I saved my college Sociology book because cultural practices vary around the world. It is beyond fascinating the cultural creations that manifest and influence in each society. Educating ourselves is the greatest power we can achieve.

Transgender is in the news so much as of lately. When you see loved ones discriminated against because of race or disability and now gender identity, there is a strong need to stand up and protest the uneducated driven rebuttals that follow. In order to refreshen my outlook, I  re-read the chapter on Gender. Our society goes to great lengths to assign one’s gender. 

Gender stigmas

Gender roles

Gender in the workplace. 

Gender in the home. 

We celebrate gender by gender reveal parties and put little bows on little baby girl’s heads. We conform to the roles our society defines for us. From our conduct to our clothes. I am no different in participating in the wide spread social construct. My mom bought me Barbie and although I loved Barbie, I loved Legos and the Millennium Falcon and playing with my brother’s Hulk Hogan and Junk Yard Dog figurines. My favorite color is blue and I was told while playing “house” (another social practice) as a child I had to be the “dad” because I wore a blue shirt. Blue is associated with the male gender. We unify the manufactured ideas of gender and then we are judged and discriminated against when we separate from those standards.

“… gender identities vary greatly across cultures, with each different culture defining what is right and wrong. Our gender identity, then, is constructed within our cultures framework for gender. There is not some global absolute truth governing gender roles and identities (274).”

Here’s some fascinating examples of gender in other cultures:

The Wodaabe: Men dress up, wear makeup, make themselves attractive and gossip. The women are the providers. 

The Mbuti and !Kung tribes VALUE gender equality. 
American Natives:Honor and Respect the Two-Spirit people who are believed to encompass both male and female characteristics

Bacha Posh– middle eastern custom where a family who doesn’t have any sons will allow their daughter to live and behave as a boy. She will have rights to education, personal freedoms and often carry male names.

She is my son

Fa’fafafine– Samoan boys raised as women. Male body with female identities. Sex with straight men is considered a hetero-sexual relationship. The roles in your community decide and shape your gender. Not your physical anatomy. They are a revered third-gender.

Hijra– Southern Asia. Recognized third gender and protected by law. 

Sworn Virgin– Albanian young girls who takes an oath and lives as a man. Sworn Virgins are able to obtain wealth, gain status and freedom. Still biologically female, accepted as a 100% male. 

The idea of “Men are men and Women are Women” is definitely overused and offers little intellectual insight. “The bottom line is that gender is a socially created or constructed IDEA, not one that emanates from biological traits. (291).” Translation: your plumbing downstairs has no significance on your gender identity.

We check our gender boxes on every form out there. And that’s our culture. 

“Each tradition has evolved over time to meet certain needs of society(273).”

I get it. The stigmas that have survived and slowly transcended has served an essential purpose in society because it was needed at one point in time.  

Not this time.

Everything written above is educated and medically supported facts. In regards to the issue of the bathroom. The stall is just another little box.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only two boxes that are important in this life. The little incubator box they put me in when I’m born. And the box they put me when I’m in the ground.

Our life is simply the transition from one box to another. 

Time to think outside of it.

Erwitt, Elliot. Segregated Water Fountains. 1950. North Carolina, USA,. Web.

Mason-Schrock, Douglas. “Transsexuals’ Narrative Construction of the “True Self”” Social Psychology Quarterly 59.3 (1996): 176-92. Web.

Ballantine, Jeanne H., and Keith A. Roberts. Our Social World: Introduction to Sociology. Los Angeles: Pine Forge, 2009. Print


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