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 question about transgender 
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After discussing trans gendered people yesterday, I started wondering: Does the fact that more people are coming out as trans gendered further the stereotypes about specific genders??
Watching the movie, I felt like the people featured seemed to be sending a message that said, "Since I identified with what has been a traditionally opposite role, I became trans-gendered." To me, this sends a message that it isn't ok for girls to identify with traditionally masculine "roles" and activities and for boys to identify with traditionally feminine roles.
I understand that people make the choice to come as trans-gendered for various reasons, but I do feel like a message was sometimes sent in the that it isn't ok to identify with another gender or some of its traits, and if you do so, you are trans-gendered.
I know personally, I can identify with several traditionally masculine traits. For instance, as a child, I would have rather been outside playing with my brothers than inside playing with dolls. Although I danced for many years, I always played sports, and I've always wished to be on a football team. I was never prissy...in fact I got in several fights with my brothers and cousins growing up, and I'm a fairly aggressive and independent person. Even though I characterize myself as having some traditionally masculine traits (that I now feel have become somewhat ambiguous traits because of the movement towards true gender equality), I still strongly identify myself as a female. I don't think that I am any LESS female because I am an aggressive person, or anything else. I would never think that I have to live as a boy simply because I enjoy some things that boys have traditionally been stereotyped as enjoying.

So, I guess what I'm asking is this...do you think that the trans-gender role reinforces stereotypes about gender?

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Whitney Sims


Fri Nov 16, 2007 8:35 am
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I think this is a very valid point. If someone makes the decision to become transgender because the like doing the things associated with the opposite sex, then this is most definitely adding to the gender stereotype. A man can live as a man and be caring and emotional. These are most often traits associated with being a woman, so does this mean he should live as a woman because he likes being caring? No, people should be who they are. I think this is all just a way of thinking. Like in the movie, the cop in Flordia. He started as a girl that played with the boys and acted like the boys. When she found out she was not a boy she was upset. It was all a state of mind that made her become a man. If someone had told her is was acceptable for her to act like this and still be a girl, I don't think there would have been this identity problem.
I think I am just trying to say that all of this seems to come from the belife that boys should do this and girls should do this. If we treat boys and girls that same, then I think there would be far less people with a gender identity problem.

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Adam Ray Wyatt


Fri Nov 16, 2007 1:25 pm
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First off, this is a great question. It really got me thinking about the roles that gender plays in our society and how it often forces people to choose to be one way or another. Whitney, I too grew up being a very athletic child who was often more interested in playing sports than with dolls but I still took dance classes, as well. I think I definitely felt pressure to fit into one category or the other as I was growing up because getting dirty while playing sports was not a "girly" thing to do, but it never made me question my gender identity. I often got placed in the "tomboy" category which made me angry because I didn't see anything wrong with being a girl and enjoying sports and activities traditionally reserved for boys. I think these categories of tomboy and metrosexual only fuel the stereotypes that are out there by almost saying that you shouldn't be the way you are, since they are often used in negative connotations. So I agree, that stereotypes do often make people feel they have to conform to the norm and would make someone who was questioning their gender identity feel even more out of place and different.
I think Adam is right when he says that stereotypes probably make people who are confused about their identity even more confused and push them to the place of making the ultimate decision to become transgender. Even though it would be great for boys and girls to be treated the same way I just don't ever see this happening. But I think we can help the children that we teach by not reinforcing these traditional gender roles and instead by treating each child as an individual who is allowed to have their own identity no matter how different or unique it might be.

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Candace Carpenter


Fri Nov 16, 2007 1:46 pm
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Whitney, I had never really thought about transgender roles and the idea that those roles may reinforce stereotypes about gender. However, now that I think back on what we have seen in the video, I can see how those roles may in fact encourage gender stereotypes.
When I was younger, I guess I was the "typical" girl. I loved pink. I played with dolls. I loved to play house and school. I never liked to get dirty. (Although, I think this was due the the fact that I was afraid that if I came home dirty, I would get in trouble, rather than because of any gender roles.) Though most of my activities as a child were "girl" activities, I did enjoy playing ball and playing cars with my brother. So, at times, I guess it may seem that I identified more with the male gender. However, I never once thought that maybe I would like to be a boy because I knew that it was acceptable for me to play "boy" games.
Perhaps I did not struggle with my identity because I knew that my lifestyle choices were acceptable. Maybe if some transgendered people today felt that their choices were acceptable, then they could be happy as they are, without a need to become transgender. Or, although it appears that transgender roles encourage gender stereotypes, maybe it is a much deeper issue that only a transgendered person can understand.

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~Victoria Hayes


Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:49 pm
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I like where you're headed with the last comment you made Victoria. I don't believe it is stereotypes that "push" people towards becoming transgender as much as it an inconsistency between thought and body. As was mentioned, the transgendered police office thought that she was male as a child. I don't think it was the stereotype that she shouldn't play rough or get dirty but more of an internal confusion. She felt like a little boy not just in action. The only thing that separated her from being a boy was the genitalia. I'm not going to go as far to say that she felt trapped in her own body, but I believe that personality vs body incongruity exists. I think that the situation can be further explained by the preference the transgendered person displays. There was a M to F in the video that was very athletic in high school playing many sports and dated females. He said that it never felt right though when he was with a female, that the males around him seemed more attractive. To most that would also make him a homosexual, but since he felt that he was really supposed to be female (and he followed that feeling) it turns it in to a heterosexual situation, which seems normal and natural (to the majority). Feeling more natural and less awkward, it turned out better for him to live as a female. If we all want to be who we really are and feel comfortable in all situations sometimes it is alright to go against the norms. Appreciating the differences and relating to the similarities, that's tolerance isn't it?

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Chris Walz


Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:50 am
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