A Shift In The Gender Identities Of Men - Part I

Transgenderism or Cross genderism means a shift in the gender identities of a person either due to biological change of sex or due to cross-dressing. Transgender is generally used as a term for a variety of individuals, behaviors and groups centered on the full or partial reversal of gender roles. Virginia Prince coined the term 'transgender' in 1970s as a contrast to the term 'transsexual'. Transgenderists consider themselves fall between genders, not identifying strictly to one gender or another, identifying themselves as neither fully male, nor female.

Transgender community has two groups of people: the transvestites and the transsexuals. Transvestism means cross-dressing and more specifically to that practiced by men. Transsexualism means a change in the gender identity due to a shift in the biological sex. The basic difference between the transvestites and transsexuals is that among the transsexuals their primary gender identity may agree with their dressed roles, whereas among the transvestites it is opposite to their primary gender identity and which is how they are crossed. The transvestites may not lean towards Transsexualism and similarly there may be transsexuals who never experienced transvestism at all. Sexual identity is broken down into biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and gender or sex roles. A transgenderist's sexual orientation can be towards men or women or towards the self-image itself.

Freud's 'Inversion Hypothesis and Cross-dressing' (2001) gives many details about Transgenderism. A man who has inversion may not feel the sexual feelings usually experienced by men. He will enjoy pleasure by directing his sexual feelings towards female clothing or his own imaginative figure as a female. Freud proposes some causes, which may promote inversion, and transvestism. The only male child in the family is usually very close to his mother. Since he grows under a feminine atmosphere he thinks of the idea of feminity pleasurable. The inversion and the desire for Transgenderism take place in him at this stage. Secondly because of the Oedipal fear the male child will shun away the company of the mother and will find solace in the clothing of his mother. This is an inversion, taking place to his sexuality and the desire for Transgenderism develops in him. In other sense the male child will direct his sexual interests based on the interests of the other gender.

The ambivalence of the mother, that is her alteration between love and indifference may also promote inversion. The boy may miss the positive feelings of the mother when she is indifferent. He will learn to meet his own emotional cravings through Transgenderism. He will try to become a mother himself and try to develop affinity towards female clothing. This Transgenderism is associated with his affinity towards the reduction of his anxiety and to soothe his feelings. If the mother dominates the male child, he may develop negative feelings towards mother and women as a whole. This will prevent him from considering women as their sexual partners. They will also feel themselves as unattractive towards women. They will develop the sexual potential of women in themselves. They will find Transgenderism as a way for their sexual gratification. The availability of female clothing and the ambience for narcissism may develop in him a tendency towards inversion and Transgenderism.

Sylvia Silk states in ' Coming to Terms with Transvestism' that that transvestism and Transgenderism is a result of man's inborn desire to become woman. Joanne Silver gives a clinical observation of Transgenderism in 'Brain Sex'. In his opinion any human brain first develops as a female brain. The amount of hormone needed to turn the female brain to a male brain is very crucial. If something goes wrong the development of the female brain gets arrested and it leads to transgenderism. Many transgenderists have a strong boyhood wish to become female. With this wish comes the will to make it a reality and that develops to transgenderism.

Transgenderist thus chooses either to become a man or a woman. Transgenderism thus seriously related to the question of identity. The transgenderist's questioning of self identity is there at the heart of transgenderist practice. This also implies that the transgenderist as being determined by the factors that overreach the biological identity understands their own self-identity and the socially constructed gender identity. Hence the transgenderist does not recognize the biologically and socially allotted roles and decides to define his identity by the assumptions of clothes and the habits of the opposite sex.

Read more about: sexuality, transesual
Story first published: Friday, October 6, 2006, 12:16 [IST]

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