Removing the Glasses

root - Posted on 22 October 2009

A Gender, Poverty and Disability Scholar Breaks it Down!

by Jennalynn Jazzmyn Stevens/PNN Gender, Poverty and Disability Scholar

I am a Gender, Poverty and Disability Scholar who has dealt with houselessness, discrimination, family rejection, and system abuse. I am a MtF Transgender Lesbian that has never been sexually active, but knows that I am attracted to women. In this column I will be talking about other misconceptions and discrimination that the Gender Variant Community faces. The issues I will be talking about are magnified even more by the fact that many of our community are low-income and in other situations of discrimination. I want to address well-thought out questions and concerns that you might have. You can e-mail them to

What defines a man as a man and a woman as a woman? Is it that women like men and men like women? It is like saying that it is mandatory that cats eat mice. This is one of many misconceptions that a transgender has to deal with.

I come to you out of a desire to inform and educate you on this widely misunderstood concept. It is said, The truth will set you free. I think we need to examine this phrase a little better. When we look at the truth we are often guilty of looking at it through tinted glasses. Most of the time we don't realize it. When we want the truth to set us free, we first need to take off the glasses. This Column is about removing the glasses about transgenders. Now I will talk about misperceptions about the trans community.

First, I will talk to you about the confusion between sex and gender. Gender has nothing to do with sex or sexual orientation. Many people define gender as male and female. They make this determination by physical attributes. There are many problems with this; the biggest one is that there are individuals born with anatomy that is not one or the other. Another complication is that our social structure puts expectations on females and males. Many people have thought processes that do not fit within these limits. These people are Transgender or Gender Variant. Gender Variant people fit into many different groups. The important thing to know right now is that they identify as something other than what they were assigned at birth by society. It is also important to know that there are various different types of Gender. There are Genetic Male, Genetic Female, Cross Dressers, Drag Queens/Kings, FtM's (Female to Male) and MtF's (Male to Female) Transgender {Transsexual} (someone who wishes to completely become a gender other than what they were born), Inter-Gendered {Inter-Sexed} (someone who has natural physical attributes of both), Gender Queer (someone who identifies as no specific gender), and even others I do not know about.

I realize that one definition of sex is synonymous with gender. For the sake of this column sex is about what we do in bed besides sleeping. Sexual orientation describes whom we can see ourselves having sex with. Many people think that because we were born one gender and identify as the other we therefore are attracted to our birth gender. This is not true. The Gender Variant Community has sexual orientations as variant as they are, just like the Gender Normative Community. In both communities there are a whole bunch of options when it comes to sexual orientation. Some of these orientations are heterosexual, homosexual (gay male and lesbian), bi-sexual and asexual (a person that is simply not into sex). There is another sexual orientation that needs some explaining, that would be pansexual. A pansexual is someone that realizes that there are many genders and is open to a sexual relationship with any of them. A person does not need to be sexually active to know what kind of person they are attracted to, in other words their sexual orientation. If you accept that anyone has the right to be attracted to whom they are attracted to, then should that not include everyone? And remember everyone knows what is right and wrong from childhood, and you cannot help what mental gender you are or who you are attracted to.

I hope that this column has helped remove the glasses and clear your perception on the definition of Gender and Sexual Orientation.


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