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Is "Are you a boy or a girl?" really about genitals?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Hats, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Hats

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    I see this view in the trans community (at least on YouTube) that if people ask, “Are you a boy or a girl?” what they’re really asking is the creepy question, “What genitals do you have?” Is this really true, though? To me the question means, “Which social scripts should I run with this person?” I don’t really see how the genitals argument could be justified. Am I missing something?
     
  2. Najlen

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    I think that for a lot of trans people, being asked that feels invasive. I don't really mind it because people have been doing it to me for ages and it's usually little kids who ask. The few people who've asked who weren't were doing it because they didn't want to offend me by using the wrong pronouns. So in some, or maybe most cases, I would say that you're right and it's a social thing. But there are some people who are asking about genitals, either because they don't believe that trans people are really the gender they identify as, or because they are confused and they don't realize that it can be offensive. (Or they do realize and just don't care.) Like, if someone asked me 'are you a boy or a girl' and I said a boy and then they kept picking at it (which does happen to some people) that wouldn't be them asking for a social reason like pronouns. I think this probably happens the most to people who present androgynously and/or use neutral pronouns.
     
  3. DoriaN

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    It's not, except for very rare cases where a person is being subversive. Some people are really androgynous so it's hard to tell, people automatically associate a person to one of the two genders in their mind, so if there's a discontinuity curiosity then begs the question in order to put the mind at ease.
    Regardless of training we instantly categorize people, so if there's an anomaly people naturally want to end that discomfort and the most straightforward way to learn is to ask.

    If a person gets asked, they are either truly androgynous, or trans and not conveying their gender strongly.
     
  4. Lazuri

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    One thing I never understood is how when people speak to a transperson, they suddenly feel it's acceptable to ask about their genitals. Usually when people do that to me, I just ask back "what about you? You sporting a dongle or a honey cave?" just so they hear how fucking ridiculous they are asking such a thing. If they point out that I'm weird, I just say something like "oh, I'm sorry. I thought we were exchanging genital information since you brought it up."
     
  5. Assassin'sKat

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    I feel like a young kid would most likely be the one asking this question. I imagine a young kid walking up to a rather androgynous-looking person, and asking, "Are you a boy or a girl?" because they want to know how to react to them. In which case, no, they don't give a damn about genitals. But if you, for example, say you are a girl, and then act like a boy(I don't really know what that would mean, but you might give off a certain vibe or something), that would probably confuse them.
     
  6. Worker Bee

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    It sucks that people ask that and even worse that they think it's OK. I've had someone just talk to me so they could hear my voice and make the assumption.

    Unfortunately my outward appearance will never match my identity. I long for a world where everyone is sensitive and empathetic towards other people's feelings.

    There are so many judgements made about gender and sexuality when that is just a part of the whole that makes up each individual.
     
  7. KipperTheDeer

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    I think there are slight differences in the question depending on how informed or accepting a person is. For example, when I think about wondering whether someone is a boy or a girl (or other) I do wonder so that I am able to be accepting to which types of social scripts they typically prefer. Although there may be people who wonder this who are not trans or LGBT, due to their potential lack of awareness, it's less of "what does this person prefer" and more so "what is correct for me to say". I think this is because a lot of our views on gender are still very much not centered around the person we're referring to and are more centered around what is "correct language" for the person who is speaking. And often yes this does get reduced to genitals because many people simply don't acknowledge trans people and have therefore taught themselves that "to avoid being shunned socially myself, I must teach myself to quickly identify secondary sex characteristics so that I may be able to assume someone's primary sex so that I know how to correctly socially identify them in case we end up interacting."
    Also, LGBT people have adjusted the language of this question to be accepting of everyone's feelings rather than going by a strict gender binary code-- "what pronouns do you prefer?" Versus "are you a boy or a girl?"

    As for AssassinKat's comment about children, I believe that is accurate though because children still often view themselves overall as learners. When they are unsure of something, they typically don't question why and simply ask to listen and learn and accept so that they may catalogue this information to use later for their development. However, as adults, be typically grow beyond this stage and start making correlations and assumptions to just go by social rules-- we realize "all people I call "he" typically are born with male genitalia, therefore if I see someone who I believe has been born with male genitalia based on their secondary characteristics, it's safe for me to assume that they go by "he" so that I don't look like an idiot."

    SO, then when trans and nonbinary people talk about getting in arguments or confused conversation with someone who insists they are a certain gender, it's because that person feels threatened, as thought they can no longer trust the instincts they spent years learning, and cannot believe how their own logic has failed them and made them look stupid, so they get defensive.
     
  8. darkcomesoon

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    Yeah, I don't think it's about genitals at all. It's generally just curiosity about your social role. The only real issue is when they say, "but what gender are you really?" or "what gender were you born as?" because basically either a) "what's in your pants?" or b) "can you tell me the details of your personal history because I feel entitled to know if you're trans or not" and those are both unpleasant.
     
  9. Kodo

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    I agree with Jesse.

    I think it largely depends on who is asking, and what the context is. If someone asked I'd take it as an opportunity to tell them, "I'm a boy and my name is Alec. What is your name?" It is always better, I think, to respond politely to people. Respect is a two-way street. If someone persists with invasive questions or is being rude, I would leave the conversation. Most of the time though, strangers are well-meaning and, albeit curious, fairly peaceful. I think it would be rather absurd for a complete stranger to disagree with someone's answer to the question.
     
  10. Casey221B

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    I would say that the people who do this are saying that the gender you were assigned at birth is your real gender. So no matter what your gender actually is, they think that your genitals define your gender.
     
  11. Sebby45

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    Which would be the binary gender system. Those who believe in that system cannot conceive of a "third" option where people are psychologically misgendered, or even the variety of nonbinary categories.

    Because technically, being trans is not going against the binary system. You still strongly identify as a man or a woman, right? You were just not put in the right body.

    And gender roles can be argued, but leave that for another post. This is just a summary of a technicality that seems to be overlooked.

    Sebby45
     
  12. anthracite

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    I don't get it at all. I mean technically it's asking for genitals. Or an awkward way to ask for pronouns.

    But the debating is idiotic from some people's side. They're actually talking about chromosomes. Sick thing is, you can be a guy with XX and not be trans. Then they say it's genitals. Can't even get the definition straight.
     
  13. Daydreamer1

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    For me, even if the person has good intentions with asking, it usually ends with them wanting to know if I'm "really" a guy or not with what's in my pants. It's not all the time, but more often than it should be. It's kind of like the hot gossip on the block, and it's weird.

    If someone explicitly asks about chromosomes, then it's like...well, how do you even know? It goes beyond XX and XY, and that's something I think most people forget or just don't know about (how people can have XXY or even X to give a short example).
     
  14. Jiramanau

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    i think that it's as much about how you answer as what exactly they're asking. If you give more than a one word answer, you're going to confuse the hell out of most cis people. I'd just respond with my preferred gender and see how it plays out.
     
  15. Aberrance

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    I agree with this. If someone who knows I'm trans then goes on to ask if I'm a boy or a girl then I think they're asking what you were born as e.g. what's in your pants