there is even noise about how this will help justify an unjust gender system.
I strongly believe this is not so. To choose to be classified as the opposite gender or a third gender on grounds that you do not dress or behave according to social norms assigned to your physical sex in a gender binary does not get rid of the oppressive norms of the gender binary, it preserves them.
Put it this way. G = Gender. S = Sex. And . . .
S+G = Your worldview of who you are and how you fit/the role you play in the world around you
If there is a conflict between who you are inside, or your needs, or etc., and the gender norms for your physical sex, and you respond by doing this:
- S What you will end up with is still G.
Some real life examples:
Native American tribes with more than 2 genders have classified people who performed occupations, or did other behaviors, socially assigned to the opposite sex separate, additional genders; this is often called a "gender variant" by anthropologists. Notice, please, that in order to have gender variants, they all have to have this . . . "baseline" I'll call it, of lifestyle norms associated with male and female bodies. Gender variants who were/are socially sanctioned and recognized as such adopt to one extent or another the lifestyle associated with their opposite sex. This did not lead to big changes in the baseline gender roles for men and women at all; the roles and expectations for most of the men and women of these tribes remained unchallenged and unchanged by the acceptance of gender variant lifestyles. Having people in their community running around breaking the rules of the gender system most certainly would have altered the basic set of rules for men and women sooner or later, but this was addressed by creating gender variants. These groups did not apparently have gender systems that were causing problems for most of their population though. Westerners do have serious problems with our gender ideology and are in need of real change. Another gender variant example, the Hajiras in India, are the clergy of the deity in the Hindu pantheon that is associated with the Hindu gender system -- a gender system where women are very severely oppressed. One of the Hajiras' roles is to officially call a baby a man-child or woman-child and bless their future fertility and their entry into this world, which seems nice, but other ways they appear to serve the deity of their gender system is by validating very powerfully the gender norms by how they express their third-gender identity. Hajiras, always physically male, have been demonstrating that they are not men by not working (along with some other more benign lifestyle choices, like wearing traditionally feminine clothes) for ages. They do not have jobs or homes of their own, which is seen as taking female attributes. This powerfully reinforces very oppressive gender ideology, and the effect is probably intensified further by the fact that these are clergyman of the gender-deity. Often, Hajiras themselves end up as prostitutes or beggars because of this. On the other hand, they use coarse language, which apparently Indian women cannot do, and are clergy. Clergy is a male-only role in Hindu belief, this along with the coarse language is seen as manly behavior. This gender variant obviously reinforces the gender norms that make it so hard to be a woman in Indian society. They have been doing this for ages, and it has not helped Hindu women a bit. I am skeptical and actually applaed when men take hormones to grow breasts and wear pancake make-up and fancy clothes, and get their picture taken and retouched and carry on about how beautiful they are and how great they are and are like, "See how womanly I am!" This does NOT help with the Western over-emphasis on women's physical beauty. constructing one's sex out of the equation when a conflict arises between who you are or what you need and the norms laid out for you doesn't fix a broken gender system. It can't.
If you say instead:
- G You have taken the G out of the picture. you have defied and subverted the gender norms.
Some real life examples.
When the American suffragists fought for the female vote, they were called "unsexed" just to be mean, i.e. they were being told that they were not acting as women and thus should not be counted as such. People also said that voting would "unsex" American women. The suffragists did not accept any of this, but insisted that they were indeed women and would still do what they were doing and fight for the woman's right to vote. I have been voting since I was 18 years old as a result -- mainly in elections that they got the strongest resistance to having women vote in. At times, these ladies also cut their hair short and changed their clothing, which immediately identified them to any who saw them as "ultras", extremely radical feminists who wanted women to vote in all elections, including Presidential elections. If they had been reclassified as gender variants of some sort because of that behavior, maybe they would have been given the ballot by most women would still not have it. At the time there were women who opposed women's suffrage because they believed all the lies in the gender ideology of the day, and said they didn't want to vote! If suffragists or womwn who wanted to vote were reclassified as gender variants and granted the ballot because they were not seen as women, most of us still wouldn't be voting and would still believe all the awful lies about ourselves that were so normal to believe back then. Gender variants do not subvert male-female gender ideology, they protect it from being subverted. Instead, American suffragists (and probably all the other country's suffragists too) violated their culture's gender norms, which led to changing those gender norms.
Susan B. Anthony, the most famous and accomplished American suffragist, with her hair cut short in protest.
Forced recruitment scene in "Hair" the movie, which my elderly friend said was quite accurate. I covered up his backside...My friend and many others publicly burned the "draft cards" that were sent to them, ordering them to report to military bases for training. They grew their hair out, and rejected being classified as homosexual or effeminate because they did so. Today, it is illegal for our government to force anyone into the military. In that generation, people were spared the degree of media bombardment and brainwashing that we have today. If they had allowed the system to reclassify them, or maybe if the system had thought of reclassifying people who defied gender norms into non-binary gender types or gender variants, we would still have forced military service in our nation now.
Another scene from "Hair" the movie, which my friend said was correct. People accused them of being homosexual or androgynous, but they rejected that just as much as they rejected the draft cards.
In order to conquer an oppressive gender system, you must defy its rules. Defying its rules does not mean rejecting the body you are in, it means rejecting the system that makes your body feel like a prison.
In order to operate as a gender variant and claim to be one, you must first take the norms of the gender system as being in some way real and valid. To defy and destroy them, you must ignore or defy them and count them as invalid. Since gender is constructed by people, people's belief in it is the only thing that makes it valid or real. Sex, however, is concrete and real. You wouldn't need medical intervention into a healthy body if hormones were gender norms instead of sex traits, you could handle it all by yourself. You must believe in a gender ideology very strongly to arrive at the conclusion you are "transgendered" rather than saying you are a man or woman and will still do things current gender ideology forbids because you want, or need, to. To call yourself in language according to the gender norms associated with the opposite sex (yes, gender is constructed but it is people's constructed ideas about sex), you further validate the gender system.
Besides that, sex hormones are not a gender norm, they are a sex trait. To believe you need to take hormones to be who you really are based on the gender system demonstrates excessive belief in the constructs one claims to realize are merely human constructs. To say, "Gender is socially constructed, sex is fixed biological reality. Therefore, who I really, truly and irrevocably am inside is a male despite my female body, and I need to take sex hormones to make my biology fit the that gender I am" is insane. "A is fixed, and B is infinitely changeable, therefore my true irrevocable and predestined self must be B and so I need to do something about my A," or "A is fixed and B is infinitely variable and changeable. Therefore, since B is infinitely changeable that means I can change my a however I want! :)" is a reasoning atrocity. If you tell me something like that, I know you are saying the words "gender is a social construct and sex is a biological phenomenon" without knowing at all what it means. Westerners are notorious for not being able to distinguish between the two. Yes, gender is socially constructed, but it is social constructs about biological sex. If you experience a conflict between how your gifts and interests are classified in your gender system and the body you have, then the gender system is what needs to change, not your body.
I used to feel like my body was a prison, a cage I couldn't get out of except by death. Not only was I female, but very small framed, very petite, and somewhat voluptuous. I didn't feel like I could do anything I wanted to do or be anything I wanted to be at all. I seriously considered suicide. I thought about hormones or surgery. I thought men were spoiled with their Y chromosome and their physical strength. I was raised a Christian and wondered how a loving creator could play such a seemingly cruel joke on me, giving me the desire to be and to do so many things and a body that made it either impossible or maybe even a sin to do them. The stupid beliefs I had about the meaning of my body in this life and world changed a little at a time. At work now, where I am the only female in this facility maintenance subcontractor crew, women who work for the company we subcontract to have said to me that they are so happy to see a woman doing what I do. The fact that I am small, and female, and somewhat voluptuous in figure and I operate the overhead cranes that I use and the other equipment that I operate makes them feel better. The women who have said this to me all run equipment that is much more complicated and their jobs are at least as dangerous and so on, yet some have actually told me "I could never, but I'm so glad to see a woman do this." They still believe they can't! They haven't woken up yet, but seeing me do it makes some women feel a little bit better and to believe in themselves just a little bit more. Now I know why Creator put me in this body and gave me the desires and the talents that I have - to breakdown the lies this gender system has put in people's heads, little by little every day of my life. If I accepted a gender variant identity, that effect would be destroyed, and probably reversed. My life would not send a message to them, "Oh yes, you can!" It would say perhaps even more strongly, "No, you can't. Women don't run this kind of equipment here." Eventually, I realized that the difference between sex and gender is, sex is Creators blessing, it's the vehicle I drive through life, and it's beautiful, it's part of me, its how I have life in this world in the first place. It gives me real power in this world, it does not take it away. It can only limit me or cause me problems if I somehow fail to see the value in it. I really shouldn't hate it, ever. I've come to realize that, basically, gender norms are other people's will, my sex is the Creator's will, and the two ought not to be called the same.
This current gender system is still basically rooted in the same stuff that caused women not to be able to vote and young men to be forced to fight in wars that had nothing to do with them or their country. It still makes people think that motherhood is by nature an impediment to economic independence or a career, and thus leads to massive bloodshed in the name of emancipating women without actually bothering to emancipate anybody. It causes people to keep kids away from impoverished fathers because men are still seen as meal tickets not really as human beings. It has to go.
In conclusion, here are some pictures of people who identify as male, but do not accept the rules for how a man should look. They are not androgynous or gender variant in any way, they are not rejecting their maleness or even a binary gender system in their behaviour. they are rejecting rules other people made up. They are not rejecting the Will of their creator. Enjoy.
Hippies of the 1960s
Gothic Male model in a "manskirt"
Christian rock band Petra receiving a Dove award, the Christian music version of a Grammy
80s rock band Ratt
80s Christian metal band White Cross