What is it like to feel gender?

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5 months 4 weeks ago #374487 by Adder
I agree with most of what you said ZealotX, I think. Buuut I think gender can be felt.... because to me its most logical manifestation when stripping societal influences is being one of 'energy circuits'; that is the patterns of tension which define shape and movement, and thus play a significant role in 'feeling' (among others factors).

In this regard it links directly to morphological differences of male and female sexual differentiation. Things like the orientation and shape of the pelvis influences a wide range of physicality; be it sitting, standing, walking and moving... when compared to the orientation, size and shape of the male. This also goes to other parts of the skeleton like shoulders, but also height etc. Then there is the difference in function, shape and size of reproductive related organs and attributes associated with sexual differentiation. This alter the weight and balance as well which imparts differences on biomechanics of self. And then of course the impacts of there being a 10x difference in the level of testosterone, and over 3x in amount of estrogen, which incur a difference in the emotional baselines which our self emerges and operates.

If those differences are large enough between those majority groups, then it's going to denote real tangible difference rather than simple stereotyping.

Note this is all speaking in terms of statistical averaging within groups and not meant to misapplied to the level of analysis of individual (because so much variation is natural within groups attributed to either sexual pole). Certainly not for identity purposes, just the discussion of if, how and why gender might be felt, and by extension why it might exist historically and moving forward.

Why I view all that relevant is because it represents the different types of internal influences when comparing those group stats, but more importantly because it seems to relate to how those old fashioned stereotype norms of gender developed and maintained certain characteristics over human history outside of the external influences such as patriarchy, religion, culture etc.

That does not mean I consider gender a synonym for sex, not at all, as I do think that lots of other factors can play equal or greater roles than what I've outlined here... but to me these physical differences from traditional associations could explain why often it appears people switching genders tend to align and adopt gender practises and behaviours associated in many ways with traditional gender poles. I presume this is to feel more like and target gender and/or sex, but it stands to reason to consider that it could also be to better fit into society based on the way they already feel - though that of course begs the question what are the characteristics of the feeling that is being attributed to gender. I imagine people either choose to become, or believe they always have been, the target gender and in the later it would logically be because it is how they feel I suppose be it internally or fitting in socially? I'm just trying to boil it down to if and why might or might not concepts of gender even continue exist if it's just a social construct.

 

Knight ~ introverted extropian, mechatronic neurothealogizing, technogaian buddhist. Likes integration, visualization, elucidation and transformation.
Jou ~ Deg ~ Vlo ~ Sem ~ Mod ~ Med ~ Dis
TM: Grand Master Mark Anjuu

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5 months 4 weeks ago #374489 by Cornilion Seadragon
I find it interesting to observe who the arguments in this conversation seem to play into a much bigger conversation about minorities, be it gender minorities, ethnic minorities, or any other group that is only a very small subset of a population whose experiences are completely foreign to the vast majority of the population. Trans people make up roughly 2% of the population. For the other 98% of us, we really can't even comprehend the experience of that 2%. We can be quick to assume that our own experience and observations are the universal human experience and question the validity of the experience of others when they don't match our own, but that doesn't mean that the experiences of others are B.S. just because we ourselves can't comprehend it or because it doesn't match with our own experience in our lives. Probably one of the greatest challenges in life is to try to understand those whose experiences are dramatically different from ours, so much so that we can't even comprehend it.

Having known many trans people, I can honestly say that one or two of them seem to be running away from something or identify as the opposite gender primarily because their personality and interests fall in line with the opposite gender than they were assigned at birth. Most that I know, however, the idea that they were ever the other gender seems somehow out of place. It seems as though they really are one gender with only one or two notable differences and those notable differences are the characteristics under which the legal gender was assigned at birth. There are the exceptions to the rule as there is in any topic, but as a rule, trans people are not trying to avoid some stereotype of the gender they were assigned at birth or are basing their identity on some cultural idea of what a person of a specific gender is supposed to be. Also, contrary to what is probably popular belief, there are clinical guidelines for when gender affirming care is warranted. If medical intervention is involved (such as hormone therapy), it's not a matter of someone waking up and deciding one day that they are the other gender. In some cases those guidelines do call for psychological evaluation to ensure that it isn't a manifestation of some mental health issue, but generally that wouldn't be necessary unless there are specific red flags. There are none the less specific criteria that a health care provider would generally follow. While bodily autonomy and a person's right to govern their own body are one of the most critical principles of bioethics, doing no harm and ensuring that the benefit outweighs the risk before performing a medical intervention of any kind is also a huge part of bioethics, so the criteria for gender affirming care includes an evaluation that essentially has to determine that it would be harmful to the person to not receive that medical intervention.

Gender involves a LOT of different characteristics, and many people are born with both male and female characteristics, to the point where in some cases assigning a gender at birth becomes a judgement call or even a flip of the coin (and in these most extreme cases usually involves surgery shortly after a child is born to bring all reproductive organs in line with the gender assigned). Internal and external reproductive organs are a couple of them these characteristics. Hormones are another set of these characteristics which often but not always coincide with reproductive organs (particularly because those reproductive organs themselves produce many of those hormones). Most of us don't have to worry about it because we're born with all or most of our sex characteristics matching our external genitalia (the sex characteristic off which our current society judges gender). For all of us in that boat, it's hard difficult to understand or empathize with the 2% who are born with a mix of male and female sex characteristics.

It's also worth noting that the many physical differences between male and female bodies such as muscle mass, height, weight, skeletal differences, balance, etc. are almost exclusively products of different testosterone levels, not differences in reproductive organs. While women on average have lower testosterone than men on average, the range of highest and lowest levels of testosterone are pretty much the same in both populations. (More women are at the lower end of the range, and more men are at the higher end of the range, but the range is basically the same for both groups.) Those who transition before puberty (including hormone therapy) will have the muscle mass, height, weight, etc. of the gender they transitioned to, not the the one they were assigned at birth based on their external genitalia. Those who transition after puberty admittedly do become a more complicated topic (such as the swimmer Lia Thomas).

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5 months 4 weeks ago #374496 by Wraith
Why are we talking about sex characteristics when the thread is about what it is to FEEL gender. 

Sex (biological or otherwise) =/= gender. 

If a 25 year old woman woke up in the body of a man, they'd still be the woman they were, just stuck in a body that is perceived by society differently. You'd start being called sir, expected to do manual labour tasks that previously you'd be glancedly overlooked for, and (as many trans men have noticed) suddenly be hit by the overwhelmingly crushing lonliness men experience because of our largely patriarchal society. You're also suddenly expected to dress certain ways, clothes are made to display what your gender role in society is, even if that isn't what you are. 

None of this has anything to do with puberty, muscle mass, or bone structure. 

What is it to feel gender? Well, its to feel what it is that brings you joy and comfort in how you're perceived in society. I LOVE being called cutie. If suddenly people started calling me handsome, or manly, I'd probably feel my skin start crawling. 

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5 months 4 weeks ago #374497 by Cornilion Seadragon
I think this may be where the different tangents this conversation has taken might all come back together.

There are a lot of different sex characteristics. Physical structure, reproductive organs, hormone levels, brain chemistry (the part the really gets to how it feels), etc. All of these come together to form gender identity. I agree that the brain chemistry component (which really impacts our emotions/personality/interests/how we interact with the world far more than any of those other characteristics) kind of got dropped off the conversation. I mostly was responding to topics being raised, so thank you for bringing this back around to the original topic.

It's interesting to note also that children start becoming aware of gender around age 2, and usually have a pretty solidified sense of gender by age 4. (This is why a lot of kids might explore traditionally "boy" things and traditionally "girl" things around those age ranges. They are essentially exploring gender, finding out what they like and what group they fit into the most. While many kids are probably aware of physical differences like reproductive organs, certainly not all are and even those who are don't really register those as important at that age so the gender identity is much more formed by personality and interests, the things children at that age are actually interacting with and relating to. (It's also important to note here that is said "usually" have a pretty solidified sense of gender. Some people have gender norms drilled into them very young and don't really do this exploring until later in life when it feels more safe to do so).

There has definitely been a surge of young people identifying as trans, particularly compared to previous generations. For a while there was a legitimate fear that it was a fad or that kids were deciding they were trans because it was the "in" thing, but the numbers have pretty much leveled out at around 1.5% of the population now across both Gen Z and Gen Alpha. The surge was largely attributed to children who had identified as a different gender than they were assigned at birth but were in previous generations told that wasn't allowed. They were what was on their birth certificate and that's the end of the conversation. (Many of these individuals across all generations are now also starting to come out as transgender, but much more slowly, sitting at around 0.5%). Now, because many parents are more supportive of kids being the gender they identify as, many of these young children who identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth as they get older and find out that society does not perceive them as the same gender they perceive themselves then bring up the conversation about transitioning (usually not with that sophisticated language of course, usually it's more like "but I'm a boy, how do I get everyone else to see that?").

It is worth noting, however, that I am not in that 0.5-1.5%, so not having personal experience, I am speaking through experiences I've heard from others, but mostly through statistics and scientific research on the subject, not personal experience. I can't really speak to what it feels like to identify as a different gender than assigned. For me, there are moments when I don't feel as masculine as it seems I should, and I wouldn't mind being able to dress in a way that lets my personality show a little more (as men don't really accessorize beyond a tie which has largely fallen out of use for all but the most formal events). Otherwise, though, I'm a pretty stereotypical man. I do catch myself mansplaining on occasion. (I try to be aware of when I'm sharing details that I genuinely have some unique perspective or insight on, but I do on occasion catch my self explaining things that is completely obvious to everyone, oblivious to the fact that I'm basically talking down to people by doing so). I am somewhat clueless on a lot of the same things men tend to be clueless about. My friends and I were chatting the other night. The women in the group were asking what kind of shampoo I use. My answer: uh, something that says shampoo?. The other guy in the group said: soap? water? When asked what kind of conditioner I used, I just shook my head. The women at the table seemed semi-horrified that I wasn't using conditioner and kind of lectured me on the importance of it. I'm not as interested in sports and cars as some men and more interested in meditation and internal introspection than most men (I suspect that last part of that sentence is true of most men within the Temple), and I'm in a profession that is probably 90% women. Still, if I were to think about what gender I feel like it wouldn't take any thought at all to answer that I feel like a man. That's who I am. If I were to suddenly transition to a woman's body, I would feel out of place.

A lot of times I think we don't really acknowledge how a certain thing feels when it's the default. It's only when it stands out as unique that we really stop to think about that. I imagine gender is the same way. If we feel like the gender that we are assigned, if all of our sex characteristics (physical structure, reproductive organs, hormone levels, personality, etc.) all line up, then there isn't much to think about. I'm just a guy and that's kind of all there is to it. When those don't line up, when who we are and the body we inhabit are mismatched or when we lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum instead of clearly at one end or the other, than we become much more aware of how that feels. The greater level of introspection to find out who we really are almost becomes required to figure out who we are because it isn't as obvious as it is for others.

I have to acknowledge, too, that if I were called "cute" I'd probably recoil pretty strongly. I remember when I ran a department next to the receiving area one of my female employees walked back to receiving area as they were getting in a bunch of multicolored duct tape. One of the receiving workers told her, "Do NOT say the c-word!" As a couple other guys looked confused, she exclaimed in the most girly voice she could muster "CUUUUUTE!" just to annoy him. That anecdote still amuses me. Hopefully it brings a little levity to this otherwise deep conversation without taking it off track.

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5 months 4 weeks ago #374503 by ZealotX
I think often "bad people" create traumas that cause us to no longer be attracted to anyone who is remotely like "that person". Therefore if women have traumatically bad experiences with men it may be possible for them to be more attracted to other women by default because they are either consciously or subconsciously avoiding men out of fear. And we know from prison culture that sexuality is more fluid if you are cut off from the opposite sex. So if a person constructs such a mental prison out of fear, cutting themselves off from the opposite gender, then that leaves the same gender. Likewise, traumatic events with the same gender or with "bad people parents" could, in my opinion, lead a person to reject their own gender, especially if they were pressured to be a certain kind of man or woman. Parent's often make the mistake of trying to mold their children into little versions of themselves or their aspirations which doesn't always fit the child.

At the same time, many children are triggered into non-conformity in general and therefore seek out ways to not conform as a rebellion against societal norms.

Yes, gender characteristics are a coin flip. However, I do think what people are rejecting is the idea that physical characteristics = gender. And I think this comes from emotional feelings of rejection. They don't want to be their gender because of something that, perhaps even unique to them, that gender identity has come to represent. But this doesn't mean everyone should run from what they are. And I have even seen black people bleach their skin in order to appear to be white. I find this very sad because no matter what you feel about who you are or what physical trait you have... EVERYTHING that makes you... you... there is and cannot be anything wrong with it. I feel like by allowing everyone to be whatever gender they want, we're actually not even seeing how many people are simply hurting in their own self-identity to the point that they are willing to either dress differently or physically alter themselves just to feel like a different person. But if you truly love yourself... perhaps, many people who identify as trans would learn to accept who/what they are. And even in the case of trauma... Yes we now have the technology but that doesn't mean we should use it to change nature. Because we're behaving like there is no cost outside of money. But there is always a cost and that is why there is balance in the universe.

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5 months 3 weeks ago - 5 months 3 weeks ago #374505 by Wraith
My question for trans people would be this? 
1. Why do you not want to be your birth-assigned gender?
2. Why do you want to be the other gender?
3. Did you suffer a traumatic event?

1) Because I'm not it. 

2) I'm not trying to be another gender. I'm trying to be MY gender. 

3) Yeah, being forced to undergo the wrong puberty. Why does gender orientation have to have anything to do with trauma? Don't try diagnosing us when you're not a gender specialist. 

I am actually disgusted a 'Jedi' would have such hateful attitude towards trans people. Go read the homepage here again. 

" I want to be careful here because the object isn't to offend anyone."

Proceeds to call trans people BS. Good job 'jedi'. 
Last edit: 5 months 3 weeks ago by Wraith.

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5 months 3 weeks ago #374507 by Zero
I’m locking this thread temporarily for review. Complaints of rule violations have been made. I’ll unlock it after my review is complete

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5 months 3 weeks ago - 5 months 3 weeks ago #374540 by Zero
Thread is unlocked…..the offending post has been deleted…..please be respectful of eachother. I’m all for people stating their personal opinions, but not if that means attacking others. Be Jedi!

Master Zero
House of Orion
TOTJO Council Member
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My Apprentice: Morkano
Knighted Apprentices: Diana W, Atania, Ashria, Tannis Yarl, Tavi, Rini, Khwang

”Everything that exists in this world has a hidden meaning within. When you look deeper at things, beyond initial appearance, you discover their true reality.”


Last edit: 5 months 3 weeks ago by Zero.

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5 months 3 weeks ago #374557 by ZealotX
We may have different definitions of "hate" and I can make room for that; however, by any definition I'd use I don't personally have any hatred towards those wanting, for whatever reason, to be something other than what they were born as. I had no idea anyone would react so strongly to these questions and so they weren't designed to provoke hostility. I can only say that I'm sorry if anyone was unintentionally offended.

It's unfortunate that we're losing a perspective on this issue that may have offered some insight. However, let's not jump to conclusions and imagine we know each other's feelings. In fact, that's the very reason for asking questions rather than making personal assertions.

The point I was trying to get to is how can a person know they are not what they are? And by saying what they are... I'm not trying to negate how a person FEELS. However, how a person feels may be the opposite of what they are. At what point do we have to say that a boy who feels like a girl... *IS* a girl? And how do they know that they feel like girls if they really don't know how a girl feels? And is feeling like a girl, therefore, based on some means of trying to identify certain feelings with femininity? Or is feeling like a girl simply not feeling like a guy? And what does feeling like a guy feel like? That goes to the basic premise of this thread.

The only way you can really speak on what it feels like to be a guy is to first "be a guy". If you are a guy speaking from experience then it's because that's what you are. To say you don't want to be that is fine but the only way you can say you don't want to be that is to first know what it is you don't want to be. So whatever reason that is, must include some 'knowledge of' being that gender. This is not an attack and shouldn't be taken as such. Just like having been born as that is also not an attack. And let me restate, once more, that people are allowed to feel however they want. I actually never called BS on every single person who identifies differently from their birth. Rather, I'm calling BS on judging genders according to whatever negative biases and gender-based stereotypes which could potentially make a person want to reject that gender.

I cannot speak on being a girl but I have no reason not to believe that being a girl is great because girls are fantastic and wonderful. But it's also easy to get stuck on negative thinking and start associating something that is awesome and great with a bad experience or with experiences that were the result of conflict with bad people. The grass is always greener on the other side is a very deep saying because until you truly have that other experience you can't really know if it's better than your own. It just seems like it has to be better from the perspective of the side we're on. 

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5 months 3 weeks ago - 5 months 3 weeks ago #374575 by Cornilion Seadragon
Note: This post was written last week, but as I was writing it, additional posts were made and the thread was eventually locked. That's to say that I might be responding to some points that were in now-removed posts. I did go back and try to edit it for clarity as much as possible.



If I'm understanding your assertions correctly, you are basically saying that in your view the only way for a person to be trans is as a result of mental health issues and that being trans is just a mental health problem. (If I'm misreading that, please do correct me on that). This is also the main reason I keep coming back to this argument and am trying to explain the biology of it. Perpetuating the belief that being trans gender is a mental illness helps perpetuate discrimination (both microaggressions and blatant acts of discrimination) that make functioning in our society such a challenge for trans gender individuals and create high levels of suicide, disability, homelessness, etc.. As I previously mentioned these issues disappear when trans gender people are supported and live in areas where anti bullying and anti-discrimination policies are in place showing that the disability and mental illness among trans gender individuals are the result of how others in society treat them, not some internal issue.

I think your coin flip analogy highlights the disconnect with what I'm trying to say: It is NOT a simple coin flip. It is at the very least a series of dozens of coin flips that all add up to land somewhere on a spectrum. There are many, many different characteristics that work together to form gender. The fact that people are rejecting the idea that physical characteristics = gender is because those two are not the same. Physical characteristics are one piece of gender, the piece that's easiest to identify from the outside and so becomes the piece of gender that is used to assign sex at birth, but this is not a person's gender. A gender is a compilation of many characteristics some physically measurable and many not. For a person whose physical characteristics do not match their other characteristics, should they reject everything that makes them who they are in order to conform to the physical characteristics they were born with? Is it more important to accept that one physical characteristic than to accept anything else that makes a person who they are?

What I'm gathering from you is that your perspective is trans gender people are running from who they are and not accepting who they really are. I feel pretty confident in saying that most if not all transgender people would tell you it's the opposite. They are learning to accept who they really are despite society trying to reduce them and their entire identity to a single characteristic which doesn't align with anything else about them. Trans gender people also aren't trying to gain some advantage that they perceive the other gender has. The challenges of being transgender in our society are so, so, so much worse than any sort of advantage one might gain by going to the other side of the fence as it were. Not the least of those is the challenge of having other people constantly tell them that their experience and understanding of who they are is BS because it doesn't match the perspective of someone else. Normally I would probably harp on harm that is caused by transgender people (or any minority group) when people continue to make dismissive, belittling, or hurtful comments about them because those microaggressions add up. I've tried to avoid going down that track here more than necessary because I also think it's important to have honest dialog where possible. Just shutting people down and saying "that's hateful, how dare you say that" can get in the way of growth and understanding, so I want to clarify I'm not saying don't speak freely in this conversation, but I do want to raise awareness of the harm microaggressions and negative comments can have, especially as they add up.

(It seems that there has been some conversation about this in the background and others have been less patient with those microaggressions in this conversation. For what it’s worth, Oxford Dictionary defines hate speech as “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds.” Words that express prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity do fall under that definition even if the words weren’t said with malice or hatred. Someone expressing prejudice with or without hatred in their heart is still creating an environment where people are being shown they are unwelcome because of who they are.)

In response to a comment you made (possibly in the now deleted post), I also think it's important to note that kids are a lot less rebellious today than they have been in some generations (surprisingly, that's actually been the subject of research). They still push boundaries especially when they are little, but when those boundaries push back, they generally accept them. When they absolutely refuse to let a boundary push back and are clearly not just testing those boundaries, there's a reason. Teenagers do their own thing, but it's less out of a rejection of their parents (like it was in the 70s) and more a complete apathy. If their ideas match their parents, great, if not, who cares they'll do their thing anyway. The age where most kids begin discussing becoming transgender is actually in the block between those two, when kids are generally cooperative. Many transgender kids are very well behaved and well-adjusted and are overall great kids. They just recognize that their own gender identity doesn't match the sex they were assigned at birth. It's not a rejection of something or running towards something or a reaction to a traumatic event. It's more commonly expressed as, "This is just who I am. I didn't choose it, it just is."

Thinking of gender as an absolute binary of a single physical characteristic when it's a far, far more complex topic can lead us to incorrect conclusions. I think that underlies a lot of the last several pages of this conversation. There's an incorrect assumption or understanding that gender is a remarkably simplistic dichotomy of a singular physical detail.

I will agree that a small minority of transgender people may indeed be reacting to trauma or trying to run away from or toward something. This is a small minority, though, and does not reflect the typical situation. As for your three questions, I think the third question can have some merit if there are red flags (and if I recall correctly that's actually reflected in the clinical guidelines in the case where there is reasonable concern that this might be a factor). Your first two questions really are the same question, or at least would have the same answer for the vast majority of transgender people. They also reflect an underlying assumption that they are either running away from or toward something. I found a list of questions suggested by a website on transgender resources that I think dig for the same kind of information you are looking for but ask it in a less confrontational/accusatory way:
  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • What started you thinking about it? Did something happen?
  • What made you tell me now? Did something change?
  • Have you been talking to anyone else about these feelings?
  • How did you learn about transgender people?
  • Are you thinking of changing your name and/or the pronouns people use to refer to you?
  • Where do you see yourself on the gender spectrum?
  • What do you want to change now to express your preferred gender? What would you like to change in the future?

These questions help identify if there was a specific event contributing to a child deciding they are trans, if it's just a momentary fad/peer pressure/rebellion or a long held perspective, and what the person's idea of gender is as well as what they are specifically wanting.
Last edit: 5 months 3 weeks ago by Cornilion Seadragon. Reason: Formatting.

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