I read the first two chapters of the Gender Quest Workbook—A guide for teens & young adults exploring gender identity. It was written by Rylan Testa, PhD, Deborah Coolhart, PhD and Jayme Peta, MA. They haven’t specifically named their gender identities, but judging from their appearance in their photos and the use of pronouns, Testa appears to be a trans man and Peta appears to be a woman who identifies as something other than a woman (I say that because pronouns are entirely avoided for her) and Coolhart appears to be a regular woman with no apparent transgender identity.
I have identified three different ways that The Gender Quest Workbook defines gender.
They explicitly define it on page 5:
“Gender is (1) how you express masculinity, femininity, or for most people, some mix of the two and (2) how your identity, or sense of self, relates to masculinity and femininity.”
I entirely agree with this definition. This is pretty much the same definition of gender that John Money wrote and since he coined the term, his definition can be considered the correct one. I will also add here that I agree with this concept—people do have a natural degree of masculinity or femininity as part of their personalities. Of course, if gender roles were abolished we would no longer describe people’s personalities as masculine or feminine. Personality traits would still exist but we wouldn’t refer to them in terms of these social constructs.
Only a few sentences down, they define gender again, although I’m not sure if they were aware that they were defining it again.
“In our view, there are about as many different gender identities as there are people. The options are infinite.”
What they’ve done here is equated the word gender with personality. The thing that is unique to each individual and exists in infinite possibilities is personality.
If gender is masculinity and femininity, then there are only two genders, which exist along a continuum, with people falling somewhere in between. These points along the continuum are not something altogether different from masculinity and femininity, they are just levels of more masculine or more feminine. If there were actually more than two recognized genders, then they would be listed alongside masculinity and femininty, you know, like:
Masculinity, femininity, zorkulinity, sambalinity, etc.
But no. The reason there are two genders is because there are two sexes, and masculinity and femininity are the social behaviors that we perform to signify to people whether we are male or female, according to cultural beliefs about how males and females look and behave.
Defining gender as masculinity and femininity means acknowledging that there are only two genders, and then going on to say that there are infinite genders contradicts that.
Then they define gender a third time, therefore contradicting themselves even more. This third one was quite unintentional on their part but it remains obvious. On page 20, there is a list of questions that invite readers to explore their gender. The first question goes like this:
“What are some of your earliest memories related to gender? (For example, I remember my dad saying, “Are you sure you don’t want a blue balloon? Blue is for boys.” Or, I remember wanting to be in Boy Scouts like my brother, but my parents said I couldn’t because I was a girl.”
In both of these examples, what is being expressed is sexism. In the first example, a color is being arbitrarily restricted to one sex due to beliefs that the sexes must behave in different ways (having different color preferences). In the second example, a girl is being limited in her opportunities because of her sex. These questions related to sexism are the prompts that invite readers to think back about their experiences of “gender.” Because examples of sexism are being used as a prompt to get people thinking about “gender,” the authors have implicitly defined gender as sexism.
Therefore gender has three definitions so far:
(a) masculinity and femininity
It seems to me that two PhDs and one MA should have been able to recognize all three of the definitions they have used for gender and seen the contradictions between them and how their text becomes confusing and incoherent because of these contradictory definitions. But they are in the trans cult and one thing about the trans cult is they eschew clear communication and instead embrace ambiguity and confusion.
When I try to answer the above question, my first reaction is “How can I recall an early memory of ‘gender’ if you can’t define gender”? My second reaction is, “According to the prompt, gender clearly means sexism, so I will answer that.”
One memory of sexism that stands out for me is when I was in a grocery store and I saw a woman and her daughter at the check-out. The little girl was playing and rolling around on the floor, and the mother didn’t like that. She snatched her daughter up vigorously by the arm and scolded her “Girls don’t act like that.” I was filled with outrage from head to toe when I heard that. Partially due to the sexism and partially due to the lying. This mother told her daughter a lie. Here was this girl, playing and rolling around on the floor, and the mother said that girls don’t act like that, but clearly they do, because here is a girl acting like that right now! Her words did not reflect reality, they reflected her belief and her wish. I thought that was a poor attitude to have toward girls and I boiled with rage. And that’s my first example of sexism that I remember.
(Disclaimer: Of course it’s a good idea not to let your kid roll around on the floor in a grocery store because the kid could get dirty or stepped on. But this mother didn’t say “Get up before you get dirty or stepped on,” she said “Girls don’t act that way.”)
My answer to this question might change if gender meant masculinity/femininity or personality, but I have answered it the way the prompt suggests to.
The next question in the list is this:
“Were you ever told you looked or acted like a boy? Like a girl? How did you feel when his happened?”
No, people didn’t talk this way around me, because luckily I wasn’t surrounded by people who were overtly sexist. There was plenty of subtle sexism, but nobody said such stupid things as “You do X like a girl/like a boy” around me. I do remember watching a sexist film called The Sandlot (I was a kid in the 90s) and there was a scene where one boy insults another by saying that he plays like a girl. This is after a long list of insults, and the dialogue makes it clear that “You play ball like a girl” is the absolute most insulting thing a boy could ever be told. This scene makes me boil with rage because of the sexism. “You do X like a girl” used as an insult toward a boy is a manifestation of the hatred of women and girls. All girls are likely to feel uncomfortable with this, since it’s harmful to us. Boys whose personalities are more feminine may feel uncomfortable with this sexism too, since they cannot meet the standards of masculinity being set for them.
Once again, a question on “gender” has prompted a response about sexism.
The next question is “How would it or does it feel when people see you as a boy or man.”(p21) This question is followed by a disclaimer about the fear people might feel when thinking about this question.
I only experienced being mistaken for a man once. I was standing in a line and when it was my turn to go to the ticket window the person behind me said “Sir” to indicate for me to move up. I thought this was kinda funny and I was amused that I was now a part of the phenomenon of “misgendering.” I’m not sure why this would be upsetting, if a person accidentally gets it wrong it’s no big deal. There has been no other time when anyone has made this mistake because I look like a typical woman.
I understand that if I was not a typical-looking woman then I would get mistaken for a man more often and it might feel annoying or uncomfortable and it might cause emotional problems (stress, anxiety) over time.
The next question is the opposite situation, “How would it or does it feel when people see you as a girl or woman?”
Well, there is nothing to be amused or annoyed about when people see me as a woman, because I am one.
The next question is a fun one: “How would it or does it feel when people see you as a gender other than girl/woman or boy/man, for example, as androgynous or two-spirit”
First of all, girl/woman and boy/man are not genders, they are sexes. Girl/woman is a human female, and boy/man is a human male. Male and female are biological realities and they are not genders according to any definition used here. I am aware that the transgender community defines “man” and “woman” as social categories, which cannot be defined in any way but which nevertheless people can strongly identify with and live in, and that these social categories are considered by them to be “genders.” However, gender has not been defined as a social category in this book yet. I guess this is their way of introducing another implicit definition of gender? “Gender experts” are surprisingly confusing about gender.
So moving right along to the question, the only way that anyone sees anyone as neither male nor female is if they are going around expecting people to be intersex. I don’t think most people are going around expecting people to be intersex, because the vast majority of people have typical sex characteristics, and even intersex people often look like one or the other, so, I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that.
However, androgynous is a gender. There are two genders, masculinity and femininity, and androgynous is the point in the middle of those. Both males and females can appear androgynous by combining masculinity and femininity in relatively equal portions. Their sex is still apparent.
I wish white transgenderists would stop appropriating Native culture to try to prop up their gender cult. Two spirit identity is not the gender nonsense that modern day transgenderists are promoting.
I am happy when people recognize my level of androgyny. On any given day I might range between moderately feminine and androgynous in presentation. I am never at the extreme end of femininity and I’m never very masculine either. When people understand that I don’t want to go shop for cosmetics or shoes with them because I’m not into that sort of thing, that’s great. When people assume that I am into that, it’s just because they don’t know me well and I can simply explain I’m not into that feminine stuff. Mildly annoying, but not a big deal.
“Who are your gender role models? In other words, if you could be like anyone in terms of gender, who would you be like? (p22)”
In this question, gender could mean either degree of masculinity/femininity or personality, I assume. So, whose personality do I want to emulate, in terms of how masculine or feminine they are?
Well, the first person who comes to mind is Joan of Arc. Let’s see who else comes to mind. Hermione Granger, Xena: Warrior Princess, Dana Scully, the femme characters in Stone Butch Blues (especially Theresa), all the characters from the new Ghostbusters film, especially Kate McKinnon’s character, Melissa McCarthy’s character in the film The Heat…okay I guess I’m just making a list of Strong Female Characters from film and TV shows that I like. When I generalize about all these characters I guess what I come up with is “strong woman.” These women are somewhat feminine but also smart, strong, and tough. I could name my gender “strong woman,” or maybe “fierce femme.” Okay, this exercise was actually really fun lol. Regardless of what my personality or degree of femininity is though, my sex is still female.
The following chapter talks about gender expression, and I have some observations to make about this section. The book makes it sound like it’s a really big deal to change your gender expression. Changing your gender expression simply means wearing a different style of clothing or changing your hairstyle or makeup, but the book asks you to plan how/where/with whom you can safely try out your new expression, and mentions personal safety multiple times. This makes me wonder why people find it to be such a big deal for people to change their outfit or haircut. I’ve changed my style of clothing many times, and no one has ever given a shit. In grade nine I wore nothing but baggy jeans and my dad’s old t-shirts that I found in storage, with a sports bra underneath. In late high school I dyed my hair with blond highlights and wore dresses. In university I wore the same jeans every day again, this time with a blue hooded sweatshirt. These days I generally wear women’s blouses and dress pants to work, and comfortable androgynous clothes at home. I’ve worn a bit of men’s clothing sometimes too just for fun. My hair has been long, short, long, short, etc, and is currently short. At no point has anyone cared what I was wearing or whether it was different from what I wore before. No one has ever been like, “Hey, that outfit is totally different from what you wore yesterday, I’m gonna harass you now!”
When I read this book I begin to wonder if I have just been lucky and if there are all sorts of people out there in the world who are super serious about making other people’s clothing and hairstyles their business? If there are, those are really shallow and superficial people with really small lives. If they have nothing better to do than to have an issue with someone’s new haircut, they should be told to fuck off and they definitely should not be taken seriously. Get a hobby, people!
If people are seriously frightened that they might be unsafe because they’re wearing a certain outfit, that is an indication that they are surrounded by assholes. Instead of putting people on hormones, maybe we should be educating people to stop losing their shit over a simple article of clothing? It’s the bullies that need to change, not the victims of the bullying.
If you analyze specific instances of people being harassed for what clothes they’re wearing, I’m telling you right now that what you’re going to find is sexism and homophobia. The reason a teen boy can’t just show up at school with makeup on is because people will police his masculinity (sexism) and people will direct homophobic harassment at him because they will perceive, either rightly or wrongly, that he is gay. The solution is not to put the boy on hormones and call him a girl so that he can wear makeup without getting bullied, the solution is to punish the bullies so that the boy will be safe wearing makeup. Putting the boy on hormones and calling him a girl is letting the bullies win and it’s punishing the victim and it’s reinforcing the harmful rules of gender. It’s reinforcing the idea that only girls can wear makeup, therefore if you wear makeup, you must become a “girl.” This ideology harms women primarily, because we are the ones having to wear most of the makeup, but it harms men too since it limits their expression.
At the end of this section, I have come to the conclusion that there is an epidemic of people being so shallow, superficial, and sexist that they are seriously harming the people around them, and we need a widespread movement to combat sexism.
Luckily, there is already a widespread movement to combat sexism underway. It’s called feminism. Transgenderism reinforces sexism, making it an ideology that harms the very people it purports to help.
These first two chapters really do confirm what I always say about transgenderism—that people are modifying their bodies in order to match their bodies to their degree of masculininity/femininity or their personalities, and that there is sexism underlying this whole thing. I always maintain that anyone, male or female, can have any personality or degree of masculinity/femininity and that this is okay and doesn’t need to be fixed. Because anyone can have any personality, there is no such thing as a personality not matching one’s body.
There are transgender people who comment here who tell me that transgenderism is not about matching your body to your degree of masculinity/femininity, and that it’s more along the lines of correcting an inborn neurological disorder. It’s not that they are trying to fix a mismatch between their body and their social gender role, is what they explain, it’s that they have an inborn gender identity that persists no matter what and isn’t rooted in social causes like notions of masculinity/femininity or sexism. So I really gotta ask, if transgenderism is simply about correcting an inborn neurological disorder and is not about trying to fit into social ideas of masculinity/femininity, why have a group of three gender experts, at least one of whom is actually trans, written a book in which they guide young people to discover their gender by considering their degree of masculinity/femininity, their personality, and sexism, if transgenderism is not about these things? If transgenderism is about correcting a neurological disorder, why isn’t that what they talk about here?
When you listen carefully to what gender experts and transgender activists actually say about transition, the majority of them make it quite obvious that this is about “fixing” people who are gender nonconforming so that they fit better into social ideas of what men and women are, by turning feminine men into “women” and by turning masculine women into “men.” The reason I keep believing this is because they keep saying it. And what I’m going to keep saying, until forever and ever, is that “fixing” feminine men and masculine women is sexism and homophobia.