“Nature loves diversity and it’s human beings who have an awful time with it” ~ Diagnosing Difference
Today’s documentary, Diagnosing Difference, highlighted the various subtle stigmas that are overlooked by society in the discourse surrounding the transsexual question. Like many other societal problems that are so often defined by their huge, general and overarching stereotypes, the problems associated with transgender people are no different. We try to categorize them based on their outward appearance or we assume that they want to be in either binary category. Neither of these strategies or tendencies will be fruitful in improving the social conditions and cultural environment of transgender issues. Today’s class focused on medical care and the steps taken by the medical community to define transgender no longer as a mental disorder but as a less stigmatized condition. We need to find an outlet in order for everyone to have affordable and available access to any resources they may need.
However, I think an interesting issue to look at—that was also addressed in the documentary—is the question of the binary gender categorization. Why should choosing a bathroom in a public park by the source of an existential crisis for anybody? Merely looking at the stick figures often depicted on the door: a skirt means the girl and the legs mean the boy raise a red flag when observed by a critical eye. However, in answering my big question I need to highlight a paradox. As somebody who identifies as a woman, I personally feel uncomfortable with the idea of going into a bathroom marked for men. Walking down the street I feel objectified almost every single day, and there is no way I will put myself alone with a male stranger in a secluded area. Therefore, in order to protect my own sexual comfort I do not agree with the idea of a unisex bathroom. My unpopular opinion renders an unpopular compromise; three bathrooms are perhaps necessary as a potential solution. Yet, therein lies another contradiction. We have thus created three categories: the men’s room, the ladies room, and the arbitrary unisex or gender-neutral room. I wonder if this has the potential to become another binary with which we measure our identities.
Moreover, this problem can be connected back to the college experience and the recent discussions about sexual abuse in college. More specifically cat calling and the question of men treating women. Many colleges are debating incorporating hours at the gym that are strictly female. Personally, I would be extremely pro this; however, of course we must then beg the question who are we excluding? Who are we punishing?