There are many reasons why leading discussions about identity can be challenging. It’s safe to say that it’s a topic that’s very sensitive since it affects us all in so many ways. One attempt of dealing with identity is to distinguish between self-awareness, that deals with the situation about how we see ourselves or want ourselves to be perceived, and awareness of others, dealing with how other people witness our personality. This differenciation enables us to have a conversation in a reflective manner, considering the fact that self-awareness must not always be in accordance with the awareness of others and it helps to maintain clarity in complex discussions.
Caitlyn Jenner about her womanhood
Caitlyn Jenner is one of the most popular trans persons in our society. And she sees herself as an ally with the mission to push the dialog about how we talk about transness in our society to the next level. However, Caitlyn Jenner had to deal with a major backlash with what she said the other week. She ignited a discussion about how we can communicate gender, since many people allegedly accused her of defaming the trans community by labeling herself as a person that “doesn’t want to look like a man in a dress” in her latest interview for Time Magazine. See, this is the point where it’s getting messy!
First of all we have to point out that this quote was taken out of context, because Caitlyn Jenner was talking about her desire to appear at ease with herself at the ecounter with others since she thinks that people still have a problem with a trans person who doesn’t live up to society’s gender expectations. Now Caitlyn Jenner spoke out for the first time since the heated debate about her Time Magazine statement in which she admits that she still has a lot to learn. To read the full airtight apology head over to whosay.com!
Being trans and the significance of visibilty
The fact that some people might be offended by Caitlyn’s “don’t-want-to-look-like-a-man-in-dress”-statement doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s clearly a very archaic approach, that undoubtedly reduces trans womanhood to visual and social gender expectations. Another reason that makes this statement look pretty antiquated is that it can only be admissible in a binary environment where there are only two genders, male and female. Furthermore it’s significant to acknowledge that dealing with the way you choose to present yourself is just one part of your identiy as it is for everybody else.
What is transgender?
The term “trans” has its origin in the Latin language and means “across”, like trans-border meaning across the border. Transgender is defined as an umbrella term that includes many different shades of gender identities. The opposite of trans is “cis”, also coming from Latin language and it means “on this side of”. Cisgendered people identify themselves with the gender they were assigned with at birth.
Expanding the definition of gender
As there are many ways how we as a society could deal with the variety of gender identities we can only point out a few ways on how to emphasize on a society that understands itself as an inclusive one. One solution could be to dismiss the behind-the-times-approach of the gender binary consisting only of womanhood and manhood. Many scientists today are talking about a gender spectrum that doesn’t only include two gender identities, but endless ideas of how to express gender. For more information on that follow the link to this article that talks about gender as a spectrum and distinguishes between sex and gender. Or as endocrinologist Norman Spack would put it “Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with, whereas gender identiy is who you go to bed as”.
If you want to inform yourself about more ways how we can communicate gender, head over to Janet Mock’s youtube channel!
Picture via Instagram
by Kemara Pol