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Letter G for Gender

April 8, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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Today is the eighth day of the NaBloPoMo challenge and I am doing pretty well blogging everyday. I might get burned out, though. When I made up the rules for this month, I didn’t think through all the letters of the alphabet, and it’s difficult to be truly inspired when I want my posts to be in alphabetic order. I feel like I have to save some of my drafts for their appropriate days. I am waiting for the day I can post on the letter W . . . waiting . . . waiting . . .

Some of my blogging buddies have already posted about Thomas Beatie and the fluidity of gender. I vaguely remember writing a paper for my anthropology class in college about gender among Native Americans. There is some documentation of the acceptance of more than two genders, more like a continuum. I have no problem with viewing sexuality as a continuum because there are sexual images, sexual acts, and sexual partners that make us all comfortable or uncomfortable to varying degrees. So I accept that we don’t have to choose between heterosexual and homosexual when defining our sexuality and conveying to others what makes us comfortable. But sexuality and gender are not interchangeable terms. I think I understand the difference. Then I learn about Thomas Beatie and I am forced to re-examine my own presumptions. Now, not only are sexuality and gender not absolutes, but people’s biological bodies and their function and design are also not absolute. Now I am trying to accept that the way people’s bodies function can also be defined as a continuum. I know that a woman who has a hysterectomy can still define herself as a woman. I know that a man who doesn’t get an erection can still define himself as a man. But can Thomas conceive a child and carry that child in his womb and still (have the audacity to) define himself as a man?

This is what Blue Milk had to say about it.

This is what Brian had to say about it.

I hadn’t thought anyone would be able to endure (enjoy? suffer through? experience?) pregnancy without connecting to how feminine it is. According to what I learned by watching him interviewed by Oprah, Thomas’ transformation from female to male gradually progressed and felt natural to those who love him (Nancy and her daughters). I thought he would at least acknowledge that pregnancy brings out his feminine side. In preparation for pregnancy, he had to allow his menstrual cycle to return to normal. Am I even allowed to use the word “normal” without offense? Thomas demonstrates a disconnect with his womb that upset me at first. In his article for, he writes that he considers himself to be his own surrogate. Why would he need to disassociate with his own body like that? Maybe he is worried that his legal status as male would be taken away by the government?

I wish them happiness and comfort and love and connectedness. I hope they don’t have to go into hiding for fear of their safety. I felt like I was starting to overcome my judgment of them and starting to accept the sexuality/gender/biology continuum. However, (this is where I point out some hypocrisy and hope that no one points back at me *nervous laugh*) when Thomas showed a lilac-colored “Daddy’s little princess” outfit to the camera and said he couldn’t wait to see it on his daughter, I sighed and thought, Big faux pas, Thomas. Way to perpetuate gender stereotypes and hold your daughter to standards you don’t even hold yourself to.

  1. April 8, 2008 2:16 pm

    Apparently I missed that part with the “Daddy’s Little Princess” outfit. I didn’t watch the last few minutes of the show.

    It’s funny that no matter how hard we (or Thomas) tries to prevent society from defining who we are, we always wind up doing just that to others. In his defense, I would have to say that it would be nearly impossible not to shape the gender identity of a child based on his or her gender at birth.

  2. April 8, 2008 2:25 pm

    I know! We say, “please listen to who I am” and then we sometimes forget to extend the courtesy to others, especially our dear children. Great comment, Brian.

  3. April 8, 2008 2:39 pm

    P.S. you can see the baby outfit on part 6 of the clips from redlasso. I thought Thomas would have been more careful about buying that kind of clothing, but I don’t hold it against him. I buy gender-specific clothing for my children. It was just weird that he had felt pushed into competing in pageants by his father, yet as a father he would show off his own daughter as a “princess.”

  4. April 8, 2008 5:37 pm

    Hi, This is off the subject of the post but I could not wait to give you this link, you may have already heard but I thought of you right away.

    Ron Paul backers ‘hijack’ delegates
    Posted on April 6, 2008.

    Andy Barnett


    Dang, I hope you can see it. you may have to go over there

  5. April 8, 2008 10:22 pm

    Thank you, Angie. 😀

  6. April 9, 2008 12:02 am

    Just stopped by to say hi! Hope all is well! HUGS!

  7. April 9, 2008 10:52 am

    Shouldn’t it be Daddy’s/Mommy’s Little Princess?

  8. April 9, 2008 4:40 pm

    Gender is an artificial construct thrust onto use by organized religion and the patriarchy in general. By creating two evenly divided camps, they can pit one against another and keep us divided. Homo-phobism, rabid religious fundamentalism, and sex-based discrimination will soon be a thing of the past – an eroding bitter memory that should never have existed.

  9. April 9, 2008 5:16 pm

    gr8tful, thanks for the hugs. They are appreciated and reciprocated!

    Jared, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I guess I was questioning the word “princess” more than the word “daddy.” They are going to be great parents, and I am sure they will catch themselves making mistakes just as all parents do.

    johnny, do you really think it will be a thing of the past? I agree that gender is an artificial construct, but I guess I didn’t want to think of biological design as artificial. The process of pregnancy/birth seems more sacred than that.

  10. April 9, 2008 8:53 pm

    I’ll admit that this whole issue/topic is confusing to me. The first thing I don’t understand (and I mean no disrespect in this statement) is how Thomas is a ‘man’ if he still has a womb and a vagina. I’m no doctor but isn’t that what we define a woman as? How was he legally able to be defined as a male? I honestly do not understand it. Maybe I don’t have all the information.

    It is slighty annoying to me that the media is calling this a ‘miracle’ when in fact it’s not. A man without a uterus would be a miracle. This is simple biology. Unless you are referring to every pregnancy as a miracle which I can see the point in this. It’s definitely unusual though.

    I feel bad that this couple has faced discrimination during their journey to have a child. I wish them the best and happy/healthy child. I do wish that they hadn’t plastered their face all over the world because I feel like the child is going to face so much more ridicule and living under a microscope than a kid should. It seems like the baby is being born with a ton of baggage already on it’s back and on display. But I am sympathetic to their desire to have a baby. It is a very strong hole if unfulfilled.

  11. April 9, 2008 9:49 pm

    Chris, it is confusing, isn’t it? There are all these terms (sexuality, biological sex, gender) and all these “norms” that get mixed up and misused. Thomas is attracted to women but couldn’t be “just a lesbian” because he felt like the male gender best represents who he is. So he had to begin a process of transformation: hormone therapy, removal of the mammary glands and fatty tissue in his breasts, name change, change of his legal status. His father had 2 sons and 1 daughter, but now he has 3 sons. His brothers had a sister, but now they have a brother.

    He is now male, so theoretically he should limit himself to male kind of things. Pregnancy is not a male kind of thing. I guess that is why many doctors were uncomfortable helping him get pregnant when they wanted access to a sperm bank. It was not required of him to remove his reproductive organs in order to be recognized as male by the government. But I can see why he and Nancy would need to be prepared for the legal consequences of their pregnancy because they are married and are recognized as a heterosexual couple. If he had “settled” and been “just a lesbian” they wouldn’t have been able to marry.

    Supporters of his decision are saying he should not limit himself. He should be everything he is capable of being and we should honor and appreciate his duality. Read the comments on Blue Milk’s post. They are very helpful.

  12. April 10, 2008 3:39 am

    Gender is a meaningless distinction. Biological distinctions are not the same thing. Men will always produce excessive levels of testosterone, have outwardly projecting genitalia, and produce semen. Women will always have mammary glands, higher estrogen levels, and receptacles for man’s seed. Gender distinctions are only a mental construct. There are individuals that occupy every point in between the male -> female gender scale.

    No individual is born purely heterosexual or homosexual. Some individuals gravitate between the camps as evidenced by the female university LUG culture (lesbians until graduation). Who are we to judge? It is not my business what another chooses to do with their body? The only ones who are threatened are the ones who cling to this ridiculous notion of ultimate judgment and original sin. Bollocks them all.

  13. April 10, 2008 7:54 am

    Truly fascinating.

  14. April 10, 2008 8:45 pm

    “There are individuals that occupy every point in between the male -> female gender scale.” Johnny, I agree with you about that. I am just having trouble with Thomas’ inconsistencies in participating in “the system.” Like he bucks the patriarchal system, but then he participates in it by legally marrying Nancy and by trusting the ultrasound technician that his daughter is a “girl” and he can get so much joy out of buying her a princess outfit in anticipation of her arrival. I am confused by when he bucks the system and when he embraces it, and when he rejects his body’s original design and when he takes advantage of it. 😦 I have issues.

    CuriousC, yes quite.

  15. April 10, 2008 10:47 pm

    Thomas is a media hound and a attention seeker. His/her story does not matter. Thomas was ostracized from the LGBT community for sensationalizing his/her story. I could care less about this head case and her/his conflicting gender identity issues. My point is that these cats are a part of the biological higher period. Whether he/she bucks the system is like wondering why a kid can’t sit in his chair in school or why Mary won’t divorce her deadbeat husband who beats on her. Peeps got issues, period.

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