Hello to you in Gibraltar, Burkina Faso, or wherever you may be.

I’ve been keeping track of what countries my blog visitors come from, and was surprised (and excited!) to find that there are people reading this in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, and Burkina Faso.

If you’re from a far-flung locale, particularly if you’re from outside of English-speaking countries, I’d love to hear about how gender and gendering works where you’re from.  People outside of a “gender binary” exist everywhere, and the varieties of gender-nonconforming people depend largely on what available gender roles exist in society and what the consequences are of operating outside those roles.  Please feel free to leave a comment about gender non-conformity where you’re from, including any information about who is allowed to step outside gender roles–for instance, many societies have accepted third-gender positions for males who adopt some aspects of a female’s societal role, but lack a similar position for females wishing to adopt male social roles.

Welcome to the blog, folks from sixty nations(!), and please keep reading–there’ll be plenty more where this came from.

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4 thoughts on “Hello to you in Gibraltar, Burkina Faso, or wherever you may be.

  1. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, terrific blog!

  2. I’m from Brazil. Can I say something here? In common, pre-american/liberal brazilian culture, there was this very obvious thing: if you’re homosexual, you’re actually “a wo/man inside”. Like if you’re a lesbian, you can only be butch, and therefore you’re actually a man or want to be a man. My own mother asked me this when I said I was dating a girl from school – “do you think you’re a boy? do you want to be a boy?”. Working-class butch lesbians constantly call themselves men and more than often acquire some kind of macho behaviour, trying to emulate men in even the worst ways. It’s more than common to have a butch and femme couple in lesbian Brazil so they emulate heterosexual couples and to protect themselves. So this confusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” leads liberals to think butch lesbians are actually transmen. Some years ago a mentally ill butch lesbian tried to get to our president Dilma to “marry her”, because they were meant to be husband & wife, etc. To someone that lives in the suburbs and isn’t high-middle-class, it was the most normal thing in the world: a butch lesbian that presents as a man to be accepted. But the most liberalized classes thought it was actually a transman and were hating on everyone that referred to the woman in question as a woman.

    To men it’s a very different thing. It still follows the “if you’re homosexual then you’re actually the opposite sex on the inside” but it takes a whole new level with travestis. Travestis are mainly very effeminate gay men that dress and present as women but don’t feel dysphoria. A lot of travestis refer to themselves as gay men or “almost-women” and are accepted as socially women. Some live as travestis 100% of the time, some present as men (but with long nails, done eyebrows, cool haircuts etc) by the day to work and change to women’s clothing at night, when they’re off their work. As of gay men, a lot of travestis work as hairdressers and culturally “gay men’s” jobs. The problem is that a lot of travestis are forced to go into prostitution because there’s a huge demand for them and the “gay men’s” jobs don’t pay too much if you’re not educated, with higher education, are white (most travestis are ethnic brazilian) etc. A lot of “straight” men want travestis because they would be actually gay or bi, but in brazilian macho culture it’s preferrable to buy a travesti’s body — as long as he passes as a woman — than to come out, lose wife, kids, job, face discrimination, face self-hatred, etc. Travestis aren’t transwomen – they don’t feel dysphoria and their social role is very different from transwomen’s – but with the liberalization of Brazilian culture travestis are accepting the trans* narrative and turning to it, so they’re not effeminate gay men or “almost-women”, but women on the inside etc, so a lot of travestis now talk and enforce preferred pronouns (calling an effeminate gay man a “she” in brazilian culture is very common and expected, but that doesn’t mean brazilians think that gay man is female. it’s that his social role is akin to a woman’s. so the pronoun to travestis and butch lesbians talk more about of social roles than to biological reality and identity).

    I doubt a travesti would ever want to go into a woman’s bathroom to affirm himself as a female anyway.

    When Brazilian politics became more and more liberalized, people – mostly white, higher-middle-class, from big cities – became invested on it. So we have Laerte for example, a 60-year-old dude that started dressing as a woman 3 years ago and feels entitled to entering women’s bathrooms. And so it’s changing from the top to the bottom and working-class culture is ignored.

    • This is such an interesting comment–thank you for this perspective! I really do feel like the current idea of trans as it’s represented in most academic articles is incredibly anglo-centric. The idea seems to be that the way trans* people identify here is their true identity, and that the ways gender non-conformers in other places or times have identified isn’t important–after all, the colonialist thinking goes, those cultures just need to be brought around to the right way of thinking and then their people will be free to believe exactly what we do!

      In Brazil, in the south Pacific, in India, in Thailand–in so many places in the world, there are gender non-conformers who do things differently, who say their experience is different from the experience that is the accepted narrative here. They get swept under the rug or considered too ignorant or too oppressed to understand their own gender identity by people who want to advance the “born this way” narrative.

      • Yeah. Once I saw something that was like an event for transwomen only, but they said “if you identify as a transwoman or a hijra or a travesti please come” when Hijra and Travesti aren’t the Indian and Brazilian version of transwoman, it’s a different concept. Colonialist thinking has been doing a lot of things in brazilian feminist/LGBT culture. For example, here we usually use the term “LGBT”, “GLBT” (older ones use GLS – Gays, Lesbians and Sympathizers). I’ve been seeing more of the term “LGBTTT” – Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transexuals, Transgenders and Travestis, when before the “Transgender” part didn’t even exist and “Transexuals” and “Travestis” were lumped together. Now I even see “queer” being used – but “Queer” is an english word, a slur that hasn’t been appropriated 100% even, and they’re using it here, where most of the population a) Doesn’t speak english b) Doesn’t knows what “Queer” means anyway. So when a working-class gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual or travesti sees a book named “Queer Literature”, they’re not going to think anything of it, it’ll only catch attention from educated, cosmopolitan people.

        It’s like that, either their experiences are ignored or they’re used as fuel to queer theory — look at this beautiful travesti, this means transwomen exist in other cultures too, this means they’re legit, this means identity is legit — when really, no one in Brazil would accept a male that looks and acts masculine to be a woman or to be female-identified because “it’s his identity”. It’s a matter of looking or acting “womanly” or “manly” but no one actually doubts your biological sex, they just doubt the social role you’re supposed to be filling. Of course, that tends to be used as homophobic mocking against travestis and it sucks.

        Anyway, I’ll drop here two videos of working-class travestis just to illustrate, it’s better than talking. 🙂 One is Grace Kelly, she’s saying she loves Rihanna’s attitude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzQIcrgDXHw. And this is Laila Dominique, she cleans houses and sells snacks too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=-Lu14qMTvAs I hope you like them. I also hope straight and gender-conforming people (esp. men) will stop making fun of them with gay stereotypes.

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