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Is the concept of gender fluidity detrimental to Trans* individuals?

Disclaimer: Travis Edwards is a Cis heterosexual Male, and this article does not reflect his opinions but to serve as a think piece. No offense was intended and sincere apologies if anyone does feel harm by the content of this article.


The everyday college woman or female-bodied person has probably, in recent, concerned themselves with talks of gender. It’s fluidity, how people identify, etc… gender has been a hot topic as of late, with a multitude of feminists now understanding gender identity, but more so gender fluidity. Understanding that gender is fluid means understanding that gender, as a concept, does not exist in our physical world and that it is socially, and culturally constructed.

Our conceptions of masculinity and femininity are seen in the context of our environments, and social histories. This is to say that having a gender does not make sense in a grand scheme of things since “masculine” tropes can be associated with “girls” and vice versa. Feminists have honed in on this knowledge of gender being nonexistent (although its implications are real such as sexism, and homophobia) and this has been one of the arguments for trans identity. It could be said though, that the rhetoric of gender being nonexistent possibly harms trans individuals. How can this be though? Feminists recognize that the trans identity is valid because of the aforementioned ideas on gender fluidity, but since gender is fluid and technically does not exist, then how does one become trans nonexistent?

There are trans people who tend to work very hard to match up with the generalized ideals of the masculine and the feminine. Of course, not all trans people attempt this, but the trans people that do risk all kinds of verbal abuse, being ostracized, and sometimes physical abuse. It could be said that the establishment of a strict gender identity is important to the trans community. Trans people will tell you that, usually at a young age, that their assigned gender feels wrong, and that they have an innate feeling that their gender is supposed to be something else. These feelings are valid and supported by the APA (American Psychological Association). There is usually never an intent to harm the trans community by those who believe in the fluidity of gender, but the establishment of a strict gender identity is one that some trans people can find comfort in. If masculinity is beards, six-pack abs, aggressiveness, guns, and beer then there is a goal to be obtained. If femininity is skirts, make-up, meekness, passiveness, soft features, and wine then there is ideal to be achieved. If rhetoric over the years is to be put out that these things define neither man nor woman or anything, then some trans individuals could face an issue.

It could be universally agreed (although reluctantly) that no human exhibits 100% masculinity or femininity, and that we have a mixture of both of these concepts to varying degrees. Does expression of these culturally constructed concepts have a place in our society, or exist to only perpetuate existing stigmas associated with them; such as the idea that being masculine means non-emotive responses to tragedy or despair, or that being feminine means you are inherently weaker, or passive. We could also say that having these cultural ideas keeps our society structured, and is a means of validating the identity and feelings of some trans individuals and their struggle. Can we treat those associated with femininity equal to those associated with masculinity should we keep these ideas? That is for us as a society to decide in the future.


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Travis Edwards was born in Tampa, Florida but has lived most of his life in the Metro Atlanta area. Travis is junior anthropology major and French language minor, whose interests include studying gender and sexuality, guitars, progressive rock/metal and jazz, videogames, feminism, and existentialism. Travis plans to become a university professor in Anthropology and Queer theory. Travis is vice president of Sociology club, Treasurer of Anthropology club, a current writer for hercampus, a former writer for The Odyssey, and is a post modern feminist, marxist, anti racist, progressive, queer supporting, cis African American male.
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