A common remark in postings by cross dressers and people who identify as trans gender is that somehow their body didn’t correspond with how they felt inside. The division between outer appearance and inner feelings. Is common in the work of Erving Goffman particularly when he writes about the “self”.
Since I am living alone it is easy to take some time to dress in clothes typically worn by women . Also I can put on a little makeup if I wish. Sometimes I grocery shop dressed this way and it provokes little comment.
Many cross dressers see halloween as a time to cross gender lines by dressing in gender linked clothing. Two different halloweens recently provided this opportunity for me. Alice from Through the Looking Glass and more recently a witch.
Just as race is being replaced by ethnicity as a meaningful category with emphasis on the culture of different groups of people who share a “consciousness of kind” ; gender is increasingly viewed as a cultural category rather than one that is specifically link to either biological sex or to sexual orientation. As such gender become a set of attitudes and performances which range from “masculine” to “feminine” with those terms taking on quite different meanings among different reference groups. Gender cultures vary among the biological males, females, hermaphrodites, as well as individuals who have undergone surgical and/or hormonal modification of their bodies. The recognition that gender culture need not be linked to biological sex in homo sapiens has been recognized by established status categories such as berdache (plains indians) and fa’afafine (Polynesians).
I am fascinated by the external representation of inner feelings and convictions. Gender among other things is an inner feeling sometimes becoming an overwhelming conviction. What do you feel?
Pippin has been a member of Tri-Ess since the 1980’s. An occasional cross dresser and retired educator, Pippin writes about the meaning of gender and the changing understanding of gender in American society.