Class Notes 9/24/13

“Certain social groups may be seen as having rigid or unresponsive bodies and selves, making them relatively unfit for the kind of society we now seem to desire”

–Emily Martin, Flexible Bodies

The above quote related to our class’ discussion on trans bodies and how they interact and are perceived by the general public. We transitioned our discussion into the NPR segment *”Becoming Miles” in which we listen to the experience of Miles’ F2M gender transition. Below are some of the class’ thoughts and discussions, which include other larger topics such as privilege, the role of family in a transition, and loss:

Privilege:

  • one may be financially capable of changing their body and are able to “free” themselves from the body they do not feel connected to.

Role of parents/family:

  • how does one “come out” to family when they decide to transition (or at all?)
  • Miles gave his parents space to react by coming out via email
  • the letter itself shows a changing/transitioning relationship between parents and child
  • transitioning is a social and personal announcement

Loss:

  • Parents have expressed feeling they have lost their child, many mourn this loss
  • But is it a loss? The point was brought up that they are losing the child they thought they had, but they are also gaining more from the child since they are now able to express themselves fully. The family now has a “whole” child.
  • However, the parents’ previous idea has changed, along with any plans or ideals
  • The overall relationship is often changed once the gender is changed– memories are looked back and possibly altered, previous perceptions changed
  • The concept of maternal guilt was also discussed– mother or parents might feel guilty that they were born into a body they didn’t want. This was the case with Miles’ family
  • “destructive love”

The following notes were brought up following our discussion of “Becoming Miles,” but they stem from the same issues and questions.

Gender as taboo:

  • We use gender as identity from the second we’re born
  • We need more gender fluidity/ lack of conformity
  • pink vs. blue debate- we’ve even gendered color!
  • related blog: http://pinkisforboys.wordpress.com/

Gender identity disorder

  • body and sex are not matched
  • we used to believe we could “fix” psychological side of homosexuality, intersexuality, etc. (with religion, therapy, etc.)
  • now we “fix” gender manually, surgically, and with technology
  • Gender is constraining!

Language:

  • Constitutive, performative, and declarative
  • language creates reality.
  • language separates us from animals, as does memory–or does it??

What makes us human??

  • We may not be as distinct as we think we are
  • Do animals have an identity?
  • Does identity make us human?

Questions asked:

  • How do we reconcile with our own tolerance and the moral views and traditions of the general community?
  • Why is gender a “sticking point”? Why is it so difficult to discuss?
  • Why do we have the constraints that hold us to maintain our gender?
  • Can breaking these constraints be liberating? Or should we not share with others when we break these constraints (ie. families during transitions)?
  • Where is the burden placed? We believed it’s placed on those experiencing the transition.
  • If you fit the assumption, do you have to “come out”?

* http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129631536

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