“I keep trying to integrate my life. I keep trying to make all of the pieces into one piece. As a result, my identity becomes my body which becomes my fashion, which becomes my writing style. Then I perform what I’ve written in an effort to integrate my life, and that becomes my identity, after a fashion, (Bornstein, 1994, p. 1). ” For Theatrical Writer and Author Kate Bornstein, born Albert Herman, being a gender outlaw is about breaking the general gender rules and stereotypes. According to Bornstein and many other gender outlaws the current association of gender and sex is limiting in scope.
Furthermore, gender in itself is a socially constructed ideology that fails to associate sexuality beyond the confines of anatomy. Bornstein gives the detailed account of her transformation from a man into a lesbian woman. In addition, Bornstein looks at the issues surrounding trying to establish oneself according to societal gender roles. She says that as a man she was continually looking to “integrate” herself into the norms but finally came to the conclusion that this was not possible. Bornstein is not alone.
There are many transsexuals and gender outlaws that are living their lives in defiance of common gender related stereotypes. “It feels like everything should have been obvious when I look back. But everything was so confusing as I grew up. It’s like one day I was absent and everybody else was taught the crucial aspects of being a boy or girl. I would lie in bed at night practicing and rehearsing how to be a boy, (Wyndzen, 1998, p. 1). ” Both Wyndzen and Bornstein describe the emotional aspects of trying to fit their transsexual bodies into a single sex social stereotype.
From an outsiders point of view they both provide the context that could make gender outlaws more understandable for mainstream society. Yet, neither addresses what makes them different from the normal stereotype. Esseintially both claim to be classified in the wrong gender category based on their sexual genitalia. Both were born with the working parts of men but psychologically they identified with women. For gender boundary breakers such as Bornstein it has become a personal mission to show that gender in itself can not be classified simply as male or female.
However, scholars such as David Geary claim that sexual stereotypes are accurate. “Gender stereotypes such as the belief that men never help out around the house and women gossip, are generally true, David Geary, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri concludes after reviewing more than 1,200 studies by psychologists, biologists and anthropologists, (Researcher Finds Gender Stereotypes to be Accurate, Part of Nature, 1998, ¶ 1). According to Geary, stereotypes are rooted in nature and ways in which the species attract the opposite sex.
“The sexual strategies men and women use in their drive to procreate cause many of the stereotypical sex differences in males and females, including physical attributes and development, play patterns, social behavior and development, parenting interests, motivational and emotional patterns, cognitive abilities, and brain structure and functions, (Researcher Finds Gender Stereotypes to be Accurate, Part of Nature, p. 5). ” Yet, Geary does not define the gray area which includes people who have an innate feeling of being classified incorrectly.
Can there be a gender classification for people born as males but who participate socially as females and vice-versa? In conclusion, there are many examples of the emotional devastation caused by inflexible gender classification. And although there is evidence that current gender stereotypes have roots in human instinct there is no classification or category for transsexuals who either identify with the opposite sex as a source of identity or who were born into an ambiguous state of sexuality.
Currently there is no gender category for gender outlaws. References Bornstein, K. (1994). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us. New York: Routledge. Researcher Finds Gender Stereotypes to be Accurate, Part of Nature. (1998). American Psychological Association, 29(19). Retrieved from www. apa. org Wyndzen, M. H. (1998). All Mixed Up. Retrieved April 28, 2009, from www. genderpsychology. org
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