Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

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Forest Goose
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Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:53 am UTC

This is not a topic I am deeply educated in (not even one I understand well), so while this question is in earnest, I apologize if any of my wording/terms are poorly chosen (if so, please notify me, I will reword what I am asking).

That said:

Despite spending some time thinking about this, I cannot think of any time when I have ever felt that I was internally a specific gender or sexuality - so what do those terms capture about me in a non-physical non-directly-definitional sense? If nothing, then why do so many people seem to so strongly care about any of it? If yes, then what is it?

Since I feel very unclear in what I'm trying to ask, here's a more basic, simplified variant: what differentiates "being tall" from "being a woman" and what differentiates "liking orange soda" from "being straight" (in terms of the nature of the trait not the social significance we have attached to it, as in, "liking orange soda" does not appear to actually be something meaningful about me, the person, whereas, "passionately studies mathematics and finds deep satisfaction in it" does seem to about me, the person)? Is there supposed to be something about the person in it?

Hopefully, that makes some sort of sense.

*And, while I don't know a lot of the academics of the subject, I'm not limited and sheltered in my experiences, despite that, I've never felt any different as a result of any of them - they're all just things that I happen to do, or so it feels, at least.

**Again, I'm not trying to sneak in some sort of back door argument, I, quite literally, am not sure if there is supposed to be some sort of internal sense of these things that make up who we are - and if there is, I really have no idea what that sense is. (I sometimes feel like an alien trying to puzzle stuff out, so please bear that in mind - I realize this is a sensitive topic and I feel like I may be saying something inappropriate, but I'm really curious and can't seem to work this out on my own).
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leady
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:44 am UTC

I think people would argue that so long as you match societal expectations then your normality is unnoticeable to yourself, which I guess is the same reason that a white man in western Europe is impossible to understand why racial slurs are so powerful.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby elasto » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:07 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:Despite spending some time thinking about this, I cannot think of any time when I have ever felt that I was internally a specific gender or sexuality - so what do those terms capture about me in a non-physical non-directly-definitional sense?


As leady says, I think when you are cisgendered (as I am also) you don't really feel much of anything. It's only when there is a mismatch that it smacks you in the face; In the other thread I gave the example when I was ~10 of a visitor to the door saying 'hello miss, are your parents in?' which was hugely jarring.

Perhaps a good metaphor would be gravity: When you're in freefall (cisgendered) you feel nothing at all; Gravity might as well not exist. But when you hit the ground (misidentified by others) you know it exists!

On a related note, Louis Theroux produced another of his amazing documentaries for the BBC last week. He really has gone from freak-show-guide to treating topics noone else does with huge depth, insight and sensitivity. He's done one on convicted paedophiles, one on guilty-by-reason-of-insanity and now one on transgendered kids.

I'd recommend that anyone interested in the topic find a way to watch it.

One quote is particularly insightful: A therapist says of how one mum reported how her son aged two when praised with 'what a good boy!' would reply 'girl, mom, I'm a good girl!'

@Forest Goose: As I say, when you're cis like you and I we have no sense of gender; we're in 'freefall'. But that two-year-old has an extremely strong sense - because it doesn't match!

(That's gender anyhow.

For sexuality, as a heterosexual I feel my sense of sexuality quite strongly: Every time I see a pretty lady in fact! If you're not really aware of distinct sexual feelings when looking at either a man or a woman, perhaps you're borderline asexual, bisexual or pansexual or something?)

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Forest Goose
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:25 am UTC

I don't match such societal expectations, though, and I still have no experience of feeling any specific sexuality/gender beyond, "I am doing activity that could be so classified", it certainly doesn't seem like I'm doing that thing because of some aspect of myself. In any event, that seems to be making them purely social, are you perceiving "Being X" or "Society doesn't consider being X as a normal thing to be". If the former, wouldn't there be an expectation to have a sense of that normalcy, rather than a lack thereof?

If I'm deciding to have sex with Marvin on a regular basis, I'm doing so because Marvin is good in bed and attractive to me - I'm not doing it because I'm X-sexual, saying I'm X-sexual doesn't really seem to be more than an indicator of a rather broad category of people I'm not, supposedly, adverse to having sex with (I may still not have sex with Matt, maybe Matt isn't very fun at all). I get the impression that there is something more to it than this, but is this "something more" social or something else?

@Elasto: Do you feel this sense of heterosexuality when looking at every woman? What exactly constitutes "transgender" or "cis", by the way? I've never particularly felt straight/gay/bi/pan nor cis/trans/etc. Where exactly does the distinction fall?

As for sexuality, your remark seems odd to me, I never said I don't feel sexual attraction, I said that I've never felt some specific sexuality - those are not the same statements at all. When I notice a guy has a nice ass and feel aroused, I don't feel "straight and confused", I don't feel "Bi", I don't feel "Gay", I feel "What a nice ass, that's arousing, I want to be physical with that man". The same spiel for a woman.

*I don't doubt that what constitutes a nice enough ass to feel aroused might vary, but it doesn't seem to be a matter of the gender of said ass.
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Chen » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:06 pm UTC

Dysphoria which can be experienced by trans people is one thing. I presume many people would be describing that dysphoria when they say they "feel" trans. Basically your gender not matching your body's sex. I'm not sure if you'd get any feeling towards your sexual orientation though. I don't "feel" heterosexual. As a man I am attracted to women. I would imagine if I were gay, the feeling would be similar but towards men. But that's the feeling of attraction. Not being gay I can't say for certain, but I don't imagine there's some inherent feeling of being gay, outside of who you're attracted to.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:04 pm UTC

Thank you, that's very helpful. I've hear people talk about being "gay", "straight", etc. as if it were more than a rough notion of attraction, I've never really had any first hand understanding of what that might possibly seem like - I can, certainly, understand how people would feel because of the social/cultural views held about sexuality, but I occasionally have gotten the impression that was some sort of "experience" of one's sexuality that was not, simply, a matter of attraction.

As pertains to gender, I've always had a lot of confusion over when people talk about feeling "manly" or "womanly", or however people phrase these thing, in that I've never felt either of those (aside from a physical awareness of my sex organs). I always assumed it had something to do with cultural notions, but, again, people seem to be talking about some first person sense/experience (if that makes sense, I have a really hard time with the inherent fuzziness of this...).

I'd be curious as to what that sense of dysphoria your are describing feels like - is it a sense of one's biological sex not being correct or a feeling of being a different gender than what the sex of your body indicates? I realize those are very similar, but the first doesn't entail that same "experience" of a specific gender (you can think something blue should not be blue and, then, paint it red - but that is different than thinking it should be red instead of blue; not, obviously, anywhere near an exact analogy for gender).
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:46 pm UTC

You look in the mirror and you are short and fat. You maintain a representation of you in your mind. It places you in the world. Now consider that the idea that you might have a representation in your mind that contradicts what you see when you look in the mirror. Suppose all mirrors show you as short and fat but your mind tells you you are tall and slender. And if that image were a part of your mind you might duck when confronted by low headroom doors, even though you are short, and get stuck in narrow doors because you are fat and your mind tells you that you aren't. Now suppose that no matter how hard you try you can't change that image? This is how I picture gender dysphoria. You should know that in the interest of full disclosure that I am given to be insensitive in these matters, here.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Derek » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:58 pm UTC

Slate Star Codex talked about the idea of "cis by default" awhile ago here, the original idea coming from here. To summarize from the latter link:

I think that some people don’t have that subjective internal sense of themselves as being a particular gender. There’s no part of their brain that says “I’m a guy!”, they just look around and people are calling them “he” and they go with the flow. They’re cis by default, not out of a match between their gender identity and their assigned gender.


This makes a lot of sense to me. I'm a guy and I mostly like guy things, but it doesn't feel like an essential part of my identity. I would say my hobbies and interests are much more significant to my identity. If I woke up in a woman's body tomorrow I don't feel like I would have an identity crisis (hell, the first thing I would do is experiment). And if there were a magical easy, painless, and reversible gender swapping machine, I would definitely give it a try for at least a day. Of course, this is a purely hypothetical though experiment. If it actually happened maybe I really would be revolted by the experience, but until that magical gender swapping machine is invented we can't really know.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

The bit I struggle with though (and bear with me here, this is hard to phrase), is that my gut instinct is that even if I felt like a woman, that I would still conform rather than jumping to the extreme of feminine identifiers so I think there is some more than the social aspect to acceptance. But who could know?

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby DR6 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

Derek wrote:Slate Star Codex talked about the idea of "cis by default" awhile ago here, the original idea coming from here. To summarize from the latter link:

This makes a lot of sense to me. I'm a guy and I mostly like guy things, but it doesn't feel like an essential part of my identity. I would say my hobbies and interests are much more significant to my identity. If I woke up in a woman's body tomorrow I don't feel like I would have an identity crisis (hell, the first thing I would do is experiment). And if there were a magical easy, painless, and reversible gender swapping machine, I would definitely give it a try for at least a day. Of course, this is a purely hypothetical though experiment. If it actually happened maybe I really would be revolted by the experience, but until that magical gender swapping machine is invented we can't really know.


What I don't like about that theory is that nearly all cis people seem to be "cis by default": the vast majority of people, as it appears to me(maybe I'm wrong), claim to feel what you feel. Only few say "if I woke up as someone of the other sex tomorrow, I'd definitely feel gender dysphoria". This means that, according to that theory, for some reason the vast majority of people with strong gender identities are trans. Star Slate Codex already outlines the second theory in the post: maybe all people have gender identities, but it's so intuitive that you can't notice it at all unless there's a mismatch, and thought experiments wouldn't help. (Of course, those two possibilities span an infinite breadth of other possibilites, which incorporate, combine and elaborate on elements on both.)

Eliezer Yudowsky exposed a variant on the comments that may help:

The Great Friendly Thing comes to you and says, “You know, on net, Earth will probably be better off with a higher female-to-male ratio. It’s not *vital* that you switch or anything, but if it was just as okay with you, I’d rather swap you. But please don’t feel obligated – it wouldn’t be a net good if you were actually unhappy with the decision, it’s not worth you feeling uncomfortable about saying yes.” What do you say?


Although I don't actually believe thought experiments prove much.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:14 pm UTC

DR6 wrote:What I don't like about that theory is that nearly all cis people seem to be "cis by default": the vast majority of people, as it appears to me(maybe I'm wrong), claim to feel what you feel. Only few say "if I woke up as someone of the other sex tomorrow, I'd definitely feel gender dysphoria". This means that, according to that theory, for some reason the vast majority of people with strong gender identities are trans. Star Slate Codex already outlines the second theory in the post: maybe all people have gender identities, but it's so intuitive that you can't notice it at all unless there's a mismatch, and thought experiments wouldn't help. (Of course, those two possibilities span an infinite breadth of other possibilites, which incorporate, combine and elaborate on elements on both.)


Possibly. I can imagine a number of things that, if they did change, I would, upon waking, feel immediate distress. Sex would mostly be annoying from the standpoint of "dammit, now I have to get new IDs, and explain this to everyone, and there will be tedium". So, I guess slight bias against it, in much the same way that I have a similar bias against moving across the country. Dislike of all the involved hassle, rather than any real view that I happen to be living in the best spot in the country or something.

The Great Friendly Thing comes to you and says, “You know, on net, Earth will probably be better off with a higher female-to-male ratio. It’s not *vital* that you switch or anything, but if it was just as okay with you, I’d rather swap you. But please don’t feel obligated – it wouldn’t be a net good if you were actually unhappy with the decision, it’s not worth you feeling uncomfortable about saying yes.” What do you say?


Look, if sex changes were an arbitrary, utterly perfect, and instant thing you could do at will, well...screw it, curiosity pretty much dominates the decision here. I suppose I might find out I disliked it for some reason, and wish to switch back at some point, but hey, if you bring on Culture style body changes, no real reason not to experience life different ways. I'd also admit to a bit of curiosity/skepticism about the why behind GFT's reasoning, though. I suppose I'd probably interrogate it sufficiently to feel confident in it's reasoning before taking it on trust. That just seems essential. I don't know if that helps.

Actually, given that studies show people generally adapt better to loss than they expect, I don't know that it's entirely reasonable to expect a massive bias in the other direction.

That said, I suspect that a lot comes down to questions of identity. How important a given factor is to you isn't necessarily constant. Sex might just be more important to identity to some people than others. If it really doesn't rank significantly on your scale of importance, well...inertia takes care of the rest. But, some people view it as a big part of who they are. *shrug* For me, gay, straight, cis, whatever...those are just descriptive labels. I'm a thought pattern/meat brain. And frankly, a few tech upgrades to the brain part would be worth a try too.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Derek » Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:54 pm UTC

DR6 wrote:What I don't like about that theory is that nearly all cis people seem to be "cis by default": the vast majority of people, as it appears to me(maybe I'm wrong), claim to feel what you feel. Only few say "if I woke up as someone of the other sex tomorrow, I'd definitely feel gender dysphoria". This means that, according to that theory, for some reason the vast majority of people with strong gender identities are trans.

If we accept cis-by-default as a thing, then would it really be surprising if this is true of most people? Certainly without a more careful study (of which there is basically none right now), we can't discard that possibility.

Your last statement is not true though. The theory does not imply that most people with strong gender identities are trans. It's just that trans people are the most obvious of those with strong gender identities. According to the cis-by-default theory, we can divide people into three groups: Cis-by-default, strongly gendered cis, and transgender. The last two are both strongly gendered. Let's let p by the probability that a strongly gendered person is cis, if p > 0.5 then most strongly gendered people are cis, and I will take that as the threshold for discarding the hypothesis that most strongly gendered people are trans. Transgendered people are a small population, I've heard about 1% of the total population. Then strongly gendered cis people make up 0.01 * p/(1-p) of the population, and cis-by-default people make up the remaining q = 1.0 - 0.01 * 1/(1-p). If p > 0.5, then q < 0.98.

So cis-by-default people could make up anywhere from 0 to 98% of the population, and most strongly gendered people would still be cis. Even if we assume a much greater portion of transgendered people, it doesn't put great restrictions on the number of cis-by-default people. So the cis-by-default theory does not imply that most strongly gendered people are trans.

Star Slate Codex already outlines the second theory in the post: maybe all people have gender identities, but it's so intuitive that you can't notice it at all unless there's a mismatch, and thought experiments wouldn't help. (Of course, those two possibilities span an infinite breadth of other possibilites, which incorporate, combine and elaborate on elements on both.)

This is definitely a possibility that cannot be discounted. Only the people who have actually experience gender dysphoria can know what it's like, and the rest of us can only imagine if we would care if our genders were different.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:31 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
Star Slate Codex already outlines the second theory in the post: maybe all people have gender identities, but it's so intuitive that you can't notice it at all unless there's a mismatch, and thought experiments wouldn't help. (Of course, those two possibilities span an infinite breadth of other possibilites, which incorporate, combine and elaborate on elements on both.)

This is definitely a possibility that cannot be discounted. Only the people who have actually experience gender dysphoria can know what it's like, and the rest of us can only imagine if we would care if our genders were different.


The phrase "so intuitive" connected to a claim of untestability makes me twitchy. Sure, it may be that a thought experiment has limitations on the data it can produce, but surely studying identity has other methods of testability besides thought experiments, yes? And surely we can notice many another thing that is pretty automatic(breathing, heartbeat, etc), and contemplate what that ceasing would be like.

The idea that scientific knowledge is forever unknowable to the majority of humanity should indeed be dismissed out of hand.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:21 am UTC

On the subject of gender:

Is being transgender, generally, a matter of physical identity or social gender identity? Meaning: if a person who identifies as trans were born into a world in which everything was equal except that society flipped its gender associations (traditional masculine roles become feminine, vice versa), then would that person still feel trans? To what degree do social concepts of gender inform on the differentiation between cis and trans?

The reason I ask, is it possible that there are people that would not identify with their biological sex as socially construed, but have never developed that association, and, as such, have never had that sense of incompatibility.

(I have no idea, I'm not arguing that this is such, it just seemed like an interesting question - even if not related to trans/cis, it does seem to include a constellation of concepts relating to my original)



Does any of the discussion of gender, taking place here, have an analog to sexuality or is that a different matter? (I'm just curious in the notion of a sexual sense; maybe more so since I have direct intuition with it)
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby DR6 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:13 am UTC

If we accept cis-by-default as a thing, then would it really be surprising if this is true of most people? Certainly without a more careful study (of which there is basically none right now), we can't discard that possibility.

Your last statement is not true though. The theory does not imply that most people with strong gender identities are trans. It's just that trans people are the most obvious of those with strong gender identities. According to the cis-by-default theory, we can divide people into three groups: Cis-by-default, strongly gendered cis, and transgender. The last two are both strongly gendered. Let's let p by the probability that a strongly gendered person is cis, if p > 0.5 then most strongly gendered people are cis, and I will take that as the threshold for discarding the hypothesis that most strongly gendered people are trans. Transgendered people are a small population, I've heard about 1% of the total population. Then strongly gendered cis people make up 0.01 * p/(1-p) of the population, and cis-by-default people make up the remaining q = 1.0 - 0.01 * 1/(1-p). If p > 0.5, then q < 0.98.

So cis-by-default people could make up anywhere from 0 to 98% of the population, and most strongly gendered people would still be cis. Even if we assume a much greater portion of transgendered people, it doesn't put great restrictions on the number of cis-by-default people. So the cis-by-default theory does not imply that most strongly gendered people are trans.


You are correct, I think.

Tyndmyr wrote:The phrase "so intuitive" connected to a claim of untestability makes me twitchy. Sure, it may be that a thought experiment has limitations on the data it can produce, but surely studying identity has other methods of testability besides thought experiments, yes? And surely we can notice many another thing that is pretty automatic(breathing, heartbeat, etc), and contemplate what that ceasing would be like.

The idea that scientific knowledge is forever unknowable to the majority of humanity should indeed be dismissed out of hand.


I meant that it would be unknowable from the perspective of the person, which is why thought experiments wouldn't help. I didn't want to claim that it would be impossible for it to be tested. Maybe I should have made that clear.

Is being transgender, generally, a matter of physical identity or social gender identity? Meaning: if a person who identifies as trans were born into a world in which everything was equal except that society flipped its gender associations (traditional masculine roles become feminine, vice versa), then would that person still feel trans? To what degree do social concepts of gender inform on the differentiation between cis and trans?


It's about physical identity: trans women don't always want to conform to female gender roles, or viceversa.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Trebla » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The phrase "so intuitive" connected to a claim of untestability makes me twitchy. Sure, it may be that a thought experiment has limitations on the data it can produce, but surely studying identity has other methods of testability besides thought experiments, yes? And surely we can notice many another thing that is pretty automatic(breathing, heartbeat, etc), and contemplate what that ceasing would be like.

The idea that scientific knowledge is forever unknowable to the majority of humanity should indeed be dismissed out of hand.


Don't we already kind of accept that personal experience is unknowable to others? (Trivially: I know what green looks like, you know what green looks like, but I don't know what green looks like to you). Gender dysphoria could very easily fall into that category. Lots of things fall into that category. It's a lot easier to imagine ceasing something you have (breathing, heartbeat... though the latter is probably very difficult to imagine accurately unless you've experienced it) than it is to imagine experiencing something that has only been described to you as a concept.

Is personal experience really something that can be classified as scientific knowledge?

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby morriswalters » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:30 pm UTC

I don't know how green looks to you. On the other hand I know what we agree to talk about as green. I don't know what a trans experiences, but if we are going to coexist then we should come to agreement about how we think about it. In the sense of green paint. If not now, then when we have the tools.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:19 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The phrase "so intuitive" connected to a claim of untestability makes me twitchy. Sure, it may be that a thought experiment has limitations on the data it can produce, but surely studying identity has other methods of testability besides thought experiments, yes? And surely we can notice many another thing that is pretty automatic(breathing, heartbeat, etc), and contemplate what that ceasing would be like.

The idea that scientific knowledge is forever unknowable to the majority of humanity should indeed be dismissed out of hand.


Don't we already kind of accept that personal experience is unknowable to others? (Trivially: I know what green looks like, you know what green looks like, but I don't know what green looks like to you). Gender dysphoria could very easily fall into that category. Lots of things fall into that category. It's a lot easier to imagine ceasing something you have (breathing, heartbeat... though the latter is probably very difficult to imagine accurately unless you've experienced it) than it is to imagine experiencing something that has only been described to you as a concept.

Is personal experience really something that can be classified as scientific knowledge?


You can test for color blindness if you wish to ascertain that green looks the same to others as to you. Not sure why you'd write that off as unknowable.

Personal experience is just data. Science is just a process. You can treat data scientifically or not. There's nothing about ANY data that makes it special, and unable to be treated in a scientific manner.

Yes, it is certainly the case now that many people do not have a good understanding of this data, but it's not because it's impossible. It's because, for a number of reasons, it has been often ignored, poorly studied, and so forth.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby ucim » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:You can test for color blindness if you wish to ascertain that green looks the same to others as to you. Not sure why you'd write that off as unknowable.
That tests whether or not green can be distinguished. It does not say whether or not the experience of "green" is felt the same way. I infer your perception based on mine, but I cannot experience your perception. A simple example involves the reported LSD-induced alteration of color perception. People "feel" the same color differently.

In the case of gender perception, it's even fuzzier. It has to be defined before meaningful conversation about it, and it's hard to pin down.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:34 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:You can test for color blindness if you wish to ascertain that green looks the same to others as to you. Not sure why you'd write that off as unknowable.
That tests whether or not green can be distinguished. It does not say whether or not the experience of "green" is felt the same way. I infer your perception based on mine, but I cannot experience your perception. A simple example involves the reported LSD-induced alteration of color perception. People "feel" the same color differently.

In the case of gender perception, it's even fuzzier. It has to be defined before meaningful conversation about it, and it's hard to pin down.

Jose


I don't know what it's like to be a lab rat, either, but we can certainly monitor apparent behavior. Or wire someone up, and see what parts of their brains light up as they experience whatever it is you're studying.

It's not perfect data, surely, but so what of that?

I'm not sure if EEGs have been done specifically for perceptions of sexuality, but if memory serves, transgender/cis EEG comparisons do support brain activity being generally similar to their identified gender(keeping in mind the limits of EEGs, of course) in general. So, I'd expect transgender folks identifying as female to view sexual identity in a similar manner to those who were born female.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Cradarc » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:13 pm UTC

As a young child, most of my friends were female. Although I could distinguish the difference between male and female, I don't remember thinking of them as any different than I was. Sure, they liked different things than I, but many boys also like different things than I. It wasn't until 2nd grade or so that the gender difference became solid within my mind. Some kids were teasing Jerome for liking Katie. Somehow I knew that "like" meant something more.

Based on this experience, I think gender identity is the tween equivalent of puberty. At some point in a person's life, one will realize that one will grow old and become an adult. One starts to look at adults and wonder about the possibility of becoming them. One can clearly identify two types of adults in society, and a natural attraction toward one type arises. We start to think "I want to be like Dad" or "I want to be like Mom" because of the different roles they play in our lives and the different emotions they invoke in us.

It would be interesting to meet someone who is raised in a world where all children are raised by same-sex couples.
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby leady » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:59 am UTC

I'm not convinced that is quite true. I also had girl playmates (the proverbial next door neighbour) but sex differences and consequential gender differences are well on their way by around 8, well before any real attraction kicks in and the tween years. Obviously a generalisation, but boys gravitate towards competitive rough play more and more as they get older and I think its very noticeable.

that all said I am looking back as the last generation that actually played outside :)

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Cradarc » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:03 am UTC

Leady,
That's very interesting. I spend half of my pre-teen years in China, so culture differences may also play a factor. In the U.S I also hung around mostly with Asian kids because we lived in a neighborhood with a high Asian population. Yes, the boys were more rough but, at least from my point of view, there wasn't a "us vs. them" mentality.

That brings up the question: Is gender identity more influenced by a person's personality or by the social environment they grew up in?
I remember reading about some parents who were raising their child with a completely gender-neutral attitude. For example, they gave the boy a choice of playing with barbie dolls or toy cars, instead of just buying the car with the assumption that he would like it. If the boy grows up and ends up identifying more with girls than other boys, is it because of the parents or because of a natural affinity?
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:23 am UTC

I tend to think that the person has some control in the matter, as well, even if they don't realize it - in other words, it is not purely nature/nurture, but also choice, albeit maybe not a choice on such a grand scale (I did not select to love mathematics, nor can I stop now that I do, but I do not believe I was made that way, nor that I was conditioned that way, some part of that is a matter of things I selected to do, paths I chose to walk; I don't think anything is entirely removed from that).

I can say that I used to collect, and wear, fancy rings (well, fancy to a child, that I begged for at yard sales) that, clearly, were designed for women, much to the chagrin of my family (save my mother). I also, because I like the way of them, occasionally, wear dresses, and other such - they have an elegance that other clothing lack. I also played with dolls, and other toys made for girls, mainly because they seemed fun and it seemed unfair that girl's got both types of toys and I was stuck with just the one's for boys. Of course, I didn't/don't do any of this because it makes me for "female", or some other such, I enjoy it and see no reason not to - this is the same reason I play my xbox, collect stuffed animals, and have made friends with the stray cats near my house: it is pleasing and, "why not?" - it seems odd to be so stuck on gender that we gender objects and fabric, nice things are nice, fun things are fun.

As for play, I played whatever play was being played till I was bored, or abstained if I lacked interest. Rough play could be fun, it also got kind of pointless and boring after a while since it was fairly aimless (I was also a lot stronger than boys my age, so it wasn't much of a competition). I played equally with girls - which, honestly, got quite rough themselves at times - I never noticed some preference for either group, again, fun is fun (and all of it got boring after a point, social groups get tiring, I spent more time reading or walking around alone, honestly).
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Autolykos » Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:22 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:For example, they gave the boy a choice of playing with barbie dolls or toy cars, instead of just buying the car with the assumption that he would like it. If the boy grows up and ends up identifying more with girls than other boys, is it because of the parents or because of a natural affinity?

My mother tried that, but I always went for the cars, tools and Legos. Which is somewhat strange because nowadays I'd identify as "cis-by-default". My guess is that my preference is simply caused by me being more interested in systems than people (my studies and hobbies still reflect that), which society associates with men, not because I feel inherently masculine.
OTOH, as a kid I regretted not being able to wear jewelry - and now that it's becoming acceptable, I don't care anymore.
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:28 pm UTC

Forest Goose wrote:I tend to think that the person has some control in the matter, as well, even if they don't realize it - in other words, it is not purely nature/nurture, but also choice, albeit maybe not a choice on such a grand scale (I did not select to love mathematics, nor can I stop now that I do, but I do not believe I was made that way, nor that I was conditioned that way, some part of that is a matter of things I selected to do, paths I chose to walk; I don't think anything is entirely removed from that).


To a degree, personal choice matters in all things, yes. And yeah, I'd say a *lot* of our gender roles are culturally constructed. Even within the US, going from say, extremely religious groups to not, you see some significant differences.

I can say that I used to collect, and wear, fancy rings (well, fancy to a child, that I begged for at yard sales) that, clearly, were designed for women, much to the chagrin of my family (save my mother). I also, because I like the way of them, occasionally, wear dresses, and other such - they have an elegance that other clothing lack. I also played with dolls, and other toys made for girls, mainly because they seemed fun and it seemed unfair that girl's got both types of toys and I was stuck with just the one's for boys. Of course, I didn't/don't do any of this because it makes me for "female", or some other such, I enjoy it and see no reason not to - this is the same reason I play my xbox, collect stuffed animals, and have made friends with the stray cats near my house: it is pleasing and, "why not?" - it seems odd to be so stuck on gender that we gender objects and fabric, nice things are nice, fun things are fun.


Yup. These small humanoid toys are "dolls", and are for girls. These are "action figures" and are for boys. Ridiculous.

I also found it a wee bit unfair as a kid that girls seemed to get more access to "boys toys" than "girls toys". I liked toys that actually did stuff, and also junk food(like basically all children), and thus, stuff like an ex-bake oven seemed badass. I get to make myself junk food, hell yes. But it's pink, so apparently that's bad.

I don't think I'd have turned out all that terribly different otherwise. I mean, the point of my interest was never gender-specific, and god knows I have enough pointless gadgets now, including junk food related ones. It was just annoying.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby leady » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:57 pm UTC

That's kind of true, but I'm sure I've seen studies were boys convert gender neutral toys into weapons :)

I know I used to play soldiers with plastic tennis racquets for a gun before moving to making bows and arrows and brutal clubs with my male friends :) Christ I used to enjoy just digging big holes - why I have no idea !

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Forest Goose » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:44 pm UTC

I don't know, I remember pretending things were weapons, I also remember pretending they were other things, not weapons, just as much - what I remember a lot of is, simply put, pretending things were way more awesome things (whatever awesome thing was in mind at the moment). --and I've seen girls pretend things were weapons too (and play shooters, and have wrestling matches, and etc.). I wouldn't be shocked if numbers favour boys (in terms of average frequency for violent play), but it seems far from "exclusive to boys" or "almost always boys" -- I know my younger female cousin (11) loves to punch, kick, scratch, pretend to shoot things, etc. A male cousin I'm close with, when the same age, had zero interest in almost all of that and didn't like being roughed up at all (and I've known a lot of boys who felt this way - or, from when I was young, only played rough when other people got it going, which, perhaps, entails a narrower pool of boys actually enjoying it than first blush).

I would be willing to accept that we socialize males towards enjoying violent play more, but I'm not sure that it is the case that there is a natural proclivity to this, nor that this is actually enjoyed as much as other play when it occurs. Even supposing that males were more inclined to violence and aggressive competitiveness, it doesn't follow that they would actually enjoy behaving in such ways - nor does it entail that females wouldn't enjoy such things as play (and I'm not saying any of that is the case anyway, just that it is not self-evident that "male = natural predisposition to enjoying violent play" from "males play aggressively, sometimes".).

Honestly, though, both sides of the coin, in terms of majority social images, seem to have some really kick ass stuff, I can't imagine why anyone would only want some of that image (a nurturing provider is way better than either, the same for someone who is logical and intuitive, and...whatever the hell else we divide down the same line as "acceptable to wear pig tails" and "likes the colour pink"...what a weird line it is, by the way.

-----

I think personal choices get left out of a lot of discussions, probably because they terminate at the person (I think, sometimes, "I wanted to" justifies a why - meaning: in some cases, "Why did you do that?" is answered by "I wanted to" without additional explanation of why you wanted to.) At any rate, I definitely do not believe that we, our actions, nor our motives can be reduced down to nature and nurture (perhaps the various powers of each depend a bit on the person under discussion too? It doesn't take much variation to sway the scale in radically different directions, and there's a lot of variation...).

-----

Any toy that manufactures junk food is awesome! I've never understood why boys weren't encouraged to cook, in the first place anyway, that's one of my top five skills that I can point to as having gotten me dates/sex/romance/friends/etc.; being good in a kitchen makes everyone like you (if you share).

Digging holes is awesome - if I wasn't at the age where I could convince myself that underground tunnel cities were realistically doable (with a shovel and some time), trust me, I'd be out back digging up my yard right now...
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Derek » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

I read EGS too. That strip made me think about this thread more than this one though.

Any toy that manufactures junk food is awesome! I've never understood why boys weren't encouraged to cook,

There was an easy bake oven for guys, at least for a bit. But instead of making cakes they had you making gummy candies in the shapes of worms and spiders and stuff. That's how they made it "appropriate" for boys I guess.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:44 pm UTC

Yeah, I... I didn't want to get involved in that one. It's hostile territory.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:50 pm UTC

leady wrote:That's kind of true, but I'm sure I've seen studies were boys convert gender neutral toys into weapons :)

I know I used to play soldiers with plastic tennis racquets for a gun before moving to making bows and arrows and brutal clubs with my male friends :) Christ I used to enjoy just digging big holes - why I have no idea !


Pretending things were guns was pretty routine, yes. How much of that is culturally conditioned, I dunno, but given that humans significantly predate guns, I have to imagine it's strongly a cultural thing. One could argue that a proclivity to violence via fists, etc is a result of natural drives, but firearms are inherently recent, in biological terms, so I have to imagine that the pervasiveness of that(as well as pretend swords), are the result of perception of the world around you.

The digging thing was huge, too. Digging holes was just a blast. I think it's a drive to create things. Young kids, male or female, seem to wholly embrace playing in dirt, I just think there's more tolerance for that continuing for guys.

Derek wrote:
Any toy that manufactures junk food is awesome! I've never understood why boys weren't encouraged to cook,

There was an easy bake oven for guys, at least for a bit. But instead of making cakes they had you making gummy candies in the shapes of worms and spiders and stuff. That's how they made it "appropriate" for boys I guess.


Yeah, I remember the gummi ones. Those didn't seem as interesting, because the oven seemed more flexible. My early dislike of spiders may have also biased this, but hey. In the event I have kids, I'm not gonna worry overly much about which colors toys happen to be. Hell, if they care, we'll strip 'em and reskin them.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Autolykos » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:54 pm UTC

@Mighty Jalapeno:
You could also just summarize it as "The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."
I find that to be a very good rule to live by...

One could argue that a proclivity to violence via fists, etc is a result of natural drives, but firearms are inherently recent, in biological terms, so I have to imagine that the pervasiveness of that(as well as pretend swords), are the result of perception of the world around you.
Guns and swords may be fairly new, but clubs (and throwing stuff) are arguably older than homo sapiens. It may be plausible that the interest in those just transferred to their newer versions.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

Autolykos wrote:@Mighty Jalapeno:
You could also just summarize it as "The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you."
I find that to be a very good rule to live by...

One could argue that a proclivity to violence via fists, etc is a result of natural drives, but firearms are inherently recent, in biological terms, so I have to imagine that the pervasiveness of that(as well as pretend swords), are the result of perception of the world around you.
Guns and swords may be fairly new, but clubs (and throwing stuff) are arguably older than homo sapiens. It may be plausible that the interest in those just transferred to their newer versions.


Tools and a generic violence, sure.

But transferred...how? What mechanism? Do we really have gun-using embedded in our DNA? That seems...unlikely. I can see an inborn interest in violence, or power, or whatever else is represented by the tools in question, but the specific tools must necessarily be a cultural thing. And if culture is already impacting that part of the pervasiveness of expression, then it could(and probably is) also impacting gender differences in expression.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby morriswalters » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:26 pm UTC

Kids are exposed to things earlier than some people think. Do you really think they slept through "Godfella's", or "Fringe", and didn't absorb the content in some fashion? Kids, or at least mine did, seem to hear everything.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:09 pm UTC

I mean, there has been research done on gender identities in that sense, and there's evidence that some of it really is how people tend to interact with their worlds under the influence of particular hormones. See monkeys. Thing is, it's arguable whether that has any connection at all to a person's subconscious perception of his or her sex. And people who are trans generally don't find that their preferences in leisure activities change wildly once they're on hormone therapy. Fundamentally, these are "masculine vs. feminine" things, not "male vs. female" things.

I don't know how common I think "cis by default" might be, or whether I'm it. Interacting with more people who happen to be trans at another board made me curious about gender identities, and I'd started a discussion there asking exactly the question in the OP here, less the sexual preference part.* Some people responded that they really liked being dudes, or that they really liked being women. Some people proclaimed that I was being insensitive to ask, and that it's only because of my cis privilege that I could, and so on and so forth. It was mostly a constructive discussion until the inevitable flareup and lock.

A lot of dudes have always seemed to me very proud of or attached to their penises, or liked having visible muscles definition, or liked being tall, or enjoyed all or most of their body hair. They sometimes talk about these things, and a few people sounded off on those notes in the thread. I like none of these things about my body. They are flaws, and they disgust me. But in my dreams, I mostly still have all of them. I seem to think of them as a part of myself. I don't have to think twice when choosing left or right at public restrooms. When I watch romcoms, I feel primed to identify with the lead male character more than the lead female character. Whatever my sex identity results from, it's male and it's internalized.

I hate it dearly, but that seems to be what it is. In some respects, I think my disgust may have even masked it to me, and made it more difficult to identify than it already was.

But the fact is, it really-really is something you can't identify without placing yourself in situations that challenge it. Humans have an awful lot of automation. How strange is it that you can't identify the weight of your own arm under normal circumstances, since it's automatically filtered out, yet it's the thing you use for manually guessing weights of things? An easy step is to join a random discussion board playing a person of the opposite sex and see what happens.

Then get to really prefer it and realize that no amount of hormone therapy and surgery would ever allow you to look the way you'd prefer to look to be perceived the way you want to be perceived and you know the one person you actually care about convincing is yourself and you can't and yet feel guilty all the while because you're not really trans but genderfluid and picky and hate your life forever and - hmm. Well, okay, it's not the best option. But it sure is a learning experience.



* I'm very much exclusively attracted to women. I don't have to abstract anything to understand what having an exclusive sexual preference is like. The food comparison is apt, but for me, males sort of displaying sexually actively turns me off, like seeing a half-cooked chicken breast and because I'm thinking of it as food, I'm imagining putting it in my mouth, but it's gross and there's icy pink bits in it and it makes me want to gag just thinking about it actually like right now....
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby elasto » Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:44 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:A lot of dudes have always seemed to me very proud of or attached to their penises, or liked having visible muscles definition, or liked being tall, or enjoyed all or most of their body hair. They sometimes talk about these things, and a few people sounded off on those notes in the thread. I like none of these things about my body. They are flaws, and they disgust me. But in my dreams, I mostly still have all of them. I seem to think of them as a part of myself. I don't have to think twice when choosing left or right at public restrooms. When I watch romcoms, I feel primed to identify with the lead male character more than the lead female character. Whatever my sex identity results from, it's male and it's internalized.

I hate it dearly, but that seems to be what it is. In some respects, I think my disgust may have even masked it to me, and made it more difficult to identify than it already was.


Again, I'd seriously recommend anyone interested in the topic to find a way to watch Louis Theroux's Transgendered Kids. He not only interviews 'normal' transgendered people who feel they are in totally the wrong body, but also people born male who want to become female but who like and want to keep their male genitalia, and people who want to be male sometimes and female at other times. It also emphasises how gender and sexuality are not linked; Both gay and straight transgendered people are followed.

It's really very interesting and informative and in no way shallow or voyeuristic, and overall leaves one with the impression that whatever series of 'boxes' you attempt to put other people - or even yourself - into, the reality is far more complex.

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Derek » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:30 pm UTC

I don't have to think twice when choosing left or right at public restrooms.

Is there some consistency between male/female restrooms and left/right? If so, I have never noticed, and have definitely seen exceptions. (One building at my high school had two similar floors with a pair of bathrooms on each floor at about the same location, but the male/female rooms were flipped. I made that mistake at least once. Whoever designed that layout was evil.)

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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:18 am UTC

Elasto, thanks, I'll check it out.

Derek, not that I'm aware of - while that layout is evil, might be best we don't have a strong association of the sexes with dexter and sinister....
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Re: Self Perception of Gender and Sexuality

Postby Reko » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:58 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
I don't have to think twice when choosing left or right at public restrooms.

Is there some consistency between male/female restrooms and left/right? If so, I have never noticed, and have definitely seen exceptions. (One building at my high school had two similar floors with a pair of bathrooms on each floor at about the same location, but the male/female rooms were flipped. I made that mistake at least once. Whoever designed that layout was evil.)


I realize this is a bit OT but I find (in the Midwest US) that the men's bathroom is generally further from the common area than the woman's. I'd guess that this is the case 75% of the time, is purely anecdotal and not scientific at all, just what I feel like I notice/remember. And by "furthest from the common area" I mean if there is a restaurant where the restrooms are "down the hall on the left" the woman's is first, and then the man's, etc.


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