The Journal


Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #99, Fall 2002.
The following was presented in April, 2002 at the IFGE
Coming Together conference in Nashville, TN


by Kenneth Dollarhide

As a blond-haired, blue-eyed mixblood
child growing up on the Pine
Ridge Indian Reservation in South
Dakota and living in border towns around
the reservation, I was taught early that I
must learn to define myself and not allow
others to define who I am? or at least not
to accept their definitions of me. Fullbloods
would tell me I was white and not
an Indian at all. Whites would call me
?dog-eater? or ?another damn breed? and
claim I was not white at all. If I allowed
either the Indians or the whites to define
me, to give me by own identity, I would
have gone insane, wondering where I
belonged. Fortunately, a tribal elder, long
since past, told me I belonged to the
earth? and I knew in that moment who I
am and that no one other than myself
could define who I am. I understood the
Indian notion of defining yourself.


It seems to me that using the
Western, European, monotheistic model,
there is a rigid binary code of sex and
gender which finally reduces all of us to
being either a penis or a vagina. There are
even rules, making it more confusing,
that we must follow. Those individuals
with a penis are supposed to develop
masculine gender characteristics and
select those individuals with vaginas as
objects of sexual desire. And, of course,
those individuals with vaginas are
expected to develop feminine gender
identities and sexually desire those
individuals who have a penis.

Those who cannot or do not fit into
this rigid tight box? no pun intended?
are forced to appeal to some mental
health or medical professional, who will
then legalize their gender experience.
This assumes that in some strange and
esoteric manner those individuals need to
be ?corrected? by medical professionals
into being people with a penis or
people with a vagina and that by doing so
they will be made either male or female
and the ambivalence will then disappear
and all will be well. Or, as Leslie
Feinberg says, ?Men are masculine and
women are feminine. End of subject. But
clearly the subject didn?t end there for
me.? (Feinberg, p. 102) It seems to me, as
it did to Feinberg, that it?s not that easy?
and this is where the confusion comes in
and I no longer understand. Kate
Bornstein, in her book Gender Outlaw,

So there are rules to gender, but rules can be
broken... gender can have ambiguity. There are
many ways to transgress a prescribed gender code,
depending upon the world view of the person who?s
doing the transgressing: they range from preferring
to be somewhat less than rigidly gendered, to
preferring an entirely non-definable image... and
then I found out that gender can have fluidity, which
is quite different from ambiguity. If ambiguity is a
refusal to fall within a prescribed gender code, then
fluidity is the ability to freely and knowingly become
one or many of a limitless number of genders, for
any length of time, at any rate of change. Gender
fluidity recognizes no borders or rules of gender.

? Bornstein, pp. 51-52


Clearly, a distinction must be made
between sex and gender, which are alltoo-
often used as synonyms. Will Roscoe
offers an interesting construction as a
way out of this biological binary

If sex is a social construction, it cannot provide the
?transcendental signified? for defining gender. The
challenge, therefore, is to define sex without
presupposing the naturalness of its forms and to
define gender without reducing it to a reiteration of
sex. This can be accomplished by recognizing sex
as a category of bodies, and gender as a category
of persons. The first entails the criteria for being
recognized as humans... the second involves
distinctions between kinds of persons within a
group. This shifts the emphasis from assumptions
about biological differences to the social processes
of categorization by which a body is acknowledged
as being human.

? Roscoe, p. 127

This moves us from binary,
biological determinism to a multidimensional
social and cultural
category which allows for profound differences
between sex and gender? and
we can begin to understand Kate
Bornstein when she says, ?I know
several women in San Francisco who
have penises. Many wonderful men in my
life have vaginas. And there are quite a
few people whose genitals fall somewhere
between penises and vaginas?

(p. 56). The late Kim Harlow described
herself beautifully in her diary which was
published shortly after her death:

The truth is, I?m not a woman. Of course? and this
is going to shock others like me, and astound some
people? you might wonder, why do all that, just to
say at the end that she is not a woman? Well, it is
quite simple really. I was a boy who felt terrible in
his boy?s body, because in my head, in my mind, I
felt completely female, and I really needed to.... I
was incapable of living the life of a boy, of a man,
and I didn?t feel like a man at all.... I did what I had
to do to be in harmony with my mind.... But then it?d
be wrong to say that today I?m a woman. I?m a
transsexual, and what makes me a transsexual is
that I was born a boy, and I changed so as to
become someone physically totally female, with a
physique which goes with my mind. But the problem
is, when you say to someone you?re not a woman,
they say you are a man. No, I?m not a man either,
I?m a transsexual

? (p.10).

To the degree Kim Harlow believed
she was not a woman, she accepted and
bought into the binary model. By
contrast, Rachel Pollack says:

When I came out I understood above all else
that the knowledge of myself as female rested
in the deepest places of my being. I understand
now that that means the body. The body of a
Trance-sexual woman desires to become
female, recognizes herself as female. The body
desires to change her outer form. Crossing
sexuality is not a concept imposed on the body
by a detached mind at odds with reality.... When
I stopped resisting my desires I did not hate my
body?s masculine form, but saw myself as
female, whatever my shape.

? Pollack, p. 2

The ?correction? is not the
correcting of gender, but of sexuality.
Jennifer Spry says in her autobiography,
Medical knowledge has advanced to where it
has accepted that not everything can be known
about a person just by merely looking at physical
attributes. It is time for the medical profession
to universally accept this and relinquish
their dogma that a person?s gender is determined
by genitalia. We are all much more than
just a penis or a vagina.
? Spry, p. 183

Many Native Americans have
known this for thousands of years. It?s
good to know modern medical science
may finally be catching up to Native
Americans? way of thinking!


Lame Deer, a Lakota Holy Man,
says that Indians don?t try to define
other people, but simply accept
however they define themselves, as
their true self. For many Native
Americans, having a penis or vagina
has nothing to do with making one
male or female. Walter Williams,
quoting an informant says:

It is easy to pick out a winkte. They act and talk
like women, but are really half and half... Winkte
are different, neither man nor woman. It is a
third group, different from either men or women.
That is why the winkte is regarded as sacred.
Only the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, can explain
it, so we accept it.

? Williams, pp. 85-86

Though the specifics vary from
tribe to tribe, this non-binary notion
allows for various possibilities. A
child born with a penis may display
characteristics and behave like a
female, allowing for the possibility
that he is in reality a female. The same
possibility is true for one born with a
vagina? she may display characteristics
and behave as a male, allowing
for the possibility that she is in reality
a male.

Members of these third and fourth
genders are referred to by many
names. The Lakota use the word
winkte or ?will be woman,? the
Cheyenne, He man eh or ?manwoman,?
the Shoshoni tainna wa?ippe
or ?man-woman,? the Dine (Navajo),
nadle or ?someone in constant process
of change,? the Crow, bade, ?not man,
not woman? (Long, p. 103). All of
these terms encompass more than the
rigid binary of monotheism; they
indicate an unfolding, a moving
toward gender rather than an absolute.
Williams correctly points out they
... get a special recognition in native society not
because they become social females, but
because they take a position between genders.
They serve a mediating function as Go-
Between for women and men.... Because they
are not considered the same as men or as
women, their emphasized difference is a way of
defining what women are, and what men are.
Their androgyny, rather than threatening the
gender system, is incorporated into it.
? Williams, p. 84

One of the interesting things
about this concept of more than only
masculine and feminine gender is the
effect it has on issues whose
implications involve sexuality and
social acceptance. Among many
Native tribes, the transpeople were
held with equal or even greater status
than those who fit into the binary
male-female gender structure. Lame
Deer says, ?They were not like other
men, but the Great Spirit made them
winktes and we accept them as such.
They were supposed to have the gift of
prophecy, and the secret name a
winkte gave to a child was believed to
be especially powerful and effective.

In former days a father gave to a
winkte a fine horse in return for such a
name? (p. 117). They were, and often
still are, seen as spiritual or sacred
people who are blessed by being transgendered.
In contrast, the majority culture
often sees the transgendered people as
throwaways not blessed by the
Creator, but damned. Paraphrasing
Sue-Ellen Jacobs, biological sex may
be the determinant fact in the sexbased
binary structure in defining a
male body or a female body, but
gender encompasses the social activity
and natural behavior of a person in
relation to commonly-held notions of
similar patterns of behavior. These
patterns of behavior become stereotypes
and expectations of a gender by
a culture, and combining that with
their obvious biological sex determines
whether an individual is a male
or female. (Jacobs et al., pp. 1-2). This
makes it possible for Native
Americans to break out of the binary
stereotype? and here is where the
gender based Native American
structure differs from the biological
sex-based binary structure. The
combination of both the biological sex
and the gender? both these factors?
make a two-sided equation with four
potential solutions which are the four
genders found among many Native
American tribes and nations.

Because gender identity is more
important than biological sex, it is
gender that determines the basis for
human relationships. Thus, what could
appear as a homosexual relationship
involving two [biological] male-sexed
persons may very well be a heterosexual
relationship. Therefore what
those who embrace the binary model
know as a homosexual relationships
may not be in Native American culture
because they are relationships
involving different genders. In fact,
the very concept of homosexuality in
Native culture was often defined as
sexual relations between two people of
the same gender or of two closely
related genders?not sex but gender.
(Jacobs et al., pp. 104-105). The Dine,
for example defined homosexuality as
a relationship involving two men, two
women, a male-to-female nadle and a
woman, a female-to-male nadle and a
man, two male-to-female nadle, and
two female-to-male nadle as homosexual
and not approved by the tribe?
whereas a relationship between a
male-to-female nadle and a male or a
female-to-male nadle and a woman are
heterosexual relationships (Lang, p.

It seems that for the Dine, there
are six possible homosexual relationships
and three possible heterosexual

Homosexual Relationships:

? Male-to-male

? Female-to-female

? Male-to-female Nadle with a female

? Female-to-male Nadle with a male

? Male-to-female Nadle with
another male-to-female Nadle

? Female-to-male Nadle with
another female-to-male Nadle

Heterosexual Relationships:

? Male and female

? Male-to-female Nadle and male

? Female-to-male Nadle and female

There are three possible types of
heterosexual relationships, whereas
the binary model allows for only one
type of heterosexual relationship. This
is clearly more complex than the
binary notion will allow, and infinitely
more open, tolerant, and compassionate.
This system allows one to be
who one is naturally and does not
force an identity upon anyone.

However, in many Native American
Tribes, homosexual behavior is looked
down upon? though there are, as best
I can determine, traditionally no acts
of violence against homosexual

The Native Americans redefined
the very notion of self: who you are,
who you know yourself to be determines
for the Native American your
gender and sexuality, and both form
your character.

Napewasin Marjorie Ann
Schutzer, a Lakota winkte, says in her
essay ?Narcissism is not a dirty word?:

This is, of course, nothing which we have a
choice over. This is no more of a choice than
water running down hill has a choice. Oh yes,
we do have a kind of choice, you must
remember that one always has a choice in
everything. But, in this case, the only choice we
have is to NOT do what we are doing. I don?t
know about you? but I haven?t got that much
courage to have chosen not to be me!! It is what
it is? and quite simply put, our goals are the
same as anyone else?s, balance, inner peace
and to be directly in touch with all the power of
the universe through our own being, nothing
less will do for our lives. And you should never
settle for anything less.

? Schutzer, p. 2

What must always be remembered
when discussing Native
American notions of gender is that the
emphasis must always be upon gender.
One should not focus too much upon
sexuality, as the two are not
necessarily related. What is or is not
between one?s legs may or may not
have anything to do with one?s gender.


Rachel Pollack says in one of her

I would argue that transsexuality arises from a
passion so powerful that it transcends issues of
happiness. The word passion originally meant
suffering, not pleasure. The suffering of transsexuality,
however, is like that of religious
ecstasy, or even orgasm? overwhelming,
intense, and ultimately joyous when we
surrender to it and let it carry us into the power
of the experience

?(Archetypal Transsexuality, p. 2).

This sentence summarizes everything
I have been thinking about and trying
to understand. I think being transgendered
is exactly that, a
transcending, religious experience, a
knowing that arises out of your very
being, out of your very existence.
When society denies the transgendered
person her or his own-being
or reality, tragedy is often the result.
With the destruction of one?s ownbeing
or self, there is nothing left.

Death is the only alternative? and
there are many transsexual/transgendered
people who chose death and
self-destruction rather than life as a lie.
As Pollack says, ?... finally, we undergo?
we seek out, even demand?
surgery on our genitals. No logical
decision, or confusion, or social
conditioning, or even mental illness,
can account for such an overwhelming
need? (ibid, pp. 2-3).

The most important word used
here is NEED. That need, I believe, is
to be authentic to one?s own-being, to
be in the world as who you are? and
is indeed a powerful and mystical
experience or authentication.
Lame Deer?s statement that
Indians don?t try to define other
people, but simply accept however
they define themselves as their true
self, begins to take on a real meaning
in this context. It allows one to be selfdefined.
Too often, Western culture
cannot tolerate this notion of freedom
to self-define.

What would happen to our society
if all of us could or did define ourself?
I suppose some of us would define
ourselves as male, some of us would
define ourselves as female, some of us
would define ourselves as both male
and female, and some of us would
define ourselves as neither male nor
female. That, I think, would make our
society inclusive? everyone would be
welcomed to the table. And wouldn?t
that be shocking!

I would like to suggest,
paraphrasing B.C. Holmes, that if
there is a fraud perpetuated in being
transgendered, it is perpetuated by a
society that condemns and damns the
transgendered. The fraud is not owned
by the transgendered, but by the rest of
us who force the transgendered to
deny their identities and realities.
What we have to learn from Native
Traditions, in the words of the Lakota,
is to listen to the one who is
ceyaiglata? ?crying out.? And we
must respond to this cry with
compassion, and a sincere attempt at
wokahnigapi? understanding.


Bornstein, K. (1995). Gender outlaw: On men,
women, and the rest of us. New York: Vintage Press.
Feinberg, L. (1996). Transgender warriors: Making
history from Joan of Arc to Ru Paul. Boston: Beacon

Harlow, K., & Rheims, B. (P. Gould, trans.). (1994).
Kim. Munich: Gina Kahayoff.

Jacobs, S-E, Thomas, W., & Lang, S. (Eds.). (1997).
Two-spirit people: Native American gender identity,
sexuality, spirituality. Chicago: University of Illinois

Lame Deer & Erodoes R. (1972). Lame Deer seeker
of visions. New York: Washington Square Press.

Lang, S., Vantine, J.L., & Long, S. (1998). Men as
women, women as men: Changing gender in Native
American cultures. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Pollack, R. (n.d.). Abandonment to the body?s desire.

Pollack, R. (n.d.). Archetypal transsexuality.

Roscoe, W. (1998). Changing ones: Third and fourth
genders in Native North America. New York: St.
Martin?s Press.

Schutzer, M.A.N. (n.d.).>

Spry, J. (1997). Orlando?s sleep: An autobiography of
gender. Norwich, VT: New Victoria Publishers.

Williams, W.L. (1986). The spirit and the flesh: Sexual
diversity in American Indian culture. Boston: Beacon



by Jane Heenan, MSW

Given the context of our transphobic
and heterosexist culture,
it would seem noncontroversial to
state that gender-variant persons are at
increased risk of traumatic victimization
in a variety of ways, in a
variety of environments, and by a
variety of persons. Some of these
assaults are overt and take the form of
verbal or physical abuse, while other
kinds of abuse are the result of
employment, health care, and housing
discrimination, or exclusion from
family and other social and spiritual
gatherings and groups.

A variety of wounds? physical,
psychological, spiritual, economic?
accrue in response to more subtle
enforcement of normative gender rules
in our simultaneously anti-sex and
sex-preoccupied culture: diagnosis as
mentally disordered as defined in the
Gender Identity Disorder found in the
DSM-IV (APA, 1996); stereotyping
via media images; and victimization
and revictimization by law enforcement
officers and legal and political
systems. These cultural demands are
often internalized and create additional
difficulties for gender-variant
persons who shame and sometimes
hate themselves in what may be
recognized as an understandable
response to prejudice, hatred, and

Additionally, many gendervariant
persons know others like
themselves who have been murdered
or mutilated as a result of expressing
their individual gender identity? and,
like others who struggle with
survivor?s guilt, may suffer from the
complicated effects of being a
survivor in what may be characterized
as a gender war. An ongoing fear of
victimization, even after many years
of passing as a nondescript member of
one?s chosen gender, often adds yet
another layer to the exploration of the
trauma endured by gender-variant

Indeed, professionals often
encourage their patients to pursue a
post-transition status as ?normal? men
or women? even, to cite a common
example, telling persons to fabricate
personal life histories about their
childhood. It has been my experience
as a helping professional that transpersons
who seem to pass even in such
intimate places as their marriages and
their gynecologist?s office cannot pass
in all places. Additionally, they often
live in fear of meeting someone either
from their past or who has a welldeveloped
ability to read transpersons.

Some of the results of this fear of
being read are not unlike the
symptoms listed in the DSM-IV
diagnosis for Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder: persistently re-experiencing
distress as evidenced by, for example,
intense psychological anxiety and
physiological reactivity on exposure to
reminders of one?s lived gender
history; persistent avoidance of stimuli
associated with one?s lived gender
history; and persistent symptoms of
increased arousal such as irritability or
outbursts of anger or hypervigilance in
a variety of contexts. What is even
more tragic is that a powerful component
of healing? coming out? is
simply not available to them. It is as if
they had traded one lie for another
during their transition from living in
the role of ?one? gender to living in
the role of the ?other? and that to tell
the truth at this stage would threaten
their very existence.


There is presently a high degree
of agreement on diagnosis of PTSD
among the general population. Briefly,
the DSM-IV diagnosis of PTSD
includes four criteria: the person has
been exposed to a traumatic event and
responded with intense fear,
helplessness, or horror; this event is
persistently re-experienced; the person
persistently avoids trauma-related
stimuli and is emotionally numbed
following the event; and the person
has persistent symptoms of increased
arousal following the event. Horowitz
discusses a variety of reasons of
PTSD, including social, biological,
and psychological causes.

Biological responses to trauma,
including chronic alteration of
synaptic transmission of brain-alerting
systems and changes in serotonin
subtype chemistry, can cause a
trauma-response cycle which leaves
the person increasingly vulnerable.
Psychological reorganization of
internal cognitive maps or activation
of latent, weak, damaged, defective, or
bad concepts of self or of other
persons in response to acute or
cumulative trauma may cause
dependent self-positioning and
impoverishment of self-competence,
or may lead to chronic emotional
vulnerabilities such as depression,
rage, shame, or fear. Failures in
expected social support and exploitation
of culturally less powerful
persons by culturally more powerful
persons are among the social causes of
PTSD. These social causes happen to
gender-variant persons with great frequency
and in many arenas.

The effects of these traumas and
effective ways to promote healing for
gender-variant persons are not well
documented within the professional
literature of psychotherapy? nor are
they well understood by the vast
majority of those who practice
psychotherapy. This lack of documentation
and understanding constitutes
?epidemiological invisibility? of
gender-variant persons within a
variety of arenas which include social,
political, spiritual, and governmental
institutions. However invisible, the
trauma endured by transpersons is no
less hurtful to these individuals.


Gender-variant persons face
social and employment discrimination
and are at considerable risk for victim-
People are blamed for
their own oppression,
and the mental health
system works in conjunction
with the legal
and criminal justice
systems to maintain the
status quo. in a variety of arenas? yet
there is no available research
describing interventions for the unique
population of gender-variant persons
who have been victimized or who are
suffering from the aftereffects of
trauma. In addition, my perspectives
as author, helping professional, and
transperson inform my recognition
that specific interventions which
emanate from a transphobic culture
and which are defined as modernist
?treatments? for ?symptoms? cannot
be applied to gender-variant persons
without more careful consideration
than effect sizes can show.

J.J. Sherman, in a 1998 article
?Effects of Psychotherapeutic
Treatments for PTSD: A Metaanalysis
of Controlled Clinical Trials,?
published in The Journal of Traumatic
Stress, describes general goals of
treatments for symptoms of posttraumatic
stress. These goals include
developing a realistic appraisal of
threat, overcoming avoidance of the
cues and reminders of trauma, making
meaning out of traumatic experiences,
and working through trauma via
re-exposure and subsequent reinterpretation.
For gender-variant persons,
Sherman?s first goal? developing a
realistic appraisal of threat? would
include considerations in general areas
such as personal, family and other
relationships, work, and community.
Personal considerations may include
questions like how well does ze pass;
how well does ze wish to pass; does ze
seek a more stable or more fluid
gender expression; and does ze have
any experiences of positive acceptance
of hir gender-variant expression from
others with whom ze has regular
contact. Concerns about employment
for persons with a job may include
such things as: what is hir work
environment; is ze out at work; what is
the status of hir state-issued documentation;
what workplace policies or
legal or statutory employment
protections exist; and are there
particular threats to safety or the
existence of positive support in hir
work environment from specific
persons. For those who are
unemployed, considering employment
issues may include: asking questions
like what work environments match
hir skills, interests, and abilities; how
might ze best go about gaining
employment as a transperson; will ze
be out on the job; how has ze been
generating income without formal
employment; and what fears does ze
have about possible homelessness.

Appraisal of family and other relationships
may include: what is the status
of hir primary relationship; is ze out in
hir primary relationship; is ze out to all
or part of hir family; does ze have
children; do child custody disputes
exist with hir partner or other family
members; what local legal precedents
or statutes, if any, exist regarding a
trans parent?s child custody; and what
is the status of hir available personal
support structure. Community
considerations might include: what is
the status of the local trans
community; how are transpersons
recognized within the local sexual
minority community; how does local
law enforcement view transpersons;
and is ze aware of the frequency of
assaults and murders of transpersons.
The review of these issues and others
specific to particular individuals will
help identify areas of greatest possible

Sherman?s second goal?
overcoming avoidance of the cues and
reminders of trauma? can be
especially difficult for gender-variant
persons. Transpersons cannot remove
themselves from a transphobic culture
which tells us in a variety of ways and
through a variety of persons and
institutions that the expression of
gender variance is shameful, sinful,
evil, immoral, disordered, illegal,
profane, and wrong. These cues and
reminders of trauma are prevalent in
so many and in such seemingly
innocuous places that they can be
overwhelming. In addition, transpersons
may have internalized
society?s transphobia. Helping the
transpersons with whom we work
have a healthy or at least nonpathological
perspective regarding
gender variance is important and can
be facilitated through the person?s
greater immersion in trans culture and
the recognition of or identification
with other, seemingly more
successful, transpersons. Suggesting
to transpersons readings or web sites
which document a positive history of
gender-variant expression and
spending time considering cultural
myths of a rigid, genital-based bipolar
gender order may aid in overcoming
avoidance. Also helpful for many
transpersons is gaining a greater
awareness of one?s own gender-role
expectations by explicit discussion of
definitions and expectations of
concepts like woman, man, husband,
wife, daughter, son, transition, sexchange,
and gender variance. By identifying
individualized constructs and
goals in a supported and safe environment,
persons can begin to create
positive change in their lives. As
progress is made toward gender goals,
greater resilience and lesser avoidance
can result.

This sort of meaning-making can
also be helpful in gaining greater
control over particular traumatic
experiences? Sherman?s third goal.
Becoming more aware of the (gender)
water in which we swim as a culture
and as individuals can allow new
vantage points for viewing situations
and new experiences to be found.
These changes in perspective may
help lead to new ways of seeing old

Additionally, greater control can
be gained by participating more
actively in local trans communities.
This participation might include
advocating for changes in statutes and
policies, sharing personal experiences
with gender-variant persons and
others, or doing outreach education in
more marginalized groups within the
trans community, such as working
with sex workers around issues of
sexually transmitted diseases. Active
participation can be empowering;
Psychological reorganization
of internal cognitive maps
or activation of latent, weak,
damaged, defective, or bad
concepts of self or of other
persons in response to acute
or cumulative trauma may
cause dependent self-positioning
and impoverishment of
self-competence, or may lead
to chronic emotional vulnerabilities
such as depression,
rage, shame, or fear.

Helping to generate concrete, external,
and generalizable differences can be a
powerful elixir for personal healing.
Working through trauma via
re-exposure and subsequent reinterpretation?
Sherman?s fourth goal?
is potentially complicated for gendervariant
persons who live in a transphobic
culture. Unlike trauma victims
whose struggles result from singular
events, transpersons may not be able
to remove themselves from the
experiences of trauma in their
everyday lives. Re-exposure can be a
regular occurrence and often happens
outside the safety and structure of
counseling. As a result, ongoing
reinterpretation of traumatic events is
often a part of the healing process as
traumatic events reoccur in the lives of
transpersons. In addition, a transperson?s
interpretations are likely to
change as well in response to hir
changing experiences in expressing hir
personal sense of gender identity more

Counselor sensitivity about and
awareness of these processes can
create safer places for transpersons to
occupy during counseling and can
keep counselors from additional
victim-blaming when clients continue
to report traumatic events.


In considering the available
professional discussions regarding
diagnosis and treatment of gendervariant
persons, therapeutic goals for
Gender Identity Disorder would
include elimination of gender-variant
behavior, thoughts, and feelings.
Treatments to reach these goals have
typically included induction into a
process of gender transition of
physical and hormonal modification
with the goal of living as an
unambiguous member of the opposite
gender with a heterosexual orientation
in that gender role. Additionally,
treatment of transpersons has often
included counsel for the client to
expunge hir gendered past in order to
complete the elimination of gender
variance. Those providing treatment
have assumed that the culture, roles,
and values of stable and unchanging
bipolar gender constructs are
inherently superior. As a result,
research regarding transpersons has
focused on the efficacy of hormonal
regimens and surgical procedures,
rendered invisible transpersons who
do not fit the expected constructed
outcomes in relation to stable
gendered identities, sexual orientation,
medical procedures, or desire for

When working with disadvantaged
minority persons, it is
important to recognize that helping
professionals have a choice? either to
promote the reigning social discourse,
or to empower transpersons to tell
their own story. Empowerment
involves interventions designed to
reduce clients? powerlessness stemming
from the experience of negative
valuation and discrimination. By
acknowledging environmental, social,
economic, and political factors which
can cause and maintain a person?s
problems, affirmative counseling can
reduce blaming the victim in

Affirmative helping professionals
accept a person?s gender identity and
do not work to change a person?s
gender expression. They abstain from
reinforcing the ?less-than? messages
which emanate from our heterosexist
society and refrain from labeling a
person?s gender-variant expression as
a pathology in and of itself. The work
may proceed in identifying difficulties
related to gender variance, even as
there is an effort to distinguish
between a person?s inner struggle and
the culture-bound oppression which
may be its source. Affirming helping
professionals must work to recognize
the complex layers of cultural
expectations which may be present for
any one person. They need also to
attend to a person?s support networks,
which can function as sanctuaries in
an oppressive society, by exploring a
person?s level of engagement with
similar others and by helping them to
identify more fully, engage more
actively, and develop sources of
support with these others.


The received the following from the late Jody Norton
shortly before her death. We find it most appropriate
for The Journal.


by Jody Norton

GENDER IDENTITY: the sameness, unity
and persistence of one?s individuality as male or
female or ambivalent in greater or lesser
degree, especially as it is experienced in selfawareness
and behavior. Gender identity is the
private experience of gender role, and gender
role is the public expression of gender identity.

?John Money, Gendermaps: Social
Constructionism, Feminism, and Sexosophical

?All right, then, I?ll go to hell.?

? Huck Finn, occasional crossdresser, in
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Samuel L.

The standard, opposed, explanations
of gender development for
the last twenty years have been John
Money?s theory that sex of rearing is
the overriding factor and Julianne
Imperato-McGinley?s conclusion that
?when the sex of rearing is contrary to
the testosterone-mediated biologic sex
[of boys], the biologic sex prevails?
(Imperato-McGinley, et al., 1979, pp.
1235-1236). Perhaps the most fascinating
aspect of both theories is the
extent to which they assume a general
congruence between sex and gender
and a prototypical binariness of both.
Anne Fausto-Sterling states that
?it is difficult for young people to
handle a disagreement between their
external anatomical sex and their
assigned sex? (Fausto-Sterling, 1985,
p. 88). She goes on to point out:

In all of the cases studied both by Money?s
and by Imperato-McGinley?s groups, either the
assigned sex changed spontaneously to agree
with the visible anatomy or doctors surgically
altered the anatomy to bring it more into line
with the assigned sex.
? p. 88

Fausto-Sterling is presumably
right in regard to children who are
traditionally gendered or intersexed.
For some children, however, the
source of friction is not between
anatomical sex and assigned sex, but
between assigned sex and experienced
gender. Neither Money nor Imperato-
McGinley theorizes sex/gender with
sufficient flexibility or imagination to
account for this kind of transchild,
except through the threadbare strategy
of pathologization? the tedious
reversion to constructing as defective
those individuals who reveal defects in
the conceptual system of the theorist.
The current DSM-IV category
?Gender Identity Disorder in
Children? (302.6) is an example of
this practice.

In the late 1990s, birth control,
artificial insemination, cloning and
other genetic engineering, organ transplantation,
transsexual and cosmetic
surgeries, cyborgian technologies,
tissue regeneration research, and
myriads of other medical/technical
discourses and practices are changing
the material possibilities of sex, and in
doing so, are changing the meaning of
both sex and gender. The sexed bodies
of human beings are ever more clearly
not divisible simply into males and
females whose identity and meaning
center on their reproductive functions.

The more human reproduction is
undesirable rather than desirable, and
the more medicine and biotechnology
invent ways to create, transform,
modify, and artificially support human
life, the less social attention and
energy will tend to be directed towards
maintaining a binarism of the sexes,
and the heteronormativity that has
historically accompanied it.

The political and economic gains
continuing to be made by women in a
world where physical differences are
increasingly less significant are also
powerfully influencing contemporary
meanings of sex and gender. Gender is
rapidly shifting from being a key
?core? identity element tightly linking
the subject?s sexed body to her socioeconomic
role. It is now increasingly
frequently irrelevant (or largely
irrelevant) to individuals? economic
and formal political roles and values.
An individual?s gender, as she lives it,
may not even have much to do with
the external reproductive anatomy
with which she was born.

Gender is now becoming an
affective-intellectual combination of
modes of self-presentation, sexual
desire, and social affinities in a public
personality that speaks/acts for, and
symbolically represents, a private
sense of self. Gender is manifesting its
creative potentialities as an aesthetics,
an erotics, and a field of spiritual/emotional/
social bonding and relationality
rather than functioning statically and
ideologically as a semiotics of
reproduction and the oppression of
women. One need not point out that
the ?old? gender of the 1950s and
1960s assuredly functioned, in the
U.S., in aesthetic, erotic, and social
realms as well. But it did not do so
with anywhere near the range of social
and cultural possibilities that it has at
its disposal today. Nor was the
individual as free, legally and technologically,
to follow her gender journey
down new or newly accessible paths to
non-traditional forms of gender
definition and expression.
The battle for gender liberation,
however, is just beginning?
especially for children, who are least
equipped to fight that battle for themselves.

Children who transgress state,
corporate, institutional, and familial
norms/regulations of gender are made
to feel that they are (in escalating
order of intensity) mistaken, confused,
in need of help, mentally ill,
disgusting, perverted, sinful,
depraved. The affective consequences
of some version of this litany of criticism
are guilt, shame, anger,
depression, and self-loathing? and
ultimately, the anguish of being alone.
The image of seven-year-old Ludo,
lying unconscious in the freezer, in
Alain Berliner?s recent film ?Ma Vie
en Rose? is a perfect representation of
the absolute isolation that is too
commonly the lot of transchildren.

The combination of social ostracism
and internalized transphobia results in
an isolation that puts the child at risk
of physical victimization on the one
hand, and suicide on the other.

Social survival, psychological
survival, and/or literal physical
survival, then, are the transchild?s
most pressing issues. They create the
need for strategies of location. If one
can somehow negotiate a homeplace
within the social matrix, one may be
able to connect, or stay connected,
with others. This, in turn, enables one
to become ?real?? that is, to exist and
to be visible as a social subject whose
public meaning is functionally
congruent with the subject?s meaning
for hirself.

Given that to survive (let alone to
thrive) is so difficult for most trans or
proto-trans children, one wonders
how, if human beings have any
capacity for undetermined choice at
all, transchildren can ever choose to do
anything except disguise themselves,
in a kind of flight to avoid persecution.
And yet, as one peruses case studies;
ethnographic, anthropological, and
sociological accounts; literature; autobiography;
and other sources, it is
striking how frequently non-traditionally
gendered children choose to
follow their idiosyncratic gender
journeys, despite great cultural
pressure, and at great personal cost.

This fact suggests two observations:

? In the aftermath of poststructuralism,
the degree of agency that
individuals? even immature individuals?
possess has been seriously
underestimated or ignored.

? Gender identity may be much
more deeply rooted in primary genetic,
prenatal, and postnatal conditions,
relations, and experience than radical
constructionist accounts of the formation
of gender would imply.

In this essay, I want to examine
two texts in which the male-to-female
protagonists consciously choose a
transgressive gender formation, to ask
why they do so (given that many transchildren
experience gender cruelty
even before they begin to make
conscious transgender choices), to
suggest that radical social constructionist
theories of gender fail to
provide adequate explanations for the
life choices of such children, and to
propose a theoretical prolegomenon to
a more balanced and inclusive account
of gender development.

In ?Pigs Can?t Fly,? the opening
section of Shyam Selvadurai?s novel
Funny Boy (originally published as a
short story), seven-year-old Arjie?s
once-a-month play world at hir
grandparents? upper-middle-class
home in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is
rigidly divided into boys? and girls?
play spaces (the latter behind the
house). Arjie opts for ?the girls,? as
their territory is called, the primary
attraction of which is the ?potential for
the free play of fantasy? (p. 4). Due to
?the force of my imagination? (p. 4),
Arjie is selected as the leader in
various games and stories, which
typically center on a female character
(Cinderella, Thumbelina). Arjie?s
favorite is bride-bride, a day-long
mock marriage ceremony involving
elaborate preparatory rituals. ?The
culmination of this game,? Arjie tells
us, ?and my ultimate moment of joy,
was when I put on the clothes of the
bride. ... then, by the transfiguration I
saw taking place in Janaki?s cracked
full-length mirror? by the sari being
wrapped around my body, the veil
being pinned to my head, the rouge put
on my cheeks, lipstick on my lips,
kohl around my eyes? I was able to
leave the constraints of my self and
ascend into another, more brilliant,
more beautiful self...? (pp. 4-5).

But this transgender world can
exist only so long as it is invisible to
the disciplinary gaze of parents and
other adults. Upon the arrival of
Arjie?s cousin Tanuja, whom the girls
cruelly dub ?Her Fatness,? a struggle
for dominion over what is already a
distinctly nonegalitarian playworld
takes place. Feeling herself to be
losing the battle to Arjie, Tanuja
enlists the help of the authorities and
effectively ousts Arjie by outing hir as
trans: when the grownups discover
Arjie dressed, remarks are made, hir
parents are embarrassed, and hir
mother tells hir that s/he must no
longer play with the girls. Upon
Arjie?s asking why, Amma replies,
?Because the sky is so high and pigs
can?t fly? (p. 23).

Forced to play with the boys,
Arjie is clever enough to get hirself
banished, only to lose a final skirmish
with Tanuja, ending in expulsion from
?the girls?? that territory to which
s/he ?seemed to have gravitated
naturally? (p. 3) as well. Arjie

I knew that I would never enter the girls?
world again. Never stand in front of Janaki?s
mirror, watching a transformation take place
before my eyes... And then there would be the
loneliness. I would be caught between the boys?
and the girls? worlds, not belonging or wanted in

? p. 39

Arjie loses our sympathy to some
extent because of hir ?masculinity??
that is, hir initial subordination of
Tanuja, and hir failure to share power
within the girls? community. There is a
certain justice in Arjie?s fate, in that a
feminist sensitivity, generosity, and
inclusiveness might have allowed
Arjie to accommodate Tanuja, and to
get along with her at least well enough
to avoid the contretemps through
which s/he is dismissed from ?the
girls.? Yet Tanuja turns out to be at
least equally domineering, so the text
does not sustain a narrowly gendered
political analysis of ?the girls.?

The adult world, however, is
narrowly gendered, and Tanuja is able
to turn this fact to account, engineering
Arjie?s expulsion on the implicit
grounds that a boy should not play
with girls and dress in women?s
clothing. Arjie?s days as a girl are, in
any case, numbered, since hir desire is
to live publicly (e.g., bride-bride) as
what s/he can only be (within hir
cultural context) insofar as s/he can
maintain hir own invisibility.
Until hir transgender behavior is
interfered with, Arjie (who thinks of
hirself consciously as a boy) has no
idea that what s/he is doing is
?wrong.? But although s/he is hurt by
hir mother?s rejection and hir father?s
disgust, s/he doesn?t submit to the
combined negative social judgment of
hir behavior, but publicly defies that
judgment. It takes the matriarch
Ammachi herself to drive Arjie definitively
out of ?the girls.? And once s/he
is excluded, hir choice is not to
attempt an abject reentry into the male
community (which, ironically,
contains one allowed tomboy), but to
flee, in bitterness and tears. S/he
returns, finally, to avoid yet more cruel
corporal punishment than s/he will
already face, yet we leave hir
unreintegrated and alone. Hir efforts to
locate hirself, as a transperson, have

On what ground does Arjie defy
the combined authority of hir relatives
and the pervasive gender ideology of
hir culture? What allows hir to mount
such durable resistance? What causes
hir, finally, to choose neither legal
gender community over what, to hir, is
the wrong one? We must remember, of
course, that Arjie?s story is fictional
(even if quasi-autobiographical).

Nevertheless, Arjie has many
sisters, who can be found not only in
the fiction of writers such as Henry
James, Denton Welch, and Richard
McCann, but in case studies such as
those in Richard Green?s The ?Sissy
Boy? Syndrome and the Development
of Homosexuality, in documentary
films like ?Paris Is Burning,? and in
the largely undocumented streets of
the world, from Mexico City to Dakar,
and from Thailand to Detroit. Can it be
that social construction alone accounts
for so many individuals, across so
many cultural boundaries, who despite
their wide variation of beliefs, styles,
and behaviors share a clearly recognizable
similarity in their psychological
affiliation with women?

Things do not conclude so grimly
in Alain Berliner?s alternately
humorous and horrifying film ?Ma Vie
en Rose.? Ludovic, a French sevenyear-
old with three older siblings (a
girl and two boys) and suburban
middle-class parents who had hoped
for a girl, believes (or hopes) the s/he
is a girl. S/he crossdresses whenever
possible, and gravitates to girls and
women and their activities (dolls,
dance, romantic fantasies and rituals).

?It?s a scientific matter,? Ludo
announces, explaining hir very out
transgender behavior (an ongoing
source of embarrassment to hir wouldbe
upwardly-mobile parents) as the
result of hir other X chromosome?s
having accidentally fallen into the
trash on its way down from heaven.
And indeed, unlike Arjie, who seems
comfortable in hir male body, Ludo
may turn out to be a true transsexual.
In the meanwhile, as Ludo instructs
Jerome, the boy next door, she is ?a

Trouble starts when Ludo
announces that s/he and Jerome are
?going to marry when I?m not a boy.?
Ludo subsequently stages a mock
wedding (dressed in a pink satin dress
that once belonged to Jerome?s
deceased sister), which is interrupted
by Jerome?s mother just as Ludo is
informing Jerome that he may kiss hir.
Ludo?s high femme gender causes
hir to be misread by Jerome?s father
and others as gay, which, in a Catholic
society, is understood as the next thing
to damnation. A harrowing series of
violent and transphobic confrontations
(including some with hir parents)
drives Ludo to attempt to kill hirself
by going to sleep in a freezer. Ludo?s
father (who works for Jerome?s dad)
loses his job, and the family is
hounded from the neighborhood, with
many recriminations inside the family
and out.

In the new neighborhood Ludo is
approached by a transboy named
Christine. The two make friends, and
at the latter?s birthday party exchange
clothes: Christine?s dress for Ludo?s
cavalier outfit. After a final burst of
hysteria from Ludo?s mother, hir
parents finally decide to leave Ludo to
hir own gender devices, and we watch
hir at the end of the movie chaindancing
with Christine and the other
children. Ludo, then, has located
hirself, at least for the time being. As
the manager of my local alternative
video store (herself an ardent devotee
of ?Ma Vie en Rose?) put it, ?There?s
hope for junior high!?

?Ma Vie en Rose? is more
parabolic than realist. Ludo?s parents
never explain to hir the difference
between public and private? really
only so that the film can represent
publicly, for public debate,
stereotypical ideologies of gender and
their deleterious effects on the
non-traditionally gendered. Further,
we are encouraged to understand Ludo
a bit too neatly as ?who s/he is?
(though s/he does ask hir sister at one
point to tell hir if s/he is a boy or a
girl). Nevertheless, ?Ma Vie en Rose?
presents a prototype of a drama that is
lived out by thousands of boys and
girls in equally violent and traumatic
forms, though usually under a
somewhat less spectacularly public

With Ludo, as with Arjie, two
signal questions present themselves:
why would a child make the choice to
resist such social pressure with so
much determination and persistence?
And can radical constructionist theory
account satisfactorily either for such
anomalous behavior or for the
intensity of each child?s commitment
to hir own understanding of hir
gendered being?

Anne Fausto-Sterling informs us
that ?linear chainlike causal
explanations? of ?complex human
traits? are ?simply wrong? (p. 75),
whether they are biologically or
environmentally oriented. First of all,
biology ?is not a one-way determinant
but a dynamic component of our
existence? (p. 121). ?The human
body,? Fausto-Sterling writes,
?functions in a social milieu and ...
changes in response to that context?
(p. 88). But if biology alone cannot
explain gender development (for
example), it would be wise to avoid
assuming that cultural discourses and
ideologies can do so independently of
the body. The term environment itself
(that which ?constructs? us, as
humanities theorists and social
scientists put it) refers to very different
kinds of locations and operations,
from the in utero environment to the
familial environment of infancy, to the
cultural milieu. Some of its senses are
biological, some involve unconscious
psycho-structural events, some refer to
conscious perceptions and identifications,
and so on. It is not at all clear, in
other words, what a term like social
construction might or might not mean,
despite its facile use in a great deal of
recent humanities and social science
research. Fausto-Sterling concludes:

To understand human development we
need to know a great deal more about how the
environment affects physical growth and
patterns, and how individual variation including
genetic variation plays into each different life
history to produce adults with different competencies
and potentials.

? p. 89

In Monique Wittig?s work,
biological development at first appears
irrelevant to the evolution of gender in
the individual, since for her gender is
?an element of language? (Wittig,
1992, p. 80) that is appropriated by
men for the purpose of the subordination
of women. Specifically, the use of
the personal pronoun I creates
subjectivity in consciousness, an act
which performs mastery of language
as the foundation of subjectivity: the
speaker is the subject. Because usage
in English and grammar in French
conflate the masculine with the
universal, female subjectivity is
precluded. The Other of the subject
can never herself be subject.

For Wittig, then, gender is ?the
enforcement of sex in language?
(p. 79). But clearly, while Wittig?s
account is in one sense radically
constructionist (since it is convention,
not the body, that determines the
socio-political meaning of women and
men), in another it is conceptually
conservative. Judith Butler writes:

On some accounts, the notion that gender
is constructed suggests a certain determinism
of gender meanings inscribed on anatomically
differentiated bodies, where those bodies are
understood as passive recipients of an
inexorable cultural law. When the relevant
?culture? that ?constructs? gender is understood
in terms of such a law or set of laws, then it
seems that gender is as determined and fixed
as it was under the biology-is-destiny
formulation. In such a case, not biology, but
culture, becomes destiny.
? p. 8

We might conclude that Wittig?s
formulation is in fact inadvertently
biologistic in that for her, anatomy
(albeit mediated by cultural/linguistic
convention) inevitably determines

Butler avoids Wittig?s mistake of
using a radical brush to paint herself
into a conservative corner. Yet I
believe she makes a still more
destructive mistake, despite the
considerable explanatory power and
suggestiveness of her thought. Perhaps
the central idea of Gender Trouble:
Feminism and the Subversion of
Identity is the relatively sober
proposition that ?There is no gender
identity behind the expressions of
gender ... identity is performatively
constituted by the very ?expressions?
that are said to be its results? (p. 25).

Butler?s theory of gender performativity
is based on her deconstructive
analysis of the Stoller/Money concept
of gender as the social signification of
sex. She points out:
If gender is the cultural meanings that the
sexed body assumes, then a gender cannot be
said to follow from a sex in any one way. Taken
to its logical limit, the sex/gender distinction
suggests a radical discontinuity between sexed
bodies and culturally constructed genders ....
When the constructed status of gender is
theorized as radically independent of sex,
gender itself becomes a free-floating artifice,
with the consequence that man and masculine
might just as easily signify a female body as a
male one, and woman and feminine a male
body as easily as a female one.
? p. 6

Butler goes on to ask whether the
term sex refers to a real or nominal

Are the ostensibly natural facts of sex
discursively produced by various scientific
discourses in the service of other political and
social interests? If the immutable character of
sex is contested, perhaps this construct called
?sex? is as culturally constructed as gender;
indeed, perhaps it was always already gender,
with the consequence that the distinction
between sex and gender turns out to be no
distinction at all.
? p. 7

The first problem with Butler?s
argumentation here is the logic of the
move from the deconstructive analysis
of gender, as a culturally specific
concept, to the claim that because
gender ?cannot be said to follow from
sex in any one way,? ?the constructed
status of gender? can be theorized as
?radically independent of sex? (p. 6),
which paves the way for the introduction
of her theory of the performativity
of gender. To say that a complex
psychosomatic developmental process
is culturally inflected, so that gender
does not evolve out of the sexed body
in any univocal way, does not warrant
the conclusion that the materiality of
the body is necessarily immaterial in
the formation of gender.

Butler next moves to the claim
that sex itself ?is as culturally
constructed as gender.? The fallacy
here is that Butler is collapsing signified
into signifier. Her theory that
gender is performative (is, in short, a
kind of originary semiotic act)
prepares her claim that the signified of
gender is its signification. But sex
cannot be dismissed under the same
theoretical argument, as Butler tries to
do, because no matter how constructed
the conceptual content of the sign sex
is, it has an unavoidable material
referent: the human body. Butler
simply effaces the materiality of the
body, and treats sex as though it were
a word whose content, analogously to
that of gender, could be strictly
accounted for as cultural production.
This move, in turn, allows Butler
to attack ?humanist conceptions of the
subject? as tending ?to assume a
substantive person who is the bearer of
various essential and non-essential
attributes? (p. 10). Butler concludes:
This relational or contextual point of view
suggests that what the person ?is,? and, indeed,
what gender ?is,? is always relative to the
constructed relations in which it is determined.

As a shifting and contextual phenomenon,
gender does not denote a substantive being,
but a relative point of convergence among
culturally and historically specific sets of
? p. 10

Here gender, inexplicably, is
substituted for person, and the claim
that gender, as an aspect of personal
meaning, ?does not denote a
substantive being? (which of course it
does not) is made to imply that a
person is not ?a substantive being,?
but really only, in good Foucaultian
fashion, ?a relative point of convergence
among culturally and
historically specific sets of relations.?
But a person, insofar as she is a human
being, is precisely ?a substantive
being?? one that can feel and act, and
one that gives feminism its moral
purpose and political force.

This essay ends far from an
answer to the question of how transchildren
engender themselves. My
purpose is largely to insist that for the
time being the question must be kept
open, not foreclosed in the direction
either of biology or social
construction, especially since we do
know that gendering involves both
soma and psyche. Secondarily, it is to
suggest that the term ?social construction?
needs a much more complex
definition than discourse theory alone
can provide. Such a definition must
involve knowledge of genetics,
anatomy, physiology, endocrinology,
nutrition, child development, child
psychology, sociology, anthropology,
linguistics, communications, and
cultural studies, among other fields of
inquiry. It is clearly a project best
undertaken by an interdisciplinary
team of researchers, if it is to be done
with any real depth and thoroughness.
The alternative is the insularity of perspectives,
the superficiality, and the
blind spots and biases that currently
plague efforts to give intelligent and
compelling accounts of the formation
of gender in the individual human

I want to close with a brief speculation
on the origins of gender in MTF
transgender children that I intend as a
suggestive vision rather than as a thoroughly
supportable claim. The first
step toward this vision is mundane in
the extreme, but it also represents a
counter-reformation against the decaying
but still reigning orthodoxy of an
unreconstructed poststructuralism: it
may be that children like Arjie and
Ludo? like all other children? are
moved to pursue the directions of
gender that they do partially as the
result of genetic and other biological

We must acknowledge that historically
we have been disproportionately
interested in the reproductive anatomy
and physiology of the body as a
determinant of sex differences. We are
beginning to understand that the
female body is, in fact, much less
different from the male than post-
Renaissance male discourse on the
subject had led us to believe.
Furthermore, we know that many
humans are neither ?male? nor
?female,? at least according to strict
biological definitions of those terms.
At the same time, we also know there
is evidence for statistically significant
differences in male and female
developmental rates, predilections for
certain kinds of large and small motor
activities, patterns of conscious and
unconscious identification, and
patterns of social cohesion or lack of
cohesion, among other characteristics.
We should therefore be willing to
think of sex, and of genes, and of
gender as perhaps being related, but in
much more subtle, complex, and
negotiable ways than they have
generally been conceived to be.
The question is whether it really is
senseless to say, not necessarily that an
MTF transchild is a girl in a boy?s
body, but that s/he is not a boy. This, in
turn, leads not necessarily to Butler?s
point that male and female are
constructed categories, but perhaps to
a way of understanding the relation
between the biochemistry of the body
and the formation of embodied
consciousness (and consciousness of
the body) as a dynamic potentiation.
Ludo, then, may not feel like a boy
(gender) because s/he may not be
becoming, psychosomatically and
ecobiologically, a boy (sex/gender) in
the way that most boys (sex) do.

There is no gender
identity behind the
expressions of gender ...
identity is performatively
constituted by the
very ?expressions? that
are said to be its results
Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the
subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.
Genes are only and always
elements of extremely complex
biochemical psycho-developmental
processes that do not take place either
entirely predictably, nor in a vacuum
(environmental factors affect child
development at every step, prenatally
as well as postnatally). However, it
may be that genetic, endocrinological,
bioenvironmental (ecological and
biosocial) factors create, or better,
make possible or potentiate the
development, within a child whose
reproductive anatomy is male, of an
affinity for females, female connections,
and female communities, or for
specifically trans communities, if
these exist in the child?s world.
Affinity, in turn, might shape