Monday, April 4, 2011

Gender Identity by Amanda

This week in class we discussed gender and gender identities. During his presentation on gender identities and sexual orientations our guest speaker asked a very intriguing question to the class: what is it about yourself that makes you feel like a girl/boy? I had never thought about what it was about me that made me feel like a girl, I have always just known I was a girl. As a child I had a lot of "boyish" qualities. These qualities were often a topic of conversation between my parents and my friends, but no one ever treated them as something that needed ot be changed. Even thought I was never a very "girly" child I always felt like I was a girl. Since the speaker's presentation I have been trying to think of what it is that makes me know my gender identity is girl, but I still cannot pinpoint what about myself makes me know that my sex and gender identity match. Our speaker reitereated a point we have been discussing all semester: when you are a part of a majority, you do not have to think about the identities that make you a majority. This has made me want to learn more about people who are minorities because of their gender identity. According to Flavio Francisco Marsiglia and Stephen Kulis "transgender describes a growing array of people whose gender identity does not fit into a simple binary system in which genitalia dictate a clear turn down one of only two identity paths" (2009, p. 151). The term transgender has become a widely used word to describe many different types of people who live outside of culturally "normal" gender roles. Transgender individuals are often subject to ridicule, stereotypes, and in extreme cases are the victims of physical violence. Living as a transgender individual can cause many barriers for people to overcome; the first of these barriers is an individuals' need to come to terms with his/her own gender identity (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2009). For many transgender individuals their battle to accept their own identity begins during childhood. Some children are lucky and have parents who accpet their nonconforming gender identites, but many are not so lucky. Some transgender children are met with families, and the rest of society, who try to force their gender to match their sex. This can cause children to respond with symptoms of depression, fear, anger, anxiety, self-mutilation, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts (Mallon & DeCresenzo, 2006). These symptoms are often viewd as more of a reason to "fix" the transgender child by forcing them to conform to society's gender roles. In reality these symptoms are the result of living in a hostile environment where children are not allowed to be themselves (Mallon & DeCresenzo, 2006). Learning these barriers has made me so grateful that I have never had to deal with the pain of developing a gender identity thatwas different from my biological sex. Learning these barriers has also brought to my attention the necessity of social workers to be sensitive toward and knowledgeable about their transgender clients. When working with a transgender child, social workers need to work on strengthening the parent-child relationship. It is extremely important for parents to be accepting of their child's identity, or at the very least be willing to make compromises that allow their child to express his/her own identity. It is also necessary to keep lines of communication between child and parents open because every child needs to feel loved and accepted. It is alos important for a social worker to find therapy for transgender children that focuses on treating the symptoms discussed above, as opposed to therapy that focuses on changing children's identities. Social workers can also help children deal with the stigma they face in their communities. As social workers we need to everything possible to help our transgender children and adult transgender clients (Mallon & DeCresenzo, 2006). Sources: Marsiglia, F. & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, Oppression, and Change. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books Inc. Mallon, G. & DeCresenzo, T. (2006). Transgender Children and Youth: A Child Welfare Practive Perspective. Child Welfare, 85, 215-241.

1 comment:

  1. I’m glad we had a speaker to talk about gender identity. Everything he talked about made sense to me. I felt ignorant not knowing the real definition of a transgender person. I learned many things that I didn’t know. I liked how you mentioned some of the barriers transgender have to overcome such as live with the fear of not being accepted by society or even family members.
    In Mexico where I lived being gay or lesbian is not accepted. I haven’t met a person who is gay or transgender in my town. Though I think this is because the location where I come from is a very small town/pueblo where people have their own farms for a living. I think that overall, all over Mexico this is becoming more accepted as in Mexico City there is a law that allows gay marriage. I’m happy for this because I think everyone deserves to marry the person they are in love with.