Author Topic: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior  (Read 724 times)

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Offline Asche

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Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« on: February 12, 2021, 10:39:19 am »
I'm feeling a bit of an inconsistency in me.  Nothing major, but it's a little annoying in those few moments when I have time to think about things.

On the one hand, I see gender as mainly a set of categories that society crams us all into, the better to force us to act the way they want us to act.  That was my experience of it as I was growing up -- my childhood was full of people telling me I was bad for not acting the way boys are supposed to act.  The grown-ups would exasperatedly ask me why I wasn't doing what everyone else (specifically, the other boys) was doing, and the other children ostracized me and picked on me for being "queer" or "weird."  I remember fairly young (maybe age 10) hearing all the things that boys were supposed to like and to not like, and the things that girls were supposed to be or not be, and I thought they were outrageously stupid.

That morphed into the flavor of Radical Feminism that I believe in: that people come in all varieties, with all different natures, and the only reason men mostly act one way and women another is the brainwashing and formative experiences they get from birth on.  So questions like "are trans women really women?" are ultimately meaningless; they're really arguments about who gets to run around with which label, and who should be shunned or jailed for failing to follow the rules you think apply to the label you've slapped on them.

Anyway, whether you agree with me or not, that's the way I look at the world, so in my mind, whether I "am a woman" or not is just a question of which prejudices you want to uphold.

But ....


The more I can look at myself in the mirror (or down at my body) and imagine that I'm seeing a woman (this category that I'm convinced is just a bit of society's foolishness), the better I feel.  And whether people see a woman when they see me (or at least whether I believe they do) has an enormous impact on my self-esteem.  I got called "he" once in a very noisy Zoom conference -- accidentally, I am certain -- and it threw me into a tizzy for a week.  I find myself looking at other women on the train or the subway and trying to imagine that they might (for all I know) be trans; I'm pretty sure it's so I can convince myself that my body shape lies within the range of body types that "real" women have.  I keep telling myself I don't care.  But if I'm honest with myself, I do!

Nothing like feeling like a counter-example to your most deeply held beliefs :)

Fortunately, there's enough going on in my life that I don't have very much time for this kind of navel-gazing.  My days are mostly spent doing whatever it is I do, and whether I'm a woman or a man or something else is irrelevant to the things I do.  (Other than which gendered public toilet I use.)

But when I have time on my hands, this is the sort of thing I tax my mind with.  (Like I really have nothing better to do... /end{sarcasm})
"...  I think I'm great just the way I am, and so are you." -- Jazz Jennings



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Offline paprika

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2021, 01:58:58 am »
You are not alone. I am agender and AMAB, but I like my feminine body. I love that I am a UK 8 dress size and have a flat tummy. However, I may be rejecting the body shape of my male friends, who have the 'permanent pregnant' look from their large tummys.

Offline RandiL

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2021, 10:55:57 am »
Thanks for starting this discussion Asche. I have my own set of self doubts related to this topic. In my case it's not clear what gender I should be. Maybe that's common here.

I am repelled by masculinity in myself (not just toxic masculinity, really any of it). But I wouldn't say that I feel like a woman. Am I agender? No, I don't think so; I am on HRT, doing facial hair removal, taking voice classes... I am looking forward to presenting more female although I hold back a little out of wanting to avoid disappointment.

Anyway, it's good to have other people who are going through their own versions of this uncertainty, not that I wish it on any of you.

Hugs, Randy

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Offline Rakel

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2021, 09:26:07 pm »
Good evening paprika,

I noticed that this is your first post here at Susan's Place and I would like to officially welcome you to our corner of the internet. We are a supportive website for everyone with gender related issues. We are moderated because we have many members here who are underage and we need to keep Susan's Place Family Friendly.
We have Terms of Service which are 20 rules we all must abide by. I will post the links below.

Again, Welcome to Susan's Place.

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I still keep my professional licence active and in good standing.


Offline Asche

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2021, 05:24:51 pm »
I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent here:

In my case it's not clear what gender I should be. Maybe that's common here.

I don't know about "should."  IMHO, it's a matter of which label makes you more comfortable and makes your interactions with the wider society easier.

It's society that cares which label you have (and wants to force you to fit into gender-box they assigned you to.) You'll still be the same person whether you have got a blue nametag or a pink one or a lavender one or a tie-dyed nametag.  (But society will treat you different, based on the color of your nametag.)

Personally, when I'm by myself, I'm not "male" or "female" or "bigender" or "nonbinary" or whatever, I'm just me, and "gender" is irrelevant.  It's only when I have to deal with other people that I have to deal with this "gender" nonsense.  I don't wear dresses because I'm "female" (whatever that means), I wear them because I like them. It's the people around me that insist that wearing a dress makes you "female."  I'm old and tired, so I just say to myself "whatever" and go along with it.  Also I find I'm more comfortable around most of the "female"-labeled people than the "male"-labeled ones.  I don't know if that means I'm "really" a "woman," or a "man," or a "third-gender", or whatever, and frankly, I don't care.
"...  I think I'm great just the way I am, and so are you." -- Jazz Jennings



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Offline RandiL

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2021, 09:43:33 pm »
@Asche I agree with your taking a jaundiced view toward my use of "should." I regret that, and in my defense my views on gender have evolved in the two weeks since I wrote that  ;D

I think what I meant at the time was that I was unclear what gender (however it is defined) would make me happier. And what do I mean by that? Presentation? How my identity is seen by others? How I see it myself? To some extent, all of those.

How I see my own gender identity was the the primary point of my post back then. I was uncomfortable with any of the labels offered to me (still am), including non-binary. I like your point that when you're by yourself you don't need any gender labels at all. That resonates with me, as I don't really apply any particular label to myself.

My thinking about my presentation as well as how my gender identity is seen by others is rapidly evolving lately. While I'm not going out much to be seen by others in the pandemic, I'm busily remaking my presentation into a more female one. And this makes me happier. I look forward to getting out more and being with others -- and doing it with a more feminine presentation. I hope this will reflect back to me as others see me, but it's not the be-all end-all. Regardless, I'm going to do what feels right to me.

And a thought about your preference for hanging out with "female"-labeled people, no it does not indicate anything about your own gender. I've been that way myself for a long time, since long before I realized I was transgender.
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Offline Rachel Montgomery

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2021, 10:17:45 am »
Asche, I have some points of disagreement (which is fine, maybe I am wrong and you are right).

You said:
...I see gender as mainly a set of categories that society crams us all into, the better to force us to act the way they want us to act.  That was my experience of it as I was growing up -- my childhood was full of people telling me I was bad for not acting the way boys are supposed to act.  The grown-ups would exasperatedly ask me why I wasn't doing what everyone else (specifically, the other boys) was doing, and the other children ostracized me and picked on me for being "queer" or "weird."  I remember fairly young (maybe age 10) hearing all the things that boys were supposed to like and to not like, and the things that girls were supposed to be or not be, and I thought they were outrageously stupid.

That isn’t my understanding of what “gender” is.  Rather, what you are describing is what I understand to be “gender norms” or “gender roles”.  What is expected of you isn’t your gender, it is a gender norm. 

Sex is often assigned according to anatomy.  Other people may misgender you based on your birth sex, or what the presume to be your birth sex.  As I understand the word, “gender” isn’t something other people put on you, it is a word that describes how you see yourself.

Quote from: “Asche”
...people come in all varieties, with all different natures, and the only reason men mostly act one way and women another is the brainwashing and formative experiences they get from birth on. “

It is true enough that people come in all varieties, but I believe that scientific research suggests that gender is NOT a social construct but is in fact an expression of biological nature. Whether gender comes from genetics or from hormone masculinization or lack thereof of the brain during development, women have anatomical differences in their brain from men.  And transwomen have brain structure more similar to women than men.  I think it would be unwarranted to say that society’s gender norms caused the brain structure of transwomen to be like that of other women. 

Society didn’t make me this way.  In fact, society tried very hard to persuade me that I was mistaken about my gender, and that it did in fact align just fine with my sex.  I think at this point, it is fair to say gender norms and gender roles did little to make me a man.  Despite the best efforts of those around me, I am not what they expect me to be.

Now, they did force this proverbial square peg into a round hole.  That has been a painful experience.  They did intimidate me into apparent compliance with gender norms.  But, they failed at making me a “man”.  Instead what society made me is a closeted transwoman that passes as a cos-man almost all the time.  (If only I could pass a female that often.). So, based on my experience, gender is not a social construct.  Gender norms are, and gender roles are; but gender itself is resilient and internal in origin.  I think that the evidence shows that we transgender people are proof that gender is NOT a social construct.  If it were, we wouldn’t exist. 

At least, that is my present understanding of who and what I am.  I don’t know, we may all have different opinions on that question.  Maybe I am wrong.  If you think so, I welcome your counter argument.  Maybe I will change my mind.

Quote
The more I can look at myself in the mirror (or down at my body) and imagine that I'm seeing a woman (this category that I'm convinced is just a bit of society's foolishness), the better I feel.

And, what does that tell you about society’s ability and effectiveness at shaping your gender into a masculinized one?  To me, it says that despite society’s best efforts, your gender persists at violating the norms.  If gender is a social construct, why aren’t you masculine?  Why doesn’t your gender match your birth sex?

Offline Rachel Montgomery

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2021, 10:26:59 am »
I would refer you to the following scientific papers on the subject.  I wish I could provide links, but I don’t yet have the ability to post links per the rules here.

The Genetics of Sex Differences in brain behavior
By: Tuck C. Ngun, Negar Ghahramani, et al.

Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation
By: Alicia Garcia-Falgueras and Dick F. Swasb

Biological Aspects of Gender disorders
By: S.M. Corsello, V Di Donna, P Senes, V. Luotto, et al.

Offline RandiL

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2021, 12:55:37 pm »
I would refer you to the following scientific papers on the subject.  I wish I could provide links, but I don’t yet have the ability to post links per the rules here.

The Genetics of Sex Differences in brain behavior
By: Tuck C. Ngun, Negar Ghahramani, et al.

Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation
By: Alicia Garcia-Falgueras and Dick F. Swasb

Biological Aspects of Gender disorders
By: S.M. Corsello, V Di Donna, P Senes, V. Luotto, et al.
Rachel, I agree with your distinction between gender and gender roles or gender norms. Many of us conflate these under the blanket term of gender.

But if somebody looks at me and sees a man, isn't that their assigning a gender to me? Not a role or a norm. I may subsequently act outside their expectations of my role or norm, but that doesn't change their thinking about my gender. I don't buy in to their assignment of my gender, but it affects how they act toward me.

This is all pretty much unrelated to my own internal conception of my gender (or non-gender).

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Offline Rachel Montgomery

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2021, 10:15:10 am »
.
...if somebody looks at me and sees a man, isn't that their assigning a gender to me?
I think that is their assignment of a sex to you.  This tends to result in people having certain expectations (gender norms).  How you express yourself may be in accordance with the gender role for the opposite sex from the sex they assign to you, or some mix of gender roles.  This is a violation of gender norms, and often results in friction with others.  You aren’t meeting their expectations, and it disturbs them.

Quote
I may subsequently act outside their expectations of my role or norm, but that doesn't change their thinking about my gender. I don't buy in to their assignment of my gender, but it affects how they act toward me.
I understand, though I would state that they incorrectly assigned your gender because they incorrectly assessed your sex.

Quote
This is all pretty much unrelated to my own internal conception of my gender (or non-gender).

Offline Allie Jayne

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2021, 04:51:19 pm »
I will never see myself as a woman. I would need to be complete with ovaries, uterus, and memories of growing up and being socialised as a female. This is why I never wanted to transition. But those two little pea sized things in my brain’s bed nucleus are oriented to a female gender. They kept sending me stronger and stronger dysphoria, until I had to do something to appease my subconscious gender identity. Transition worked, I no longer suffer life threatening bouts of dysphoria.

Though I am now officially female, and live as a woman, my conscious brain does not believe I am. I reason that my physical changes are due to medications and surgery, that they are not naturally part of me. I’m living a life I don’t believe in, and that causes me stress at times, mostly because I was committed never to have to live this life. This peaks when consequences of my transition arise, like my wife leaving me, or my family members struggling to accept my new identity. I hate that these things have happened against my will.

This is also why I am sure that your brains hardwired gender identity and your conscious identity are two completely seperate things. Some people can change their conscious identity to match their gender identity and find peace, I can’t. My conscious brain will always see things as they are, and I will remain in conflict.

hugs,

Allie 

Offline Asche

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2021, 05:24:46 pm »
...
That isn’t my understanding of what “gender” is.  Rather, what you are describing is what I understand to be “gender norms” or “gender roles”.  What is expected of you isn’t your gender, it is a gender norm.

Sex is often assigned according to anatomy.  Other people may misgender you based on your birth sex, or what the presume to be your birth sex.  As I understand the word, “gender” isn’t something other people put on you, it is a word that describes how you see yourself.

Actually, the word "gender" is used for all of the above.  "How you see yourself" is called "gender identity."

"Gender" is a concept that comes from society, like most concepts.  The only way you can even understand what "male" and "female" mean is from your socialization (which starts at birth, if not before), which is to say, your experience.  That's what you're calling "gender norms" and "gender roles."  And they are going to have a huge influence on how you see yourself; in fact, we don't have any language to describe ourselves aside from the concepts we get from others.

My point was that my only experience of "gender" growing up was from society's concept of "male" and "female" -- what you are calling "gender roles" or "gender norms."   My experience was being told I was a "boy," and then told what "boy" means ("gender norms"), and then being relentlessly bullied and harrassed for failing to be "what boys are," despite my best efforts.  It should come as no surprise that eventually I saw "being a boy" as something imposed upon me from without and rather contrary to my nature.   Saying "I am a girl" was not an available alternative at the time -- boys who showed anything that could be construed as "girlish" were persecuted even worse than I was being, so there was no way I was going to even think about the possibility of being one.

So "how I see myself" does not include anything I would think of as gender, aside from the ways I have to act in order to navigate a society which requires that everyone be either "male" or "female."  There's an "inside me" which doesn't relate to anyone else and which doesn't need to even think about "gender norms", "gender roles," "gender performance,"  etc., and an "outside me," which tries to act and be what people demand of me, which includes performing some semblance of the gender I am presenting (until 8 years ago, "masculinity," now "femininity")  They are very distinct and rather different "me"s.


It is true enough that people come in all varieties, but I believe that scientific research suggests that gender is NOT a social construct but is in fact an expression of biological nature. Whether gender comes from genetics or from hormone masculinization or lack thereof of the brain during development, women have anatomical differences in their brain from men.  And transwomen have brain structure more similar to women than men.  I think it would be unwarranted to say that society’s gender norms caused the brain structure of transwomen to be like that of other women.

Given that there is "scientific research" that "proves" that women have an inborn preference for pink and me for blue, I am very, very skeptical of any "scientific research" on gender.  It has been demonstrated over and over again that people's socialization and environment have such a large effect on their abilities and behavior that it is impossible to say what they would be like without them.  It has also been demonstrated over and over again that scientists' assumptions and prejudices influence what they see, especially in the social and behavioral sciences.  This is a well-known issue in the social sciences.

Society didn’t make me this way.  In fact, society tried very hard to persuade me that I was mistaken about my gender, and that it did in fact align just fine with my sex.  I think at this point, it is fair to say gender norms and gender roles did little to make me a man.

That was my experience, too, and in fact that is what I was trying to describe.  They didn't make me "a man," but they created my concept of what "a man" is.   They also created a rather less clear concept of what "a woman" is, but by that point, I just wanted to be left alone, and my behavior was a compromise between what society demanded of me and what I was capable of pretending to be.  That's still true today, except that about 8 years ago I discovered that presenting as a woman was also a viable way of making that compromise.  I don't think of myself as a woman, just as someone performing woman-ness to better fit it.  (Which is a whole lot easier for me than trying to peform "man-ness.")
"...  I think I'm great just the way I am, and so are you." -- Jazz Jennings



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Offline Asche

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2021, 05:43:51 pm »
I will never see myself as a woman. I would need to be complete with ovaries, uterus, and memories of growing up and being socialised as a female.

I believe you.  You know best how you see yourself.

But the radical feminist in me can't resist pointing out that there are (cis) women who have neither ovaries or uterus (e.g., my ex-wife who had them taken out due to ovarian cancer), and even cis women who were born without ovaries or uterus (e.g., women with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.)

And I think it's safe to say that the "memories of growing up and being socialised as a female" of white women in the USA are probably closer to the experiences of a white man growing up in the USA than those of a woman in, say, Somalia or the Amazon rain forest.

Not to say that your definition is wrong, just that pretty much any definition of "woman" will either leave out some people that are generally considered "women" or include some that are generally considered "men."  I don't think that's all that bad -- it teaches us humility.
"...  I think I'm great just the way I am, and so are you." -- Jazz Jennings



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Offline Allie Jayne

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2021, 06:34:30 pm »
I believe you.  You know best how you see yourself.

But the radical feminist in me can't resist pointing out that there are (cis) women who have neither ovaries or uterus (e.g., my ex-wife who had them taken out due to ovarian cancer), and even cis women who were born without ovaries or uterus (e.g., women with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.)

And I think it's safe to say that the "memories of growing up and being socialised as a female" of white women in the USA are probably closer to the experiences of a white man growing up in the USA than those of a woman in, say, Somalia or the Amazon rain forest.

Not to say that your definition is wrong, just that pretty much any definition of "woman" will either leave out some people that are generally considered "women" or include some that are generally considered "men."  I don't think that's all that bad -- it teaches us humility.

Asche, I have known women who for various physical reasons, could not bear children, and each of them shared with me that they don't feel complete in their self identity. I know how they feel. This is my definition for me, and not intended to apply to others.

Hugs,

Allie

Offline Rachel Montgomery

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Re: Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2021, 09:29:10 pm »
Asche, thank you for your thoughtful reply.  I understand your position better now. 

You are correct, “gender” isn’t necessarily the same as “gender identity” (which you correctly point out is what I was defining).  And, it seems we are much more in agreement than I originally thought.

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