Tag Archives: gender

John Money


I have recently been thinking about doctors, sexuality, and the field of psychology. One doctor, or rather, psychologist, who I know the most about who has been involved with sexuality is the famed John Money. John Money is the first doctor (PhD) to have created a medical protocol that was adopted across the world to treat intersex infants, starting in the 1950s. Below, I give a background of his work on intersexuality, which is an excerpt from my undergraduate thesis. The works that I cite are Katrina Karkazis’ book Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience published in 2008 (if you haven’t read it, its a great addition to the field), Alice Dreger Intersex in the Age of Ethics, and Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality published in 2001.

John Money is an important figure because, not only did he develop a protocol to medically manage intersex infants, but many psychological theories about gender identity development are based on his medical publications. Money is one of the most influential people in both the medical world and as a dominant paradigm in the United States. Money’s theories about the way one is properly supposed to develop has seeped both into the influences of people who write about child-rearing and into dominant consciousness. He is not simply a man that influences the lives of people who are intersexed, but every single individual.

John Money: The Man and the Doctor

John Money was the first scientist to create a universal treatment paradigm for surgery on intersex infants. John Money immigrated to the United States from New Zealand in 1947 to obtain a PhD in psychology from Harvard. While at Harvard, Money discovered his interest in hermaphroditism when he came upon a case of a child who was raised as a boy despite having a sexual organ akin to a clitoris. As his interest evolved, Money came to publish his doctoral dissertation on hermaphroditism. His dissertation called “Hermaphroditism: An Inquiry into the Nature of a Human Paradox” observed past surgical interventions as faulty because of the focus on gonadal tissue (Karkazis 2008: 48). He challenged this management because of its lack of focus on psychological dispositions of the person and physical developments at puberty, both of which could change. In order to prove his point “… Money did a comparative analysis of 248 published and unpublished case histories (from 1895 to 1951) and patient files, as well as an in-depth assessment of ten living individuals classed as hermaphrodites” (Karkazis 2008: 49) . Although Money found this to be true, his development of a protocol did not reflect his insight.

In his research, Money found few cases of homosexuality and stated most fared well psychologically, which he argued meant having a girlfriend or being married to a person of the opposite sex (Karkazis 2008: 50). Although Money was concerned for the most part with making gonadal tissue correlate with that of assigned gender, he also imposed his ideas of healthy sexuality. Money found it natural that those who were assigned the gender of a girl would be attracted to men and vice versa. If this attraction failed, the gender assignment and thus gender identity was contradictory. This also meant that Money judged a person’s sexuality based on the “sex of rearing” and when a person was homosexual, the psychological technique of rearing had failed. Money found that those who had the most gender identity contradictions fared the worst, which led him to later conclude that those who raise the child need to be convinced of the infant’s gender/sexual identity. Money in his analysis did not question external value structures, but focused on pervading systems and the individual.

Where before hormones played a large part in determining the sex of the child, Money claimed environment played a large part.  “These findings supported his emergent theory, expressed more fully in 1955, that the sex of rearing was a primary determinant of an individual’s gender role and psychosexual orientation” (Karkazis 2008: 50). Also, more interesting is that his study was based not on how it would change medical treatment but what implications hermaphroditic management would have for contemporary psychological theories concerning sexual behavior/desire and psychosexual roles.

After his dissertation, John Money came to Johns Hopkins in 1951 when he was offered a position as a professor. While there, he joined Lawson Wilkins, the only other medical practitioner who treated intersexuals. Lawson Wilkins started a pediatric endocrine clinic in 1935 called the Harriet Lane Home in Baltimore and organized a team of researchers to treat hermaphroditic conditions.  “Wilkins, seeing the merit of an interdisciplinary approach to intersexuality, assembled the first cross-specialty team to deal with infants with intersex conditions (Redick 2004)” (Karkazis 2008: 51). This team included Howard Jones, William Scott, Joan and John Hampson, and later in 1951, John Money. When John Money joined the team in 1951 he was the first pediatric psychoendocrinologist and “founded the Psychohormonal Research Unit to study ‘all the different types of hermaphroditism in order to discover all the principles of psychosexual differentiation and development that they would illuminate’ (Money 1986:10)” (Karkazis 2008: 51). Until the 1960s Wilkins was the director of the program and made treatment decisions that were carried out by Scott and James. Money and the Hampsons provided their psychological expertise and conducted outcome studies (Karkazis 2008: 51). Through this opportunity Money and the Hampsons started to develop their own theories and protocols for the medical management of intersexuality.

“Money and the Hampsons first introduced principles and protocols for the medical management of intersexuality in a series of articles published in the 1950s (Hampson 1955; Hampson, Hampson, and Money 1955; Money, Hampson, Hampson 1955a, 1955b, 1956, 1957, Money 1956)” (Karkazis 2008: 52). In these articles, Money used gender role/identity as a governing principle in influencing the way in which he recommended surgery be done. “Based on a study of sixty-five ‘ambiguously sexed people,’ the authors declared it inappropriate, even unwise, to rely solely on gonadal, hormonal, or chromosomal criteria for gender assignment” (Karkazis 2008: 52). Money and the Hampsons did further studies among 105 intersex individuals in which most of them (all except 5) had gender identities congruous with their gender assignment and rearing (Karkazis 2008: 53). From these studies, the researchers made a revolutionary proposition: “…they considered gender-role development a multistage process that relied on multiple attributes of biological sex and social variables but that could not be said to derive from these exclusively” (Karkazis 2008: 53). Through this reasoning, parents could rear a child towards a specific gender. Money and the Hampson’s proposal was to fill a gap, the gap that Money found in his dissertation.

Money’s budding theory of gender development, which suggested that sex of rearing was critically important for gender acquisition and development, filled this gap and, when coupled with surgical and hormonal treatment, could ensure that the child avoided physical developments incongruous with the assigned gender (Karkazis 2008: 54).

Critiqued by some for being culturally and environmentally deterministic, Money’s approach was applauded and applied by others. “Contrary to recent characterizations of Money’s theory as exclusively social, he actually suggested a complex system of psychological and physiological interaction and development” (Karkazis 2008: 54).

Given their belief in some flexibility and malleability in gender development and formation, Money and his colleagues proposed moving away from identifying an indvidual’s supposedly true sex and toward a new model of gender assignment that would take into account multiple biological variables of sex and its future development at puberty to select the optimal gender for the individual (Karkazis 2008: 55).

Now instead of sex, intersexuality became predominantly about gender, psychological health, and belonging.

This publication led to Money and the Hampsons establishing a treatment protocol for treating the intersexed. Instead of treating adults, they decided to manage infants in order to shape gender identity because according to Money gender identity developed around eighteen months of age. Therefore, the first suggestion they had addressed was when to assign gender to the infant. “They suggested a small window of flexibility and opportunity- until roughly eighteen months of age- during which gender assignment could be most successfully accomplished” (Karkazis 2008: 55) . In relation to this, they said that sex assignment should be made within the first few weeks of life. These recommendations were based on a “belief that successful gender assignment required complete certainty on the part of the child’s parents as to whether the child was male or female” (Karkazis 2008: 55). After age two, changing gender could cause psychological disturbance so assigning gender as early as possible was increasingly important. Also,  “According to Money’s theory, once sex assignment was made, surgery should be done as soon as possible so that the genitals could be made to match the assigned sex (Money, Hampson, and Hampson 1955b: 291; Money 1974: 216)” (Karkazis 2008: 57). In determining the need to do this they would weigh the functioning of the gonads and if treating an older child or adults, they would make sure genitals conform to gender of rearing (Karkazis 2008: 56). Money firmly believed in surgery because in making a person aesthetically look like a female or male, they became part of what was assumed to be the natural gender binary.  “Money and his colleagues believed that current techniques enabled surgeons to ‘make’ females, but not males; even though the surgical removal of the penis (or clitoris) left no clitoral equivalent, they argued that erotic feeling and sexual climax were still possible (see e.g. Money, Hampson, and Hampson 1955b: 288, 295)” (Karkazis 2008: 57). In providing reason for favoring surgery, Money said it would help with gender identification and rearing. “The reason for this was twofold: first, Money felt that the child was more likely to develop a proper gender role with genitals matching those of the assigned sex; second, parents troubled by gender ambiguity might waver in their commitment to raising the child in the assigned gender” (Karkazis 2008: 57-58). Of utmost importance to Money, was to highlight psychological health, one which was based on fitting social norms.

According to Money’s theory, all children are born essentially psychosexually neutral at birth, and thus surgeons can make any child any gender as long as the sexual anatomy can be made reasonably believable. For this reason, it did not matter how the genitalia looked originally, according to Money, because you could always teach gender or sex roles.  “…if children are to develop stable gender identities (and by consequence be happy and mentally healthy), they must have “correct” looking genitalia” (Dreger 1999: 11). Intersex surgery was more cosmetic because of the desired result to have a normal-appearing body. This normal appearing body would insure proper psychosexual development to what Money considered the proper gender and, in turn, assume the appropriate (hetero)sexuality. In choosing a gender, the child could be integrated into society if everything is done “to assure that the child and h/her parents believed in the sex assignment” (Fausto-Sterling 2001: 46).

Money also advocated being frank and truthful with the parents to minimize psychological disturbance. Yet in practice, Money said that parents should be told immediately if the child was a girl or boy because of the stigmatization of the intersex being labeled as “half-boy”, “half-girl”. He insisted that the parents be told genitals would be finished through surgery (Karkazis 2008: 59). Thus, the parents were not always told the full truth about the child’s condition and surgery was usually performed if discovered at birth.

Surgeries were performed if their were noticeable differences according to definitions of typical genitalia. Surgeries were done if boys were born with a phallus that was less than 2.5 centimeters; doctors would reduce it and proclaim the baby a girl. If a girl was born without a Y chromosome and had a clitoris longer than 1 cm the doctors would seek to reduce it because they  thought that “it will bother the child’s parents and interfere with bonding and gender identity formation” (Dreger 1999: 12). Hormone treatments were used later if needed, under the conditions that the individual had different ratios of testosterone or estrogen then was determined as normal by the medical field. Out of a commitment to do no harm doctors did not usually tell the parents or the children all that they knew because it will “confuse or complicate the family’s understanding of gender. All of the professional energy is aimed at producing a physically ‘right’ girl or boy who, presumably, the parents will then be able to raise in an unambiguous way” (Dreger 1999: 12). Surgery was intended to produce a heterosexual happy person who could have relationships with their family, without ever knowing they were born intersexed until later.

Before puberty, Money advocated giving the child information about their condition (Karkazis 2008: 59).  “Somewhat confusingly, then, Money and his colleagues advocated both honesty and concealment- a fact that may have led many clinicians to assume that given the option, concealment might prevent more harm and engender less confusion” (Karkazis 2008: 60). His form of concealment led parents to hide countless surgeries from children. Although his protocol was not full-proof, Money’s methods became the dominant model for over forty years.

Money is revolutionary because his methodology for treating the intersex took hold and persisted for an extended period of time. Money was the first person to suggest a multistage model to treat intersex infants and the first to provide a complicated view of intersexuality that recognized phenotypes of diagnoses and prepared for later physical developments (Karkazis 2008: 60). Also, his work and implementation of the protocol was met with widespread approval and integration.   “Following publication, the treatment protocols were quickly incorporated into medical practice and texts, and they achieved a remarkable dominance for the following forty years” (Karkazis 2008: 60).


This section epitomizes most of my thesis, especially the last sentence. My intention in my thesis or my argument, which is the last thirty pages or so, analyzes the current change in medical protocol. What I found most interesting in my readings is that medicine does not usually follow umbrella protocols, but addresses individual cases, unlike say, political public policy. I found this interesting and a rare occurrence in medicine which allowed for unethical decisions to be made such as concealment which as referred to by Money, was a vague concept.

I recognize in Money that what he did was revolutionary. In the end I still ask myself, as an aspiring medical practitioner, what I would do? If I was a parent, what I would do? As an intersex adolescent, what might I do? How would I feel? I have no idea. What is the right thing to do? And I still puzzle over that and always will.



Filed under Education, Feminism, gender, Health, history, politics, Sexuality

Sex-Positive Feminism


When I was searching for information on porn I came across Sex-Positive Feminism and it striked my curiosity so here is the entry that I have been meaning to write for some time. I definitely identify with much of what they believe and fight for, or rather, advocate for.

Sex Positive Feminism

“Sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism, is a movement that began in the early 1980s. Some became involved in the sex-positive feminist movement in response to efforts by anti-pornography feminists, such as Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Robin Morgan and Dorchen Leidholdt, to put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women’s oppression (McElroy, 1995). This period of intense debate and acrimony between sex-positive and anti-pornography feminists during the early 1980s is often referred to as the “Feminist Sex Wars“. Other less academic sex-positive feminists became involved not in opposition to other feminists but in direct response to what they saw as patriarchal control of sexuality. Authors who have advocated sex-positive feminism include Ellen Willis, Susie Bright, Patrick Califia, Gayle Rubin, Avedon Carol, Tristan Taormino and Betty Dodson.

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Key ideas

Sex-positive feminism centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom. As such, sex-positive feminists oppose legal or social efforts to control sexual activities between consenting adults, whether these efforts are initiated by the government, other feminists, opponents of feminism, or any other institution. They embrace sexual minority groups, endorsing the value of coalition-building with members of groups targeted by sex-negativity. Sex-positive feminism is connected with the sex-positive movement.

Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1984) summarizes the conflict over sex within feminism:

…There have been two strains of feminist thought on the subject. One tendency has criticized the restrictions on women’s sexual behavior and denounced the high costs imposed on women for being sexually active. This tradition of feminist sexual thought has called for a sexual liberation that would work for women as well as for men. The second tendency has considered sexual liberalization to be inherently a mere extension of male privilege. This tradition resonates with conservative, anti-sexual discourse.

The cause of sex-positive feminism brings together anti-censorship activists, LGBT activists, feminist scholars, sex radicals, producers of pornography and erotica, among others (though not all members of these groups are necessarily both feminists and sex-positive people). Sex-positive feminists reject the vilification of male sexuality that they attribute to many radical feminists, and instead embrace the entire range of human sexuality. They argue that the patriarchy limits sexual expression and are in favor of giving people of all genders more sexual opportunities, rather than restricting pornography (Queen, 1996). Sex-positive feminists generally reject sexual essentialism, defined by (Rubin, 1984) as “the idea that sex is a natural force that exists prior to social life and shapes institutions”. Rather, they see sexual orientation and gender as social constructs that are heavily influenced by society.

Sex-radical feminists in particular come to a sex-positive stance from a deep distrust in the patriarchy’s ability to secure women’s best interest in sexually limiting laws. Other feminists identify women’s sexual liberation as the real motive behind the women’s movement. Naomi Wolf writes, “Orgasm is the body’s natural call to feminist politics.”[1] Individualist feminists oppose laws restricting the sale and advertising of contraceptives and support the legalization of marijuana, which has been reported by a pro-marijuana magazine to prolong female orgasm while delaying male ejaculation [1]. Sharon Presley, the National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists,[2] writes that in the area of sexuality, government blatantly discriminates against women.

Historical roots

Authors such as Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1984) and Wendy McElroy (McElroy, 1995) argue that sex-positive feminism’s roots date back to the 19th century, in the work of sex reformers and workers for sex education and access to contraception such as Havelock Ellis, Margaret Sanger, Mary Coffin Ware Dennett and later, Alfred Kinsey. However, the contemporary incarnation of sex-positive feminism appeared more recently, following the increase in feminist focus on pornography as a source of women’s oppression in the 1970s. The rise of second-wave feminism, which began in the 1960s, was concurrent with the sexual revolution and legal rulings that loosened legal restrictions on access to pornography. In the 1970s, radical feminists became increasingly focused on issues around sexuality in a patriarchal society. Some feminist groups began to concern themselves with proscribing what proper feminist sexuality should look like. This was especially characteristic of lesbian separatist groups, but some heterosexual women’s groups, such as Redstockings, became caught up with this issue as well. Many feminists began to see sexual pleasure itself as problematic. On the other hand, there were also feminists, such as Betty Dodson, who saw women’s sexual pleasure and masturbation as central to women’s liberation. Pornography, however, was not a major issue; radical feminists were generally opposed to pornography, but the issue was not treated as especially important until the mid-1970s. (There were, however, feminist prostitutes-rights advocates, such as COYOTE, which campaigned for the decriminalization of prostitution.)

The late 1970s found American culture becoming increasingly concerned about the aftermath of a decade of greater sexual freedom, including concerns about explicit violent and sexual imagery in the media, the mainstreaming of pornography, increased sexual activity among teenagers, and issues such as the dissemination of child pornography and the rise of so-called “snuff films“. (Critics maintain that this atmosphere amounted to a moral panic, which reached its peak in the mid-1980s.) These concerns were reflected in the feminist movement, with radical feminist groups claiming that pornography was a central underpinning of patriarchy and a direct cause of violence against women. Robin Morgan summarized this idea in her statement, “Pornography is the theory; rape the practice.”

Andrea Dworkin and Robin Morgan began articulating a vehemently anti-porn stance based in radical feminism beginning in 1974, and anti-porn feminist groups, such as Women Against Pornography and similar organizations, became highly active in various US cities during the late 1970s. As anti-porn feminists broadened their criticism and activism to include not only pornography, but prostitution and sadomasochism, other feminists became concerned about the direction the movement was taking and grew more critical of anti-porn feminism. This included feminist BDSM practitioners (notably Samois), prostitutes-rights advocates, and many liberal and anti-authoritarian feminists for whom free speech, sexual freedom, and advocacy of women’s agency were central concerns.

One of the earliest feminist arguments against this turn in the movement was Ellen Willis‘s essay “Feminism, Moralism, and Pornography” (Willis, 1992a) In response to the formation of Women Against Pornography in 1979, Willis expressed worries about anti-pornography feminists’ attempts to make feminism into a single-issue movement, and argued that feminists should not issue a blanket condemnation against all pornography and that restrictions on pornography could just as easily be applied to speech that feminists found favorable to themselves. (Willis’ 1981 essay, “Lust Horizons: Is the Women’s Movement Pro-Sex?” (Willis, 1992b) is the origin of the term, “pro-sex feminism”.[3]) Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1984) calls for a new feminist theory of sex, saying that existing feminist thoughts on sex had frequently considered sexual liberalization as a trend that only increases male privilege. Rubin criticizes anti-pornography feminists who she claims “have condemned virtually every variant of sexual expression as anti-feminist,” arguing that their view of sexuality is dangerously close to anti-feminist, conservative sexual morality. Rubin encourages feminists to consider the political aspects of sexuality without promoting sexual repression. She also argues that the blame for women’s oppression should be put on targets who deserve it: “the family, religion, education, child-rearing practices, the media, the state, psychiatry, job discrimination, and unequal pay…” rather than on relatively un-influential sexual minorities.

McElroy (1995) argues that for feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, turning to matters of sexual expression was a result of frustration with feminism’s apparent failure to achieve success through political channels: in the United States, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had failed, and abortion rights came under attack during the Reagan administration.

Major political issues related to sex-positive feminism


The issue of pornography was perhaps the first issue to unite sex-positive feminists, though current sex-positive views on the subject are wide-ranging and complex. During the 1980s, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, as well as activists inspired by their writings, worked in favor of anti-pornography ordinances in a number of U.S. cities, as well as in Canada. The first such ordinance was passed by the city council in Minneapolis in 1983. MacKinnon and Dworkin took the tactic of framing pornography as a civil rights issue, arguing that showing pornography constituted sex discrimination against women. The sex-positive movement response to this argument was that legislation against pornography violates women’s right to free speech. Soon after, a coalition of anti-porn feminists and right-wing groups succeeded in passing a similar ordinance in Indianapolis. This ordinance was later declared unconstitutional by a Federal court.

Rubin writes that anti-pornography feminists exaggerate the dangers of pornography by showing the most shocking pornographic images (such as those associated with sadomasochism) out of context, in a way that implies that the women depicted are actually being raped, rather than emphasizing that these scenes depict fantasies and use actors who have consented to being shown in such a way (Rubin, 1984). Sex-positive feminists argue that access to pornography is as important to women as to men, and that there is nothing inherently degrading to women about pornography (McElroy, 1996; Strossen, 2000). Anti-pornography feminists however disagree, often arguing that the very depiction of such acts leads to the actual acts being encouraged and committed.[4]

Sex work

Some sex-positive feminists believe that women and men can have positive experiences as sex workers, and that where it is illegal, prostitution should be decriminalized. They argue that prostitution isn’t necessarily bad for women if prostitutes are treated with respect and if the professions within sex work are de-stigmatized.[citation needed]

Other sex-positive feminists hold a range of views on prostitution, with widely varying views on prostitution as it relates to class, race, human trafficking, and many other issues.[citation needed] Sex-positive feminists generally agree that prostitutes themselves should not be stigmatized or penalized.


Some feminists have criticized sadomasochism (BDSM) for eroticizing power and violence, and for reinforcing misogyny (Rubin, 1984). They argue that women who choose to engage in BDSM are making a choice that is ultimately bad for women. Sex-positive feminists argue that consensual BDSM activities are enjoyed by some women and validate the sexual inclinations of these women. They argue that feminists should not attack other women’s sexual desires as being “anti-feminist”, and that there is no connection between consensual sexually kinky activities and sex crimes. While some radical feminists suggest connections between consensual BDSM scenes and non-consensual rape and sexual assault, sex-positive feminists find this to be insulting to women. It is often mentioned that in BDSM, roles aren’t fixed to gender, but personal preferences.

Sexual orientation

Though feminists are often stereotyped as being lesbians, McElroy (1995) points out that many feminists have been afraid of being associated with homosexuality. Betty Friedan, one of the founders of second-wave feminism, warned against lesbianism and called it “the lavender menace” (a view she later renounced). Sex-positive feminists believe that accepting the validity of all sexual orientations is necessary in order to allow women full sexual freedom. Rather than distancing themselves from homosexuality and bisexuality because they fear it will hurt mainstream acceptance of feminism, sex-positive feminists believe that women’s liberation cannot be achieved without also promoting acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality.

Gender identity

Some feminists have attacked transsexual women (male-to-female) as men attempting to appropriate female privilege while retaining male privilege, and transsexual men (female-to-male) as women who reject solidarity with their gender. (See transphobia.) One of the main exponents of this point of view is Janice Raymond (Raymond, 1979) Some feminists also find the belief of many transsexuals, that the tendency to feel male or female is something innate, is a threat to their own beliefs that gender roles are forced on them by society, and are not related to any natural factor.[5] Sex-positive feminists support the right of all individuals to determine their own gender, and promote gender fluidity as one means for achieving gender equality. Pat Califia has written extensively about issues surrounding feminism and transgenderism, especially in Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism (2003).

Debates within sex-positive feminism

Like feminism itself, sex-positive feminism is difficult to define, and few within the movement (particularly the academic arm of the movement) agree on any one ideology or policy agenda.

An example of how feminists may disagree on whether a particular cultural work exemplifies sex-positivity is Betty Dodson’s critique of Eve Ensler‘s The Vagina Monologues. Dodson argues that the play promotes a negative view of sexuality, emphasizing sexual violence against women rather than the redemptive value of female sexuality. Many other sex-positive feminists have embraced Ensler’s work for its encouragement of openness about women’s bodies and sexuality.

Critiques of sex-positive feminism

Works that critique sex-positive feminism include those of Catharine MacKinnon (1987), Germaine Greer (1999), Pamela Paul (2005), and the essays in Dorchen Leidholdt (1990), among others. Their main arguments are that certain sexual practices (such as prostitution) have historically benefited men rather than women and that thus, the indiscriminate promotion of all kinds of sexual practices merely contributes to female oppression.

Ariel Levy in her 2005 book Female Chauvinist Pigs also critiques sex-positive feminism. While not being opposed to sex-positive feminism per se nor wishing to specifically proscribe certain forms of sexual behavior she sees a popularized form of sex-positivity as constituting a kind of “raunch culture” in which women internalize objectifying male views of themselves and other women. Levy believes it is a mistake to see this as empowering and further holds women should develop their own forms of sexual expression. The response by sex-positive feminists to Levy’s book have been mixed; Susie Bright viewed the book quite favorably, stating that much of what can be seen as “raunch culture” represents a bastardization of the work of earlier sex-positive feminists such as herself.[6] Others, such as Rachel Kramer Bussel, see Levy as largely ignoring much of the female-empowered sexual expression of the last 20 years, or misinterpreting it as internalization of male fantasy.[7][8] Kara Jesella argued even sex not necessarily empowering may not actually be disempowering.[9]

Further resources

Authors and activists who have written important works about sex-positive feminism, and/or contributed to educating the public about it, include Ellen Willis, Gayle Rubin, Susie Bright, Carol Queen, Kathy Acker, Tristan Taormino, Betty Dodson, Annie Sprinkle, Candida Royalle, Nina Hartley, Josephine Ho, and Inga Muscio. Several of these have written from the perspective of feminist women working in the sex industry.

Information on formal organizations that endorse sex-positive feminism seems lacking but one major outpost of sex-positive feminism is the former cooperative business Good Vibrations founded by Joani Blank in 1977 in order to sell sex toys and publications about sex in an environment welcoming to women. Blank also founded Down There Press which has published various educational publications inspired by sex-positivity.

Other popular sex-positive feminist businesses who thrive on a combination of sex toy sales and distribution of educational materials are:

Nonprofit groups supporting sex-positive feminism include the currently defunct Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force associated with Carole Vance and Ann Snitow, Feminists for Free Expression, and Feminists Against Censorship associated with anti-censorship and civil liberties campaigner Avedon Carol.

The magazine On Our Backs was founded to promote a more positive attitude towards erotica within the community of lesbian and bisexual women.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_positive_feminism)


I feel as if this article represents some of the reasons why feminism is so targeted: because feminists are associated with stigmatized identities. This article on wikipedia shows a view of feminists that is not always seen: being pro-porn. By presenting this article, Im sort of biased, so I love this article and I think it reprsents openness, but sex-positive feminism definitely has its faults, as critiqued above. This article refutes common views seen of feminists in the media, which manifests itself in a large majority of the popultion. This redefines feminism and possibly, feminism will be continued to be redefined from generation to generation. I//<![CDATA[
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Filed under Education, Feminism, Sexuality

Sexuality and Gender based culture


When I came upon this topic I did not know what to expect and I guess I am sort of surprised by what I discovered. I thought that activist groups have just begun to emerge, but this entry proves otherwise. There are cultures that have existed for awhile, in Germany, the US, and elsewhere, which are entirely based on sexual and gender identity. This subject fascinates me because I sort of thought our cultures were already based upon on sexuality and gender so it sort of caught me off guard when it meant “the marginalized” sexualities, without even stating it. Most of these subcultures are fetish cultures or within the LGBT communities around the globe. Below is the information I found.

Sexuality and Gender Based Culture

Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures are cultures and communities composed of persons who have shared experiences, background, or interests due to a common sexual or gender identity. Among the first to argue that members of sexual minorities can constitute cultural minorities as well as being just individuals were Adolf Brand, Magnus Hirschfeld and Leontine Sagan in Germany. These pioneers were followed later in the United States by the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis.

Not all persons of various sexual preferences and gender identify by or affiliate with a sexuality or gender subculture. Reasons can include geographic distance, unawareness of the subculture’s existence, fear of social stigma, or personal preference to remain unidentified with sexuality or gender based subcultures or communities. Some[who?] also suggest that the identities defined by the Western heterosexualised cultures, that are based around sexuality, have serious flaws, and since often no space for mainstream men to discuss these flaws of gender and sexuality exists, they just reject these identity in large numbers, often along with disowning their sexual needs that may subject them to be classified under what they may consider misclassified sexual identities.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_and_gender_identity-based_cultures)

The Cultures

“LGBT culture, or queer culture, is the common culture shared by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. It is sometimes referred to as “gay culture”, but that term can also be specific to gay men’s culture.

LGBT culture varies widely by geography and the identity of the participants. Elements often identified as being common to the culture of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people include:

  • The work of famous gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. This may include:
    • Present-day LGBT artists and political figures;
    • Historical figures who have been identified as LGBT. It has often been questioned whether it is appropriate to identify historical figures using modern terms for sexual identity (see History of sexuality). However, many LGBT people feel a kinship towards these people and their work, especially to the extent that it deals with same-sex attraction or gender identity.
  • An understanding of the history of LGBT political movements.
  • An ironic appreciation of things linked by stereotype to LGBT people.
  • Figures and identities that are present in the LGBT community; in Euro-American LGBT culture, this could include the gay village, drag kings and queens, Pride, and the rainbow flag.

In some cities, especially in North America, gay men and lesbians tend to live in certain neighbourhoods.

LGBT communities organize a number of events to celebrate their culture, such as Pride parades, the Gay Games and Southern Decadence.

There is some debate among LGBT people about whether an LGBT culture really exists, and whether it is worthwhile.


The polyamorous community is another sexual minority with an associated culture.

Fetish-based cultures

BDSM activists in Taiwan

BDSM activists in Taiwan

The fetish subculture is a subculture that comprises people with a broad range of sexual fetishes and other paraphilias, who tend to be more tolerant of other fetishists than the general community, even if they do not share the other person’s specific fetish. Alternative terms for the fetish subculture include fetish scene and fetish community.

The most common paraphilias seen in the fetish subculture are BDSM, leather fetishism and rubber fetishism. The fetish community is also generally more accepting of homosexuality, bisexuality, nonmonogamys and cross-dressing than general society.[citation needed]

The fetish subculture supports a strong nightclub scene, in the form of fetish clubs.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_and_gender_identity-based_cultures)


This article that I found on Wikipedia, with its title, seems to lead the reader astray. I thought I was finding countries, societies, that were entirely based on gender, which it seems everything it is, because it is assumed with the “human condition”. I was hoping to find an exception to that condition that people have begun to accept as essential, distinct gender characteristics that make us “unique” and separate from the other. This article seemed to reinforce the fact that what people think of as “sexuality” is the marginalized, the irregular, the abnormal, or so it seems. Maybe what everyone thinks when someone says sex is supposed to be a man and a woman in the missionary position.

The subcultures of sexuality seem to fetishisize even the act of sex as if we never have as much sex as we talk about, but instead represent it, talk about it, but never do it as much as we fantasize about, which is why sex will always be fascinating. No one ever has enough.

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Stonewall, Riots, and Raids Part I


First off, I am definitely not an expert on the history surrounding this event so this will probably be an overview of the event itself and further resources that you can hunt out. I was not at the riot, raid, or involved with advocacy pre-existing this event. I admire and am incredibly grateful for my fellow human beings who fought, protested the police brutality. They started a mass movement, or were a large part, the catalyst, to something I am incredibly grateful for today because of the feelings it will bring to the surface. These advocates are my heroes.

In this post I will cover an overview of pre, post, and during stonewall. I will also give some further resources and information on other riots and raids that are related to Stonewall because of their relation in the revolution against police brutality towards people of gender and sexual difference. Thank you to all who played a part in these events for your courage and willingness to fight back.

About Stonewall

“The Stonewall Riots were a series of violent conflicts between LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals and New York City police officers that began during a 28 June 1969 police raid, and lasted several days. They were centered at the Stonewall Inn and are widely recognized as the catalyst for the modern-day movement towards LGBT rights. Also called the Stonewall Uprising, Stonewall Rebellion, Stonewall Revolution or simply Stonewall, the clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as LGBT people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police harassment directed towards their community. Many also credit the events as igniting a movement to celebrate gay pride with events such as pride parades and dyke marches.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots)

Pre-Stonewall and History

To read about the history pre-dating Stonewall check out the wikipedia website that talks about the first sexually different club created on a college campus, what “sip-ins” are, and about the history behind police harassment:


The raid

“On Saturday morning, June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village where gay people frequently gathered to socialize on Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A number of factors differentiated the raid that took place on June 28 from other raids at the Stonewall Inn. Because raids had occurred at the Stonewall Inn in the past, managers usually knew what to expect when a raid was about to occur. Likewise, raids tended to occur earlier in the evening, which allowed the bar to continue with normal business for the busiest hours of the night. On June 28th, however, an unexpected raid unfolded at the Inn. At approximately 1:20 am, eight police officers entered the bar with a warrant authorizing a search for illegal sales of alcohol.[7] Of the eight policemen, only one was dressed in his uniform. The police questioned the customers and made many of them show identification. Many were escorted out of the bar, and some were even arrested. The escorted crowd became very angry and began to cause chaos outside of the Inn. While the police loaded arrested patrons into the police van, the existing crowd responded with catcalls and then, eventually erupted into violence. Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera claimed she “led the charge”.[8] They threw bottles at the officers, and even used a parking meter as a battering ram. Heterosexual folk singer Dave van Ronk, who was walking through the area, was grabbed by the police, pulled into the bar, and beaten. The crowd’s attacks were unrelenting. Word quickly spread of the riot and many residents, as well as patrons of nearby bars, rushed to the scene. When the police officers went inside the bar, the angry clients blockaded the Inn and then torched it.[9] Eventually, the protesting crowd was so strong that each time the police would disperse the mob, a new group would re-form behind the police’s back, preventing them from actually breaking up the riot.[10] Over the course of five days, the crowd of 400 protesters continued throwing bottles and lighting fires around the Inn. Police attempted to capture some of the violent rioters. If the rioters did not act fast enough, they were pushed and shoved and even clubbed to the ground by officers.[7] Protesters in the crowd began to scream “Gay Power” and some activists dressed as drag queens started chanting:

We are the Stonewall Girls
We wear our hair in curls
We wear no underwear
We show our pubic hair
We wear our dungarees
Above our nelly knees

—Stonewall Girls[9]

Throughout the night the police singled out many transgender people and gender nonconformists, including butch women and effeminate men, among others, often beating them. On the first night alone 13 people were arrested and four police officers, as well as an undetermined number of protesters, were injured. It is known, however, that at least two rioters were severely beaten by the police.[11] Bottles and stones were thrown by protesters who chanted “Gay Power!” The crowd, estimated at over 2000, fought with over 400 police officers.

The police sent additional forces in the form of the Tactical Patrol Force, a riot-control squad originally trained to counter Vietnam War protesters. The tactical patrol force arrived to disperse the crowd. However, they failed to break up the crowd, who sprayed them with rocks and other projectiles.

Eventually the scene quieted, but the crowd returned again the next night. While less violent than the first night, the crowd had the same energy as it had on the previous night. Skirmishes between the rioters and the police ensued until approximately 4:00 a.m.. The third day of rioting fell five days after the raid on the Stonewall Inn. On that Wednesday, 1,000 people congregated at the bar and again caused extensive property damage.

A connection is frequently drawn between the timing of gay icon Judy Garland‘s death and funeral, also in June 1969, and the Riots.[12][13][14] Time noted “The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs.”[15] Coincidental or not, the proximity of Garland’s death to Stonewall has become a part of LGBT history and lore.[16]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots)


The stonewall riots fueled the creation of the Gay Liberation Front (though this may have been bound to happen without the stonewall riots, though they were a main factor into contributed to its creation). The Gay Liberation Front was a huge cornerstone for the Gay Rights movement. See the link below to read on:


Before Stonewall: The book

This is a book by William A. Percy (whose biography you can see below) about the Pre-Stonewall days, which basically talks about the advocacy for Gay and Lesbian Rights before the raid at the Stonewall Inn.

You can see his biography at this website: http://williamapercy.com/about.htm

His book: http://williamapercy.com/pub-Stonewall.htm

Stonewall: The Movie

The Stonewall Movie was made in 1995 and tells the story of the Stonewall raid, riot what have you. Here is the plot summary of the movie:

“Who could have guessed that a bunch of men in dresses would breath life into the movement to win equal rights for gay men and lesbians? Certainly not the police who raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular “drag” bar in Greenwich Village. After a long history of police raids, extortion, and brutality, a gaggle of drag queens at the Stonewall decide they have had enough and begin to riot when the police try to load them into a paddy wagon. Told by “La Miranda” (Hector), a regular customer at the Stonewall Inn, the film is a recounting of events that led up to that fateful day in 1969. “Matty Dean” is the handsome angry young man that La Miranda meets at the Stonewall one day and with whom she/he quickly falls in love. “Bostonia” is the self-styled Queen Mother of the drag queens and guides each initiate gently “into the life.” Her lover, Vinnie, is the closeted proprietor of the Stonewall. His tragic response to the suffocation he feels bearing down on him from a homophobic world — perhaps as much as anything else — sparks the riots. This is the Stonewall Riots “As Told By La Miranda”. Written by Mark Fleetwood {mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu}” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114550/plotsummary)

You can see the trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114550/trailers

Here are some quotes from the movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114550/quotes

Stonewall Veterans Society

This is the site of the people who started it all. Thanks to them, the Gay Liberation Front was started. You can view their biographies, pictures, songs from the event, and services they offer.

Check out the veterans of the raid itself: http://www.stonewallvets.org/

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Being Intersexed: Resources


Many people do not know what intersex means because it was commonly referred to in the past as being a hermaphrodite. Being intersexed is very in the closet because of the general belief in American society that gender fits into a binary. Being intersexed proves that gender is complicated, sex is complicated, and identity is complicated (as are many more things that influence being intersexed and anything in general).

I am not intersexed, I am not an expert, but I wish to distribute information. This is what I have found, encountered, believe, etc. I can not be expert advice, but I can be a start.

I highly recommend visited the ISNA website, whose acronym I explain below. It is an excellent resource and has been advocating for intersex rights ever since Cheryl Chase helped create it.

What is Intersex?

““Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Though we speak of intersex as an inborn condition, intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing.” (http://www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex)

To find out more about this, go to the ISNA’s website (which I will cover later in this post). They have a bunch of information, links, and recommendations.

What Intersex Condition do you have?

To find out what conditionmay fit to your genitalia, explore this website, but be sure to confirm with a clinician.

Intersex Conditions: http://www.isna.org/faq/conditions

How common is intersex?

“To answer this question in an uncontroversial way, you’d have to first get everyone to agree on what counts as intersex —and also to agree on what should count as strictly male or strictly female. That’s hard to do. How small does a penis have to be before it counts as intersex? Do you count “sex chromosome” anomalies as intersex if there’s no apparent external sexual ambiguity?1 (Alice Dreger explores this question in greater depth in her book Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex.)

Here’s what we do know: If you ask experts at medical centers how often a child is born so noticeably atypical in terms of genitalia that a specialist in sex differentiation is called in, the number comes out to about 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 births. But a lot more people than that are born with subtler forms of sex anatomy variations, some of which won’t show up until later in life.

Below we provide a summary of statistics drawn from an article by Brown University researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling.2 The basis for that article was an extensive review of the medical literature from 1955 to 1998 aimed at producing numeric estimates for the frequency of sex variations. Note that the frequency of some of these conditions, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, differs for different populations. These statistics are approximations.

Not XX and not XY one in 1,666 births
Klinefelter (XXY) one in 1,000 births
Androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 13,000 births
Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 130,000 births
Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia one in 13,000 births
Late onset adrenal hyperplasia one in 66 individuals
Vaginal agenesis one in 6,000 births
Ovotestes one in 83,000 births
Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause) one in 110,000 births
Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother) no estimate
5 alpha reductase deficiency no estimate
Mixed gonadal dysgenesis no estimate
Complete gonadal dysgenesis one in 150,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft) one in 2,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis) one in 770 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female one in 100 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance one or two in 1,000 births

1 Dreger, Alice Domurat. 1998. Ambiguous Sex—or Ambivalent Medicine? Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Intersexuality. Hastings Center Report, 28, 3: 24-35.

2 Blackless, Melanie, Anthony Charuvastra, Amanda Derryck, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Karl Lauzanne, and Ellen Lee. 2000. How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis. American Journal of Human Biology 12:151-166.

We were recently asked to update these frequency figures, and a lively discussion arose between two staff members.” (http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency)

The ISNA: Intersex Society of North America

The ISNA, as found on their website (by their mission statement) stand for:

“systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female.

We have learned from listening to individuals and families dealing with intersex that:

Click here to learn more about our agenda. With your help, we can make the world a safer place for families dealing with intersex conditions.” (http://www.isna.org/)

Doctors for the Intersexed

You can find this at this website: http://www.aissg.org/52_CLINICIANS.HTM

NOTE: This is only a start and from limited sources I found online and thus can be outdated. I would recommend getting in contact with someone from ISNA to talk about this or finding a support network in your area where you can feel safe in asking about a doctor who will provide you with safe service and make you feel comfortable.

What to do once you found out you are intersexed

Support groups:


Find a doctor who can confirm hormonal/genetic difference: http://www.aissg.org/52_CLINICIANS.HTM

You may have a lot of questions, just discovered it yourself, and may feel overwhelmed. I do not recommend this website right away, but it is incredibly helpful and from what I have seen, considerate:


Excellent Resource: Sexing the Body by Anne-Fausto Sterling

Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. By Anne Fausto-Sterling. New York: Basic Books, 2000, 473 pages.

Spanish Translation: Cuerpos sexuados. Editorial Melusina: Barcelona, Spain, 2006.

“Professor Fausto-Sterling’s most recent work, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, was published by Basic Books in February 2000. It examines the social nature of biological knowledge about animal and human sexuality.

Sexing the Body received the Distinguished Publication Award in 2001 by the Association for Women in Psychology. In 2000 it was chosen as one of the Outstanding Academic Books of 2000 by CHOICE Magazine, Published by the American Library Association. It was also co-winner of the Robert K Merton Award of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology.

From the back cover:

“Why do some people prefer heterosexual love while others fancy the same sex? Do women and men have different brains? Is sexual identity biologically determined or a product of social convention? In this brilliant and provocative book, the acclaimed author of Myths of Gender argues that the answers to these thorny questions lie as much in the realm of politics as they do in the world of science. Without pandering to the press or politics, Fausto-Sterling builds an entirely new framework for sexing the body-one that focuses solely on the individual.” (http://bms.brown.edu/faculty/f/afs/afs_publications_books.htm)

More books:



I do not know much about the experience of being intersexed because I am not. I wish to increase the visibility of intersex while keeping people who identify as intersex safe. I hope that the gender binary begins to blur or that everyone can accept others differences. I hope this is a valuable resource and if you wish to hear more about this particular subject, feel free to contact me.


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Transphobia: The new road block


I am not transexual or transgender, by definition, so I do understand how this fully affects people who are transgender, transexual, etc. Right now this is just research and resources. If you would like to add a person encounter with this, feel free.

People who identify as transgender, transexual, etc can encounter transphobia in the workplace, when receiving healthcare, at school, at home, in the bathroom, in the LGBT community, and probably many other places.

If you have ever encountered the question “what are you?”, or been pressured to leave the bathroom due to your ambiguity, you probably have encountered transphobia.

Also, here are some terms that I did not cover in the broad overview of definitions that apply to transgendered persons, transexual persons, etc and are more articulate than I can be about this subject.The following words are what the person calls “sub-groups” of the definition transgender.

The following sub-groups are presented roughly according to the line that is crossed, though they are not meant to understood as rigid or mutually exclusive categories:

biological: transsexuals, intersexuals, androgens

social: transgenderists, transvestites, drag kings and queens, cross-dressers, gender-benders, women who pass as men, and men who pass as women

morphological (appearance): “masculine” looking women, “feminine” looking men, bearded women, women bodybuilders (that is, women who have crossed the line of what is considered socially acceptable for a female body)

Most transgendered people, however, cross more than one line. As well, there is a significant psychological component to every transgendered person’s experience as a transgendered person. In other words, being transgender is as much about a person’s experience internally as it is about social perceptions, and for that reason transgendered people are those who identify as such.” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)


Transphobia (or less commonly, transprejudice) refers to discrimination against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia – terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the object of the negative attitude. Many transpeople also experience homophobia from people who incorrectly associate the medically recognised condition of gender identity disorder as a form of homosexuality (see Homosexuality and Transgender).[1]

Discriminatory or intolerant behaviour toward transsexuals might include harassment, assault, or murder. Direct forms of intolerance may also manifest themselves in non-violent ways. Indirect discrimination may include refusing to ensure that transgender people are treated in the same manner as non-transgender people.

Trans-bashing is the practice of victimising someone because they are transgender and is a form of transphobia.[2] Unlike gay bashing, it is attacking someone based on their gender identity rather than because of their predisposition regarding sexuality. Some believe that accusing transgender people of being victims of “gay-bashing” erases their identities and the truth of what happens to them.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transphobia)

Transgenderist: “Transgenderists are individuals who do not identify with the gender identity assigned to them at birth. Transgenderists may take hormones to bring their appearance closer to their chosen gender expression, but often they make no attempt to change their physical appearance. Transgenderists generally perceive their experience of conflict between their sex and their gender to be the result, not of “being in the wrong body,” (as may be the case for transsexuals) but rather of society’s expectation that they assume a gender identity that is, for them, inappropriate.” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

Expressions of Transphobia

-the belief that a person is not a “real woman” or a “real man” if s/he is transgendered;
-the assumption that transgendered people are “sick” or incompetent or that they are psychologically unstable;
-the unwillingness to trust a transgendered person, because of that person’s transgendered status;
-feelings of discomfort or disgust which prevent someone from dealing with a transgendered person as they would any other person – for example, a medical professional who is unwilling to locate resources relevant to their transgendered clients, and who, for lack of knowledge, are therefore unable to refer transgendered people to those much needed resources;
-when someone is unaware that s/he is dealing with a transgendered person, or doesn’t bother to enquire when s/he suspects that the person with whom s/he is dealing is transgendered;
-when someone is aware of the transgendered status of the person with whom s/he is dealing, but continues to refer to the person in a way that is inconsistent with that person’s presentation;
-when someone fails to rent an apartment, or to give a job or a promotion, or to provide a service to a transgendered person because of that person’s transgendered status;
-when a transgendered person is excluded from activities, discussions or decisions because it is felt that that person doesn’t “fit in.” ” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

News Media about People who have been affected by Transphobia

  • Brandon Teena (may seem familiar by the documentary or Boys Don’t Cry)
  • Gwen Aruajo
  • Fred Martinez
  • Nizah Morris
  • Lauren Harris

Actions that can be done to prevent Transphobia

-increasing awareness of the issues of transgendered people while taking steps to affirm the identity of transgendered people;
-being willing and available to provide support, care and counsel as appropriate;
-being comfortable and inclusive around transgendered people;
-exploring the connections between transphobia, racism, homophobia and sexism.

-making resources available to transgendered people and others on issues related to transgenderism;
-adopting a zero tolerance policy regarding transphobia that treats transphobia as seriously as racism or sexism
-inviting a transgender community organization to work against transphobia with staff and others, and speaking with transgendered persons about gender identity and sexual orientation;
-consciously addressing the myths and stereotypes about the transgender community, and not ignoring inappropriate jokes” (http://mypage.direct.ca/h/hrp/gendertr.html)

How Transphobia Affects Everyone (and Homophobia)

“Homophobia and transphobia affect everyone; they have serious consequences for both GLBTQ and straight youth.

Ways that Homophobia and Transphobia Affect GLBTQ Youth

  1. Homophobia and transphobia make many GLBTQ youth feel isolated, lonely, and ashamed.
  2. Homophobia and transphobia create an environment in which GLBTQ youth may have to face harassment and even violence in their schools, communities and/or homes.
  3. Homophobia and transphobia make some GLBTQ youth ‘act straight’ to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Homophobia forces many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth to become sexually active before they really want to, choosing partners of the opposite sex just to hide their sexual orientation or their questions. Transphobia forces many transgender youth to become sexually active before they really want to just so they can hide their gender identity.
  5. Homophobia and transphobia contribute to the self-doubt that makes many GLBTQ youth turn to drugs and/or alcohol to numb their feelings.
  6. Homophobia and transphobia cause many GLBTQ youth to drop out of school and/or run away.
  7. Homophobia and transphobia cause many GLBTQ youth to think about and/or even attempt suicide. Many of the youth who kill themselves are GLBTQ.

How Homophobia and Transphobia Affect Straight Youth

  1. Homophobia and transphobia pressure straight people to act unkindly or even cruelly towards GLBTQ people and encourage bullying and cruelty toward anyone whose appearance or behavior isn’t sufficiently ‘macho’ or ‘feminine’ (from the viewpoint of the bully).
  2. Homophobia and transphobia force straight people to act ‘straight,’ limiting their individuality and self-expression. Straight youth often choose their clothes, hair color/style, friends, and even behavior to ‘prove’ that they are not GLBTQ.
  3. Homophobia and transphobia can destroy family relationships. Some parents, sisters, brothers, and even grandparents break off their relationships with GLBTQ family members.
  4. Homophobia and transphobia lead many straight youth to become sexually active before they really want to just to ‘prove’ they are straight.
  5. Homophobia, along with racism, sexism, and poverty, makes it hard to end the HIV epidemic.
  6. Homophobia and transphobia make it very hard for straight people and GLBTQ people to be friends.
  7. Homophobia and transphobia make it nearly impossible for people to appreciate diversity and the wonderful variety that exists among all people.

* Adapted and reprinted with permission of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, San Francisco, California.” (http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/lessonplans/activistally2.htm)


The most important thing to note is that this affects EVERYONE. Transphobia is damaging to people, not just people who identify as outside of the gender binary. This is an increasing issue within the glbtq community because trans people do not fit into the girl who likes girl or boy who likes girls, or boys who likes a boy. Trans people acknowledge and show how gender is complicated and Transphobia is a result of people wanting to keep the perceived norm that there are only two genders, sexes, what have you. It is not just the issue of Transphobia, but the issue of difference. It is struggle and may continue to be a struggle for people to accept others who express themselves in way that transcends or is different from the norm. People will continue to differentiate themselves, but perhaps we can treat those differences with consideration and understanding, or try to understand those differences.

See Also

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Labels, Titles, Terms, or “What sexuality do you fit?” : Broad Overview

Introduction to the Terms

Disclaimer: Note, most importantly, this is just a broad overview and an introduction to these words. I will probably explore the separate terms in alternate articles in the future. Also, All of these definitions are not the definitions I myself always use. I put these definitions here to be used as a resource, as further exploration, and for questioning the definitions. There are plenty of definitions out there, more words that people use to define themselves and the gender/sex/form of expression they have. In addition, there are plenty of synonyms for the above words. I will try to update this page as often as I am capable of.  If you know of any terms, please contact me and I would be glad and excited to add another word to my vocabulary and to this site. Thank you.

1. Queer:

“The word queer has traditionally meant “strange” or “unusual,” but its use in reference to LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities has replaced the traditional definition and application. Its usage is considered controversial and underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th Century with some LGBT people re-claiming the term as a means of self-empowerment. The term is still considered by some to be offensive and derisive, and by others as a re-appropriated term used to describe a sexual orientation and/or gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to heteronormative society.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer)

2. Questioning

“Questioning is a term that can refer to a person who is questioning their gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation.[1] People who are questioning may be unsure of their sexuality, or still exploring their feelings.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questioning_%28sexuality_and_gender%29)

3. Coming Out

“Coming out or coming out of the closet describes the voluntary public announcement of one’s (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coming_out)

4. Bisexuality

“Bisexuality refers to sexual or romantic attraction toward members of both sexes. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with heterosexual and homosexual.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexual)

5. Lesbian

“A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted only to other women.[1][2] Women who are attracted to both women and men are more often referred to as bisexual. An individual’s self-identification might not correspond with her behavior, and may be expressed with either, both, or neither of these words. “(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian)

6. Gay/Homosexual

A. adj. Involving, related to, or characterized by a sexual propensity for one’s own sex; of or involving sexual activity with a member of one’s own sex, or between individuals of the same sex.

B. n. A person who has a sexual propensity for his or her own sex; esp. one whose sexual desires are directed wholly or largely towards people of the same sex.
In non-technical contexts it is often taken to mean a male homosexual, a female one being termed a lesbian.



7. Pansexuality

“Pansexuality or anthrosexuality (anthro- literally meaning human, human sexual) (sometimes referred to as omnisexuality[1]) is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. Thus, pansexuality includes potential attraction to people (such as transgender individuals) who do not fit into the gender binary of male/female. Some pansexuals suggest that they are gender-blind; that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansexual)

8. Asexual

Not sexual, without sex. In Bot. formerly applied to cryptogams; cf. agamic. (http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50012857?single=1&query_type=word


9. Transexual

A. adj.

1. Of or pertaining to transsexualism; having physical characteristics of one sex and psychological characteristics of the other.

B. n. A transsexual person. Also, one whose sex has been changed by surgery.



10. Transgender

“…derivatives [trans <L, combination form meaning across, beyond, through] and [gender <ME <MF gendre, genre <L gener- meaning kind or sort]) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.

Transgender is the state of one’s “gender identity” (self-identification as male, female, both or neither) not matching one’s “assigned gender” (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). “Transgender” does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual or asexual. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

  • “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]
  • “People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[2]
  • “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.”[3]

A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as “other,” “agender,” “intergender,” or “third gender“. Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years.[4]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender)

Note: All of the terms pertaining to transgender, transexual, transvestite, etc can be found when searching transgender, transexual on wikipedia and provides a much better resource than the oxford english dictionary. Wikipedia seems to be much more inclusive and covers the history of terms and the many definitions. Sometimes the OED (Oxford English dictionary) can leave out some meanings or meanings we take on for ourselves in the glbtq community.

11. Genderqueer

” People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both a man and a woman, as being neither a man nor a woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. Some wish to have certain features of the opposite sex and not all characteristics; others want it all.

Some genderqueer people see their identity as one of many possible genders other than man or woman, while others see “genderqueer” as an umbrella term that encompasses all of those possible genders. Still others see “genderqueer” as a third gender to complement the traditional two, while others identify as genderless or a-gender. Genderqueer people are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.

The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity (see Alternate Meanings, below).”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer)

12. Gender identity

“Gender identity (or core gender identity) is a person’s own sense of identification as male or female. The term is intended to distinguish this psychological association, from physiological and sociological aspects of gender.[1] Gender identity was originally a medical term used to explain sex reassignment procedures to the public.[2] The term is also found in psychology, often as core gender identity.[3] Sociology, gender studies and feminism are still inclined to refer to gender identity, gender role and erotic preference under the catch-all term gender.

Gender identity is affected by “genetic, prenatal hormonal, postnatal social, and postpubertal hormonal determinants.”[4] Biological factors include the influence of testosterone and gene regulation in brain cells. Social factors are primarily based on the family, as gender identity is thought to be formed by the third year of life.[3]

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (302.85) has five criteria that must be met before a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) can be made. “In gender identity disorder, there is discordancy between the natal sex of one’s external genitalia and the brain coding of one’s gender as masculine or feminine.”[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity)

13. Sex

“.. is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into male and female types (or sexes). Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells (gametes) to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents. Gametes can be identical in form and function (known as isogametes), but in many cases an asymmetry has evolved such that two sex-specific types of gametes (heterogametes) exist: male gametes are small, motile, and optimized to transport their genetic information over a distance, while female gametes are large, non-motile and contain the nutrients necessary for the early development of the young organism.

An organism’s sex is defined by the gametes it produces: males produce male gametes (spermatozoa, or sperm) while females produce female gametes (ova, or egg cells); individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic. Frequently, physical differences are associated with the different sexes of an organism; these sexual dimorphisms can reflect the different reproductive pressures the sexes experience. In some cases male or (more commonly) female organisms also have the role of caring for offspring through the first part of development.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex)

14. Sexuality

“Generally speaking, human sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.[1] The study of human sexuality encompasses an array of social activities and an abundance of behaviors, actions, and societal topics. Biologically, sexuality can encompass sexual intercourse and sexual contact in all its forms, as well as medical concerns about the physiological or even psychological aspects of sexual behaviour. Sociologically, it can cover the cultural, political, and legal aspects; and philosophically, it can span the moral, ethical, theological, spiritual or religious aspects.

As Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality, the concept of what activities and sensations are “sexual” is historically (as well as regionally and culturally) determined, and it is therefore part of a changing “discourse”.[2][3][4][5][6] The sexual meanings (meanings of the erotic dimension of human sexual experience), are social and cultural constructs, they are made subjective only after cultural and social mediation.[7] Being the main force conditioning human relationship, sex is essentially political. In any social context, the construction of a “sexual universe” is fundamentally linked to the structures of power.[7][2][8][9] The construction of sexual meanings, is an instrument by which social institutions (religion, marketing, the educational system, psychiatry, etc.) control and shape human relationships.[4][3]

According to Foucault, sexuality began to be regarded as a concept part of human nature since the 19th century; so sexuality began to be used as a mean to define normality and its boundaries, and to conceive everything outside those boundaries in the realm of psychopathology. In the 20th century, with the theories of Sigmund Freud and of sexology, the “not-normal” was seen more as a “discontent of civilization” [10][3] In a well known passage of his work, Foucault noted that the development of the notion of sexuality organized sex as a “fictitious unity” of “disparate parts, functions, behaviours, and feelings with no natural or necessary relation among them”; therefore the conception of what is “natural” is a social construct.[11][12] To escape this cultural “sexuality” Foucault suggest to focus on “bodies and pleasures”.[13][11]

In many historical eras, recovered art and artifacts help to portray human sexuality of the time period.[14]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexuality)

15. Anal Sex

“… most often refers to the sex act involving insertion of the penis into the rectum.[1] The term anal sex can also sometimes include other sexual acts involving the anus, including but not limited to anilingus and fingering.

It is a form of sexual behavior considered to be comparatively high in risk, due to the vulnerability of the tissues and the septic nature of the anus.[2] As the rectal mucosa provides little natural lubrication, a personal lubricant is most often required or preferred when penetrating the anus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_Sex)

16. Oral Sex

Oral sex consists of all sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, which may include use of the tongue, teeth, and throat, to stimulate genitalia. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on a woman while fellatio and irrumatio refer to oral sex performed on a man. Analingus refers to oral stimulation of a person’s anus. Oral stimulation of other parts of the body is usually not considered oral sex; see kiss and licking.

People may engage in oral sex as part of foreplay before intercourse, or during or following intercourse. It may also be performed for its own sake.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_Sex)

17. Heterosexual

“…is sexual or romantic attraction between opposite sexes, and is the most common sexual orientation among humans. The current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th century tradition of personality taxonomy. These continue to influence the development of the modern concept of sexual orientation, gaining associations with romantic love and identity in addition to its original, exclusively sexual meaning.

The adjective heterosexual is used for intimate relationships and/or sexual relations between male and female individuals, who may or may not identify themselves as straight. Heterosexuality, as an identifier, is usually contrasted with homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. The term straight is used predominantly to refer to self-identified heterosexuals of either sex. Unlike lesbian, there is no sex-specific term that is only used for self-identified heterosexual females.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosexual)

19. Intersex(ed)

“is the state of a living thing of a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia and/or secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. [1]

Intersexuality is the term adopted by medicine during the 20th century applied to human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female [2] [3] [4]

Intersexuality is also the word adopted by the identitary-political movement, surged at nineties, to criticize medical protocols in sex assignment and to claim the right to be heard in the construction of a new ones[5].” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex)

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