Gender Feature Story 1: The Shoes Review

In writing my other Gender post, I was reminded of the day I was on the Payless Shoes Website and saw a very cool review because it was a self described “gentleman” wearing “ladies shoes.” I then went back to the website just now and hunted down the review to quote it here. I posted it on something when I first saw it a year ago. It bears reposting just because it’s so great how gender and gender identity are not some side topic but are part of everywhere. I proposed my Gender Identity Altered Books Workshop and the person in charge said it may be too specific a population to do a workshop on, so I explained that it is extremely relevant to every clinician and ubiquitous and in fact everyone needs to be trained in gender identity sensitivity.

Anyway here is the review in all its glory. Thank you to this person who bravely put himself out there! And FYI, while they should be “unisex”, they are Mary Janes and look like non fancy practical shoes but have that element that makes you think of little kids (female) shoes.

“I just received my “Geanette” Mary Jane shoes today and have been wearing them most of the day. I could not be more pleased with them. My new “Mary Janes” are very comfortable and nice looking. I am a gentleman who enjoys wearing women`s shoes exclusively and find these to be very suitable for around the house or street wear. This shoe would be excellent for women as well as men, as it is a true “unisex” shoe. I am a red-blooded male and have already received a few compliments on this attractive looking shoe. I heartily recommend these well made nice looking shoes for anyone. I think I`ll order another pair just in case they are discontinued.”

Here are the shoes if you’re curious or want a pair, whatever your gender!


New Blog Feature: Gender, starting with Gender Activism Presentation

I’m taking the Blogging Fundamentals Class very slowly and not in lesson order (knowing ones learning style is helpful!)

Assignment: Make a feature for your blog to post more regularly on a particular topic!

Challenge Accepted! My Feature will be posts on Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Activism and Related Issues. I hope to try to post weekly and make it on Thursdays but I’ll aim for two posts per month. I may post more than weekly. For example, this post is a many part post as there are many subtopics to it.

Today I’m did a presentation at nearby school PS 234 to a 5th grade class about my activism as an artist and art therapist, especially around gender identity and trans/alternate gender rights. Also to tell them about mental health stigma and activism, being part of the Open Path Collective and LighthouseLGBT affirming website of therapists. Activism in different fronts and through different means, ie. individual personal, making art, then on community level, sharing it on social media platforms for activism, such as this blog, and especially Instagram. I brought in foam door hangers as an art activity for the kids to do at the end. It was a big hit, so I was very excited when I left. I got the kids thinking about guerrilla art and talking about the bathrooms in their schools. One kid said she was only going to use the gender neutral bathroom on the floor below their classroom…

Here are some photos from my solo art show, #BathroomArtOnly, October 2016. I’m going to start the presentation talking about an old art project from the 90s about gender and this more recent one.

Re Blog: Great Link about Continued Subtle “hiding in the closet” and Bias against Gender Non Conforming People

2015: we have a long way to go. Read this article.
Also, I have to say, why is everyone still saying LGBT and not LGBTQ? What happened to the chant, “We’re here. We’re Queer…” it’s for Queer and Questioning…

Why the ‘Pride’ DVD Cover Isn’t “Gay”: Links You Need to See

“Trans Bodies, Trans Selves”: new book

“Trans Bodies, Trans Selves”
is a website and a book published this past spring by Oxford University Press. It is also, from my point of view, a great starting point for looking at “gender” and people who identify as gender non conforming from a healthy affirming, and validating model, rather than society’s traditional model of pathology. This is most likely the definitive book on this subject and covers all aspects, including health and well being, which I aim to discuss in another post.

We tend to assume that the word “transgender” covers a lot of definitions, but interestingly there are individuals who don’t like the term. The term “transgender” can be both affirming and useful to some and not to others in this community. The interesting thing is that over the years the need to define oneself though it has mostly arisen from being treated abusively or marginalized; luckily it has also resulted in a diversity of terms and self identity.

Now at least all of society can start to understand the people who inhabit “trans bodies” and “trans selves”.

The beginning point for this book is to explain certain terms and give definitions and portray the variety of terms that have become choices for self definition. Even the need for self definition through gender is up for question. Why do we need it at all? What would the world be like now if humans had never come up with binary gender at all? This post just touches on some of these points to introduce the topic.

Most people are used to the terms MTF (male to female) and (FTM/F2M) female to male describing a transgendered individual in terms of assigned gender versus affirmed gender. There is assigned female or male at birth, ASFB or ASMB, as well as transgender and “trans”, however over the years many more varied descriptors have arisen often in direct response to people being misunderstood.

The term cisgender used a lot in this book refers to people whose sex and gender match, via meaning “in the same side” while “trans” means on the opposite side (p6) also trans is connected to words like transformation… And I believe it comes from a root meaning of “crossing over” , used in common words like transport and transition. The idea of transitioning is actually important for part of the trams gender community. Some people want to include Gender Affirming Surgery in their transition and others do not. The term Gender Affirming Surgery was new to me and a welcome replacement to the old phrase “Gender Reassignment Surgery”.

I am still confused by the term Transexual versus a Trans gendered individual, as well as use of the word “sex” as indistinguishable from “gender”, as sex in this context seems to be an older more antiquated term. I believe there used to be a distinction between a “transvestite”, a male or female who presents him or herself as the opposite gender through makeup , clothing and other means, often but not always connected to performance and not for the purpose of expressing their Affirmed gender. The term transsexual used to refer to someone who is not a transvestite, someone whose assigned gender at birth does not match their gender identity, which is the main aspect of the concept of transgender versus cisgender.

There are, however, many subsets of people who identify as gender non conforming but are not transitioning through hormones and surgery. For example, some ASFBs who are not heterosexual do not like the term lesbian because it defines that person as female. There is a growing acceptance of people who don’t like labels, whether binary gender or as a definition of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately mainstream society is miles behind; there is a growing understanding of homosexuality, but less of bisexuality and asexuality, much less transgender and non gender.

Some of those who refuse to identify as GLor B use the term “queer” to refer to their sexual orientation and/or gender. Queer is a term that has been reappropriated and transformed from something insulting to an affirming way to define oneself.

What of others who challenge the terms under the GLBTQ umbrella, who engage with none of these terms to define themselves or use different terms, new to mainstream society?

Younger populations sometimes use the terms trans boys or trans girls.

Most have rejected the term hermaphrodite instead using “intersex” to define being born with bodies that don’t “fit” as male or female.

There are many who reject all these classifications and identifications as too narrow, even insulting, and prefer to be male or female or affirmed male affirmed female.

The term Boi is an interesting term as it is used by a diverse group of people to identify as “young carefree and sexually explorative”.

Neutrois means having a gender neutral identity, a non binary gender, neither strictly male or female.
Gender fluid and non gender conforming tend to express someone who sees themselves as having qualities of different maybe not defined genders and/or sees gender binary as limiting and.

An interesting aside: I believe that the concept and activity of interpreting dreams or even tarot cards is one way that people loosen their view of only seeing gender as binary gender. When you are everyone in your dream, you can easily see visually that there are parts of you that are not your birth assigned gender, as well as non genderd parts of you that come in all forms, animals, alien creatures, objects and settings. When people are able to identify with these parts of their dreams, they are engaging in what I would call gender opening, not just “gender bending”. When you read tarot cards, it’s the same thing. A man could get the Empress card in some important place where she embodies some part of himself just as anyone could get the Hanged Man card, a major arcana card that has multiple meanings about spirituality, and so the images on the cards, especially the classic Rider deck, may be gendered and the “querent” the person asking the cards something, will learn about different types of energies within him or herself that are stuck, need attending to, or are helping in some way. These energies within us may be represented by a gendered image but go beyond gender, and this is the relm of the Self. I guess I am suggesting that we all have “Trans selves” within us. This is this a book for everybody to learn from and find enlightenment about what it is to be human and a being…