Community Conversation > Non-binary talk

Conflict between my beliefs and my behavior

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Allie Jayne:
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 

Asche:

--- Quote from: Rachel Montgomery on March 02, 2021, 10:17:45 am ---...
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.

--- End quote ---

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.



--- Quote from: Rachel Montgomery on March 02, 2021, 10:17:45 am ---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.

--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: Rachel Montgomery on March 02, 2021, 10:17:45 am ---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.

--- End quote ---

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.")

Asche:

--- Quote from: Allie Jayne 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

Allie Jayne:

--- Quote from: Asche on March 03, 2021, 05:43:51 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.

--- End quote ---

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

Rachel Montgomery:
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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