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Week 5--On Passing

Anne Dalke's picture

This week we move from Feminist Disability Studies, through a series of articles in The Transgender Studies Reader, to a visit from Pemwrez2009. You may have questions for Pemwrez2009--or you may want to answer the questions Pemwrez2009 suggests we consider:

1) Why is there such an emphasis on reducing the trans individual to essentialist notions of anatomical validity?
2) Man or womantrans-identified transpeople complicate our tendency to associate femininity with women and masculinity with males, since there's no "tranliness" that we associate as being a characteristic of trans people. Why are trans people pressured to assimilate as male or female?
3) Why is passing so important? Why can it be dangerous?

Anonymous's picture


Hey everyone,
I found this article the other day and thought you might find it interesting...take a look


lrperry's picture

gender terror, gender rage


a spoken word piece by trans activist, Julia Serano.

for more information:



hpolak's picture


I had not posted for last week so I decided to compare and contrast the two speakers who came to address us in class.

Their situations seem very different. Katie was born with an intersex condition called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and considers herself a girl. Alexander was born as a girl, but later in life came to the conclusion that he felt more comfortable assuming a male gender. While the details vary, both of these individuals deal with the pressure of "passing." Alexander explained passing as meaning the ability to have society recognize you from the outside as the gender you have chosen.

This applies to Katie as well, for while she did not choose her gender (she mentioned always knowing she was a girl, and when her father told her, "Don't worry, you are still a girl," her automatic response was "Of course I am a girl!"), she still had internal struggles with being generally accepted as female. She said at one time in her life, there was nothing more that she wanted than to be able to go through puberty the way other girls did. She wanted to buy tampons with her mom, and have her dad be awkward about dating boys and talking about sex. If a stranger took a glance at Katie, he would know she was a girl. Perhaps because of the certainty people possess about Katie's gender, passing is more of a personal quest for her. If that same stranger were to look at Alexander at this point in his life, they might be unsure as to what Alexander's gender is. For Alex, passing depends on the opinions of society. He said he hopes to pass one day.

The conversations we had with both Katie and Alex reinforced the idea that people really are afraid of what they cannot fully understand.  

sarahk's picture

To attempt to answer the

To attempt to answer the questions Alex posed:


1.) I think there is an emphasis on reducing the trans individual to notions of essentialist anatomical validity because we have somehow been conditioned culturally to attribute gender through a filter of genitals. According to the Kessler-McKenna article, we see genitalia and we accept mixed gendered characteristics on that same person as agreeing with the genitalia. So if a person's genitalia doesn't agree with their gender, our mind edits around the genitalia, reducing the body to its essentialist biological characteristics.

2.) This is an interesting concept I've never thought about before. I think trans people upset our whole system of categorizing gender, and we try to ignore what we can't categorize.

3.) "Passing" is important because it is tangible validation of one's gender attribution of one's self. It can be dangerous because it feeds into the already existing binary. If a trans tries so hard to fit into one sex or the other by "passing" for the other side of the binary, they are feeding the very system that defined their condition AS a condition in the first place. 

jzarate's picture


Questions for Alex:


When did you realize that you identified with the male gender? Did you just know at a young age or did you make this discovery over time?


Do you feel that in the process of transitioning people have treated you differently? Are there different societal opportunities offered to the binary than to those who are in the middle?


What’s in a name? How do you feel that your name has affected your transition? How do you think gendered languages impact identification and association?


How has puberty and development of sexual orientation impacted your gender identification? 


Response to Alex’s Questions:


When I first learned about transgendered people, I assumed that they would alter their bodies in order to fit their gender. Now I have learned more, I do not feel that it is necessary to alter physical characteristics. If a person wants to change their physical traits it should be an option available to them, but in any situation I feel that it is a person’s individual choice to make. Society definitely creates pressure to fit in the binary through means of the constructed norms. When I was reading the My Right Self website, I achieved a greater realization of the difficulties faced by a transgendered person. If facing societal constructs of gender is not challenging enough, they must also face restrictions imposed by insurance companies.

Passing is very important to a person’s self confidence. Although I feel that passing can be applied to more than being accepted by society as male or female, it could be applied in terms of being able to have your gender identification mentally match your body physically and also to have this accumulated identity be accepted by a community.  In this way I think that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is missing a step between love and belonging and esteem, there should be an individual level before it is applied to a societal level. If a person can not make peace within themselves, can they be comfortable with their role/identification in society?

            I was wondering if anyone else looked at the My Right Self site and felt awkward about the photographs. On the one hand I felt it was great that there is openness about gender identification and sexual orientation, but I felt some of the symbolism in the photos served to attract attention to the aspects of physical appearance that people mentioned, given the opportunity, they would change.

Dawn's picture

The Reality of Other Possibilities

I really like the statement made by Kessler and McKEnna: "Confront the reality of other possibilities, as well as the possibility of other realities." RIght now society forces us away from this idea, because nearly everhting in our culture is gendered. Paul Grobstein's story of science and the allusion to multiple sexes relates to the reality of other possibilities (than male and female). I wish that collectively humans could recongnize this, because then we could get closer to the understandin of the possibility of other realities (people identifying as something outside of the dichotomy.

Another idea I'm interested in exploring was from Butler's essay: "All gender is an imitation for which there is no original." This is a good point, because ther eis no perfect template for what Male and Female are supposed to look and act like. Therefore, how does society have so much sway in enforcing hte dichotomy?

I really admire Kate Bornstein for reissting the gender divide and living his/her life in a state of real-world gender fluidity. Is this really what we are aiming for?

Questions for Alex: When did you make the decision to transition?

How/why did you make the decision to transition?

How do you feel about Califia's claim that he didn't really aim to be a socially cultured male; he just didn' want to be female?

Do you feel the need to make sure that you pass?

Are you a feminist? Why or why not (what does that word mean to you)?

ssherman's picture

I think questions one and

I think questions one and two are very much related.   There is such a pressure in our society to fit a social norm.  For gender to be something that is easily explainable.  People arevery often afraid of what they don't know or don't understand.  And for many people the idea of transgender is still very unknown and hard to understand.

ANything out of the norm or different is viewed as bad or scary.  I was reading my principal's speech from our graduation the other day and she had a quote from an Ani DiFranco song in it: “When I was four years old, they tried to test my IQ. They showed me a picture of 3 oranges and a pear and asked me which one was different and which one didn’t belong. They taught me that different was wrong.”  We as a society don't know how to deal with the different.  We don't understand how people can be outside the gender binary and if they consider themselves to be, we still ask them to identify with a gender.  I think people are just scared and don't want to take the time to try and understand.

Charlie_C's picture

Dichotomies and judgements are SO much fun!

1, 2)  While people might be aware of variances from the gender/sex dichotomy, the "standard" is this match-up of woman and vagina, man and penis. With it comes this concept that one cannot be a woman without being female, etc. A common first question to learning someone is transgender is, "So, have you had the surgery yet?" It's incomprehensible to so many people that one can be one and not the other. Even more incomprehensible is the concept of being outside the dichotomy completely... being transgender is something that is hard to get people to understand. Not only will assimilating to male or female allow others to understand the situation better, but it helps to validate the trans individual that they are, indeed, a part of their gender. If a transwoman is too masculine, or if a transman is too feminine, others may doubt whether they're truly of the gender they say. People will pressure the trans individual into assimilating because it makes identification and understanding so much easier for them. They try to "help" the trans individual fit in better, even if assimilation is not required or desired.

3) Passing is so important because it allows the world to see you in the same way that you see yourself. People judge others on a single glance and treat them according to that judgement, before even getting to know the other person. Passing allows for a harmony between mind and body.Yet, passing encourages the idea that it's deception, a contest - that to appear as the right gender means that you've "passed" the test. Or, if you pass flawlessly, yet others learn that you were not born as the gender you appear, that has been the basis for countless hate crimes, including rapes and murders.


And some questions for you, Alex:

1) How do you view being trans? Some see it as a mental issue, some see it as a physical issue, some see it just as a state of being, or as another gender, etc. What is your opinion?

2) As a child, were you encouraged to behave towards a certain gender? How much freedom did you have, in terms of what toys/friends you could play with, what activities you could do, etc? Was this a problem for you?

3) How important is being “stealth” to you?



kgbrown's picture

My major questions for Alex

My major questions for Alex are about about transitioning at Bryn Mawr. I believe that Bryn Mawr is a unique place, but that it means very different things to different people depending on their experiences. Kate Bornstein brought up the idea of "'women only' space" (242) and this made me think about Bryn Mawr and whether or not it was a "'women only' space." I was wondering how Alex views Bryn Mawr and how his perceptions about Bryn Mawr changed when he began to transition. I also wondered why he decided to transition at the point he did and whether or not being at Bryn Mawr factored into that decision. I am very interested to hear the answer to Laura's question about a Bryn Mawr admissions' policy with regard to gender. I was also wondering about the role of language. Bornstein explains that "I was only a freak to the degree that I remained silent. When I spoke, I had a chance to educate, and, paradoxically, I became less of a freak" (241). I was wondering how (or if) this sort of power of language applied to "women only spaces" and whether or not this relates to the ideas about making SGA's constitution gender neutral. Any thoughts?
aaclh's picture

Answers with a little Kessler and McKenna

I don't understand the first question. Is this question asking why people want to categorize trans people as strictly male or female?

In response to the other two questions:
Right now I'm thinking that as children most of us are raised to think of people as exactly female or exactly male without strictly defining either term, while also having engrained that this is 'naturally' or 'biologically' (read 'easily') determined and is a fundamental (and so unchangeable) part of each person. Somehow we incorporate this into ourselves so much so that when confronted with someone who says I was born one and converted to the other we have to rethink the way we think about the world. Some people find this much more upsetting than others. At least, this is how I think about this right now. Passing is important to be safe from some people who get so upset about their upset-world-view that they hurt people to control their world view. Why might passing be dangerous? Well, it is a lie. I think lies are inherently dangerous, they allow others to think something that isn't true. This stops them from growing and having a better understanding of the world. I think that this passage from 'Toward A Theory of Gender' is relevant to these questions:

"As long as the categories 'female' and 'male' present themselves to people in everyday life as external, objective, dichotomous, physical facts [it will be] difficult to avoid evaluating one in relation to the other, a firm foundation for discrimination and oppression. Unless and until gender, in all of its manifestations including the physical, is seen as a social construction, action that will radically change our incorrigible propositions cannot occur. People must be confronted with the reality of other possibilities, as well as the possiblity of other realities."
sarina's picture

  I believe trans people


 I believe trans people are pressured to assimilate simply because people do not think if the existence of a third or fourth gender, or of infinite genders. Our society as a whole has had trouble accepting that some people are born into abody that doesn’t match the gender they feel comfortable as. The notion of a mismatched biological sex and a psychological gender is much easier for peopleto accept than for someone to identify not as any particular gender at all. Someone who “blends” genders is what seems to confuse and upset people (I do believe this is quickly changing, especially with our generation).

As a more general answer, tranliness would be a new idea, and new ideas take time for society as a whole to accept. Perhaps in the future identifying as trans will be considered as “normal” as choosing male or female.

mpottash's picture

Response to the Readings and to Alex's Questions

In "My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix",Susan Stryker writes that "...transsexuality more than any other transgender practice or identity represents the prospect of destabilizing the foundational presupposition of fixed genders upon which a politics of personal identity depends".I associate this statement with question #2. There is something fundamental in our society that dictates the fact that a person needs to be either male or female, and this fundamental rule makes people afraid of anything that does not fit into these two distinct categories. The fact that Stryker calls it a "foundational presupposition of fixed genders" suggest the idea that people believe that our society is based on the dichotomy of these two genders, and that if this dichotomy was broken, society would somehow fall apart. I am also interested in her notion of "a politics of personal identity". It seems that personal identity is in fact not personal, but political (this could also relate to feminism). Society dictates that a person's identity must fall in one of two categories. This ties in with Foucault's theory of administrative control. Perhaps trans people are pressured to assimilate to either male or female because if they are outside of these categories, they are beyond the administrative control that dictates the politics of identity.
jlustick's picture

Transgender Questions

Some questions that I have in response to the readings...

1. In the Kessler/McKenna article, it says that in order to "make a male," it is more important to add a penis than to remove a vagina. This implies that the penis is a more gendered characteristic than the vagina. Why is this? Does it have to do with the fact that a penis is external while a vagina is more internal? How could the importance of the penis be deconstructed?

2. Kessler and McKenna state that transsexuals should "focus on creating decisive first impressions as male or female." I'm interested in whether you, Alex, still have trouble confidently presenting yourself as male? How does your membership to a women's institution complicate your ability to present your gender coherently? The authors recommend that transsexuals focus on embracing a sort of "naturalness' of their gender, but if gender is a social construction, what is this naturalness?

3. What would be the consequences of having a "androgeous society?" Do transsexuals even desire such an environment? It seems like such individuals depend as gender just as much as non-transsexuals, it's just in a different manner. For example, transsexuals seem to want their gender to be recognized- is this the case?

4. The Davis quotation in the Bornstein article describes humans' dependency on a society based on classification. If our inability to handle a state of ambiguity is fundamental to our species, is it worthwhile to work towards erasing gender divides? If humans psychological depend on such organizational systems, can they ever been banished?

5. Finally, I'm interested in Bornstein's comment that "hiding, and not proclaiming one's transsexual status, is an unworthy stance." Do you agree with this? If gender is not biologically based but socially constructed, than are they really hiding? How is the story that transsexuals tell a lie? Isn't everyone "passing" to some degree?

skumar's picture

Question 1


While reading Kessler and McKenna, I too wondered about the significance of the penis as a "gender characteristic." It is interesting that you brought up the point about the penis as a more external, more visible genital. This is exactly what I was thinking. Still, though, I can't seem to understand why the breasts aren't equally as significant. Do not breasts have the same characteristics.. external, visible part of the body?

Did anyone else/ Does anyone else have a way to explain this?

jlustick's picture

Hi Sonal, I'm not sure,

Hi Sonal,

I'm not sure, but I wonder if the penis is more significant because it is sexualized across cultures whereas breasts are not. For example, women in certain tribes in Africa  leave their breasts exposed at all times...thus there is nothing mysterious about them. I think that keeping something covered, as is often done with genitalia, increases the significance and desire associated with/ascribed to it. Are there any cultures in which the penis is left exposed? I wonder if there's something about the fact that the penis is external, as compared to the vagina, but internal in terms of being concealed by clothing. Furthermore, men do possess breasts to some degree- not ones that are enlarged/protruding, but they do have nipples. In addition, men, like women, have sensitivity in that region and it can be a source of arousal... so breasts are not necessarily a unique female feature.

ebock's picture


In Kate Bornstein's "Gender Terror, Gender Rage," s/he discusses the tension experienced in "women-only spaces" by transgendered women. S/he claims that women in these "women-only spaces" are inhibited in their "healing" because they see transgendered women still as men (242), and also, according to Janice Raymond, these transgendered women apparently still bring remants of the "dominant" position to "women's spaces." (238)

Conversely, Alex, did you feel any hostility or tension at Bryn Mawr (which I think most of us would think of as a "women's space") in transitioning from "female-ness" to "male-ness?" Was there a time where you might have felt gender-ambiguous and felt intentionally isolated by others being in such a gender-specific space?

lrperry's picture

Questions for Alex

1.      In Judith Butler’s essay, she expresses some qualms about being able to appropriately represent a trans-subject, particularly in a linguistic sense: “I have been given fragments of the person, linguistic fragments of something called a person, and what might it mean to do justice to someone under these circumstances? Can we?” In the other essays, Kate Borstein and Susan Stryker both explicitly names themselves as a part of the trans community, and speak from a position of “our” oftentimes.  I wonder what you think about this – about the difficulty of ‘doing justice’ to someone who is embodied differently than oneself, whether legally, socially, or (like Eugenides in Middlesex) in a literary sense. Would you object to someone who was not trans writing from the point of view of a trans person? Representing the inner experience of a trans subject?


2.      What would be your ideal admissions policy at Bryn Mawr?


stephanie2's picture

Trans and Gender

To answer Alex's first question, I think that society wants to reduce the trans individual to essentialist anatomical validity because the game of sex and gender in society is the game of matching.  Since trans people are born and look one way and develop to feel another way, a way not stereotypically associated with their sex or gender, society really doesn't know what to do with those feelings. So in a way, it's like well if one is biologically and physically male, but feels female, he has to embody it to the best of his ability so that the matching game, that is dichotomy of gender, can be played. I think this also partly answers the second question of why there is no such thing as "transliness." 
rchauhan's picture

The reading forTuesday

The reading forTuesday mentioned that beauty was the last institution holding women back. AtTuesday's class discussion, it seemed like most people agreed. After class, thetopic was stuck in my head and I do not think that beauty is a bad thing or itsthe "last institution" holding women back. First, I don't think itonly holds women back because men, too, have a certain image/appearance, providedby the media, to uphold; such as, having abs/being muscular. Plus, I do notthink putting on make-up is a bad thing. For some people, putting on make-upmay help them feel more confident when going outside and meeting new peoplebecause they know they look good/pretty; it acts like a confidence booster.Also, by making sure one looks good, it shows that person cares how people willview him/her and he/she wants to make a good first impression because in oursociety it seems like first impressions are important.


Questions for Alex:

1. When/How did youcome to the realization that you wanted to identify as a male?

2. While making the transition from female to male, what kind of emotional/physical struggles did you encounter? 

3. What made you decide on choosing Bryn Mawr?

4. Identifying as a male and going to an all women’s college, do you ever feel out of place?

Anne Dalke's picture

On Beauty and Being "Fair"

One of your classmates just wrote a paper on how the norms of beauty operate in Middlesex. You might want to look @ Under the Eye of the Pantocrator and notes following...there's much more thinking to be done in this direction!
anorton's picture

Thoughts on Alex's questions

As a response, but not really an answer, to Alex's second question:

I get the feeling that, as much as this course is designed to help us understand what we mean when we say "feminism," it is also about questioning the necessity of gender itself, not even just the gender binary. So there is no "tranliness": this may be part of the way to break out of the high emphasis we place on gender to distinguish people. Certainly, no one completely aligns with some definition of "femininity" or "masculinity" all the time. Perhaps the first step in eliminating the gender binary is to alter our perceptions of characteristics from "either masculine or feminine" to "human."

In "Gender Terror, Gender Rage," Kate Bornstein proclaims: "I agree that hiding, and not proclaiming one's transsexual status, is an unworthy stance, more heinous if one's invisible status is maintained with the purpose of gaining power" (239). I could not agree with such an accusation: don't some people have to—or at least feel like they have to—maintain secrecy for protection? Depending on the place, it may or may not be safe (i.e. one's life might come into harm) to express political or religious opinions, sexual preferences, heritage, etc. Just because some of us might want transgender people to be open and honest as part of the way to disrupt the gender binary does not give us to right to mandate their participation in our efforts, nor to condemn them if they do not wish to comply.





skumar's picture

Beauty in Media

After today's class discussion on feminist disability studies, I was interested in pursuing a little bit of "research" of beauty on the web. When broken into smaller groups, I worked with Allie and Dawn in the "beauty" group. Among the several things we discussed, the influence of media on standard defintions of "beauty" and "attractiveness." (Thus, I was fascinated with the question Julia raised in class: How did people respond to a physically disabled women in the centerfold of Playboy?) Julia's question encouraged food for thought (Thanks, Julia) in our smaller groups. At one point, I told Dawn I really wanted someone to Google "beauty" and see how many unrealistic definitions of beauty emerged.


Well, I did just that. Let me tell you, I was incredibly suprised that Google images did not link images to inhumane conventions of beauty. In the first page, there was:

- a full moon

- a hot pink rose

- an African women ornately dressed in a tribal dress with intricate face and body painting

- a South Asian- Indian bride in bridal wear

-an image of an ancient Egyptian woman

- 18th century Chinese women, weaving or knitting


While there were undoubtedly images of almost- supermodels, I was suprised by the racial diversity that emerged from "beauty." My post in this blog is a little random...but I found this intriguing and I wanted to share!

Dawn's picture

I actually did the same

I actually did the same thing! It was really interesting. I typed in the word beautiful. I got three typical "media" responses: a soap opera star and two models. Other than that, the majority of the pictures were landscapes. There was a picture of two children playing and another of a single child. There was also a picture of female boxers, which is kind of interesting. There was a picture of origami. The one that amused me a lot was a picture of a bald guy in an Armani suit!
skumar's picture

A Pre-Reading Post

I wanted to post on the questions that Alex wanted us to consider before and after reading the suggested papers. I was interested to see if there is some degree of fluctation in my thought processes after having an "authoritative" perspective on the theories on transgender studies.

  Below is my attempt to answer Alex's questions with the fine art of cyclical reasoning:

1 & 2) I think there is such an emphasis on reducing the trans individual to anatomical validity because identifable body parts help people to distinguish between a man and a woman in the standard binary gendered-society in which we live. I think there is a sense of convenience in narrowing the trans individual down to male or female. I mean, the term "trans" is an umbrella term that reflects a kaledioscope of individuals: cross dressers, masculine-looking women, feminine- looking men, et cetera. I recognize the plight of a transindividual to chose between two distinct options. Of course, then, we can intutively ask: why categorize at all? Why reduce people at all? Why reduce to only two genders instead of three genders or four genders?

I think there is an answer that underlies in my question; there cannot be a way to differienate how many genders societal standards should consider? I  do have to advocate for some type of regulation or some degree of rigidity (for the lack of a better wording). I cannot imagine a society in which every individual was a trans-individual or every individual  strugged to identify with one side of the preexisting manifold spectrum because we have always grouped; we have always categorized; and we have always simplified complexity for ourselves. For example, we make acronyms for longer words or terms. Why? to simplify. In the same way, I think a trans individual is pressured by others or feel pressure in certain circumstances to chose between male/female. There is a sense of pressure on the trans-individual so that we can simplify the all-encompassing term.

Then, that also makes me wonder:  isn't simplifying complexity counterintuitve? In other words, does it not defeat the purpose of having a characteristic of  complexity, of intricacy if we ultimately decide to make it simpler and less complicated?

Hm. I didn't quite reach to a invariable solution to your questions, Alex. But, then again,does any question have a solidified, unvariable answer?

Questions for Alex:

1) I am sure that Bryn Mawr's welcoming environ has helped your decision to change in more ways than one. However, I would be interested in knowing how Bryn Mawr's environment hindered you? To use your words, was it ever "dangerous" for you?

2) I am a little confused by what you mean by "passing." Does this mean "passing" as a male or female? Additionally, when you ask why passing is " important," who are you referring to? the trans-individual? or society? I think if you answered this one of your questions it would help me to understand what you are trying to ask.

skumar's picture

The danger of "passing"

After Alex's visit to class, I have a better understanding of what is means to "pass." The definition Alex provided was  what I assumed the word meant: to pass is to assimilate (aesthetically) with either a man or a woman.  So to address Alex's question, now, I think "passing" is dangerous because the "ability" (as per defined by Alex) forces  individuals to assimilate within a binary gender that they have been trying to avoid.  In Alex's instance, he says it is very important for him to "pass" as a man so that his transformation F-to-M is legitmized to a certain degree. Alex mentioned he is not interested in having a surgical operation for his genitals. This reminds me of the point Julia brought up in her post about the penis as an "external" organ.  Is passing only aesthetic similuation, then? I understand that it could also be a mental relief, but for people like Alex who identify as Trans" so to incorporate both genders, why is it necessary to pass? I think this is the essence of the type of danger that ensues from "passing." If an individual wants to pass, it is only to assimilate so to conform with normalcy of society (binary gender).  If society was not as adamant on binary gender as it is, I am not sure if such a pressure to "pass" would be supressing trans individuals.

skumar's picture



Psychologists Kessler and McKenna introduce an idea of cultural genitals. Pg 173: "Even if the genital is not present in a physical sense, it exists in a cultural sense if the person feels entitled to it and/or assumed to have it."

It seems that, here, Kessler and McKenna aim to essentially devalue the significance of a physical body, saying that we can "imagine" having a genital even if we are not biological born with it. In other words, an individual can have any genital, so long as she/he can imagine it. This reminds me of Descartes' idea of himself as a "thinking thing" and existing because of the thoughts in his mind. For Kessler- McKenna and Descartes, the importance of bodily appearances seems to temporarily ignored.

Thus, I am interested in knowing how you or how a trans-individual views the body? How important is your body to you? How important is your body in terms of identifying yourself/ not identifying yourself?

skumar's picture

The Word "Trans"


  3) It seems to me that trans-individuals stray from what is considered "normalcy." I am interested in why the word is used to describe such individuals, the word "trans." Correct me if I am wrong, but "trans" applies to several people all with different "transliness," ie some more manly while others more womanly. Do you think it is fair, then, to call all such different people a "trans." How do you feel about using the word "trans" to identify yourself? If you could, would you even use a word to identify yourself? If so, what word?

EG's picture

I'd be interested to know

I'd be interested to know why Alex chose Bryn Mawr.  How does he define feminism, and how does Bryn Mawr's general take on feminsim clash or mesh with his definition? 

To answer question 3:

This reminds me of a Virginia Woolf notion that we are constantly categorizing, subcategorizing, re-ordering, listing; making sense of the space people are in to understand them.   I think to an extent we need to do this, and we are pre-wired to try to make sense of the environment and how people fall into it.  If we cuoldn't make sense of how things and people fit into spaces, we'd go crazy. For example:

Person 1: What's she like?

Person 2: She goes to Bryn Mawr, she's from California.  She's blonde.


So it is in this ongoing endeavor to make sense of people through categorizing that makes us so preoccupied with how well trans people "pass."  We want everyone to fit into sensical and familiar categories, and when they don't, it stresses us out.

skumar's picture

Response to Eve's post


Thanks for your posting your question about Bryn Mawr! Your intitial posting of the question helped me formulate my own about how bryn mawr was a possible hindrance. 

Also, I noticed we had a similar idea of categorizing. In other words, we both identify the complexity of the issue for a trans-individual but at the same time, we recognize that such a method of simplification is necessary. I would be interested to know how you react to my post, specifically the last part about the idea of simplifying complexity to be counter intuitive? 

When you get a chance, read it and let me know.