A Reflection Paper In one lecture about transgender, I recognized most perceptibly the presence of two transgender speakers who talked about their experiences and the issues they continuously deal with in connection to their perceived image of social gender. Being transgendered, they found it difficult to relate with the ongoing notions of what is supposed to be and what is not regarding gender and gender roles. Particularly, their families have supposedly been the first ones to accept their preferred gender roles, but unfortunately, they have been criticized against the normatively existent societal gender roles. As I pondered on this, I realized that to take a gender preference that is outside the normative criteria for gender implicates a lot of things. First, gender is a social, cultural, and psychological construct, as mentioned in West and Zimmerman (1987), wherein my preference would be on the “social” nature of gender as a universal concept.
In this means, I am particularly interested with the “social context” of gender and gender roles such that I view it in a sociological basis or something made by man. The ideas on gender and gender roles have been varied across cultures but intrinsically inherent in human beings. If this is so, why then can’t the same people accept that the varieties among gender roles is existent not only in the binary man-and-woman aspect but also among transgenders, homosexuals, transsexuals, or other categories in the gender continuum? Why is it that people often respond negatively, sometimes even leading to destruction, towards other gender classifications (besides being a man or a woman)? Society dictates that we should always conform to the norms to be accepted, ignoring the basic fact that as humans, we have personality as well as preferential differences. Before, I was apathetic about the concept of gender: all I knew was that there are men, women, and in-betweens. However, I would like to say that a better understanding of gender roles led me to the realization that sometimes, not living up to the normative social constructs could deepen one’s personal assessments – this is supported as “doing gender,” according to West and Zimmerman (1989).
We should go beyond the norms because the norms do not necessarily define righteousness, respect, or justice towards other people. What is important is that we realize what is fair and righteous among human beings, devoid of untoward approaches and beliefs. I personally think it won’t hurt to understand that there are so-called “personal differences” among humans.ReferenceWest, C. & Zimmerman, D.
H. (1987). Doing gender.
Gender and Society, 1 (2), 125-148.