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Body, Mind
& Spirit

Genderbread: Redefining Cultural Norms


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BODY, MIND, SPIRIT

The Genderbread Person

Redefining cultural gender norms

by LUCAS O’LAUGHLIN

 

 

In the recent March 2015 issue of the Desert Diary, a short story ran that, at its core, made light of suicide/murder, sexuality, and transgender issues.

The community outcry resulting from the publication of this anecdote was swift and heartfelt, and can be read in Letters of the April 2015 issue. Many citizens were able to articulate what the author and editors had missed, that mental health problems and violence against transgendered people are both issues of serious concern in our community, and should not be taken lightly or dishonored. To use this subject matter in such a way goes beyond the boundaries of humor, social mores, or bad taste – it functions to reinforce the heteronormative patriarchy, violence and oppression that transgendered and other marginalized people face on a daily basis.

As our society progresses to become increasinglytolerant and inclusive to honor the many facets of thehuman experience, old paradigms and power structures will be called into question. As they shift, sotoo will our cultural norms become redefined. Thispast week it was impossible to turn on the televisionor read through an internet news feed without newsof Kaitlin Jenner’s recent transition, and with thispervasive media coverage conversations on trans-gender experience were brought to the forefront themainstream consciousness.The current dominant cultural view is to classifygender and sex through a binary system of male orfemale, and sexuality through simplified paradigmsof heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. The reality,is that individuals’ experiences and perceptions arenot so simple.In an effort to accurately conceptualize the complex interactions of sex, gender, personal identity,perception and interpersonal relationships a systemof independent spectrums can be used to best reflectthese concepts.Gender Identity refers to the introspective understanding of personal identify in regard to man-ness and woman-ness. It is one’s own personal felt sense of identity and belonging within that binary Man- Woman paradigm and exists independently of biological sex, attraction/sexual orientation, and gender expression; how much a person feels “like a man,” “like a women,” “like both equally,” “like a man a little more than like a woman,” “like neither,” and even feel gender fluid.

Gender Expression on the other hand is the outward, visible to the world, way in which someone presents their felt sense of gender. This expression is achieved through hair styles, clothing, fashion, demeanor, characteristics and behavior that are perceived within the masculine and feminine. For example a person can have an internal gender identity that is very “male” but his expression of his gender may be perceived by others via cultural norms to be more feminine or effeminate, due to activities of interest, behavior and dress.

The Biological Sex has everything to do with the physical characteristics of one’s body, sex organs, chromosomal make up, and hormones. This is typically assigned at birth as male, female, or intersex.

About 1 in 2,000 people born in the United States is intersex. Some people are born with external sex organs that are not easily identifiable as distinctly male or female, and others have chromosomes that are not typical.

Attraction also exists on a continuum, and can be broken down into two separate facets of sexual attraction and romantic attraction. A persons’ sense of who they are attracted to and how that attraction is expressed and received comprises what is commonly called sexual orientation. With sexual attraction being oriented to the physical aspects of a relationship and the romantic attraction being comprised of emotional and spiritual dynamics.

This basic overview of gender, sexuality and is meant to serve as a foundation for building a fundamental understanding of the complexities of our own lives and the lives of others. In building a shared community and advocating for tolerance, it is also important to have a shared language that is inclusive. In this effort of inclusivity, the acronym of LGBTQQIIAAP+ refers to members of the community who identify as anything other than straight and cisgender (description for a person whose gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex all align e.g., man, masculine, and male).

  • L: Lesbian. Women attracted to women.

  • G: Gay. Men attracted to men.

  • B: Bisexual. People attracted to both sexes.

  • T: Transgender. People whose interior sense of gender is different than their exterior physical sexuality, whether male to female (MTF) or female to male (FTM).

  • Q: Queer. People who don’t want to label themselves by their sex acts but do want to claim being different, eccentric, and fabulous. Reclaimed from an old hate term, Queer can also be highly offensive, depending on usage.

  • Q: Questioning. People still working out who they are attracted to, often applicable to the young.

  • I: Intersex. People born into bodies that are not definitiviely male or female, including those born with ambiguous genitalia, bits of both male and female plumbing, or genetics beyond the standard XX and XY.

  • I: Intergender.

  • A: Asexual. People who are affectional but aren’t that into sex.

  • A: Allies. Straight people who support the LGBTQ+ community.

  • P: Pansexual. People attracted to others more by individual personality, differing from bisexuality in that they ignore the gender binary altogether.

Local Resources:

PFLAG Silver City: pflagsilvercity.org

LGBT Grant County: www.gaysilver.org

Equality New Mexico: eqnm.org


LGBT Grant County Seeks Board Members

Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) Grant County has been serving Silver City and Grant County for many years.

The original organization was called Swans (Southwest Activities Network). Activities included fundraising for community projects, entertainment productions and social gatherings.

LGBT Grant County currently offers members activities focusing on social interaction and networking, providing connections for those new to our town and welcoming visitors. Also providing HIV Antibody testing for persons desiring testing, hosting the AIDS Names Quilt, maintaining landscaping for a welcoming median strip and participating in community events such as parades and festivals.

LGBT Grant County is seeking additional members to assist in activities and participate in the governance of the organization. Board membership and member participation are critical in allowing LGBT Grant County to maintain its presence and providing information for all our community.

Those wishing to participate can call 575 5195562, visit our website gaysilver.org or e-mail grant@lgbtgrantcounty.com


 

Lucas O’Laughlin, LCSW, is a behavioral therapist at Silver Health CARE.
He offers psychotherapy for adults and children at
the Main Clinic and at The Family Clinic

 




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