Using any combination of articles/videos listed above and below answer these questions: What visual cues do we use to determine someone’s race or gender? And, what has shaped your ideas of race and gender that inform how you perceive someone’s racial or gender identity?
Caitlyn Jenner’s story is a great example of intersectionality. It particularly does a good job exemplifying the idea of discrimination that comes with intersectionality. This discrimination is caused by social norms that Americans see from the outside, visually. While exploring this topic over the past week I have noticed many visual cues that may falsely determine someone’s gender identity. My ideas of gender have also changed over time due to the amount of time I have spent exploring gender identity.
Initially, before educating myself on this topic I thought of gender as something that was visible. I thought of gender as something that everyone could see from the outside, something that was easily recognized. I now have discovered that gender identity is much more than something that it visibly seen and it is not easy for all people to recognize from the outside. For example, if you were to look at Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner from the outside you would typically identify their gender as male. While Caitlyn may have been born with male gentile and a masculine body it is misleading of her gender identity. As Bruce said in the Diane Sawyer interview, his heart is part of who he is and in his heart he feels like a women. Caitlyn Jenner was not the only one in this position, 75% of the 700,000 transgender Americans are living with the gentile that they were born with, only 25% have had surgery (Bissinger, 2015).
While many Americans question Caitlyn’s transition, she can only laugh about the misconceptions. Looking back at Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn expressed that she see’s the “worlds greatest athlete” as a confused person scared to death of their future. While in the inside Bruce was feeling confused, his fellow Americans were anything but confused. Americans viewed Bruce as a masculine American hero, another visual cue that people relate to gender. Seeing Bruce competing in the Olympics during a time when women were acknowledged very little also screamed male gender. But, behind the seens what people did not see was the very confused women stuck in a man’s body. This human was taking hormones to enlarge his breasts and undergoing treatment to vanish the hair on his body (Bissinger, 2015). This human may have visually appeared like a man on the outside, but was really a scared woman on the inside. Which leads me to the point that not everyone’s gender can be “seen” on the outside. Unfortunately it took Caitlyn 65 years to fully transition and tell the world her true gender.
Americans view gender identity and sexuality as one. They are both, in fact, very different. Before learning about this topic I thought like most Americans, gender should determine your sexuality. But this is not true at all; they are both very different. Gender Identity does not determine whom you love. For example, during the Diane Sawyer interview Bruce expressed that he was not gay. His genitals do not equal his gender, his brain decides. As much as Caitlyn wanted to maintain a relationship with her past wife’s, they were taken back by the fact that they married whom they thought was a man, they did not identify as lesbians. Caitlyn is entitled to her own feelings as are her ex wife’s. Moving forward Caitlyn is now able to express her self publicly and begin the search for everlasting love with a partner whom is fully aware of her story, her gender identity, and her sexuality.
I think it is important that society begins to accept intersectionality. It is so very important in order to understand who people truly are. If people are forced to hide their identity from others it leads to many other problems. The reality of it is that visual cues are misleading. If people continue to hide from themselves and others as Bruce had to do it will have a devastating impact on society as a whole. Relationship with friends and family will diminish, as will relationships with themselves. We saw this in Bruce’s story, pertaining to his relationship with his first four kids and two wives’. We also saw Bruce’s relationship with himself diminish, as he went as far as contemplating suicide. Visual cues can be misleading and harmful to the trans community in particular. It is crucial that we educated our society today on gender identity to prevent awful things from happening. Everyone has the right to their own body and their own feelings; Caitlyn is an inspiration to all.
Burkett, E. (2015, June 06). What Makes a Woman? Retrieved August 04, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/sunday/what-makes-a-woman.html?_r=0
Bissinger, B. (2015, June 25). Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story. Retrieved August 04, 2016, from http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/06/caitlyn-jenner-bruce-cover-annie-leibovitz#1
Bruce Jenner: The Interview [Video file]. (2015). United States: ABC News. Retrieved August 04, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com/2020/fullpage/bruce-jenner-the-interview-30471558