How to Be an All-Inclusive Gender Thread


honestly I'm not that good at the nails yet, I think the above pic was mostly a fluke

My daughters say your hair looks awesome!

cool! tell 'em thanks

Had my second run at the appointment to get the all-clear for surgery today and it all went as well as expected, so things are getting really, real on that front, finally. (I don't have an exact date but the idea - hopefully - is to have it happen during my next summer break next year, which is a bit further on in time that normal but that way I'd have time to recover, my folks will be on holiday for support purposes, and it won't interfere with my degree / honours degree).

Which is cool! ...but also terrifying.

It's not even so much the thought of surgery (which, incidentally, would be my first EVER fact, my first ever hospital stay as an in-patient EVER) as much as it is that I'll have to travel literally to the other end of the country to get it (and by country I mean UK, not just Scotland...I think the only surgeon in the country that performs the surgery operates - literally - out of Brighton).

That's...a really stressful thought, if I'm honest. I have a hard enough time being away from places I'm comfortable in for extended day-trips, let alone after invasive, painful surgery. Yeesh.

Well...a problem to worry about next year, I guess.

Progress often feels scary.

sure does!

Best wishes to you on this stage of your journey. <3

Surgery is a big thing, gosh.

From my own experience... I don't think anyone can really be prepared for how challenging the first few days of recovery will be*. It's scary, it hurts, you feel helpless. I'd say that it's highly desirable to have someone by your side to support you.

But it's also manageable, even without someone staying nearby to help with things.

And that all passes and... yeah, things are kind of incredibly different, and they keep changing. My relationship to my body is still growing and changing now ten months out, and... wow. It was absolutely worth it for me.

(* Specifically: I had had surgery before (emergency gall bladder removal), and on top of that I had been with a friend for her bottom surgery just a month before my own, and I saw everything she went through and supported her and... the experience still took me by surprise!)

This does not relate to the specific surgery you are having, but when I was in the hospital for several surgeries on my VERY broken foot I found making sure I had headphones and music on my phone to be a great way to relax.

With all the pain meds I was on, and the general exhaustion, I found reading or even staring at a screen to watch a video to be a challenge. Laying back with my eyes closed listening to music was perfect. Enough to keep my mind off of how crappy I was feeling but not too much.

Thanks Hyp!

Kamakazi, I'm not much of a music person but I think some long-running light-ish podcasts without too much investment required would probably not go amiss!

CN: Bottom surgery recovery timeline details.


Podcasts would probably be good. I was all ready to go with some videos to watch and books to read and stuff but, well, for the first few days post-surgery in the hospital I was mostly not with-it enough even for those things. (Still, it's good to be prepared!)

So, I'd say podcasts are your best bet for the first few days (and you'll sleep through a bunch.) After that, you may find that you have enough focus for reading or watching videos. I would expect to spend a lot of time prone for at least three weeks after the surgery date. (I had a pretty solid recovery and could be very active, but after a couple of hours with an upright posture, gravity-induced swelling made things awfully painful and it was time to lie back down again.)

All of this is very Your Mileage May Vary. It seems pretty individual how difficult things are during the healing process.

I also don't know what timelines are like there for where you are for how long. For me, I had 3 days in the hospital, then they removed the dressing and drain. That was followed by a week convalescing at a friend's home near the hospital, then there was a follow-up appointment at the doctor's office to remove the packing and catheter. A couple of days after that I flew back across the U.S. (which was... "fun") and recovered for another 4 weeks or so at home, at which point I very much wanted to return to work (and did), even though my stamina was a bit limited.

The hospital stay was the "can't even focus enough to watch TV" level. The stay with a friend moved into "can read and watch shows, although not for long periods of time". Once I was home, I did a lot of reading and video watching, since other activities were a bit difficult due to the pain from being up and about for too long.

So it was both harder and easier than I expected.

yeah, I'm imagining the trip back home from the hospital will be interesting experience

Otherwise, thanks for the idea of the rough timeline involved, that's helpful. And I have PLENTY of backlog movies and shows to watch on Netflix alone, so I've totally got the watching videos part covered at least!

Like most of the pains and struggles involved, at least it's a one-time thing. For me it was a ~8 hour trip including ~6 hours in the air. We took first class on the return flight, because yeaaah. I hope you will have an easier time than that. :>

Arise thread??

I was wondering if someone direct me to something simple I can read up on about the difference between sex, sexuality and gender. I have to give a talk where those are three things (amongst a bunch of others) that are being looked at in order to ensure equitable representation. I don't know enough to know what I don't know, and I really, really don't want to screw this up.

My extremely basic knowledge is:

Sex - the sexual genitalia you were born with
Gender - What you identify as
Sexuality - the gender you are interested in.

I am unsure, if I am asked questions on gender, the proper language to use without saying something wrong or offensive.

Incoming wall of text! Hope there's something useful here for you.

The biggest divide here is between sexuality and sex/gender.

Being trans or non-binary (or both) or being a man or a woman (or neither, or both) doesn't have anything to do with who a person is sexually attracted to. There are plenty of gay, straight, bi, or people of other sexualities who are trans (just as there are plenty of those folks who are cis). There are plenty of gay men and plenty of gay women. And plenty of bisexual men and plenty of bisexual women. (And plenty of non-binary people who think all of those terms don't really suit them well at all, but are attracted to some, none, or all of the above.)

The divide between sex and gender is more... chancy. Trans people will often phrase things dividing those two concepts that way, but it's mostly a shorthand trying to get across to cis people who just don't seem to get it that "I am not what was decided about me when I was born".

There's been a push for quite a few years now to use terms like "I was assigned male at birth" rather than "my birth sex was male" or the like. Mainly, it's entirely too easy for people to decide that "sex is the thing that's actually important" or "sex is the real thing, and gender is just a social construct" if you do that.

The thing is... sex is just a social construct, too. People want it to be simple and break down into two categories, based on chromosomes, or genitalia, or the like... but it turns out there isn't actually any categorization like that that doesn't fall apart. Scientists are fine with this, because they know that biology is messy and complicated and all sorts of things happen. People who want to believe that they don't need anything more than the simplistic explanations their high school biology textbooks used... they tend to think it's simple and black and white.

Probably one of the easier ways to notice this is that people with visually ambiguous genitalia (which is only a subset of intersex people) have historically been shoved into either an M or an F category in the USA, often with unwanted surgical interventions (not just unasked for by the infants who can't choose, but sometimes not even mentioned to parents. D: ) So their assigned gender at birth has been caught up not just in what their genitals looked like when they were born, but their doctor's preconceptions about what that means and whether it should be "fixed" and how it should be "fixed". (And that is just all kinds of messed up on soooo many levels.)

As a result, it's far better to talk about the individual things that all relate to sex and gender, whether for health outcomes or the possibility of having children or what kind of life experiences they had growing up or, yes, how having sex works for them. (And each of these only in the situations where it even matters. No employer should have any need to know how I have sex.)

Because all of those categories have a really wide range of variation, no matter what a person's background.

(Like: A lot of trans women end up with a diagnosis code of "agenesis of the cervix" on their medical records. Why? So that medical systems will stop insisting that they need to get a pap smear done. No cervix, no pap smear. Easy. And that diagnosis code? Trans women aren't the reason it exists.)

So anyway, the division between "sex" and "gender" is sort of artificial, created defensively as people try to explain themselves to folks who just don't get it. And rather problematic because it's not actually a meaningful distinction.

Aside: Since you mentioned equitable representation, I'll explain why dividing based on AMAB (assigned male at birth) vs AFAB (assigned female at birth) can be chancy here, too. Despite not knowing the specific area of equity you're looking at, I'll kind of couch things in terms of employment because it's something I've thought a fair amount about.

One might be tempted to use these as stand-ins for certain structural sexism problems throughout education, employment, and other parts of life. But having a trans dude, for example, doesn't mean you don't need the input of cisgender women just because he's also AFAB.

The difficulty is this: For someone like me who became reasonably well established in their career while the world believed I was a man, there's definitely some systemic benefit I gained during that time. I wasn't discouraged from pursuing math or science as my sister was. I didn't face the same educational and employment hurdles as my women classmates.

But on the other side: Not all trans women transition as late in life as I did. Those who transitioned socially very early may have faced sex discrimination all through their lives. Those who transitioned in young adulthood may have faced discrimination on the basis of being trans and then later discrimination on the basis of being women. I myself haven't changed jobs since transition, and I'm kind of terrified that when I do I'm going to have a much harder time finding a new position, both because I'm transgender and because I'm a woman. (In fact, that fear all by itself is an instance of systemic inequity.) Recruiters might see the name "Katherine" and discount my experience due to that. Interviewers might be put off when they meet me and decide that I'm not a good "culture fit".

So, like I said, it's chancy to make too many assumptions. If you're looking for representation:

If you don't have anyone who isn't a straight white cisgender man in a given role, why not? What can you do to fix that? It probably won't be enough just to make sure you're not eliminating people just because they're in marginalized groups. You'll likely need to actively try to bring in people from different backgrounds. If you find a good candidate who's a transgender woman? Awesome. Now you should be asking yourself why you don't have any cisgender women or transgender men. And why is everybody still white? You hired a latino trans man? Awesome. Why don't you have any Black people, (since Blackness even within people of color is an exceptionally difficult category in the United States?) And why don't you have any cisgender women? And so on.

It's not about enforcing some sort of "we must have every possible representation or we're no good" rule. It's about "if we're missing people of some particular background, we ought to figure out why." Is it a systemic problem? Can we improve things? Should we stop advertising for "rock stars" because marginalized people tend to see that attitude as an indicator of toxic culture at the employer?

Annnnd this digression went on longer than I had planned. Oops. XD

On the other side, it's also important to remember that there are a lot of things we correlate with gender that don't actually all fit together at the same time. It's possible to be a butch lesbian trans woman. It's possible to be an incredibly dapper non-binary person (and non-binary covers a whole range of possibilities.)

Someone might prefer non-traditional pronouns or forms of address despite being cisgender or binary and transgender. For myself, I've long considered myself a woman, but settled a while ago on Mx. as a title, because none of Miss, Ms., or Mrs. really sits well with me. Lately, I think I may in fact have a wider non-binary streak than I previously thought, but I still haven't really worked out what that means.

Someone's body language, attitudes towards traditional gender roles, preferred style of dress, preferences on wearing makeup or not, interests, ways of interacting with other people, etc. etc. etc. All of these things are part of the package we think of as "gender" to varying degrees... and knowing somebody's gender/sex doesn't particularly tell you anything about any of those things.

Another shorter aside: In fact, it's worth remembering that the key court case establishing that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of sexual stereotypes, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, had to do with a cisgender woman who was discriminated against because she didn't act "feminine" enough, based on things like her body language, conversational style, and preference for not wearing makeup.

That decision is the foundation on which Federal anti-discrimination protections of non-straight and non-cisgender people are built, because all such discrimination is around assumptions of how someone should act based on their sex/gender.

And as is happening for me somewhat, someone's understanding of themselves may evolve over time.

So in the end, with all of this... it all comes down to treating people with respect. When they tell you their name, that's their name. When they tell you how to address them, that's how you address them. When computer systems or forms don't have room to say who they really are, it should be their preference on how to answer (rather than the assumption of someone entering information about them.)

Aside from Hypatian's excellent post you may also find something like the gender bread person useful. It's not perfect but it may help get one's mind into the mode that these are all separate spectrums and where any given individual falls on one does not tell you anything about where they fall on the others while also presenting that none of them are binary, not even "biological sex".

Thank you. I didn't download the PDF you linked because I bristled at the logging of my PII, but I like that this is on YouTube. Will definitely watch.

That video is great. Thank you for posting.

I think the problem that some cis people like me have is that I am so worried about offending someone that I default to just not saying anything. After that, I then stress out that the person took my silence as derision or worse when the complete opposite is true.