Fiancee S. and I traveled down to my old University stomping grounds on Saturday for a BBQ in a lovely, stucco Arts and Crafts style house attended by many staffers from my later graduate school days. One thing that is always such a joy about these trips is that you never precisely know who you'll get to see at one of these affairs. My old University town is one of the magnetic areas for people pursuing various alternative lifestyles, and that, and the tattoos, piercings, brandings, etc... always makes for some very interesting people watching (though let me state that this is innocent... I'm sure that some of the people we look at snicker back and say "look at the het couple... could they be any more straight?") The BBQ did not disappoint... there were a number of people who clearly understood and the differences between sex and gender and expressed themselves in ways that was not the societal norm.
All this brought a term to mind that I've heard more than once recently: transgender. The Webster's Seventh dictionary definition of the word gender reads as follows:
gen.der 'jen-d*r n [ME gendre, fr. MF genre, gendre, fr. L gener-, genu]s birth, race, kind, gender - more at KIN 1: SEX
This, I have learned, however is not the use of the word in vogue with the politically correct. Gender, it seems, has a meaning distinct from that of sex in that it refers to the social construction surrounding the male and female biological sexes -- a common example being the wearing of dresses as a signifier of female gender, and not something necessarily required by the biological needs of the female sex.
Therefore, to be transgender seems to be a catch all term that describes people who, seek the cultural trappings of a different gender without fully altering their own biology with horomones or surgery. It must be a hard life to live, feeling so at odds with the external appearance that society demands, and difficult to find an accepting community of people who understand this conflict.
on 2003-07-21 at 10:04 p.m.
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