More Than Two Genders: Negotiating Gender in the Ultimate Gender Binary

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Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Sheila Nelson, Sociology


In an editorial entitled, "Expanding the GLBT tent," an African American transsexual female-to-male man points out the necessity for homosexual and heterosexual people alike to come to terms with the last letter in the "so-called GLBT alphabet soup." (Jackson, N., Expanding the GLBT Tent, The Gay Lesbian Review Worldwide, 11(3), 4) Indeed, it is time to recognize the forgotten 'T'. In this paper, I intend to develop an understanding of transgendered and transsexual identity. I will assemble a base of knowledge on the subject as it is understood by scientists and social scientists and as it is understood by those who are transgendered. Through a review of books and journal articles, as well as interviews with three transgendered/transsexual people, I will begin to explore the forgotten 'T', clarifying societal misconceptions about transgender and transsexual individuals. I will also argue that it is our dichotomous gender system that primarily causes identity struggles for transgendered individuals, and I will examine the uniquely dichotomous gender system at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University.