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Offline Kendall

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Comments on Androgyne Online: main essay Revisions
« on: October 22, 2007, 02:23:31 pm »
Stephe Feldman of Androgyne Online recently revised hir main article many androgynes at this site know and have read. The explainations of such changes, made in Feb and March of 2007 (6 years after the original) are explained in the page http://androgyne.0catch.com/old.htm. I wanted to mention a few major changes.

From what I know of Stephe Feldman, the original essay was made in April 20, 2001 and a concise version was printed in Transgender Tapestry magazine #107, which is a publication of IFGE (the International Foundation for Gender Education). Stephe has also sat on the "Celebrate Genderqueer Identities and Alternatives to Male/Female Gender Identities" panel for the Transcending Boundaries Conference http://www.transcendingboundaries.org/workshops/descriptions.php. Also one of the main moderators in another androgyne board.

The largest and probably most important of the new sections is the :

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There are Four Components of Gender
There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

The section that was in debate last year https://www.susans.org/forums/index.php/topic,9218.0.html was removed.
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Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite"
It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender- based opposite," that they are therefore attracted to each other/one another. While this may be generally true, the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction. (In fact, many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. they are neither male nor female -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women -- so it could be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

Another section was entirely removed. I dont know why the author's opinion changed. Maybe the author found it no longer an interesting topic to talk about or debate.

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Gender is a Spectrum or Continuum

In the transgender community, a lot of lip service is given to gender being a spectrum or a continuum, but in reality, it is little more than a politically correct thing to say. This is because most transsexuals (and some transvestites as well) try to avoid contact with and otherwise invalidate androgynes since they view androgyny as an intermediate stage in transsexual transitioning and have a dislike for it. The irony is that androgyny might well be numerically the largest component of a gender spectrum or continuum (or sphere).

Basically, transgenderists are those who choose to live cross-sex full time without body modification (SRS or hormones), transsexuals are those who choose to live cross-sex full time with body modification, and androgynes are those who choose to live in the "in between" world rather than "cross-sex" -- and body modification (or lack of body modification) is irrelevant to the definition. Some androgynes do opt for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in order to enhance their otherwise not-as-androgynous appearance, but they are in the minority.

And an entirely new section is this one which might reflect the authors attempts at talking with others about androgynes over the years.
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Getting People to Accept Androgyne as a Gender Identity Isn't Easy

For most people, the idea of an androgynous gender identity goes in one ear and out the other; it simply doesn't register. They see no evidence of it, never heard of it before, and assume they never will again, so the concept is rejected almost as soon as it is articulated. This cannot be emphasized enough. Even when the idea is reiterated, the reaction is usually the same: it is assumed to be faulty data. Society at large dictates that gender is binary, and androgyne is not one of the two binary genders. Convincing someone that androgyne is an authentic gender identity is difficult because people are programmed to believe that it isn't.

Even LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) people tend to assume that a third gender does not exist. Hate crimes against LGBT people are primarily based on perceived violations of gender norms, not sexual transgression, so you'd think that convincing LGBT people would be easier, but it's often not because they tend not to see the connection. Even androgynes have trouble discovering and affirming their own nature, no thanks to society's insistence on the gender binary.

Its interesting to read the author's revisions over the years and see what was removed, what was added, and what was rewritten.

Posted on: June 21, 2007, 10:50:02 AM



Thanks to Rebis for sending this page to Stephe, sie graciously answered the questions first posted. Thank you Stephe for responding to these questions and commenting on them. Bellow is a copy of the response which I have permission to share with you.


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Stephe Feldman of Androgyne Online recently revised hir main article many androgynes at this site know and have read. The explainations of such changes, made in Feb and March of 2007 (6 years after the original) are explained in the page http://androgyne.0catch.com/old.htm. I wanted to mention a few major changes.

From what I know of Stephe Feldman, the original essay was made in April 20, 2001 and a concise version was printed in Transgender Tapestry magazine #107, which is a publication of IFGE (the International Foundation for Gender Education). The version in Transgender Tapestry #107 was written in April of 2004.

One of the people who helped with editorial comments for the TG Tapestry article was Gianna Israel http://www.tsroadmap.com/mental/gianna-israel.html.

I wrote the essay Components of Gender in May of 2004. Gianna liked the TG Tapestry article and Components of Gender essay so much that she enlisted me to contribute a chapter to the planned sequel to her book Transgender Care, which was to be called Transgender Advances.

I wound up researching my article for Transgender Advances for about three years. Unfortunately, along the way, Gianna passed away (on February 21, 2006), and the research I had done destabilized my thesis to such a degree that I ultimately gave the project up. The thesis? An attempt to make a “unified field theory” of third gender people -- specifically, androgynes, hijras, two-spirits and travestis. I ended up thinking my thesis was wrong.

The bibliography for the project would have been as follows (drawing from the bibliography at http://androgyne.0catch.com/androbib.htm ):

Alexander, Jonathan, and Karen Yescavage, eds. Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others.
Bem, Sandra Lipsitz. The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality.
Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us.
Bornstein, Kate. My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a
Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely.
Cook, Ellen Piel. Psychological Androgyny.
Graham, Lanier. "Duchamp & Androgyny: The Concept and its Context." Tout-fait: the Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal, Issue 4, 2002.http://www.toutfait.com/issues/volume2/issue_4/articles/graham/graham1.html and http://www.toutfait.com/issues/volume2/issue_4/articles/graham/graham5.html
Feldman, Stephe. "Androgyne Online." Transgender Tapestry 107.
Israel, Gianna E. "Transgenderists: When Self-Identification Challenges Transgender Stereotypes.”
Kulick, Don. Travesti: Sex, Gender and Culture Among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes.
Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach.
Nanda, Serena. Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India.
Nestle, Joan, Riki Wilchins and Clare Howell, eds. Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary.
O’Brien, Michelle. Gender Skirmishes on the Edges: Notes on gender identity, self-determination and anticolonial struggle. Summer 2003. http://www.deadletters.biz/skirmishes.html
Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America.
Roscoe, Will. The Zuni Man-woman.
Rowe, J. Spencer. The Last of the Dodo's [sic]: Voice of the Two Spirit.
Sell, Ingrid M. (2001). Third gender: A qualitative study of the experience of individuals who identify as being neither man nor woman. (Doctoral Dissertation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology).
Singer, June. Androgyny: Toward a New Theory of Sexuality.
Wilchins, Riki. Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer.
Zolla, Elemire. The Androgyne: Reconciliation of Male and Female.

I burned out sometime in 2004, frustrated that I was not able to convey my androgyne nature in everyday life without appearing gay instead of androgyne. On page 342 of the 2007 book, The Fenway Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health, I am the “client” referred to. See below:

      Depression can also arise in persons who do not necessarily qualify for the diagnosis of GID, but do experience a certain amount of gender dysphoria.  Such people may not identify as either male or female, and therefore do not gain outside validation of a gender identity different from the male/female binary.  For example, one client who was born biologically male and identified as androgyne sought to present her gender as androgynous, as this felt most genuine to her (the client is comfortable using both male and female pronouns).  However, she found that although she could convincingly present as either male or female, she was not able to find a way to appear androgynous.  Eventually she came to accept her gender identity as separate from her gender presentation.  However, the client continues to experience depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of rejection and isolation due to the inability of others to recognize her as androgyne.  [. . .]

Also, one of the authors of the book above had requested putting some of the ideas from my Components of Gender article into the book.

Quote
Stephe has also sat on the "Celebrate Genderqueer Identities and Alternatives to Male/Female Gender Identities" panel for the Transcending Boundaries Conference http://www.transcendingboundaries.org/workshops/descriptions.php.


I attended the Transcending Boundaries Conference in October of 2006.

When I said that no matter how many times you explain androgyne to someone, it doesn’t register; they just don’t get it, I got the strongest response of my entire talk.

I overhauled the essay at Androgyne Online largely to accommodate the Components of Gender concepts so a link could appear in the Notes section of the The Fenway Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health book.

A little while later, I changed the part of the Androgynes Are of a Non-Polarized Gender section which read,

"What differentiates androgynes from crossdressers and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in the middle of the two, or they consider themselves to be something else entirely"  

so that it read 

"What differentiates androgynes from crossdressers and transsexuals is that they do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity: they are either somewhere in between the two, or they consider themselves to be something else entirely."

I did this because several female-born genderqueers told me that they didn’t identify with the term androgyne because they didn’t feel that they were exactly in the middle, which they thought they had to be to qualify.

I then put online the unused expanded version of the Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne section. This is viewable at http://androgyne.0catch.com/old.htm#TS

Then I put online the original Components of Gender essay, along with the e-mails and articles that inspired it. It is viewable at http://androgyne.0catch.com/components.htm

Note that I had a different opinion of where gender role fit in as regards gender identity and gender expression back then.

On October 18, 2007, I changed the last of the three paragraphs of the Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity are Three Different Things section. It originally read

Pinpointing the sexuality of transgender people -- especially that of androgynes -- is so difficult that it really isn't worth trying to explain. No one has a good answer, anyways. Even the 2004 book, Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others, which collects 19 academic papers on the subject, is at a loss to provide a useful understanding, so an explanation won't be attempted here.

I replaced it with the following:

Pinpointing the sexuality of transgender people is difficult because there can be a double-vision situation in which one partner self-identifies and interprets the interplay of genders and sexes one way, while the other partner self-identifies and interprets it another way. An example of this is the non-op transsexual who considers relations with a same-sex partner to be heterosexual because of their gender identities, while said partner considers the relationship to be homosexual because of the sets of genitalia involved. An alternative to constructions of this nature is offered in the 2007 book, Bisexual Health: An Introduction and Model Practice for HIV/STI Prevention Programming, where bisexuality is defined as "the capacity for emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction to more than one sex or gender. That capacity for attraction may or may not manifest itself in terms of sexual interaction." This formulation could prove to be revolutionary because it not only distinguishes between sex and gender while combining the two, but eliminates the need to resort to the terms pansexual and queer.
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[Stephe is] Also one of the main moderators in another androgyne board.

I took over as chief moderator of the in-between-days yahoo group because the listowner had thrown in the towel. This group gets very little traffic.

I am also a moderator for the ANDROGYNE yahoo group (not the “androgynes”) group because sometimes the listowner is away. I am not a moderator of the androgynes yahoo group because sometimes I’m a loose cannon, and moderators are supposed to retard flames, not start them.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the background out of the way, I can address more of your questions.

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The largest and probably most important of the new sections is the :

Quote
There are Four Components of Gender

There are actually four components of gender: identity, presentation, performance, and role. Gender identity concerns how you think about yourself, gender presentation describes how you look physically and sartorially, gender performance pertains to how you act or comport yourself, and gender role refers to what you do for a living and what you contribute to the domestic sphere. Taken together, the last three components comprise gender expression. Gender identity is internal, whereas gender expression is external, and that is why not all androgynous-looking people are androgynes.

This is the result of getting really pissed off about third gender folk parroting this “all gender is a performance” baloney despite the fact that it flat-out refutes the legitimacy of transsexualism. I was thrilled to no end to find that Judith Butler herself had debunked the misconception of gender being performance here: http://www.theory.org.uk/but-int1.htm

Quote
The section that was in debate last year https://www.susans.org/forums/index.php/topic,9218.0.html was removed.


Quote
Androgynes Have No "Gender-based Opposite"

It has been observed that since androgynes do not have a "gender-based opposite," that they are therefore attracted to each other/one another.

The sentence above is rhetorical and I still have no problem with it.

Quote
While this may be generally true [. . .]

I have concluded that the phrase above is insupportable. I had a certain attitude about the nature of attractions then, but have since changed my mind about some of the conclusions I had come to back then.

Quote
[. . .], the fact remains that there are male androgynes, female androgynes, and intersex androgynes, and among these three groups, there are heterosexuals and asexuals, so the idea of androgynes being attracted to each other does not necessarily entail homosexual or bisexual attraction.


I now find the above to be unnecessary verbiage.

Quote
(In fact, many reincarnational theories hold that souls have no gender, i.e. they are neither male nor female -- and that's why we reincarnate as both men and women -- so it could be argued that mutual attraction between androgynes is deeply spiritual.)

This part was kept, but is now the bulk of the middle paragraph of the Androgynes Can Be "Tranny" and "Transamorous" at the Same Time section.

Quote
Another section was entirely removed. I dont know why the author's opinion changed. Maybe the author found it no longer an interesting topic to talk about or debate.


Quote
Gender is a Spectrum or Continuum

In the transgender community, a lot of lip service is given to gender being a spectrum or a continuum, but in reality, it is little more than a politically correct thing to say.

I tried to keep this sentence, but it wound up not fitting into the flow of any section of the piece, once I was done rearranging things.

Quote
This is because most transsexuals (and some transvestites as well) try to avoid contact with and otherwise invalidate androgynes since they view androgyny as an intermediate stage in transsexual transitioning and have a dislike for it.

This wound up being part of the Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne section, which turned out to be the hardest section to alter. The person who helped me edit it is transsexual, and her suggestions got so technical and verbose that I wound up trashing almost all of it. It is now viewable at http://androgyne.0catch.com/old.htm#TS though, because much of what is there is worthwhile and I thought it was a shame not to have it available for those who wish to read it. The part I miss the most from the expanded version is

hijras and two-spirits, both of whom are of a third gender, refer to themselves as "not men, not women."

because it is provocative in a very constructive way.


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The irony is that androgyny might well be numerically the largest component of a gender spectrum or continuum (or sphere).
I have since come to seriously doubt this. In a personal e-mail dated

April 6, 2004, Gianna Israel wrote:

And, if it means anything, during 1985 when I drafted the beginning MS [manuscript] for [the book] Transgender Care, I did indicate an androgyne self-definition (as having both or neither genders) for the purpose of the Gender Identity Profile included in that book.  That's been part of my clinical practice for some time.  I'd say out of 2,500 people, I've had approximately 7 identify as androgynes.

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Basically, transgenderists are those who choose to live cross-sex full time without body modification (SRS or hormones), transsexuals are those who choose to live cross-sex full time with body modification, and androgynes are those who choose to live in the "in between" world rather than "cross-sex" -- and body modification (or lack of body modification) is irrelevant to the definition. Some androgynes do opt for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in order to enhance their otherwise not-as-androgynous appearance, but they are in the minority.

I'm not really sure why I deleted this section. I think it's because I felt it constituted transgender shop talk -- more a case of being Transgender 102 than Transgender 101, in a way -- much like the expanded version of the Some Transsexuals are Not Really Transsexual, but Androgyne section became.

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And an entirely new section is this one which might reflect the authors attempts at talking with others about androgynes over the years.

Quote
Getting People to Accept Androgyne as a Gender Identity Isn't Easy

For most people, the idea of an androgynous gender identity goes in one ear and out the other; it simply doesn't register. They see no evidence of it, never heard of it before, and assume they never will again, so the concept is rejected almost as soon as it is articulated. This cannot be emphasized enough. Even when the idea is reiterated, the reaction is usually the same: it is assumed to be faulty data. Society at large dictates that gender is binary, and androgyne is not one of the two binary genders. Convincing someone that androgyne is an authentic gender identity is difficult because people are programmed to believe that it isn't.

I’ve encountered this in the workplace where I dressed as androgyne then as a woman for nine months, and in a transgender support group I attended for six years, and among friends. I cannot overstate enough how true this is.

Quote
Even LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) people tend to assume that a third gender does not exist. Hate crimes against LGBT people are primarily based on perceived violations of gender norms, not sexual transgression, so you'd think that convincing LGBT people would be easier, but it's often not because they tend not to see the connection. Even androgynes have trouble discovering and affirming their own nature, no thanks to society's insistence on the gender binary.

This section is partly the result of my feeling that gay is a subset of transgender. The two most significant articles on this theory can be found here:

Transgendered Like Me, by Gabriel Rotello originally published in The Advocate, December 10, 1996: http://gabrielrotello.com/transgendered_like_me.htm and/or
http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/lesbigay/vol5_1/51transgend.html

If ENDA Doesn't Protect the Transgendered, It Doesn't Protect Me, by Gabriel Rotello, posted October 4, 2007 | 05:18 PM (EST)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabriel-rotello/if-enda-doesnt-protect-t_b_67202.html
and http://tinyurl.com/348e4w and http://preview.tinyurl.com/348e4w


Another important piece of writing worth seeking out is pages13-22 of Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer, by Riki Wilchins, where it is argued that being gay is really an issue of gender.

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Its interesting to read the author's revisions over the years and see what was removed, what was added, and what was rewritten.

Yes, I imagine it would be for others, because it is for me. :)

In closing, I would like to mention that I find the susans.org androgyne forum to be exceptionally fine. I don’t view it very often, though, because I don’t like the forum format. I guess I’m just too used to the mailing list format.

Stephe Feldman
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 07:49:01 am by Ken/Kendra »

RebeccaFog

Re: Comments on Androgyne Online: main essay Revisions
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 10:03:58 am »
Thanks.  I missed this thread, but I'll be back to finish reading your post with the proper thoughtfulness.


Rebis

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