Pivotal time for trans people as rigid notion of gender challenged: TRFN

Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:55pm EST
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By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For Kate Bornstein, the American author and pioneer gender activist, this is a pivotal time in history for transgender people as the rigid concept of two sexes is challenged by a growing number of individuals who don't conform to either.

Some even suggest the notion of gender as we know it, the categorization of individuals as either male or female, might become obsolete altogether.

"Most college students are okay with the idea of someone who defines themselves as not a man or a woman," said Bornstein, 66, who was born a man but had a sex change operation in the 1980s.

"That's very different from their parents or even their older siblings," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

Gender non-conformity, also known as genderqueer, and transsexuality are far more visible now than they were at the beginning of her career as a lecturer and author, she said.

"In the early 1990s, there might be one 'trans' student in six or seven colleges and now the audience is filled with female to male...or really cool gender queer (people)," Bornstein, who does not identify as male or female, says in a new film about her life.

In the United States and beyond, a growing movement views gender as a complex, mainly psychological phenomenon in which a person's external anatomy is no longer the defining factor.