[Air-l] Making gender complicated on Friendster

Ingbert Floyd ifloyd2 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 12:50:30 PST 2005

I get these emails digested, so forgive me if I'm repeating something
someone has already posted.

However, the gender being talked about here is self-identified gender,
not gender of the person one might be interested in, correct?  Though,
I guess if you change one, the other will have to change as well.

I like the "it's complicated", because it provides a space not only
for hemaphrodites (sic?), but for transgenders, and androgynous people
as well, and it doesn't force them to define themselves, when in fact,
many people in such a situation are constantly struggling with what
they are and how to self-define.

The reason I make the distinction above, is that a person who
self-identifies or is looking for someone in the "it's complicated"
category is one thing, a person who is bisexual is another.  A
bisexual often self-identifies as clearly male or female, but is
simply interested in partners of either sex, while a person who is
interested in the "it's complicated", is not interested in bisexuals,
but interested in someone whose self-identified gender boundaries are
not so clearly defined.

Though, this brings up a usage problem with the "it's complicated"
category.  When self-identifying gender as "it's compolicated", it is
pretty clear what the person is saying.  When looking for "it's
complicated", it is not so clear--it could represent an indecision
about being bisexual as well as a clear decision about wanting
transsexual (say).  Thus, for the "seeking" usage, it might be better
to label the category, "other", though that particular word could have
a negative overtone.

Ingbert Floyd
PhD. Student
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign


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