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Pemwrez2009's picture

To Dysphoria, or Not to Dysphoria

During Tuesdays class I left feeling really upset. Gender and Sexuality classes are some of the only classes in general that provide a space to talk about Trans-issues and Intersex issues. These are two topics that play a pretty integral roll in discussions of feminism as well. Thus far in class, we have discussed gender as a very binary concept. We have men, and then we have women. Well, what about categories that complicate this dichotomy. When we look at different ideas from an either female or male perspective, we are buying into a definition of what it is to be a female or male. Complicating gender allows us to recognize to what extent our gender identities are socialized/ constructed. It was sad for me to walk out of a class where we had the opportunity to discuss these issues, and it became just another one of those classes that leave out gender and sex identifications that were neither male or female.

If we reconsider, the inclusion of these categories, here are some authors and titles that might be helpful.


Judith Halberstam. Female Masculinity
Viviane K. Namaste. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People
Judith Butler. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
Pat Califia. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
Holly Devor. FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society
Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors
Leslie Feinberg. Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue

Intersex Theory:

excerpts from: Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory: New Directions
By Judith Kegan Gardiner

Sharon E Preves- Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self

As Nature Made Him (John Colapinto)

Susan Stryker Readings:

When we think of ourselves, I feel like it is pretty safe to assume that we think of ourselves as constantly changing and growing. For trans-people, we are similar in that we see ourselves as changing, but our goals are sometimes more physical and have a dysphoric depth that goes beyond the average self-critique. In addition, I think that perhaps far to often, we think that we are unfinished works, and that changing ourselves physically by taking hormones, or cutting of or adding parts on to our bodies will solve our problems. Nevertheless, trans-people can never just be, and if we do decide to go through with physical transformations, we struggle with the communities with whom we are allowed to identify ourselves. If we once identified with the queer community, do we stay close to them and bare with the endless commentaries about why we decided to turn to the “dark side”? or do we cut our ties with the queer community and live heteronormative lives?

In Stryker’s essay on Frankenstein she writes “I am too often perceived as less than fully human due to the means of my embodiment; like the monster's as well, my exclusion from human community fuels a deep and abiding rage in me that I, like the monster, direct against the conditions in which I must struggle to exist.”
Stryker, talks about the scars that mark her body, and describes a trans-body as “unnatural”. Well, I agree, our bodies are different, they are “unnatural” to the everyday eye. Trannies love when they can “pass” as the gender they identify as. For many trans people, including myself, we regress into the adolecents and children we once were, with our young insecurities and develop “fitting in” politics all over again. I know that it is human nature for our insides to run a frenzy within the walls of our body.

The hardest part to reconcile is the scientific explanations for trans-identity. Scientists report of the gray matter in our brain and diagnose us with gender dysphoria, so that we can go on our hormones faster and then choose the right gender, it only becomes a problem when we want to identify as trans, not male or female. In a world of back and white, it often becomes too hard to acknowledge yourself standing somewhere in a shade of gray.


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