Team Pick: “The Gender Book” Is The Best Thing You Will Read Online Today

Cara’s Team Pick:

Have you ever wished that you could be led through the thicket that is gender by a baseball-cap rocking self-identified transdrogynous genderqueer named Boston Bostian? Then today is your lucky day, because by simply clicking here, you can read a nearly-done version of The Gender Book. The product of “countless interviews, over 200 surveys, many hours in the library, and a bunch of soul-searching,” The Gender Book is a beautifully illustrated guide to the infinite possibilities of human identification. It’s interactive, patient, funny, and intersectional, and it covers everything from generalizations to pronouns to how to be a good ally. And it’s respectful of identification as a constant and personal journey, providing no ‘answers’ beyond its page-nine declaration that “Gender is, simply, how you see yourself.”

THE TRANS UMBRELLA {NOTE: GRAPHIC HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM ORIGINAL POST}

THE TRANS UMBRELLA {NOTE: GRAPHIC HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM ORIGINAL POST}

The book is straightforward enough that you could send it to your mom the next time she asks you why you’re wearing a tie, and in-depth enough that even people who think about this stuff every day can probably find something new — did you know that the tastiest papayas come from hermaphroditic papaya trees?  I also learned the term “gender surfer.” Even if it’s all familiar, you’ll definitely enjoy the illustrations, many of which are adorable and smart reinterpretations of familiar images, like classical art and board games (did I spot a marble statue of Jessica Rabbit?).  And the overall style is a really great mix of wide-eyed and wise.

THE GENDER BOOK TEAM: ROBIN MACK, JAY MAYS, MEL REIFF HILL, AND BOSTON BOSTIAN

THE GENDER BOOK TEAM: ROBIN MACK, JAY MAYS, MEL REIFF HILL, AND BOSTON BOSTIAN

The best part?  It’s not finished!  “In the interest of obtaining constructive feedback and community responses,” the authors have crowdsourced a lot of their content, and have made drafts of the book available on the internet from the very beginning. Although the book is nearly complete, there’s still a lot of room for you. If you have a revision, comment, or suggestion, email the creators ([email protected]) or take to Tumblr.  If you’d like to contribute your own perspective, they’ve got a short survey on their website, and they’re always fishing for specific experiences on the book’s Facebook page.  And if you’ve got nothing to say but “keep up the good work,” you can always donate, so they can get the book printed and sent to LGBT centers and other places that need it. Happy reading!

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Cara is a writing reading bicycling fiend and a lab mouse to the world. Sometimes she's also Hat Benatar. She lives in Jamaica Plain with five cool roommates and an ice cream machine, and is generally thinking about gender, words, sustainable biodiversity, and/or electric guitars. You can follow her on twitter @cjgiaimo if you want.

Cara has written 112 articles for us.

59 Comments

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    I love The Gender Book! I sent it to my mom via email so she would hopefully have a better understanding of my female masculinity. Seems to have helped. She helped me pick out a button up and tie for a wedding last summer which would previously never have happened. :)

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    Wow. WOW! This is super great, and the language is wonderfully accessible. :D I have about three friends who need to see this ASAP… and anything that goes into the historical as well as modern cultural constructions of gender gets an A+ from me(especially because Joan of Arc!!)

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    That “Transgender Umbrella” graphic is a little inaccurate, don’t you think? Masculine women and feminine men? Really? And it “encompasses any individual who crosses over or challenges their society’s traditional gender roles or expressions”? I dress pretty androgynously and I don’t plan on submitting to a man, I can’t really cook and I don’t really like dresses, and I want to go into a science field. That’s challenging society’s traditional gender roles and expressions but I’m not trans.
    In addition, to put two-spirit people under the transgender umbrella is a little bit of a misunderstanding of what it means to be two-spirit.
    Disappointed.

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      I would say the same thing about including Intersex people under that umbrella… most Intersex people don’t ID as transgender on any level (even if some do) and to stick them in there without consent isn’t cool. Pretty much, anyone who doesn’t experience themselves under the transgender umbrella (a not so great concept IMO) isn’t a member, period. Just because a butch woman who doesn’t consider herself trans and a transmasculine person might have overlapping issues doesn’t mean they’re both transgender. I think the authors need to clarify there are persons from these groups who might possibly also consider themselves transgender but to just stick broad labels under the umbrella is really overly-simplistic.

      The term “male to female” is one many trans women have big, big problems with and often consider insulting. Again, I’m glad they’re taking feedback.

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        I thought the same thing about the intersex inclusion, but I’m not really all that educated about their feelings on the issue.
        I would also add that I think including drag queens and kings is pushing it. I know lots of them, and while some of them are genderqueer or trans in their day to day lives, they don’t consider the drag part of themselves to be a part of their trans* identity. Some of them used drag to play around with their gender presentation in the beginning of their struggle with their gender, but it’s not what makes them trans*. I also know drag queens and kings who are very cis outside of their performances.

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          Drag queens/kings are a somewhat recent addition to the “trans umbrella.” I think they were placed in there because: a) There are a fair amount of trans and gender variant people who do drag (even though they still ID as trans) and b) Because drag performers have been attacked and discriminated against in ways which overlap trans people. That said, there are a lot of drag performers (eg. RuPaul) who make it very clear they don’t consider themselves as some flavor of transgender and I think that’s to be respected no matter what Cristan seems to think. And yes, I also know many drag performers who are extremely gender normative outside their onstage lives but a lot of them send to be pretty guarded about crossovers between their onstage/offstage worlds.

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          @sela:
          [I would also add that I think including drag queens and kings is pushing it.]

          @ginapdx:
          [Drag queens/kings are a somewhat recent addition to the “trans umbrella.”]

          No, that’s just not so.

          From 1979, transpeople (umbrella term):

          From 1976, transies (umbrella term):

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          @Cristan, that is just NOT the reality of where I live and have lived, at all. I don’t know a single queen or king who ties their drag performance in with their gender identity—not one. None of them would tell you that they are transgender because they do drag. One person I know describes his gender identity as “femme” or “gay male” depending on the day, one identifies as genderqueer, and the rest are cis gays and lesbians. None of them identify as transgender. And there are a lot of kings and queens (mostly queens) around here, all of whom I know pretty well through the people I’ve dated (who are kings).
          Maybe it’s a big city thing?

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          Cristan:

          Female impersonators and drag queens are not the same thing. Most persons who do female impersonation are some variety of trans or gender variant person. Just because the term “drag queen” was used by some publication doesn’t mean that’s who those persons were. Having actually lived in San Francisco in the 1970s and knowing the Tenderloin well, I can say it’s far more likely they were trans women… people who were drag queens were far more likely to live in the Castro or, at least, around Polk street. Had you or I transitioned in that era, it’s just as likely we’d be described as transvestites by some form of media or non-trans person. But anyway, you’ve thoroughly convinced me… that you’re not really interested in hearing anyone else’s point of view, experience or understanding. :)

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          @ginapdx
          [But anyway, you’ve thoroughly convinced me… that you’re not really interested in hearing anyone else’s point of view, experience or understanding.]

          @Sela
          [that is just NOT the reality of where I live and have lived, at all]

          You’re both moving the goalpost. You asserted that drag folk might not belong and that if they do, it was a recent addition. What about Pudgy Roberts, Lee Brewster, Bebe and the like. What about the Queens Liberation Front.

          Either the drag community is a recent edition or it isn’t. Which is it?

          Either the drag community has a demonstrably long history with working with other types of trans folk for common purpose or they don’t. Which is it?

          Claiming that it’s these demonstrable truths aren’t real because you’ve not noticed where you’re from or via special pleading doesn’t change the reality that drag folk have always been there, as part of a community which included transsexual, working for common purpose.

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        Yeah I found that kind of troubling (the intersex inclusion). I’m also really fed up of the claim that any person who challenged gender roles and expectations is trans. That would mean all suffragettes were trans. It suggests to me that the people making those claims really don’t understand gender.

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      I’ve always been a bit iffy on what constitutes “transgender”. I’ve heard many different definitions by many different people. Here it seems to be anything other than those narrow cis boxes, yet I’m sure we all know cis people that step outside the box in some ways. I consider myself cis yet I’ve been told I may quality as transgender too, because I don’t fit into my social “role”. Either way, I guess. I tend to overlook the term “transgender” itself and focus on how individuals are using it with regard to themselves.

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        Zen, yes, of course you’re right it has to do with how individuals are using it in relationship to themselves… unfortunately, for trans people, we’re labeled with the term transgender whether we like it, and associate with it or not. We are metaphorically tattooed with labels many of us aren’t that connected with. Which is one of the problems many people have with the term. One can say that about a lot of groups, but it’s also true most of those groups have fought back by relabeling themselves and even reframing the majority which labeled them in the first place.

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        Here’s the thing, if you identify with “transgender” because you feel you step out of that cis box in some way, you’re transgender.

        Transgender meant transsexual before transsexual meant transsexual. In 1965, transsexual was an umbrella term that meant anyone who was post-op (Type 6 transsexual) or even someone who just crossdressed from time to time and didn’t want to take hormones (Type 4 transsexual). In 1965, clinicians were using “transgender” to refer to Type 6 transsexuals. It wasn’t until 1979/1980 that “transsexual” came to mean what it means today with the publication of the 1st HBIGDA Standards of Care (in which transsexual was redefined). By 1974, transgender was being used in the same way that transsexual was being used. When transsexual was redefined, transgender kept its meaning and here we are today.

        Some (especially transsexuals) like to think that “transgender” is somehow forced upon them, but the demonstrable reality is that the term has been used to describe the transsexual experience for almost 50 years and it’s been used as an umbrella term for around 40 years.

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          @Bhan

          I think the point everyone makes is that if some intersex, transsexual, drag queens, etc don’t identify as “transgender” then it’s somehow inaccurate to represent that you will find intersex, transsexual, drag queens, etc who do identify as “transgender.”

          No other umbrella term in the English language is generally regarded as being monolithic or compulsory, and yet, when it comes to this particular umbrella term, folks get twisted because someone somewhere told them that this particular umbrella term is monolithic and compulsory and they believed it.

          I can give you a long list of articles about being “transgender” going back decades asserting that “transgender” is not monolithic and compulsory, and yet… here we are, decades later: [I think the point being made is that its a term the medical proffession is assigning them that they aren’t all comfortable with.]

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        A friend and I were discussing this last night, and she made a good point. I’ve heard several definitions about what “transgender” means, which is why I tend to just ignore it. The way it is used here in this book, as a huge umbrella encompassing everything but cis, is also a way I’ve heard it. As I said in a different comment, I consider myself cis yet don’t fit the social “role” assigned. Do I have a foot both inside and outside of this giant umbrella? Also, my friend said to her that using it this way comes off, again, to her, as saying you have cis people, the “normal” ones, and then you have everyone else all tossed together, which are all trans.

        Beyond that, when you actually look at the word itself, “trans” means to change, to cross, beyond. When it comes to the term “transgender,” why should this encompass everyone that is not cis? Not being cis does not necessarily imply a change in gender. For example, even when I was little I was always considered a “tomboy” and I don’t think my gender has really changed much. Therefore, by this way of looking at it, I wouldn’t be trans. I mean either way I don’t identify as trans, so it doesn’t really matter, but by the book’s definition I would fit. But if you use it as “beyond/crossing (traditional binary?) gender” it seems to imply that those narrow binary boxes are how we are supposed to judge and compare ourselves, and if we do not fit into THE genders our own doesn’t count or is less than.

        I have an old teammate that was always fairly butch, for years. It’s how she identified as well as presented to others. Yet, in the past few years she has transitions into more of a feminine gender and expression. Even though she now appears more cis, her gender as changed and could therefore be considered transgender, technically.

        I’m always interested to read about the topic, but have yet found one that I think makes sense to me personally, so I will continue to ignore “transgender” unless an individual uses it for themselves, and then I’ll have to ask how they mean it.

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          @ZenW

          By way of an explanation, here’s a 20 year old quote from an interview with the indomitable Leslie Feinberg:

          Davina: So you would consider anyone who crosses established gender boundaries in any way to be transgendered?

          Leslie: Yes, but I see the gender community more as defining itself. I would never tell anyone whether I thought they were or were not transgendered. But who I see defining themselves as transgendered, and who I see forging a transgender community, are yes, exactly those people that you’re referring to.

          http://www.transadvocate.com/1993-the-life-and-times-of-a-gender-outlaw-an-interview-with-leslie-feinberg.htm

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          @Cristan
          That quote is entirely flawed. By that flawed logic, Marie Curie was trans. Any girl who wore pants in the 19th century was trans. Amelia Earhart was trans. Hillary Rodham Clinton? Trans. As aforementioned, all suffragists were trans. That’s saying that cis women cannot do anything but remain in tiny little boxes of oppressive gender roles and allowed expressions, same for cis men. That’s just entirely inaccurate, and misogynistic. Quite misogynistic, actually. It’s also racist, focusing only on Western, white ideas of gender.
          You are not the foremost authority on gender. Please attempt to understand others’ points of view, some of whom might actually be more knowledgable on an issue (like two spirit ideology) than you.

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          @Sela Thank you. You’ve just proven my point:

          [I can give you a long list of articles about being “transgender” going back decades asserting that “transgender” is not monolithic and compulsory, and yet… here we are, decades later]

          The quote reads:

          [Yes, but -> I see the gender community more as defining itself. defining themselves <- as transgendered,* and who I see *forging a transgender community,* are yes, exactly those people that you’re referring to.]

          From that, you get that "transgender" is monolithic, compulsory and absolute. Moreover, you get that it's:

          "flawed"
          "oppressive"
          "inaccurate"
          "misogynistic"

          When I talk to folks who've bought into various Separatist dogma about the roots of "transgender" and how it came to mean what it means today, I sometimes feel as if I'm talking to someone with pareidolia. If I post a decades old quote explicitly stating that "transgender" is a self-designation, what they see is a quote that states "transgender" is compulsory and monolithic.

          [Please attempt to understand others’ points of view, some of whom might actually be more knowledgable on an issue (like two spirit ideology) than you]

          Post into a reply wherein I claimed that nobody is more knowledgeable on two spirit ideology than I am. You can't do it because I've not made this claim. Obviously that's what you see when you read my replies or you wouldn't have written it. Again, I sometimes feel as if I'm talking to someone with pareidolia.

          I disagree. Worse, I can prove my point with objective fact. Therefore, you must be dealing with someone who thinks they are more knowledgeable on two spirit ideology than anyone else. Again, pareidolia…

          What I've done is make demonstrably factual assertions.

          You and ginapdx claim that drag fork either aren't part of transgender or they're a recent addition. I've given you original source material that's shown your assertion to be false.

          You and ginapdx claim that intersex folk aren't part of transgender. Unfortunately for that assertion, a group of intersex people just gave a presentation at the Philly trans health conference on how they are and moreover, how to deal with trolls who tell them that their self-identity is wrong.

          You and ginapdx claim that two-spirit people aren't part of transgender. I've posted a two-spirit Lakota Sun Dancer, who's a leader in the transgender community, singing a song for the passing of a transgender community leader.

          I acknowledge that transgender isn't absolute or compulsory. The artistic representation of transgender acknowledges that transgender isn't absolute or compulsory. Trans folk have – for decades (as demonstrated by the quote) – asserted that transgender isn't absolute or compulsory.

          Yet, here you are – no matter what is said – simultaneously grousing about people like me and the artist who supposedly claim that transgender is absolute or compulsory while simultaneously asserting exactly who can and cannot be part of transgender.

          Please, stop defending the right of people to freely self-identify as the like by telling people how they can and can't self-identity. Some intersex, drag, two-spirit, transsexual, etc people do self-identify with transgender and that's what is represented in that artistic representation of that noun. Why do you get to tell them that they can't be represented in transgender?

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      This pic was taken yesterday at the transgender center. It’s just some trans folk sitting around their awesome trans center making fun of separatism:

      http://i.imgur.com/fHD4vWw.jpg

      In the room there’s FTMs and MTFs, intersex people, genderqueer people, people who do drag and transsexual people.

      The conversation started with the intersex person talking about a really annoying intersex separatist they encountered in another town, which sparked other people to laugh about their encounters with TS separatists and TERFs.

      The lived reality is reflective of that umbrella. There are MANY who do identify with it.

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        Cristan, the largest numbers of people under the banner of Intersex are those with CAS or are XXY… very few of those people identify under a trans umbrella and to put them within that label is just really dismissive. Moreover, there are thousands of women who were born CAIS and consider themselves to be women—not women with an asterisk nor intergender. To put them (without consent) into a subcategory of transgender is no less thoughtless than someone calling a trans woman “really a man.” Nor is it fair to corral Intersex people who don’t wish to be called trans under the same category as TERFs or TS separatists… personally I think that’s a pretty mean thing to do.

        I don’t deny there are some overlaps between the trans community and Intersex persons and Intersex persons (of which I’m not one) are certainly welcome to ID as they wish, but sticking Intersex people wholesale within a transgender umbrella or making it sound as if many Intersex persons are “unreasonable” for even objecting being placed under that label sounds more like oppression than creating family.

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          [Cristan, the largest numbers of people under the banner of Intersex are those with CAS or are XXY… very few of those people identify under a trans umbrella and to put them within that label is just really dismissive]

          Is it not also dismissive to exclude those intersex people who do identify with it? Are there not a number of drag folk, transsexual folk and crossdressers who likewise do not identify with the term?

          When I came out to the trans community, the group known as the Gulf Coast Transgender Community was run by a physically intersex person. The Houston Transgender Unity Committee was run by a chromosomally intersex person for years. The local community has a PAIS person identifies with the umbrella and is a significant trans advocate. The local intersex group meets at the transgender center.

          Who gets to tell them that they don’t get to belong? Nobody is saying that anyone MUST identify with this term. However, if you dropped in at the trans center you’d find that the lived reality is that all of these folk identify with the term. Not every draq queen in the city identifies with the term, but a number do. Moreover, there’s DQ & DK leaders in the transgender community. Not every intersex person in the city identifies with the term, but a number do. Moreover, there’s intersex leaders in the transgender community.

          If someone is intersex (or a drag queen, etc) and does not identify with the term, I won’t use it with regards to their lived experience. At the same time, those folks don’t get to dictate who can identify with the term. Some intersex folks do identify with the term and I therefore use the term to reflect their lived experience.

          I’m a post-op transsexual woman and identify with the term. I know some post-op transsexual women who claim grave offense when they see transsexual people listed under that term. They don’t get to say that I can’t identify with the term as a post-op transsexual woman. Because they don’t get to dictate that transsexual people can’t be represented under that umbrella, it’s there because of people like me. Likewise, intersex people who do not identify with the term don’t get to dictate that intersex people can’t be represented under that umbrella; it’s there because of the number of intersex people who do identify with the term.

          In other words, if you look at who identifies with that term, you would find a lot of all of those people. I know that’s not popular in some towns (especially on the east and west coast), but there’s a lot of trans communities where that picture very accurately represents the local trans community. To hide that fact is to erase their lived reality and I can’t support that.

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          No one’s suggesting individuals can’t identify with whatever communities or labels they wish or feel right to them. I’ve known people who were XXY and identified as trans women… but most XXY people live and identify as men and who am I or anyone else to tell them otherwise or tell them they’ve somehow gender variant (same with women with CAS or women who are CAIS). When you you place entire communities and labels under an umbrella, you better make certain there’s some pretty definite agreement of consent before doing so. And it’s fair to say there is no such consent within the Intersex community for them to be contained within the transgender umbrella nor do I believe that, just because you’ve known some people in Texas who felt that way, that’s it’s any different between the coasts.

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          @ginapdx

          [When you you place entire communities and labels under an umbrella, you better make certain there’s some pretty definite agreement of consent before doing so. ]

          That makes no sense to me. There will ALWAYS be those who don’t identify as being part of any of the 1000s of umbrella terms in the English language. Just because some Americans prefer to be referred to as Texans, should we stop referring to Texans as Americans?

          The reality is that if you look at a transgender community, all of those identities will be represented. That’s an irrefutable fact. It would be a lie and an erasure of lived experience to assert that you would not find intersex people who are part of what it means to be transgender. They do not give up their intersex identity simply because they’re also part of what it means to be transgender. Intersex people just held a workshop on this very topic at the Philly Trans Health Conference. Clearly, if someone wants to know what groups will be represented by “transgender” there will be intersex people because there are intersex people who identify in this way.

          Asserting that if you look at “transgender” you would not find intersex people who hold the intersex identity because a number of intersex people don’t identify with the term makes no logical sense – at all. That there are some intersex people who choose to not identify with the term is irrelevant. Some do and pretending that they aren’t represented in “transgender” is choosing to be willfully blind and, worse, a willing participant in the erasure of their lived experience. Clearly there are many intersex people who do identify in this way, who are leaders in the transgender community and who are speaking up for their place in that community (as seen in Philly).

          Not every transsexual person will identify with “transgender.” Not every crossdresser will identify with “transgender.” Not every two-spirit person will identify with “transgender.” Not every drag king or queen will identify with “transgender.” And yes, not every intersex person will identify with “transgender.”

          So what?

          There are those who do and that’s what the image reflects.

          The standard you suggest we use is not applied to any other area of discourse. Seriously. Please give me an example of some other English language umbrella terms (American, Native American, tall, short, gay, straight, etc) that English language users use the standards you’re proposing we apply to all intersex people. Is there any other area of discourse where these umbrella terms are absolute in the same way you’re asserting “transgender” is?

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      It doesn’t seem particularly intersectional to call non-western people who challenge western gender norms transgender by default – if within their own cultures people who are e.g. “two spirit” do conform to gender norms associated with the gender “two spirit”, they’re not actually challenging traditional gender norms – they’re just living by different norms.

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        There’s that, but also, two-spirit is itself a bit of an umbrella term. Two spirit people can present in a variety of ways, from what is considered cis lesbians to genderqueer to what non-FN people would view as transgender. It’s more complex than just tacking it under a trans umbrella.
        Also, those feathers? REALLY? Way to be stereotypical, guys.

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        This isn’t a “this is the way all must identify” thing. This is a “this is what you find in the transgender community” thing. I know a few transgender-identified two-spirit people. Two of them, both members of actual tribes (Lakota and Apache) are quite active in my transgender community.

        Here’s the Lakota two-spirit singing a Horse Song in memory of the leader of the local FTM trans community:

        http://transhouston.com/hiv/2.shtml

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          That’s not what the graphic says? it doesn’t show some two-spirit people under the transgender umbrella and some outside it – it only shows two-spirit people under it and the point it means to convey is that all two-spirit people are transgender.

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          [it doesn’t show some two-spirit people under the transgender umbrella and some outside it – it only shows two-spirit people under it and the point it means to convey is that all two-spirit people are transgender.]

          The standard you suggest we use for this English language umbrella term is not applied to any other arena of discourse. Please draw me a picture of the “Christian” umbrella using your standard. Please draw me a picture of the “Progressive” Umbrella using your standard. Please draw me a picture of the “Feminist” or even “Lesbian” umbrella using your standard. In no other arena of discourse do we take umbrella terms to mean one single monolithic and compulsory identity. Yet, throughout this thread I’ve seen a number of people appeal to this very standard.

          Not every transsexual person will identify with “transgender.” Not every crossdresser will identify with “transgender.” Not every two-spirit person will identify with “transgender.” Not every drag king or queen will identify with “transgender.” Not every intersex person will identify with “transgender.”

          But, so what?

          There are those who do and that’s what the image reflects. If you want to know what a transgender community will look like, that’s what you see in the exact same way that if you were to look at a feminist, lesbian, Christian, etc. community – people who identify as being part of what that particular umbrella term means – you would wind up drawing a similar image. You could stick the dictionary definition of that umbrella term under it and I could attack it using the exact logical fallacies used against “transgender” found in the comment section of this thread.

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          I think a problem with umbrella terms is that they appear black/white. In this picture, for example, it does. Yet life is almost never black/white. Some people will identify as transgender whereas others won’t, even if they identity in other ways as the same gender or whatever else. Perhaps this picture, then, should make some sort of clarification that you COULD find these types of people under this term, but that some people choose NOT to identify that way.

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          Well, there is no Christian or feminist umbrella drawn by the same artist to compare this to, but if I were to draw a Christian umbrella (for example) – I’d put different Christian denominations under it, that is, groups of people who all identify as Christian – I wouldn’t include (e.g.) Jewish people just because some people who are ethnically Jewish converted to Christianity and identify as both Jewish and Christian – and I’d understand that suggesting that [all] Jewish people are under the Christian umbrella is potentially offensive since Christianity is used to erase [non-Christian] Jewish people’s identities and experiences.

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          @Andreea [ I’d put different Christian denominations under it, that is, groups of people who all identify as Christian]

          Really? And you believe that all Christians would go for that? You’d put the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Klan (an explicitly Christian organization) Irish Catholics and Protestants would all under one umbrella? And why wouldn’t you include messianic Jews under an umbrella of people who believe Jesus was the Christ?

          They are, in fact, all people/groups who do believe Jesus was the Christ. If you look at a “Christian” community you will find various brands of all of these folks represented. Some xtains will claim that klan people are not real xtains and therefore don’t belong under their xtain umbrella. Some folks who are strong adherence to Christian doctrine – the WBC people – will reject being included under any umbrella that includes mainstream Christianity.

          Does this Christian umbrella…

          … Take into account that there are many Irish (and Baltic) Catholics and Protestants who would object to that umbrella? Does that mean that the Christian umbrella doesn’t – as a matter of objective fact – include both Catholics and Protestants? Should we start writing the umbrella term like, Christianity* in the same way we’ve had to start writing trans*?

          Much of the hyperbole that’s taken seriously around transgender is absurd and would not be tolerated in other arenas of discourse.

          The point is, everyone gets this already. Nothing that I’ve said in this reply would come as a surprise to any thinking person. English language users understand that when we use an umbrella term like “Christian” we’re generally not speaking in monolithic compulsory terms. We get that when we say “Feminist” already know that some RadFems would reject being under the same umbrella as a 3rd waver. Just because that’s true, do we stop using the umbrella term “Feminist”? If you want to know what types of self-identified feminists you’d find in American’s Feminist community would you leave out 3rd wavers because some RadFems claim that they’re not real feminists?

          Any of the criticisms lobbed at “transgender” can be made of any English umbrella term. However, in every other arena of discourse it seems that thinking people get and understand the nature of umbrella terms. And yet, when it comes to “transgender,” suddenly understanding flies out the window, special pleading is suddenly considered to be insightful and feelings of anger and enmity are emboldened.

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          Dear Andreea, the analogy about ‘Jews for Jesus’ is completely apt. Thanks for making it. Needless to say, any attempt to put Jews as a class under the Christian Umbrella would be offensive. Too bad the person you’re trying to communicate this to is so busy on their own crusade to even notice the excellent point you’ve made.

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          @ginapdx Instead of simply asserting that I’m wrong, that I’m on a “crusade,” etc, why not actually make an evidence-based response? Why not take the explicit points I’ve made and specifically address them, using objective evidence to back up your assertions?

          Either the drag community has been working with the transsexual population for common cause since the early 1970s or they’ve not. Which is it?

          http://i.imgur.com/sHgQTUn.png

          Either the very critiques you’ve made about “transgender” can be applied to 1000s of other umbrella terms, are dismissed in practically all other arenas of practical discourse concerning umbrella terms or it isn’t. Which is it?

          An intersex *group* either just gave a presentation at the Philly Health Conference about being included in “transgender” or they didn’t. Which is it?

          When one looks at who’s self-represented in “transgender” we find all of these identities or we don’t. Which is it?

          I know that you believe that I’m wrong on each count. Please cite your sources when you respond. It’s easy to not support your belief system in a debate, thinking that it must be self-evident; however, for those of us who don’t take assertions on faith alone, backing up your assertions with evidence is important.

          I responded to one of your posts (asserting that I’m too ideologically driven to listen), but it’s sitting in moderation because I posted too many links to objective evidence which supports my fact assertions.

          http://i.imgur.com/GhY58z5.png

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          I’ll just say this, because I don’t have anything to add to what the others have said about intersex/drag kings and queens (except that I have several towns full of queens/kings that would argue your stance on their being transgender):
          As to the two-spirit inclusion, you don’t really get to have an opinion. Not even a little bit. I don’t care how many people from “actual tribes” you know.
          I think the image is problematic because it DOES have things on the outside of the umbrella, and they are feminine cis women and masculine cis men. That’s it. Those are the only things on the outside, the sad little raindrops. What’s funny is that whoever made that image is actually putting people in really tight little boxes, saying that if you don’t fit this narrow little definition than you are trans. That’s not true at all. Gender is not a black/white thing, and that’s what this is making it. That’s REALLY problematic.
          In addition, if quite a few people are disagreeing with you on a subject, it’s probably best to attempt to understand where they are coming from. Let’s remember that you ARE speaking FOR intersex people while not being intersex, so it’s best to keep an open mind here. You also tried to speak for two spirit people, so there’s that, too.

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          @Sela [As to the two-spirit inclusion, you don’t really get to have an opinion. Not even a little bit. I don’t care how many people from “actual tribes” you know.]

          Please stop stawmanning me. I’m not offering my opinion. I was reporting the FACT that in the transgender community, I personally know self-identified two-spirit people (there are others that I don’t really know) quite well:

          One is a nadleehe and member of the Navajo Dine Tribe of the Kiyaa’ani and Dibe Izhiini clans. She’s been quite involved in my transgender community.

          Other I know well is a winkte Lakota Sun Dancer. He’s been leading transgender groups for around half a decade.

          Why do you get to say that they don’t get be equally identified and why do you get to tell me that I am wrong for acknowledging their self-identity identity to you?

          Either two-spirit Native Americans are part of “transgender” or they’re not. Which is it? If they’re not, why is it that you get to tell them that they’re not when they clearly assert that they are?

          [What’s funny is that whoever made that image is actually putting people in really tight little boxes, saying that if you don’t fit this narrow little definition than you are trans. ]

          Most nouns are, in fact, umbrella terms. In what other arena of discourse are you this strident, literal and monolithic concerning nouns? You know – we all know – that when we use a noun, we’re not making a statement about the absolute nature of the thing itself.

          Draw an umbrella on any scrap of paper and put a noun on that umbrella (space, lesbian, rock, door, pool, table, etc.) and list the different types and post it. Should someone come along and appeal to the same type of absolutist standards you’ve appealed to for “transgender”, would you take them serious? Most people wouldn’t. Most people understand that there’s gray areas around any noun – especially when it’s an artful umbrella representation.

          [Let’s remember that you ARE speaking FOR intersex people while not being intersex, so it’s best to keep an open mind here. You also tried to speak for two spirit people, so there’s that, too.]

          I’m reporting objective facts about intersex and two-spirit people who self-identify as “transgender.” Does that mean that they (because they are not transsexual) cannot tell others that I, a post-op transsexual, am a self-identified transgender woman? Again, in what other arena of discourse are the standards you’re appealing to tolerated?

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        @ZenW [Perhaps this picture, then, should make some sort of clarification that you COULD find these types of people under this term, but that some people choose NOT to identify that way.]

        But they do say that. What’s cropped out of the picture in this story is a couple of people saying the following:

        Peron A: “Interesting… but just because I’m a masculine woman, does that mean that I’m transgender?”

        Person B: “No one can tell you how to identify – you get decide that for yourself.”

        It also says (which is also cropped out):

        “Some folks claim a more specific identity for themselves which may fall under the umbrella term transgender, while other identity with trans* as an identity in itself.”

        Click the actual link to the Gender Book and look at the actual image of the umbrella.

        Folks who identify and use “transgender” have been saying this stuff for decades and it’s made no difference.

        “Certainly I’m not using the term to define anybody for themselves or to impose upon them a term that strips them of an important part of their identity, I think that frequently language doesn’t suit the needs of all the individuals of a community.” – Leslie Feinberg, 1993 http://www.transadvocate.com/1993-the-life-and-times-of-a-gender-outlaw-an-interview-with-leslie-feinberg.htm

        Same stuff, different decade. It doesn’t seem to matter who or how it’s made clear that English language umbrella terms are not monolithic nor or the compulsory. It doesn’t seem to matter that folks have been saying this for decades. There always seems to be someone somewhere willing to dramatically claim that they’re being forcibly assimilated, colonized and enslaved (yes, they actually said that) under this particular umbrella term. After decades of watching these folks stubbornly ignore the reality that nobody’s trying to assimilate them while loudly claiming offense over assimilation, I’ve decided that a lot of these folks don’t care about reality. They’ve decided that they’ve been wronged, that they’re offended and if you use the term transgender, then you’re what’s wrong with their life.

        I’m kinda over that drama.

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    This is great! My only addition, I think (and I’m going to email it over for discussion) would be to point out the difference between romantic orientation and sexual orientation, since the book is pointing out all of these differences. For example, my sexual orientation is asexual but my romantic orientation is homoromantic; homoasexual, if you will (or, I’m just plain old gay, which suggests at least to larger society that I like/am attracted to women. The assumptions they make on ‘how’ or ‘what way’ is all them, though). I also have a friend that is a homoromantic bisexual and another that is a biromantic heterosexual. I have another friend that’s pan. Lots of variety (there is the part about the more ‘technical’ terms with homo and hetero that implies ‘same’ or ‘different’, but same or different what? Sex? Gender? Something else?)! I know its a gender book, but they do mention orientation so I think a little add on would be nice too.

    Still, this was a fun and educational read. I wish some people I know would bother reading it, but I’ve been told more than once “I just don’t care.” Well, at least their honest in that they’re willing choosing ignorance. Gender-wise I identify as a hard-andro, but I’m somewhat fluid. Lately I’ve been playing with my gender expression a bit, just here and there, mostly because I’ve become bored (especially with my hair) and it really throws people off. It’s kinda fun! But, I can’t take more “feminine” styes for long; makes me feel like I’m in drag, kinda unwillingly, even if it was my idea.

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    I think it’s a really great project and I wish them well, but I am glad they’re asking for more feedback.

    I would say I feel their definition of “gender” is a little heavy on the socially constructed side and ignores how many trans people’s gender identity has a strong and intense physical component to it as well… what I’ve seen described as “body mapping” and how the brain assigns gender to body parts. Personally, as someone who has medically transitioned, I don’t feel this is a social construct at all. All too often I see Gender Studies academics equating “gender” with “gender role” (which is a piece of gender but not all) and I think that’s reductionist and pretty much disregards many trans person’s experiences. I prefer their second definition that it’s a system of classification with a wide variety of parameters some of which might be social and some might be biological.

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      Not being transsexual I cannot personally comment on the physical component of gender from that point of view. I do know that I don’t think my sex has anything to do with my own gender, with the exception that my sex is what caused society to put a label and a role on me, and how they treat me, and that outside influence has affected how I see and think about things.

      I have met a few transsexual people that told me that they probably wouldn’t have felt the need to transition if their gender had just been accepted without it. On the opposite side, I know people that have transitioned yet their gender does not align with what society says someone of this “new” sex should be. It really does vary a lot by individual.

      It’s practically impossible to remove social influence from a situation to really know for sure what part is biological and what part is socially influenced. Much social influence affects our subconscious so we can’t even say with any certainty which it is for us, personally. Who’s to say that the brain is assigning a body part a gender on its own (and not a sex correlation; and even how we see sex is limited by society), or if its doing this because society says that body part has a gender? I don’t think we can tell either way, really.

      I agree with a socially constructed definition of gender, but I also acknowledge its impossible to know for sure. Its that whole nature vs nurture thing. In most cases, its both, just in different measures.

      But I think perhaps they were leaning so heavily on the social part because what is defined as masculine or feminine, their roles, their behavior, their speaking and thinking, etc. can vary drastically from one culture and one time to another, and this is because of culture and not biology (what I mean by that is its not due to ethnicity). Basically, you could have the same gender you have now in different times or places, but the label placed on it could be completely different.

      Yet, I don’t necessarily think that society always dictates our likes or dislikes, feelings or thinking, etc. Its just an influence. Why do I like sports instead of dolls, even though society encouraged me to play with dolls? Who knows. There has to be some type of biological component of some sort that might steer us a bit into certain kinds of activities. But society definitely influences a lot of people or these roles and expectations wouldn’t change so much over time. I do personally suspect there is some sort of biological component that greatly affects how socially influenced we’re capable of being, since we as a social species would benefit with conformity, but some people conform in different ways and some people just seem to have a stronger resistance, for lack of a better way of saying it.

      Sorry, I got off on a tangent. Maybe they should clarify gender in terms of feelings and how one see’s themselves vs the difference in socially constructed labels placed on genders.

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        “I have met a few transsexual people that told me that they probably wouldn’t have felt the need to transition if their gender had just been accepted without it. ”

        I’m not saying they don’t exist, but yeesh, I can honestly say I’ve NEVER met someone who self-ID’d as transsexual who felt that way. To me the idea of “if gender roles were accepting enough people wouldn’t have to transition” is a totally cis-centric trope which usually gets trans people pretty upset when they encounter it. Moreover, I’ve known lots of trans people who did medically transition and didn’t play with the “opposite gender’s” toys when they were young or even obsess with clothing… it was very much all about their bodies. I suspect if you met people who were transsexual and felt that way, it might have more to do with a much broader range of trans-spectrum persons identifying as transsexual than it does with an attitude most transitioners believe.

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          “To me the idea of “if gender roles were accepting enough people wouldn’t have to transition” is a totally cis-centric trope which usually gets trans people pretty upset when they encounter it.”

          Well, some people do transition because they feel like they need to socially, to have their sex align with their gender. Def not all, but I’ve had several different self-IDed transsexual people tell me this, in completely different conversations. There are many reasons that people transition, after all. I’m not saying its ‘the’ main reason, I’m just saying its one of them I’ve been told often enough to say it does exist and doesn’t appear to be some random outliner. As I stated before, its impossible to remove social influence entirely out of our lives to see how it may or may not affect us, consciously or unconsciously. For some people transitioning is just their physical bodies for, likely, a multitude of reasons, and for others its for their social acceptance for other reasons, and I’m sure there are a ton more options too.

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        Zen, yes, there are trans people who transition to live in the world as the gender they understand themselves to be. But that doesn’t mean that their physical selves isn’t a big part of that. Nor does it mean they would be cool being a ‘third gender’ or genderqueer. There are some people who ID as transsexual who also identify as genderqueer or even as a third gender… but even a lot of those people aren’t comfortable with many aspects of their bodies. No, we can’t completely rid how society impacts every aspect of our lives to completely objectively study these issues. But what I might suggest is that, as neuroscience and genetics become larger and larger studies, if anything, we’re finding that much of what we believed was purely social or experiential also has a biological component to it. The question is, will that information be used to create a more accepting just society or will it be used to justify oppression and social stratification.

        Just to say, I have zero problems with your friends making the statements they did, or how they feel about their transitions, bodies, identities, etc. It’s great you had those discussions with them. I would just ask that you not extrapolate large social statements from your experience with them because that’s not fair to other trans people.

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          Well I did simply state that I had been told that before, but that there are lots of reasons for each and every one of our individual decisions. Its just important not to exclude those trans people as well.

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    There’s too many labels…why can’t we just be seen as another human being? It’s sad that words we use today to identify ourselves may be ruined tomorrow by someone who decides to use it in a way that dehumanizes us or drags us down. Much like the word “transvestite”. It’s all just really sad..

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    Thanks for the sweet writeup!
    You may want to check out the most recent version of our transgender umbrella (and @Cara, please update your graphic), which addresses many of the concerns members here have brought up.

    The most recent illustration is here-
    http://thegenderbook.tumblr.com/image/41848208449

    And folks can always learn more about our project or see the most recent versions of pages directly from our website, thegenderbook.com.

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    I still don’t think “masculine women” and “feminine men” should be under that umbrella. I think that’s just adding to stereotypes, and is just completely incorrect. I also think it’s dangerously playing into what society deems acceptable expressions and roles for men and women.
    Also, what is FTMTF/MTFTM??? It doesn’t make sense to me at all.

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