September 16, 2019

What does "assigned gender at birth" mean?


I think the transgender community and its allies often take the word "assigned" for granted, rarely stopping to think about what it means or what it conveys to others.

Guest post by Veronica Claire

This is a topic that I raised in a private conversation with Jack, and he was keen to see it shared with a wider audience.

Assigned gender and assigned sex

Nuances differ between assigned gender and assigned sex, and there are shades of meaning within each. The everyday sense of the word is easiest to recognise when we are talking about (a) the way society allocates social roles and expectations based on our genitalia, or (b) the case of intersex people who were raised as boys or girls and even operated on for no reason other than society's intolerance of ambiguity. This is assignment in anyone's dictionary.

Other times, assigned sex or gender is used essentially as a euphemism for anatomical sex at birth, in contexts where neither society's social assumptions nor the possibility of intersex conditions are really under consideration, and where casual readers might be mislead to believe that we are denying the reality of anatomical sex beyond the act of assignment. Such usage is not wrong, but it should be cogniscent rather than reflexive.

September 12, 2019

Are cis women responsible for the murders of transgender women?



Some  trans-exclusionary "radical feminists" (TERFs) are getting really annoyed at me over at tumblr.

I believe the main reason is that I present the similarities between them and other transphobes in a clear away, and they hate to be put in the same box as right wing extremists and religious fundamentalists.

My comparison of apartheid bathroom segregation and the current TERF/extreme right attempts at banning trans women from women's spaces really got them going, as did a tumblr post I wrote on how TERFs  must share some of the blame for current violence against transgender women.

This is probably why I was asked this strange question: "how is it women's fault that men kill trans women?".

This is most likely a TERF trying to bait me. She wants get  me to write something outrageous that can be used in her fight against transgender people. And the fact that she even bother to ask such questions is a good thing. My blog is clearly making a difference.

Did I bite? But of course I did!

You can read my response regarding the murder of trans women and the role of TERFs and other "Aunt Lydias" over at Trans Express!

The photo is from the TV series The Handmaid's Tale. The woman to the left is Aunt Lydia, the matriarch that is doing all she can to support the misogynistic tyranny of Gilead.

September 9, 2019

On being non-binary and bigender and the fear of coming out to the family

Bigender people sometimes feel male, other times female. (Illustration photo. Original photo: Nadofotos, gender switch in Faceapp).

In this guest post Jemimah writes about being non-binary and bigender and the fear of coming out to their family. Jemimah is assigned male at birth, but they may switch between a male and a female gender identity.

By Jemimah

I was recently asked whether writing help me deal with my gender complications.  The answer is possibly.

A follow-up might be to ask about reading. I do a lot of reading; I am, for instance,  about to go and follow the Silk Road to China. But while the Chinese situation in Xinjiang is interesting,  it is not directly relevant to the topic of this blog post.

Non-binary and bigender identities

I have read lots of books on transgender issues recently, though. One book in particular did provide some relief. It was Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows, a collection of essays arranged by Christine Burns.

It is a complete history of all modern activities in the non-straight world in Britain and has, for instance,  some surprisingly encouraging accounts of straight politicians helping the LGBT community.

The book probably caught my eye because included in it is an essay on non-binary identity, by Meg-John Barker, Ben Vincent and Jos Twist. Non-binary is, as they point out, the most common umbrella term for people who experience their gender as neither male nor female:
"Non-binary people can have a fluid experience of gender, experiencing themselves as more male, more female, both or neither, at different times. Other non-binary people experience themselves as somewhere between male and female, or as a separate third category, for example."
Their main focus is on the area somewhere in between male and female. This may be the more common condition. They think that about one in 250 identify themselves as other than male or female.

The non-binary identities they are discussing are not necessarily bigender in the sense that I, Rick/Ria [a 26 year old British bigender person] and the neuroscientists V.S. Ramachandran and L.K. Case understand it, though.  I believe myself to have, one at a time, a male and a female gender.


August 7, 2019

What to do about the transgender narrative?

The gender stereotypes  and the "male brain" versus "female brain" narrative live on. But there is no reason to think that stereotypical interests or abilities reflect gender identity. Photo Andrey Popov.

I got an interesting comment/question over at tumblr, where the author strongly argue that the "born transgender narrative is wrong". I agree with a lot of what they say, but still think that some of their objections are based on a misunderstanding.

This misunderstanding is based on the idea that arguing for an inborn component of gender identity development equals having to believe that  male and female brain are significantly different from each other, and that having a male or a female brain automatically leads to a specific set of behaviors.

There is nothing in the world I see that proves that the brains and minds of men and women are significantly different. Indeed, the radical new role of women in a country like my own (Norway) tells me that  the scientific dogma used to chain women to the kitchen stove were nothing but cultural prejudices.

All the same: We still face a constant barrage of stories, images and theories aimed at explaining why men and women are different. When I wrote my response over at tumblr, I searched for stock photos I could use to  illustrate the "born as a man or woman narrative", and a lot of them (the one above included) presented women as creative and emotional and men as logical and rational.

The truth is that there is little in contemporary research that proves that such a distinction makes sense on the individual level. It barely makes sense on an aggregated level, if at all.

But the fact that the male versus female brain model is misleading, does not in itself mean that your gender identity cannot have some kind of biological component. And that is what I try to explain over at my Trans Express blog.

For more on my take on the transgender narrative and "nature versus nurture", read my reply over at tumblr.

Further reading:



July 27, 2019

Straight men's fear of knitting


What a friend taught me about how we all play along to let the gender stereotypes govern our lives.

A month ago I posted a comment on my "real life" facebook account about similarities between Nordic knitting patterns and neolithic chevrons, wondering what they both expressed something about our subconscious minds.  (Yeah, I am a nerd. Deal with it ;-) )

I think it was the accompanying photo of a Norwegian sweater that made a friend add the following comment:
"So you have started knitting now?" 
I believe there was a smiley involved. I cannot remember.

That sentence got me thinking.

Friendly bullying


There are three possible interpretations:
  1. He genuinely wanted to know if I had started knitting, with no ulterior motive.
  2. He questioned my status as a real male, as I indicated an interest in womanly knitting.
  3. It was a man to man joke, where he acknowledge my "manhood", but he was teasing me for challenging the borders for proper male behavior.

If he had been a woman, I would have gone for alternative 1. But since he had shown no interest in tricotage before (or for any stereotypical "feminine" hobby for that manner), I doubt very much he was looking forward to discussing the sizes of knitting needles with me.


June 9, 2019

A new US study of changes in people's attitude towards homosexuals, tells us how trans people may gain recognition and acceptance


In the US people's attitudes towards gay and lesbian people have changed dramatically, and in a positive way. It turns out it is much harder to dehumanize sexual variation when people meet gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the workplace or among friends. In other words: The more gay and lesbian people straight people have meet, the less likely they are to be homophobic. It is a fair guess that over time the same will apply to the attitudes towards trans people.

In 2004  polls showed that 60 percent of  Americans opposed same-sex marriage, while only 31 percent were in favor. Today  61 percent support same-sex marriage, while 31 percent oppose it.

Support for same-sex marriage has increased among nearly all demographic groups, across different generations, political and cultural divides and religious faiths.

In The Washington Post Samantha Schmidt argues  that the main reason for this reversal is that gay and lesbian people started to come out in great numbers. At the same time gay and lesbians became much more visible in the media.


Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!