“What is a woman?” asks the New Yorker in its most recent issue. It is a compelling question with different answers. In his book Inheritance, the neurogeneticist Sharon Maolem acknowledges that physical sex mirrors a wide spectrum rather than a binary, but the article with the provocative title isn’t about science. It’s about ideology.
Photographers who are sensitive to the privacy of their subjects use a number of techniques to capture a moment without revealing the identity of people involved. One of these techniques is the cropping of the face — most often before or after the nose, in order to convey some emotion through the mouth, but occasionally the face is cropped in its entirety. This isn’t necessarily dehumanizing, but the context is extremely important.
The “manifesting” prostitution statute in Phoenix is more than a wacky law that gives law enforcement a wide margin to interpret pedestrian behavior — in practice, it’s effectively turned race, and gender identity into evidence. If you’re a person of color — especially if you’re trans — it doesn’t matter if you’re walking to Sunday mass. Your very existence is a manifestation of prostitution, and you’re fair game to get picked up. This happened to Monica Jones. But she’s fighting back.
“Our society, which privileges cisgender bodies, has a systemic entitlement to bodies that deviate from the norm,” writes Kat HachÃ© “It is seen as fair game to interrogate us, dissect us, and put us on display to gawk at our Other-ness, not as a means of truly understanding and accepting us, but as a way of justifying their own oppressive beliefs and separating us from the status of ‘normal’ people.”
Gender is complicated, but we like to pretend it’s not. From the moment we’re born, society ascribes to us pink or light blue, these toys or those toys, this type of clothing or that type, making assumptions about everything from what we should like to what we are supposed to be attracted to based on a single binary: male or female. Few resources exist to help people understand gender variants — until now.
“CNN will continue to refer to him as Bradley Manning since he has not yet legally changed his name,” said Jake Taper on The Lead. In a later piece CNN added, “CNN’s policy is to reference Manning with masculine pronouns since he has not yet taken any steps toward gender transition through surgery or hormone replacement therapy.” The media is setting a terrible example. Here are some resources for those who understand that educating ourselves about transgender issues is a vital step in making ours a just and equal society.