Author Topic: [rant] "Reifying gender"  (Read 194 times)

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Offline Asche

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[rant] "Reifying gender"
« on: October 08, 2020, 03:18:31 pm »
In the course of wandering around the Web to avoid doing what I should be doing, I ran across mention of a transphobic trope: "Trans people [=trans women] reify gender."

FWIW, reification is the fallacy of treating something abstract (i.e., an idea or a concept) as if it existed in the real world.  A classic example is IQ: it is nothing more than a score on a test, but many people assume there must be something in the brain that corresponds to "IQ."  But lots of things are reifications: money, the language, and the Republican Party.  People act as if they existed in the real world, but unlike things like rocks and rivers, if everybody stopped believing in them, they would vanish without a trace.  The coins and bills might remain unchanged, but they wouldn't be "money."

Anyway, when I saw this, I was pretty irritated.  The whole society I live in (including the transphobes who parrot this particular trope) has been "reifying gender" since long before I was born.   Whenever people talk about "what men are" or "what women are," they're reifying "man" and "woman."  My experience of gender has been that it's this crazy system of stuff they claim you are or are not based on what the obstetrician wrote down on your birth certificate, which everybody around me kept forcing on me but otherwise didn't have anything to do with who I am.  IMnot-soHO, it's a social construct (and a pretty miserable one, on the whole) -- that is, a concept (or set of beliefs) which everybody acts as if were part of the natural world, like gravity.  Of course, they also expend a lot of energy forcing people to act the way the construct says they are "by nature," and punish you pretty severely if you don't.  (So much for "by nature.")

It's a system I have to deal with, whether or not I believe in it or like it or what.  In reality, I'm just me, and whether I wear a dress or trousers or build storm windows or sew or use and Easy-Bake oven, I'm the same me, but as long as I'm seen as "male," people expect the trousers and the woodworking and get weirded out and tell me I'm doing something wrong when I wear a dress or bake.  I much prefer giving myself out as "female," even though it doesn't really define me, either, because there are women out there doing all of those things, so I'm not looked at as a violation of the natural order if I do them.  I'm not "reifying" it any more than any cis person does by simply living their life, and a lot less than the ones who do "gender reveals" and talk about "man cards" do.  It's simply my compromise between what society demands and what fits me.

tl;dr -- this trope is simply victim-blaming.

« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 05:01:02 pm by Northern Star Girl »
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Offline voidbird

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Re: [rant] "Reifying gender"
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2020, 04:39:42 pm »
I agree with you Asche.  Gender is something that everybody navigates and negotiates as part of being in society.  One has to be in a position of massive cis priviledge to suggest that trans folks are making some kind of intellectual error because we feel our gender differently from how it was assigned to us.  Some of us feel gender really strongly and some of us don't really feel it at all.  I actually really like and appreciate that trans culture has so much warmth and inclusiveness towards both those ways of experiencing the world.  Anyway . . . pretending that gender is something that could just be ignored is kind of like when people who had never experienced discrimination used to claim to be 'color blind'.

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