Tag Archives: navigation

The Gender Map: How well do we really understand gender? (not very)

Here’s a video from on YouTube. It’s pretty simple but touches on some important information, which is why I’m sharing it.

And since it’s a shorter video, I wrote up a transcript since I’d rather you get the information than not, and you may be more inclined to read it than watch/listen (but you should, because visuals!)

You may remember studying Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Magellan in middle school, they’re on the books for their pioneering explorations, their navigations of the ocean, and their rudimentary thinking.

Magellan is known for being the captain of the first voyage to circumnavigate the globe. Except that wasn’t circumnavigation. We called this circumnavigation because no one at the time realized that planes and rockets and satellites and who knows what else could actually circumnavigate more efficiently.

This is where we are with gender. Magellans.

We’re curious, and we’re navigating, but we’re limited by our abilities and our language to truly and completely navigate gender. Sometimes we have the words but not a complete sense of the concept. Like gender performance, roles, script. Other times we have the concepts, but lack the words to realize them.

Historically, navigation of gender has looked like this. We started with no gender. These (penis and testes) were merely the inversion of these (ovaries and uterus). The thinking was that this body (male) had more “vital heat” and thus forced the genitals to descent in order to “cool off”. Then there was a belief that gender was strictly grammatical. Any use beyond that was considered a joke, or an error.

It wasn’t until 1955 that gender took on the meaning it has today.

The Reimer family consulted Dr. John Money about their two boys. One’s penis had been damaged during surgery and Dr. John Money recommended that (1) the penile tissue and testicles be removed and (2) that the child be raised as a girl. Similarly to Magellan’s 炒外汇入门 European sailors bringing disease and death to the natives, Money’s pioneering thoughts on gender were also traumatic. Baby Bruce, who was raised baby Brenda, reportedly never felt, acted or identified as female and eventually committed suicide. Nurture over nature? Uh, no.

Gender is a complex sense of how an individual relates to, identifies with one, multiple, or no gender categorizations that our culture constructs. Some describe it as a “sense of identity”. In my culture this may include bi gender, man, gender fluid, gender queer, woman, cis, transgender, agender, pangender, two-spirit, neutrois, questioning, M to F, F to M, M to M, F to F.

In comparison, gender roles are the stereotypes that our culture has for these genders. Primary assessment of one’s adherence to these roles was designed in the 1970s by Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem. This is an online version of the . 60 items, 20 feminine, 20 masculine, 20 neutral. It was designed in the 1970s, of course I’m going to splatter the gender roles.

Gender isn’t the parts of your body, it’s how you express your body in the context of culture. Innately or otherwise. In the words of gender navigator Judith Butler, “We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us, but actually it’s a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time”

Perhaps we are each a unique gender, perhaps no gender at all. Until then, we draw squiggles, it’s our best effort to understand gender as we develop the language that allows us to circumnavigate it.

Stay curious.