Behind the Epigenetic Structure is the baseline human DNA that doesn't really define who you are in any meaningful way, but simply contains a blueprint for "Build Human"

My case, for example, involved my mother utilizing a set of hormone boosters given to her by her doctor while she didn't know she was pregnant. As the larger twin in a pair I wound up absorbing more of the chemical mixture and it's very it was a big part of -why- I'm transgender rather than a cis woman. The hormone bath I was in resulted in physical structural changes and frelled my epigenetics, but did not alter my brain-layout which had already mostly formed.

So sex is, essentially, a meaningless part of the video, and all genital configurations should just be ignored for the purpose of determining whether someone is a man, a woman, or nonbinary. That doesn't mean intersex people don't exist, it just means that we shouldn't exclude them from a given gender due to their genital configuration.

But then Hank hits on some big ones! Gender Identity, Gender Presentation, Gender Roles, Sexuality, Sexual Activity, Romantic Attraction, and Romantic Activity.

Each of these details of a person is, as Hank says, on a spectrum rather than on a simple binary switch. But just as important as the spectrum is the understanding that people, like quantum particles, wobble.

So think of the Gender Identity Spectrum Graph. Man on the Left, Woman on the Right. A ten point scale between them and an ten point scale of strength vertically. It's easy to imagine someone as existing as a single Dot on the scale. "Masculine One" and "Masculine Strength Ten". But every person has the ability to wobble on the graph. To go up, down, left, or right a short distance on the scale on different days or different hours. Masculine One/10 might shift over to Masculine 3/5 on days when he's not feeling -particularly- Manly Manly and feels like he wants to put on a nice suit and treat himself to dinner. You get the idea.

Some individuals, particularly those close to the center of the Spectrum have a tendency to wobble much further. Feeling Agender (right in the middle of the graph) with a score of 0 one day and then swinging to Man 3/6 or Woman 5/2 on the next day. These wobbles represent a person's shifting moods, personality, interests, and in some cases identity. It doesn't make a woman any less of a woman if she has a "Man" day. Nor does it make a Man less of a Man if he has a Man 3/1 day, when he doesn't feel particularly manly.

Which actually leads us to the next item: Bisexuality is terribly defined.

Like Homosexuality, Bisexuality was initially created by someone who wasn't bisexual trying to encapsulate someone else's experiences into a single word based on their own understanding of those experiences. This lead to the idea that bisexuality is Man/Woman attraction. As described by bisexuals, myself included, bisexuality is closer to being attracted to "Two or More Genders". While I'm typically comfortable explaining to people that I fall under the "Standard" definition of Bisexuality I'm also very attracted to Androgynous people who lack gender. I'm not Pansexual, because I don't feel much if any attraction towards Demiboys or Genderfluid individuals, but agender are pretty sexually appealing in their own right. And that's an issue that bisexuals have trying to explain their sexual attraction to people who are hung up on latin terminology created by people with only a rudimentary understanding of what is -actually- happening.

Similarly, I'm married to a man. This does not make me Straight, even though I am in a monogamous heterosexual relationship. I still feel attraction to Agender individuals and Women (trans or otherwise). Because sexual behavior does not supercede sexual attraction, it's just a different spectrum of being.

Meanwhile I'm Panromantic so... y'know. That's fun. If I ever wound up in a relationship with a Demiboy or a Genderfluid person I wouldn't be sexually attracted to them even though I was romantically tied to them...

So. In summation: The video is for the most part really good at explaining the spectrums of human relationships, identities, and sexuality and how those things are complicated. Even with the problems listed above I still recommend it -very- highly as an introduction of concepts.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2014, 10:25:28 AM »


Here is another interesting video on the same topic from the channel Sexplanations.


Offline Kythia

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2014, 12:55:27 AM »
So think of the Gender Identity Spectrum Graph. Man on the Left, Woman on the Right. A ten point scale between them and an ten point scale of strength vertically. It's easy to imagine someone as existing as a single Dot on the scale. "Masculine One" and "Masculine Strength Ten". But every person has the ability to wobble on the graph. To go up, down, left, or right a short distance on the scale on different days or different hours. Masculine One/10 might shift over to Masculine 3/5 on days when he's not feeling -particularly- Manly Manly and feels like he wants to put on a nice suit and treat himself to dinner. You get the idea.


No, I'm sorry, I don't.  Could you go over that again.  What is the vertical scale measuring (what do you mean by "strength") - I'm struggling to put that into any sort of context.

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2014, 01:04:33 AM »
Let's try changing it up just a little through a very simplistic and humorous internet meme.

Male 1-5 is how much beard you have. With 1 being 'Most Beard" and 5 being "Least Beard"
Strength 0-5 is how much you love Bacon. With 1 being "Eh, I'll have the bacon since they don't have sausage" and 5 being "Just give me the whole pig."

Female scale 1-5 is how much you love pink. With 1 being "I only wear pink" and 5 being "Sometimes I wear pink lip gloss, but not often."
Strength 0-5 is how much you enjoy Pumpkin Spice. With 1 being "Well if you're getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte I'll have one, too" and 5 being "I named my daughter Pumpkin Spice."

Yes. These are simplistic stereotypes for example purposes only.

As a trans woman there are days when I am a pumpkin spice 4, woman 3. And other days when I'm a Pumpkin Spice 1, Woman 1. Decked out in Pink and not feeling pumpkin spicey as compared to wearing pink and black with a pumpkin pie in one hand and a latte in the other.

Does that help?

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2014, 01:13:27 AM »
No, I'm sorry, I don't.  Could you go over that again.  What is the vertical scale measuring (what do you mean by "strength") - I'm struggling to put that into any sort of context.

My interpretation is as follows.

A person might feel very male today, but not feel it all that strongly. They're much more focused on other things, they're stressed about that exam coming up and wondering what sort of flowers to get their fiance for their anniversary. If they stop and think about it, they'll realize that they're feeling very male, but it's not really playing a role in their actions or decisions.

Another day they might feel very male but it's having a huge impact on them. They decide to wear a business suit, because it helps reinforce their identity, they choose not to shave to feel more stubble. All through the day they're feeling that masculinity and it's an important factor for them that day. They don't need to stop and think about it, it's in their head all the time.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2014, 01:17:49 AM »
I'm right there with Kythia and your explanation doesn't really work for me.  Quantifying a person is something I'm uncomfortable seeing.  You aren't really allowing for all of the variable that make up a person's daily life and if a person is busy there just isn't time to pay attention to where they are on the graph.  I doubt that you would even understand where I would see myself on most days and why.  Therefore, the graph is meaningless for me.  I simply deal with who and what I am at any moment on each day and move on. 

Offline Kythia

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2014, 01:19:18 AM »
Does that help?

Not even remotely, sorry.  I don't know what Pumpkin Spice is and didn't get your bacon themed metaphors.  Thanks for trying though

However, if Caehlim's explanation is what you meant then its all sunshine and cookies, because I did get that one.  I'm inclined to agree with BeMi that a day is far too long a sampling period but whatever, adjust it to a minute by minute (I didn't get the impression the length of time was important) and I think I undertand ya.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2014, 01:34:21 AM »
To be honest, it's hard for me to imagine.

I'm not sure what feeling male or feeling female is like. All day, every day I just know that I'm male. It's a constant for me and doesn't mean anything about other issues. I've never had any experience with being gender-queer or gender-fluid and it's really hard for me to wrap my head around it.

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2014, 02:22:29 AM »
It's a really hard concept to get across, but it is really helpful for some people to be able to express to others what they feel like in relation to known points. And yeah, Caehlim is right on the ball, there, in getting the idea across.

The biggest problem is that Gender is a binaristic idea based on a very loose understanding of what gender really is. There are no words to encapsulate what it feels like to "Be a Woman" but women know that they're women. Even little girls born with penises and testicles know that they are women, even if society and their parents tell them they aren't. And of course the same is true in the reverse.

But there are also people who fall somewhere on the masculine-feminine spectrum but don't -feel- their gender as strongly. These people are generally referred to as Demi or Nano gender. They're not always in the middle of the spectrum (Agender) but may, instead, just not feel particularly manly or girlish. They recognize that they are men or women, but just don't feel it... strongly...

There just aren't any words to really describe it.

The spectrum idea is also really useful for explaining Genderfluid individuals. People who slide across the spectrum from one side to the other.

Though, really, we haven't even -touched- on the idea that gender isn't a two dimensional plane but rather a three dimensional cube with entirely different genders on it that we just don't have names to quantify because describing them is essentially impossible with our current verbiage.

And yes. I recognize that a lot of people are uncomfortable quantifying or labeling people. As someone who felt "Wrong" for her whole life without the ability to explain how, however, I can tell you how amazing it feels to be able to grab words that you didn't know and embrace them as a way of finally communicating what you've known all along.

It's a liberation that is worth sharing whenever possible.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2014, 03:26:09 AM »
The biggest problem is that Gender is a binaristic idea based on a very loose understanding of what gender really is. There are no words to encapsulate what it feels like to "Be a Woman" but women know that they're women. Even little girls born with penises and testicles know that they are women, even if society and their parents tell them they aren't. And of course the same is true in the reverse.

I've found that side of things easier to understand personally. I know that if someone knew that they were a woman with the same kind of certainty that I know I'm a man, it wouldn't matter what their anatomy was like.

Quote
And yes. I recognize that a lot of people are uncomfortable quantifying or labeling people. As someone who felt "Wrong" for her whole life without the ability to explain how, however, I can tell you how amazing it feels to be able to grab words that you didn't know and embrace them as a way of finally communicating what you've known all along.

I can second this with just the huge relief of going, "Wait... I'm gay. Yes! Suddenly things make a lot more sense." That was a good moment, kind of hard to describe though.

I honestly thought I was never going to experience that again, surely at thirty I know who I am now. Fairly recently though, another discussion on E helped me realize that I might be asexual and just homo-romantic. I'm still not entirely sure on that one, sometimes it can take a bit of time and thought to know if a label fits. But reading about some other people's experiences, which I couldn't have easily found if there wasn't a label uniting them, has helped me to explore this a little better.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2014, 08:00:32 AM »
The biggest problem is that Gender is a binaristic idea based on a very loose understanding of what gender really is. There are no words to encapsulate what it feels like to "Be a Woman" but women know that they're women. Even little girls born with penises and testicles know that they are women, even if society and their parents tell them they aren't. And of course the same is true in the reverse.
Sssssometimes. Maybe even most of the time; insufficient data to be certain. "I always knew!" is part of the ISO Standard Trans* Narrative, but there are quite a few of us whose lived experiences differ - and who took longer to come to terms with their identities precisely because they didn't always know, therefore it couldn't possibly be true.

To be honest, it's hard for me to imagine.

I'm not sure what feeling male or feeling female is like. All day, every day I just know that I'm male. It's a constant for me and doesn't mean anything about other issues. I've never had any experience with being gender-queer or gender-fluid and it's really hard for me to wrap my head around it.
As someone who has been on both sides of this, and recently tried to define it (and with the massive caveat that my experience is mine, not necessarily representative of others): To me, "male" and "female" seem to be categorical labels for a whole host of ways of thinking and behaving, for the most part. My identity is the output, not the input - I'll grab "him" or "her" or "them" as a handy way of explaining the general mode my brain seems to be in or the way my body map looks at the moment.

(The big problem with this is that I really don't know how to reconcile it with "Gender essentialism is toxic and pernicious", because... well, defining "male" and "female" as "reflective of this broad collection of thoughts and behaviours" can't help but be kinda essentialist, can it?)

And yes. I recognize that a lot of people are uncomfortable quantifying or labeling people. As someone who felt "Wrong" for her whole life without the ability to explain how, however, I can tell you how amazing it feels to be able to grab words that you didn't know and embrace them as a way of finally communicating what you've known all along.

It's a liberation that is worth sharing whenever possible.
Amen. Labels and quantifications shouldn't define you - but they provide some solid footing from which to assess yourself and the territory around you, if that makes sense. Just being able to understand that you're not broken, just on the edge of the human bell curve? It's a massively empowering feeling.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2014, 09:25:20 AM »
Sssssometimes. Maybe even most of the time; insufficient data to be certain. "I always knew!" is part of the ISO Standard Trans* Narrative, but there are quite a few of us whose lived experiences differ - and who took longer to come to terms with their identities precisely because they didn't always know, therefore it couldn't possibly be true.

I'm not sure how comfortable you are discussing this in open, Ephiral, and my apologies if the answer is some flavour of "insufficiently".  But... do you feel your identity changed across your life?  That it took you longer than "standard" because there was a change in gender identity muddying the waters?

Offline Slywyn

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2014, 09:38:57 AM »
I know I'm not Eph and sorry for butting in, but I can say that my outlook DEFINITELY changed over my life.

I always knew there was -something- going on but for the longest time I thought I was just gay or something. It wasn't until someone explained to me what trans* actually WAS before I went "holy shit everything makes sense now". It was like everything sorta coalesced.

However, that doesn't mean that I've always felt like "This is me and that's how it is". Even now I'm still figuring out things about who I am and what's going on in my head. Several things I thought were certain aren't or were completely wrong. It's been an ongoing process.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2014, 09:41:17 AM »
I know I'm not Eph and sorry for butting in, but I can say that my outlook DEFINITELY changed over my life.

From my point of view, you're certainly not.  I only asked Ephiral as she's the one who happened to mention it, apologies if I gave the impression his was the only story I'm interested in and thanks very much for sharing.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2014, 10:52:49 AM »
I'm not sure how comfortable you are discussing this in open, Ephiral, and my apologies if the answer is some flavour of "insufficiently".  But... do you feel your identity changed across your life?  That it took you longer than "standard" because there was a change in gender identity muddying the waters?

First: I put myself out here because I think this stuff is important to discuss. You need never apologize to me for a question asked in good faith, and Kythia, you've proven your good faith countless times. For the record, about the only thing I'm really uncomfortable discussing in public is my bio sex, for reasons I've mentioned to you before.

Second: I feel like I'm harping at this, but it's an important note: These are my experiences. There are as many trans* narratives as there are trans* people, and I'm sure that some of those narratives are going to be on the opposite side of literally any question I answer. I offer my perspective up because I think having more voices, more different stories, and more visibility helps us all. EDIT: Just to make it explicit, Slywyn, this means that your perspective is welcomed and heartily encouraged as far as I'm concerned.

I... am unsure. There was definitely something there years before I knew what it was; I have a whole laundry-list of incidents that, in hindsight, were giant red flags that clearly showed more than one component to my gender. At the same time, my identity does shift over time, and not just in the "I'm fluid" sense - I've grown a lot more conscious of dysphoric feelings, and of my body map, in just the past few months, for instance. I can see myself sliding back and forth much more routinely and easily than I ever did before, but it's hard to say how much of that is because acknowledging it made it easier, how much is because my identity is shifting, and how much is just that I'm now consciously aware of and monitoring things that were happening anyway.

That said, I think the two biggest factors were cultural enforcement and invisibility. I faced strong and often violent pushback pretty much any time I questioned social norms, and gender roles in particular provoked some of the strongest responses. So there was a strong message of "Don't you dare examine this!" that I internalized pretty heavily. (After coming out to myself, I immediately spent two years trying to pretend that it never happened and it'd just go away if I ignored it hard enough.) And... even when I could admit to myself that I felt odd, when I spent nights wondering what it would have been like if I'd been born differently, when I wanted to adopt mixed gendered behaviours or styles... there were no visible examples of people who shared my perspective. I knew transsexual people existed, men and women who always knew they belonged in a different body. But... I didn't always feel wrong. I didn't always feel uncomfortable. That wasn't me. It wasn't until I started doing serious study of transgender issues that I encountered the concept of "genderfluid", and... it was like a light coming on in a dark room. I was finally able to see the thing I'd been vaguely groping at for years, and it made so much more sense.

I'm not sure how clearly I'm expressing myself here; it's difficult to put words on a lot of this, and I'm not really sure adequate words exist for some things. But hopefully this addresses your question.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 11:27:30 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2014, 01:30:23 PM »
My identity is the output, not the input

It's funny. You can hear something explained over and over again without really getting it, then someone hits on a description that just fits with your way of thinking and you instantly understand it.

These eight words were exactly what I needed to hear to finally understand what it's like. I think I get it now... at least somewhat.

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2014, 03:52:04 PM »
Ephiral and Slywyn I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and apologize for erasing it.

I was referring, specifically, to trans men and trans women who fall under classical dysphoric perspectives, but you are right. That narrative only speaks to a certain portion of the trans population.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2014, 05:55:23 PM »
Ephiral and Slywyn I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and apologize for erasing it.

I was referring, specifically, to trans men and trans women who fall under classical dysphoric perspectives, but you are right. That narrative only speaks to a certain portion of the trans population.

"I always knew I was a man/woman" is also a phrase that fits nicely with modern ways of thinking, it gives you an almost unshakable advantage, it serves to ground your personal gender into something so essentially you that you must have been born with it. Arguing against it becomes like saying the other one should give up one of their five senses or cut one hand off, it just lands off limits. I think the familiar meme of "a girl wrongly born in a male body" has the same apparent solid-rock quality, it makes a great talking point for arguing the rights of trans people in general, against their bodies and some social conventions, by making TG states of mind and some kinds of TG sexual experiences (not necessarily all of them) almost biologically grounded. But it isn't always a good explanation of how trans experience works in day-to-day life, and over time, over a lifetime. And if you don't buy into a simple gender binarism, the "born in the wrong gendered body" point can be a tricky one.

I'd agree with Ephiral that my sense of being female (and feminine, in some ways) has evolved over time. I can't say I knew when I was five years old or even twelve that I wasn't what I looked like, though I know in retrospect that some people close to me (grown-ups, often) noticed that I was at least an unusual kind of boy, with some interests and penchants that did seem to cross the gender line or play with it. And things I should have picked up on too when they happened, the way the little dice came falling down for me, but as a child you don't look at yourself coolly from the outside in that way. Personally speaking it was something I struggled with for quite some time, and like most trans persons (excepting some of those who transition very early, already when they're about twenty, and that group barely existed in the early days of sex change surgery and hormonal therapy) I honestly can't say I have not been shaped to some extent by living in my outward/accepted gender, by some of the expectations, rights and limits.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 08:51:23 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2014, 03:06:17 PM »
(The big problem with this is that I really don't know how to reconcile it with "Gender essentialism is toxic and pernicious", because... well, defining "male" and "female" as "reflective of this broad collection of thoughts and behaviours" can't help but be kinda essentialist, can it?)

I've been thinking about this for a long while and I think I've finally had an idea about it. This is a bit of wild surmise so please forgive me if it's wrong, but I'm hoping it might be a way of looking at it that can resolve this dilemma.

When you describe your own feelings, behaviours and thoughts as male or female you're not aligning them with what it means to have a particular set of chromosomes or genital anatomy or background of being raised as a particular gender. How could you when these things are usually a constant for you as an individual and yet your feelings change all the time?

I think you're aligning them with what it feels like personally for you to be male or female and this is a completely different thing.

My feelings of being male and what it means to me are different from any other Cis-male. They're different to what it means to any transmale as well. They're also different to how you feel as a male when you're experiencing a moment of masculine identity. Everyone has their own individual expressions and understanding of their gender or genders.

Just because you are lucky enough to have both an experience of being male that means certain things to you and an experience of being female that means certain other things to you, doesn't mean that describing them with gender-derived labels is buying into a concept of gender essentialism. I'm sure if you compared notes with another genderfluid person, your own experiences of being male or female would vary from one anothers with your own unique personal gender identities and expression.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 03:27:03 PM by Caehlim »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2014, 03:48:11 PM »
That's... an interesting way of thinking about it, but what the issue comes down to is that the brain modes I file under "male" and "female" come off as fairly stereotypical - and that labeling them as male and female buys into essentialist stereotypes. When I'm on the masculine side, I tend to be more stoic, more analytical (yes, I get more analytical), and more closed-off and guarded, for example. On the feminine side, I tend to be more open and expressive, more in touch with my emotions, and generally friendlier. It's hard to reconcile calling these modes "male" and "female" with the idea that those traits are not inherent to men and women.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2014, 04:30:54 PM »
Well I can't be sure, because it's not my experience and anything you personally find worthy of exploring within your self-identity is something you should look into.

I'll think a bit more about it, because it's raised an interesting question and I might share some of my thoughts on it. It'll take a bit more time for me to think that through but at the end of the day it doesn't matter how I end up feeling about it because it's all about how you feel comfortable with embracing and expressing your gender identity or identities.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2014, 04:34:55 PM »
That's... an interesting way of thinking about it, but what the issue comes down to is that the brain modes I file under "male" and "female" come off as fairly stereotypical - and that labeling them as male and female buys into essentialist stereotypes. When I'm on the masculine side, I tend to be more stoic, more analytical (yes, I get more analytical), and more closed-off and guarded, for example. On the feminine side, I tend to be more open and expressive, more in touch with my emotions, and generally friendlier. It's hard to reconcile calling these modes "male" and "female" with the idea that those traits are not inherent to men and women.

Is that not just a long way of saying "I should quit referring to these brain modes as male and female because gender essentialism is toxic and pernicious"?  If so then, yanno, do.

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2014, 04:55:35 PM »
The problem with that, Kythia, is that we lack the words to describe with any more than the loosest accuracy our actual gender identities.

The English language just doesn't cover them, because it's been stuck in a binaristic model since... well forever.

To communicate our sense of self we're bound by the language of our peers. I could try to tell people that my gender is, in actuality, somewhere closer to "Torg" but it wouldn't mean anything to anyone but me, unless I run through a complete psychosocial breakdown of how I feel about essentially everything.

It's trying to describe colors no one else can see. You wind up hitting color-comparatives.

That said, Gender is, like sex, a social construct. What is considered "Masculine" in one culture may be considered "Feminine" in others, for example. So even if we identify traits as male or female, or ourselves in a gender binary, it is only as a way of communicating that idea in a system of language that is binaristic, not a demand for binarism in gender.

Trust me, I'd love to be able to truly encapsulate my identity in a word or simple phrase. We're just not "Allowed" to create words to describe concepts other people don't understand. Hell, even nonstandard pronoun usage is often proscribed as being foolish to the point that we still have nonstandard basic pronouns.

Like England and America we are separated by distance but are truly divided by a common language.

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Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2014, 05:05:11 PM »
The problem with that, Kythia, is that we lack the words to describe with any more than the loosest accuracy our actual gender identities.

That wasn't quite what I was getting at, though, yeah, it would have been nigh impossible to get that from what I wrote.

Hypothetical person Bob - I'm moving this away from Ephiral to depersonalise it - swings between two brain states.  In one they feel more analytical, more reserved, more stoic.  In another they feel more emotional, extroverted and intuitive.

Why are we referring to this as a gender identity issue?  The rationale seems to be that we associate the first of those bundles of behaviour with males, the second with females so switching between the two must, therefore, be a switch of mental gender.  Correct me if I'm wrong. 

What I'm saying is that we, broadly, agree that there is no good reason for associating those collections with male and female which seems to remove any impetus to view that switching as a gender identity issue and not simply a, I dunno, "mindset identity" issue.  We're only labelling them male and female because we're used to doing so, despite acknowledging that they are not overly helpful labels.  Stop using them then.  Gender essentialism is toxic and pernicious, as Ephiral says, and "I can't think of another word to use" is not a good enough reason for continuing and perpetuating those stereotypes. 

Offline SteampunketteTopic starter

Re: Human Identities, Sexuality, and Romances are Complex
« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2014, 05:45:01 PM »
We refer to it as a gender identity issue, Kythia, because our society and language dictates that it -is- a gendered issue, not to mention the fact that a lot of us do ascribe to socially constructed gender roles and identities.

Because changing everything to "Mindset Identities" as you're proposing undermines literally decades of work to communicate basic concepts to cisgender individuals who have no other frame of reference to what we're talking about.

Because changing everything to "Mindset Identities" as you're proposing would require us to convince the majority of people to completely change the way they think of gender traits in a society that CONSTANTLY reinforces it through media, education, and custom.

In order to lay the foundation of understanding of our perspective.

While what you're proposing might sound simple on paper or in theory it's hard to even get people to accept the use of singular "They" as references to a known entity.

With ALL of that said, Feminism has been trying to break down gender roles in society. And as we get closer to that goal shifting into "Mindset Identity" or even breaking down gender as a concept altogether in order to create a culture in which trait-groupings are skipped in favor of interacting on a non-gendered basis entirely will be more feasible.

But you're asking us to do what is, currently, impossible based on the constraints of our society and it's understanding of gender. We're 1/3rd of the way up the ladder and your proposal is somewhere closer to the top 2-3 rungs of that ladder. We're still working on the right to use a public bathroom or not get fired, refused service, or dismembered and set on fire for not following the common understanding of gender in society.

We'll get there, eventually, but we don't live in that world, yet.