Author Archives: amandauhles

Amuhles, signing off.

There is one more week of classes left at several universities across the United States. This typically means that students are dedicating their life to finally cramming for that test they never had a chance to study for or staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish their term paper on deadline.

So what do I find myself doing this last week? Yep, I am finishing up my last blog for G205: Transgender Bodies Across the Globe. I thought in this highly stressful time  created to allow students to “reflect” on what they’ve  learned that I will do just that, for the first time in my college experience.

When I first began class I was highly uneducated on what it meant to be transgendered. I had never been able to distinguish between the terms transgender, transsexual, or transvestite, and I thought of gender confusion as something that was only found in Western societies.

In the short time I have been in class I have learned the difference between those terms but more importantly I have learned that classifying people into narrow categories, or categories in general is useless. We are all different and everyone has special characteristics which are different from the “norms” that societies establish. I was able to learn about other cultures  that have “gender non-normative” and “third gender” individuals proving that throughout the world there are people who “rebel” against popular normative notions of societies gender categories.

Over the past 16 weeks I have been able to gain insight that has helped me to accept people as they are, regardless of what gender they identify with. This virtue, more than anything else I learned, will remain with me forever.

I think this blog has been very beneficial in helping me to write down and understand my own thoughts of how I view those different from myself as well as to investigate current events and issues going on in the world regarding the transgender community.

I look forward to continuing my knowledge in this field of study as more research essays are published.

Advertisements

Boy’s Don’t Cry

For my final research paper in our class I will be writing about the appearance and stereotypes of transgendered individuals in the United States and Brazil. In researching for this topic I came across the film Boy Don’t Cry a 1999 Fox movie directed by Kimberly Peirce. This film is based on the real life story of Brandon Teena.

The film, set in a small town in Nebraska, features Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a female to male transgendered individual trying to find his way and place in the world. In the opening scene you begin to see the physical transition that Brandon is taking to look in appearance like a male. Shortly after this is a scene where Brandon has what appears to be his first experience with a girl. Later, violent and angry men are pounding on the door of his brother’s trailer looking for the “dike” who hooked up with their friend.

Brandon’s past has not been very great and throughout the movie you can see how he is wanted on charges of theft as well as other deviant criminal acts. After his brother kicks him out of this trailer he is forced to leave in search of a new more promising life. It is while he is at a bar that he meets the “friends” he will spend the remainder of his life with.

While spending time and living with his new friends Brandon falls in love with Lana. Soon the cops are on Brandon’s tail and he is arrested after this fake driver’s license leads the police back to the name Teena Brandon. It is in the paper that Brandon’s new friends first figure out that he is biologically a female.

Two of these friends, John Lotter and Tom Nissen, beat and rape Brandon after they realize he has female anatomy. Brandon files a police report, but before the men can be interrogated they murder him.

I think this movie fits in to my topic very well. It displays the stereotypes and actions that can affect transgendered individuals in the United States, and how the media tends to portray them. In this instance the director had little information other than the interviews of people who knew Brandon and the cold hard facts.

This lack of concrete evidence allowed her to play with the storyline and plot of the movie. Just a few of the stereotypes that continually reinforce our idea of individuals with “sexual identity crisis” are the idea that they are criminals or deviants, that they can provide comic relief, and they are highly sexualized. These aspects can all be seen throughout the movie.

Naked scenes and the sexual intercourse are only a few ways that the director used to show our cultures high dependency on visual proof, and caring more about the bodies sex than the intellectuals sex preference.

Want to see this movie? Check out the trailer!

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3535470873/

Bloomington Remembrance

November is not just a time for falling leaves and football games. The latter part of the month is not only filled with  busy Americans flocking to local malls and shopping centers for holiday gifts. In fact, for many people living in the United States it can be a time of mourning and deep reflection.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, held November 20, is an occasion that commemorates the lives of trangendered individuals who lost their lives due to anti-trans discrimination. This day was originally begun in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith with a candle light vigil in San Francisco. Since this memorial service over 10 years ago, candlelight vigils and other ceremonies have been held in numerous locations around the U.S.

Bloomington, Indiana, a fairly liberal community, is among the locations that holds an annual commemoration. This service, hosted by SAGE: Sexual Orientation and Gender identity Equality, will begin in Dunn Meadow at 7:30 p.m. with opening remarks and conclude with a reading of the names of those who have lost their lives.

Although this remembrance is only officially done on November 20, many families and friends affected by these hate crimes are in mourning throughout the year. A website,

November is not just a time for falling leaves and football games. The latter part of the month is not only a time for busy Americans to flock to local malls and shopping centers for holiday gifts. In fact, for many people living in the United States it can be a time of mourning and deep reflection.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, held of November 20, is an occasion that commemorates the lives of trangendered individuals who lost their lives due to anti-trans discrimination. This day was originally begun in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith with a candle light vigil in San Francisco. Since this memorial service over 10 years ago, candlelight vigils and other ceremonies have been held in numerous locations around the U.S.

Bloomington, Indiana, a fairly liberal community, is among the locations that holds an annual commemoration. This service, hosted by SAGE: Sexual Orientation and Gender identity Equality, will begin in Dunn Meadow at 7:30 p.m. with opening remarks and conclude with a reading of the names of those who have lost their lives.

Although this remembrance is only officially done on November 20, many families and friends affected by these hate crimes are in mourning throughout the year. A website is available for those looking to remember the remainder of the 364 days.

http://www.transgenderdor.org/

For a full list of vigils and services visit this website!

A U.S. History Told

The concepts of a “third gender” category and “transgendered” groups of people are not new or recent discoveries. In fact, researchers and anthropologists have been studying these cultures for decades. Their findings can be seen throughout the numerous posts found on the blog Trans Bodies Across the Globe. From cultures in India to South America  gender variant individuals found in different cultures  date back for hundreds of years.

These cultures and “third genders” help to establish a foundation for our own understanding of transgender. In this blog I will discuss the first half of Susan Stryker’s book Transgender History. In this book, Indiana University scholar Susan Stryker details the political activism and history of transgendered individuals and their movement in the United States. It is important to understand there are other cultures that have third gender categories, but also imperative to understand the history and struggles of transsexual and transgendered individuals in our society.

In the first chapter of the book Stryker simply defines many terms that she will use through the remainder of the book. Of these she lists sex, intersex, morphology, gender, gender roles, gender comportment, and gender identity as a small portion of words that would fit into her book. These words she explains are easily misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly. Two of the most conflated words being gender and sex.

In the next chapter of the book Stryker goes on to speak about the history of transgender. Pointing to many historical moments, movements and figures which helped transform the image and perception of gender variant people Americans understand today.

The medical field is one important historical aspect of transgendered history that has helped to create transgendered individuals as sickly or mentally unstable. Stryker explains, “Access to medical services for transgender people has depended on constructing transgender phenomena as symptoms of mental illness or physical malady, partly because “sickness” is the condition that typically legitimizes medical intervention” (Stryker, 37). If transgendered people hoped to obtain any medical help they had to succumb to these dangerous stereotypes and assumptions that they were ill.

Other topics discussed in the beginning of the book ranged from demonstrations that lead to violence as well as famous advocates of transgender and transsexual movements. This includes the famous Hirshfeld, Prince, and Jorgensen.

The first half of Stryker’s book is a great description of what has occurred in the United State’s history regarding the transgender movement. It describes well the limitations and prejudices seen by this minority group in America and provides the dominant culture with a look into their struggles.

I really am enjoying this book because it is well written and easy to read. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about the United States transgender cultures and communities or anyone interested in learning about people different or similar to themselves. Enjoy!

 

Location, Location, Location.

Close your eyes. Imagine yourself on your high school football field. Lights are illuminating the thirty or so players on the field, one is you. As you look down you realize you are dressed in tight padded football pants and shoulder pads. Your head is protected by a helmet. You get into formation with your team. Hut, hut, hike. You open your eyes and the daydream is over.

Now close your eyes again. This time you are in a large brightly lit room with wooden floors and wall-to-wall mirrors. Upon further inspection of yourself you realize you are in a tight black tutu. You are in a ballet studio. Right before your first plie you wake up.

In which situation did you feel most comfortable, and what do you think helped in your decision making? If you guessed that location had anything to do with it then you are correct. The answer, my friends, is location, location, location.

Location plays several important roles in establishing certain places and spaces as belonging to certain groups of people. Gender for example, helps to establish space for “men” and “women.”Take for instance a weight room, football field, or mechanical garage. These locations are primarily filled with men and gendered accordingly. In contrast to these spaces such as the aerobic work-out room, ballet studios, and tanning salons are culturally coded as female and feminine. Through institutionalization we teach and repeat our cultural understanding, further gendering certain areas.

The cultural understanding of concepts in spaces can also vary. The general knowledge of transgendered individuals in Bloomington is low, however I believe the atmosphere allows for further enhancement of knowledge in this area. With a highly ranked gender studies program there are many opportunities for those interested in learning more about gender variant people than in other areas across the United States. This being said, I believe that living in the United States in general, and being immersed in American culture hinders our understanding of transgendered persons abroad.

Simply by living and participating in a space with an enforced gender and sex binary American’s cultural understandings of gender and sex topics are limited. This limitation proves difficult when trying to understand many cultures with transgendered individuals. In response to this a “third gender” concept was created by Western society to help classify these people we in our culture deem as transgendered. This is also negative because it reduces and groups different cultures with different beliefs, characteristics, and concepts together into a narrow category.

Our location, and the short history of transgendered understanding in the United States, has created this lack of cultural understandings of the “third gender” abroad. Within time, and through much institutionalization, we may become more understanding of transgendered cultures abroad and less inclined to lump them into one category of “third gender.”

Location plays many different roles in our everyday lives. Think about that next time you head out to the weight room, aerobic work-out center, tanning salon, or mechanical garage.

Isis: A Top Model

See how Isis, a transgendered American, was discovered and picked for the show Top Model.

Watch this video to see a conversation with Tyra and Isis!

Jackson’s Analysis of Lingis’ Thai ‘Lust’

All of us have read scholarly articles. You know the good, the bad and the extremely long. Regardless of what your personal experience with these academic resources have been, we have ALL been there.

A common trend, at least for me, is to assume the correctness of an analysis and not delve too deep into the theory involved in the article. I accept the theory made by a academic seemingly more knowledgable about a topic than myself.

This being said, after reading Peter Jackson’s critique of Lingis’ article on Thai Lust  my perspective on the immediate rigthness of scholar’s theories changed. Now I am not only questioning Lingis’ analysis of Thai transgendered men, but also on the way I approach a scholarly article.

Jackson begins his writing by pointing to the problematic aspects that academic writing has on our interpretations and opinions of not only transgendered Thai individuals in this study, but on other subjects as well. He explains that  “Thai men [are] living, breathing people” and that by studying and writing about them merely from an academic theory based approach they are positioned as  “constructs of discourses or effects of cultural patterns.” He calls for a consolidation of a theory based, as well as “personalised novelaic” approach to writing.

From here Jackson begins discussing the praise Lingis has and is receiving for his article title Lust regarding transgendered males in Thailand. Many of Jackson’s coworkers have ” cited [Alphonso Lingis] as an example of someone who pushes the bounds of the academic genre in order to insert himself into the narrative of analytical reflection.” Although Jackson finds Lingis’ style of  writing noble, he finds numerous disconcerning aspects of his analysis.

Some of this concerns include:

  • The assumption that Kathoey are linked to a ‘one night stand sexuality.’ This is troublesome because it wrongly implies that these individuals are only catering to tourists wants and sexual desires when in reality these men are living a life they feel is their destiny and calling.
  • Lingis’ statement that the Kathoeys are not visible in the streets. Jackson points out that this is statement is in no way correct. There are in fact many Kathoey working at the markets, retail shops and hair salons.
  • The improper use of pronouns when referring to the Kathoey. These individuals use feminine pronouns to describe themselves. Lingis uses he/his.
  • Lingis assumes that the Kathoey performing are “farm boys” who instantly transform into sexual beings available for the tourists sexual desires. He does not take into account that these individuals were probably performing similar gender and sexual roles while they were on “the farm.”
  • He says that transgender people are  representative of the entire Thai male population. By doing this he presents to readers the “view of Asian masculinities as inferior forms beside Western expressions of manhood.”

Jackson goes on to explain that although there are many flaws in Lingis’ argument that there are also positive aspects that come from reading it. I agree with Jackson on many of this issues with Lingis’ article Lust. Lingis positions these people at sexual beings and assumes their sole purpose and existence is centered around tourists desires.

I think the many opposing view points in both articles  proves it is important to read scholarly articles with the goal of further analyzing them. Readers must question theory rather than just accept it.