Sunday, 31 July 2011

Trans* and Genderqueer Categories Part 1

The previous article went over a few of the most common "myths" or misconceptions of Trans* and Genderqueer people. The responses to that article were very positive and my thanks to all of you who commented.

The remainder of the articles in this series will cover the different "categories" or identities that fall under the Trans* label. To save my fingers a little, from now on when you see the word "Trans*", please keep in mind that the asterisk at the end of ‘trans*’ denotes that this is the wider inclusive form of trans that includes all transgender, genderqueer, gender variant and gender non-conforming people regardless of gender identity or expression.

The first identity we're going to cover is Cross-dressers. Now, I know that the first thing that you pictured when you read that word was either of a very hairy guy, complete with beard, wearing a pink frilly dress and seven inches of make up on his face or celebrities such as Lily Savage, Dame Edna Everage, or RuPaul. If so, you're not wrong, but neither are you completely correct. These two examples are just a very small part of what cross-dressing is.

In order to understand cross-dressing and those who do it, we must first understand it's definition. The Free Dictionary defines cross-dressing as dressing "in the clothing characteristic of the opposite sex" and a cross-dresser as "someone who adopts the dress or manner or sexual role of the opposite sex." (source) Those definitions only give a very "cut and dry" idea though. We need to look deeper.

Time for some travelling. Let's go all the way back to ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, Hercules was compelled to do women's work as well as dress as a woman during the time he was a slave to Omphale. According to various 13th century writings, in the late first to early second century, Pope Joan was a woman who dressed as a male and rose through the Catholic church hierarchy,  eventually being chosen as Pope. Other famous cross-dressers throughout history include Hua Mulan, Joan of Arc, and George Sand.

Everyone has cross-dressed at some time in their life. From little boys wearing their mother's best Sunday dress while playing dress up, little girls wearing their older male cousin's clothing as hand-me-downs, to men wearing a dress and a wig for Halloween fun and women wearing men's t-shirts because they're "more comfortable", it's all cross-dressing and there is nothing wrong with it.

Why do people cross-dress? There are many reasons for doing so. Some people cross-dress for comfort reasons. They find the clothing of the opposite sex to be more comfortable than the clothing for their own sex. In the last few years, there has been a growing trend of gender non-conformity or people who reject societal gender norms. This group of people often cross-dress to blend the lines of society-placed genders. People such as Lily Savage, who I mentioned earlier, are known as Drag Queens. Drag Queens are males who dress as extremely exaggerated female characters complete with wig, lots of make up, high heels, and flashy dresses. Other people cross-dress in order to completely pass as their non-birth gender.

Clothing is just that - clothing. Does it really matter what we wear? After all, we are who we are and clothing isn't going to change that.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

What Trans* and Genderqueer...

...Are Not

(or The Common Myths About Transgender and Genderqueer)

Last week (and a bit) I did a series on what LGBTQ is. Over the next week (ish) I'm going to expound on this topic by going over Transgender and Genderqueer in a bit more detail. The reason for this is because the Trans* and Queer "categories" are more complicated than the LGB parts.

In this article, I will be telling you what Trans* and Genderqueer are not, because there are lots of misconceptions about the two and understanding what they aren't will help you to understand what they are.

Myth #1:  Being Trans* or Genderqueer is a choice.
Truth:        People who are Transgender or Genderqueer do not choose to be so. Why would anyone choose to be something that so many people hate/are afraid of/don't understand? Simply put, they don't. Just like people who are female with a female body or male with a male body (for easy reference, these will be called cis-females and cis-males, respectively) know that they are female/male, transgendered people know that they are transgendered/genderqueer. In fact, it has been found that the testosterone levels in the brain of a fetus during development plays a crucial part in determining whether a person may be trans*. (Hare L, Bernard P, S├ínchez FJ, Baird PN, Vilain E, Kennedy T, Harley VR (2009)) Trans*/Genderqueer people are literally born that way.

Myth #2: If you're Transgender/Genderqueer, then you have to have surgery.
Truth:       While some Trans*/Queer people do have top or bottom surgery, a lot don't. It is common to take hormones to help the person pass as male or female or help make them look more androgynous, but again, not all Trans*/Queer people go this route.

Myth #3:  Transgender/Genderqueer people are gay/homosexual.
Truth:        Being Trans*/Queer has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Transgender/Genderqueer is all about gender identity (the gender one identifies with) as opposed to sexual orientation (the gender one is attracted to). Tran*/Queer people can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and so on.

Please feel free to leave a comment if there are any myths/misconceptions that I have missed that you would like to point out or if you have any questions.  This list isn't complete, but is all I was able to come up with "off the top of my head" this evening.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 5)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "(Gender) Queer", and is also the last official day of this series. I hope you have enjoyed learning about (possibly) new things. If this series has made you think in a different way, taught you something you didn't know before, then please comment and let me know! Also, if you have any questions about any of the topics in this series, please ask and I will try my best to answer them.

I've found both an article and a video highlighting what GenderQueer means. Hope you enjoy them!


Friday, 22 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 4)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "BiSexual", and guess what? There's no video today! I did find a website though which sums up the wonderful world of Bisexualism pretty well. Hope you enjoy reading it!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 3)


Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Gay", and as seems to be the norm for me, here's a video. :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 2)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Lesbian" and I've found a nice video that sums it up rather nicely.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Let's Learn Something (part 1)

Lately, I've found that a lot of people really don't know what each letter in "LGBTQ" stands for. Yes, most people realise that it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, (Gender) Queer", but they don't really understand what those terms mean.

To help remedy this, I'm going to be posting journals and messages on different sites that I'm a member of all this week. Each day, I will highlight a different letter in "LGBTQ". Comments and questions are welcomed, but please be respectful.

Today is "Transgender" and I've found a nice video that sums it up rather nicely.



http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1824656861027683012

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Make Room For Yourself

"Jews cannot fight antisemitism alone, Muslims cannot fight Islamaphobia alone, gays cannot fight homophobia alone. The victim cannot cure the crime, the hated cannot cure the hater. We are as big or as small as the space we make for others who are not like us."  - Rabbi Lord Sacks

How true this statement is.

There is so much phobia in the world today. Homophobia, Islamaphobia, Christianphobia (yes, I made that up just now), racism, Transphobia, sexism... Why? Because it makes us feel better about ourselves? Because "we're right and everyone else is wrong"? Because to admit that men like roses is the same as stripping them of their masculinity?

I'm not having it. The human race is a huge amalgamation of different beliefs, different colours, different traditions, different sexual orientations, and yes, different gender identities. Instead of trying to make everyone else conform to what we think is "normal", we should be celebrating our differences. Because it is those differences which make us so wonderful.

By limiting others, we are actually limiting ourselves. By telling others "You were born a female, and therefore you can not be a male" or "You can not marry another man" we are actually imprisoning ourselves in a cage made of petty prejudices that will one day come back to bite us.

On the flip side, if we make room for those who are different than us then we make more room for our own beliefs and our own feelings. And the world will be so much better for it.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fourth of July, Losing Weight, and other stuff

Been a while since I updated here. Sorry about that. Truth be told, there's not been much to say.

I hope everyone in the States had a good 4th of July. Obviously, it isn't celebrated here in England, but we have Guy Fawkes Night in November!

Trying to lose a bit of weight. Not much though. Actually, I'm more wanting to build up muscle and get rid of excess fat. If I lose weight in the process, so be it. My exercise "regime" is using handheld weights for 20-30 minutes each day and to either walk outside for a minimum of 30 minutes or play on my xbox 360 (Kinect games) for 30 minutes to an hour every day. I'm not really on a diet, but I'm trying to eat more veg and fruit and less junk food and drink more tea and water and less pop.

As of this past Tuesday, I weighed 164ish lbs. We'll see how I'm doing in August. I'm not going to weigh myself except for at my boyfriends house (which I visit once a month) and when my GP wants to weigh me. Also, just for future reference, my measurements are as follows:

Waist: 37"
Thighs: 25"
Calves: 16"
Arms: 13"
Chest: 38"