Essay on Gender Identity And Sexual Orientation

Essay on Gender Identity And Sexual Orientation

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In pursuit of uncovering an ethic with regards to nomenclature of gender identity and sexual orientation, two very personal axes of identity interwoven and yet distinct, I looked towards the texts of Butler and Lorde. Specifically, I found that Judith Butler’s “Doing Justice to Someone: Sex Reassignment and Allegories of Trannsexuality” and Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” reveal a key tension in this question. That is, in discussing these matters, will our final goal be moving towards a society without these constrictive labels or will our end goal be more that we create new, more inclusive and personalized labels? Does the burden of these historical legacies on our language regarding sex and gender hinder our ways of communicating this integral aspect of our lives so much so that it is insurmountable? In putting both Butler and Lorde in conversation, we can use Butler’s reservations of language to draw a model from Lorde’s approach in creating her own self-affirming title. Though Butler would most likely still contest the reconcilability of this act, I believe Lorde would posit it more as a bridge between this current language and the new linguistic possibility that the erotic may provide.
Butler’s essay derives her question and ethic from the singular intricacies of the John/Joan cases study wherein a baby born with XY chromosomes suffered an act of accidental genital mutilation such that it was professionally advised to “complete” the gender reassignment and raise the baby as a girl though, much later on, the same child desired to be re-re-assigned as a “man”. Already this case study is rich with complexity and nuance in relation to the efficacy of labels and the formation of a personal gender identi...


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...y be inclined to use. That subversion both signals to the outside hegemonic systems that she, too, can empower herself by redefining and reconfiguring these terms, and that these terms hold different meanings when paired with other identifying terms. The additional power of this model is how it maintains that discernibility for the other. Though Butler provides great insight into the many challenges of navigating the margins of normalized identities by establishing this framework of the empowering yet anonymous “I”, in my analysis, Lorde’s model seems to extend that framework to make that anonymous yet empowered “I” to inhabit a more known and recognized space through her model of compounding already known identities. Lorde furthermore posits that model as a mere bridge to the unknown possibilities afforded by the exploration and utilization of the powerful erotic.

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