Transgender Basics is a 20 minute educational film on the concepts of gender and transgender people. Two providers from The Center’s Gender Identity Project (GIP) discuss basic concepts of gender, sexual orientation, identity and gender roles. Three transgender community members share their personal experiences of being trans and genderqueer. The film targets service providers and others working with the LGBT community, but it also provides a fascinating glimpse into gender and identity for the general public. “Our culture likes to make things simple, and gender isn’t.” Carrie Davis, Transgender Community Organizer, in Transgender Basics.
20 minute full extended promotional film produced to raise funds for the feature length documentary production. ‘Intersex’ or ‘Variations of Sex Development’ is a topic few people have ever heard of. We reveal the natural factual science and the personal stories of being born between.
The gender pyramind
This is Trans* Jersey’s patented gender pyramid that explains how sex and gender are related.
Sex is at the top of pyramid because it has the smallest number of possible variations and is, therefore, the narrowest. It is also the least significant factor in all of this – although those who struggle with the issue of transgenderism would have you believe it is the most important. It is shown as either blue or pink – male or female. (We know blue and pink are a cliché, but had we used yellow and green, you would have had to remember that men were yellow and women were green, so we went with the accepted norm!) Currently, it is impossible to completely change your sex. You can go some way towards altering physical/cosmetic aspects, but no male can yet have a functioning uterus and ovaries implanted, and no female can yet have functioning testes implanted.
The middle layer of the pyramid is your gender identity. It represents where you feel you fit on the spectrum and how you would like to be perceived by the world. We’ve called this being a man or a woman. It is not quite as deeply embedded as sex and there is a greater blurring of the line between blue and pink on the pyramid.
The third layer of the pyramid we have called gender expression. By this, we mean the way that an individual is received by the world. Do they act, react, dress, in a more feminine or masculine way? It is the most fluid of all the layers, with a spectrum of pink to blue on which an individual may fall at any point.
So, let’s take a look at some famous faces and start a debate! We’ve selected Marilyn Monroe (A) and George W Bush (H) as polar opposites on the feminine-masculine scale. There is no doubt in the mind of the onlooker that their presentation, gender, and sex are aligned.
Moving in from them on the scale, we have selected Sharon Cohen (B) and Ian Harvie (G). Sharon is a glamorous, curvaceous brunette who won Eurovision in 1998. There is no doubt that she is a very feminine woman, but she was born male. Ian is a bearded, stand-up comedian who grew up in a rural mountain town in Maine. He is a masculine man, but he was born female. They are both transsexual.
Next on the scale are singers George O’Dowd (C) and k.d. Lang (F). When both singers first appeared on the music scene the fact that their presentation was at odds with their gender and sex caused confusion for the public at large. However, just because society was confused, it doesn’t mean that they are, and so cannot be considered transgender. As far as we are aware, they identify happily as homosexual, which by definition means George is a man who loves men and k.d. is a woman who loves women. They both happen to be homosexual, but, as someone like Grayson Perry proves, this is not a given when you queer your gender.
Finally, converging in the centre are Sue Perkins (D) and David Beckham (E). Sitting centrally on the scale indicates a level of androgyny in a person’s presentation. There is no doubt about Sue and David’s gender or sex, unlike that of George and k.d. However, David’s light voice, attention to his grooming, and soft features are, arguably, more feminine characteristics. Sue’s career, style of dress, and forthright views are, arguably, more masculine characteristics. It’s a grey area, but that’s the point.
Take a moment and consider where you sit on the sex and gender scales. Are you a straight down the line Marilyn or George, or does your sex/gender line weave about a bit?