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Transgender Trope #3-Transgenders Subvert Gender Roles

April 12, 2011

This is a popular trope. Transgenders say they subvert gender by performing gender roles opposite to those prescribed to their physical sex. But they do so in the context of changing the social perception of their biology to conform to the role they wish to perform.  Trans Males who perform femininity alter their body and dress to appear female. Trans Females who perform masculinity disguise themselves as biological males. They do this in support of their belief that gendered behaviors are biologically inherent according to sex. They do this to conform to conservative ideas that biological sex determines stereotypical gendered behaviors. Conformity is the opposite of transgression. True gender subversion is the feminist belief that the traits we classify as masculinity and femininity are actually not inherently connected to physical sex. This is the opposite of the transgender philosophy which is one of gender essentialism. People do not subvert gender by performing minstrelism of sexist stereotypes. Transgenders defend their minstrelism by claiming the sexist stereotypes they adhere to are true. The height of sexism, woman-hatred and gender role essentialism.

Variations:

We prove that sex-roles are not biologically based because our biology is wrong and sex-roles are innate.

Anyone who dislikes sex-roles should get doctors and government to change their sex – problem solved!

Physical sex (impregnability, rape) has nothing to do with sex-based oppression.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. yerb permalink
    October 18, 2011 11:05 am

    Thank you for writing this so clearly and succinctly.

    A note on the whole concept of “performing” sex roles (which was first thought up and propounded, unsurprisingly*, by a gay man): women don’t “perform” our socialization. Our socialization into our membership in an oppressed class is something that becomes intertwined with who we are. It shapes us into patriarchy’s definition of women.The trappings of our sex-role socialization/oppression are not the equivalent of a dress or make-up we can take on and take off at will, as with a man performing drag. The whole concept of “‘performing’ gender” is misogynist. It dismisses and belittles how profound the effects of sex-role socialization/oppression really are.

    *I write “unsurprisingly,* because it is so common and popular among gays (males) to put on performances, in one way or another, of stereotypes of women, performances that mock and belittle the characteristics that are the product of women’s oppression: characteristics that are the intended result of our oppression. It’s bad enough to oppress a group, but to then mock those characteristics of our oppression is true hatred: sick.

  2. July 20, 2012 8:52 pm

    As a trans woman I find this site to be interesting and accurate on some levels. Trans people (or just people if you like) aren’t perfect and ideas on sex and gender are being argued and redefined daily in our current world. Stereotypes and expectations are crumbling as equality takes the center stage and this can leave people who hold onto their idea of self so strongly feeling insecure or threatened. I feel like this site is trying to be progressive and I feel truth resonate with some points but I also feel a certain amount of contempt for the trans person’s experience and a total lack of empathy, which may be the point entirely, It’s unclear. I would enjoy having more information in the “about” section of this site that includes more of a mission statement and possible background of the author or authors to better illustrate the intentions of the page. What kinds of changes would you like to see within the trans community? I don’t mean to be defensive, but when you have a lot of criticism without constructive suggestions it feels like an attack.

    I haven’t read all of the “tropes” yet, but plan to do so with an open mind. As far as this topic is concerned I feel like it is commonly acknowledged within the trans community that some trans people, especially soon after coming out, DO over-compensate by exaggerating the perceived stereotypical behaviors of the gender they identify as, creating unrealistic and potentially sexist and socially harmful “uber-femmes” or “uber-men”. I can’t speak for everyone but I like to believe that one grows out of this and settles into a more relaxed and natural behavior with their favored gender identity being unthreatened if they naturally exhibit previously shunned behaviors thought to be related to their sex at birth. I feel like this tendency has been at least partially encouraged by the medical community that in the past have acted as gate-keepers to a trans-persons path, denying treatment like hormones and surgery if a patient didn’t exhibit or “perform” socially assigned gender roles and behaviors (damaging stereotypes in my opinion) according to the sex they wish to transition to. I feel like we are quickly moving past this but the long-term effects are still being felt.

    We still have a long way to go before the sexes are truly equal and it is everyone’s responsibility, trans or not, to follow their heart and listen to their truth to move us along in a constructive way without malice. Everyone’s experience is subjective and we could all do a little better by putting ourselves in each other’s shoes.

    “As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.” – Patti Smith

    • Nina permalink
      September 29, 2016 5:12 pm

      Well, trans people have routinely shown a lack of empathy for women who feel oppressed by the social construct of gender. They insist over and over that I have some sort of innate “gender identity”, and that if I say I’m not then I must just be lying or ignorant. Turns out when a bunch of male people keep bashing feminists over the head with how women are just naturally feminine and femininity is the same thing as womanhood, a lot of those feminists will twig to it and get pissed off.

      Here are some things I would like to personally see from the trans community:

      – When children are not gender-conforming, and believe they might be trans (because children can’t tell the difference between gender and sex), don’t encourage them into getting hormone blockers or even “socially transitioning”. If a girl wants to get a short haircut, let her get a short haircut. If she wants to wear boy clothes, let her wear boy clothes. If she wants to play with other boys, with trucks and treehouses and action figures, let her do that. But don’t make her think that she needs to choose between “girl things” and “boy things” by “establishing a gender identity”. This goes for boys who like feminine things, too. Instead of encouraging early social transition, where some “boys” can be raised as “girls” and vice versa, let’s encourage people to raise all their children as “children”. Life should be a buffet, not a choice of two set meals.

      – Recognition that biological sexual dimorphism exists. That is, some of us have female bodies and some of us have male bodies, and that it’s currently scientifically impossible for a person to change their sex. A trans woman is biologically male, and a trans man is biologically female, regardless of surgical status.

      – Recognition that sometimes the biological differences will mean that biological females will want their own spaces for specific biology-related purposes. If bio women want to, say, hang out together in a female-only space to talk about their personal experiences with menstruation, they may not feel comfortable sharing that with someone who has never menstruated. Especially since many trans women say that discussions of female biology triggers their dysphoria. If we can’t speak about female biology in shared spaces, and we’re not allowed to have female-only spaces, the only result is that we’re not allowed to talk about female biology at all, a stance which is harmful to female people.

      – Recognition that children who are raised in most households will be socialized into the gender that traditionally matches their birth sex. That is, female children are “raised as girls” and male children are “raised as boys”. There are real statistically-measurable differences in how “boys” and “girls” are treated, and these differences are often to the benefit of boys. This means that, yes, trans women do have certain types of male privilege over biological women and trans men, and they may also suffer from some forms of toxic masculinity. Meanwhile some trans men may still be suffering from negative effects of their own childhood female socialization. (At the same time, yes, trans men will benefit from some current-day male privilege while trans women will have to struggle with some current-day misogyny. These facts don’t cancel each other out.)

      – (Perhaps less of a concern to GC feminism specifically but…) Openness to exploring other alternatives to resolving gender dysphoria than surgery and lifelong hormone use. We need to do more research into gender dysphoria and how to treat it than simply trying to change people into the opposite sex. No other form of physical dysphoria gets treated by trying to physically change the body. We don’t give liposuction to anorexics because they think they are fat, or amputate the limbs of people with BIID. I am worried that we are causing real permanent physical harm to people, and putting them at risk for death on the operating table, just because we’re not willing to look for ways to cure the actual dysphoria.

      In a recent survey, ~200 detransitioned FTMs were asked their primary reasons for detransitioning. 60% them said that they found better ways to deal with their dysphoria. Why is nobody asking them (except for GC feminists) HOW they managed to do this?? If our goal is to alleviate gender dysphoria, we should be chomping at the bit to interview these people, because they know something we don’t.

      I would be really happy to find out tomorrow that ~all this~ was where society was at, but I don’t hold my breath for it. I’m pretty sure the avg trans activist would take issue with every one of these points for some reason or another.

  3. May 1, 2013 9:00 pm

    subverting gender roles?! impossible! as humans, we categorize things by nature; there’s no way to escape any sort of labeling of role.

  4. Jen permalink
    January 21, 2015 3:06 am

    my trans partner (male to female) still exhibits male behaviors such as treating me as inferior and is many times very condescending (I am a cis female). We are working on finding info on how to change this – can anyone please help?

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