After reading through my gender log, during the past few weeks, I observed that many people are “trained” to determine their gender by their biological sex. Some of the people that I have observed and written about would probably never have doubted their sexual orientation. Others have definitely examined their sexuality. Whether this sexuality is male or female is entirely up to them. This is their true sexual identity. Still others that I noticed have actually convinced themselves, whether it is true or false that their biological gender is not, their true gender.
The people who seemed that they were completely sure that their gender was solely based on their biological sex, were “easy to identify” for me. These are the people we have been familiar with all of our lives. These people self-categorize themselves. By acting and dressing according to their gender assignment, these people gave me the impression that they ultimately know if they are male or female. I think that they truly believe, without ever questioning their sexuality that they were born either male or female. They act out their assigned gender roles. They either see their sexuality as, black or white, with no gray areas.
In my journal, I wrote about how I observed a man and a woman at a restaurant. The man automatically paid the bill. This is androcentric behavior. It is assumed in our society that the man should pay, although it is becoming more common for women to pick up the tab, or even them both. This is an example of people who believe that their biological gender is their true gender.
The second type of person, the person who may have at one time or another wondered whether or not they were “gay”, is also pretty “easy to identify”, if you are able to observe and truly learn about their habits. As an example I’ll use a “male” teenager who I went to high school with. I’ll call him “Joe”. “Joe” was a very good looking male, biologically speaking. When “Joe” was a small child, I notice growing up with him that he had more female friends and that the boys did not like him very much. Many of the boys would often call him “homo”, or say “go play with your girlfriends”. He was very damaged by all of this. He would usually sit with the girls at lunch, but never the boys. He was often picked on in class with taunts and under the breath innuendoes. He did very well in all subjects in school but did best in art class and theater. His general body language was feminine, the way his hands moved and the way in which he would walk, talk, and even carry his books. I notice that he never tried to change his behavior to please others, which seemed to be gender assigned “feminine behavior”. He would also state “I am not gay”. His mother actually was going to sue the school to put the responsibility on the school to prevent the students from harassing her son. “Joe” never conformed, to his biological sexual identity being male. He was who he was and everyone believed he was gay. I don’t know if he is or isn’t “gay” because he went to art school in the city. I think he was having an identity crisis.
The third type of person is a person who biologically without a doubt “is” male of female due to society’s guidelines of gender. However, this type of person may want to be the opposite sex. They either are kidding or they want to be the opposite sex. Something about it embraces them. This brings to mind a movie I saw the other night, “Silence of the Lambs”, by Thomas Harris, when the serial killer believes he was born a female in a males body. These people are sexually dysmorphic, meaning that their self-concept does not fit their sexual biology.
He wanted a total sex change and had many psychologists trying to help him. The psychologists did not agree with his desires and he was prohibited from having the operation because they felt he was not psychologically stable. As a result, his fixation with being female caused him to become a serial killer. The idea of being a woman was so important he would try to “harvest enough skin” from these very large women. Since he had a background in sewing, he sewed together a garment of human skin to make into a girl. He also danced in the mirror while putting his penis in between his legs to look like a girl. He would wear earrings and makeup and tried to look feminine in womens’ clothing. These things are symbolic, showing that his gender identity and his gender assignment were different from the norm. He practiced feminine traits and tried to be non-male. There are many people who have experienced gender identity crisises.
Basically gender identity crisises occur because of some environmental influence, maybe family, and its members, friends, school or even the community they are brought up in. For example, in my log I wrote how I went back to my old high school where my parents work to visit them. As I walked down the halls of Onteora I noticed that males and females wear the same things today. In my parents generation, if a guy wore a skirt or makeup he would be labeled “gay”. Another thing I noticed was that many girls wear black and the color black would probably be considered a male gender color. Similarly, short hair is supposed to be a male feature, but it is becoming accepted more today. Our society allows kids to act this way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a male acting female or looking female when examining their biological sexuality.
I always used to think that I could just look at someone and determine instantly if they were gay. Boy, was I wrong! Many of my friends like the same sex partners. They are not different people, and people treat them differently anyway. There is no possible way to prove that someone is homosexual just by merely looking at them.
Societal influences, or being in a non-traditional gender setting such as San Francisco, generally allow for more exploring of different genders, whether a person is or isn’t going through a crisis. For example, I was talking to some friends who live in Woodstock and they were telling me how being interested in the same sex is really no big deal in that community. People may conform to society and it is not accepted or respected in the community where they live. If they are unhappy they move to another setting where they will be accepted. Women’s and men’s psychological development depends on their families, partners, and if their community is a healthy place for them to be living. they are not well respected, then you will not be that type of individual. Their whole life will be a series of conflicts. It is accepted in certain places and not accepted so well in other places.
In our permissive society, as I observed people most were happy, some were flaunting it, and still others hid it. If behaving in the ‘accepted’ manner of the alternate sex is not illegal than why shouldn’t someone have the option to try it? They don’t feel that they have anything to be ashamed of so it does not bother them to hear obscene gender stereotypes such as “dike”, or “queer”. Sometimes men are feminine but are not “gay” at all. Different things make different people happy. “Gender is more than just sex”, according to our text. Gender shouldn’t determine how one may dress, speak, or their personal preferences, and comfort in your community that you want to live in. If one has a healthy respect then they become a well adjusted healthy individual. I think that in order to be content in life and be a well adjusted human, your gender identity needs to be satisfied.