In my last post I have described my first observations after seeing a woman in the street, who seemed having been a man. I have realized that during my observations when I was trying to determine if this woman had been a man (and why I was toughing this way), I analyzed different parts of her body. With those special elements, I had created a kind of continuum scale between manhood and womanhood, and moved the marker from a level to another depending on those criteria.
This continuum scale between genders is only a representation in my mind. By moving my subject on it, I am trying to find the truth about her gender identity. That can be surprising that I do not know what I think it is between a transvestite and a transsexual. Actually the first step of my reflection is done, I have supposed that she had been a man.
How does work this scale? Each element of her body or her behavior could influence the marker. In this case, her face and especially here eyebrows and jaws made her more masculine, but her hair and her shape maintained her, in my mind, as a woman. Then judging a person on its body and general appearance seems in reality to be a closer analysis that it could be though. The first judgment of the gender of someone is then not only an arbitrage between “man” and “woman” but also a graduation between its feminity and masculinity, justified by concrete and specific elements. It appears to be a complex process which stays unconscious whether it is not more thinking about.
Process of changing the gender of this person in my mind. The harder aspect of that appears to me being the intellectual process of questioning the first idea I had made about the gender of a person. The comfort zone is left, and everything has to be thought about again. Furthermore there is no point of comparison anymore. It becomes then harder to analyze a subject.
Using a continuum scale serves the gender categorization of people, in justification of their appearance. It is a perception tool, can it become a serious “scientific” instrument, for other reasons than only the extern perception of a stranger in the street? When I searched some gender studies about categorization, I found in many of them this kind of method. Scaling a sample of subjects is for instance used to create references, which next research works will potentially be based on. That means that I can use for the rest of my research this kind of organization of my mind and methodology to decompose what I think, what I see, and then produce a more accurate result.
I have noticed that the all different signs which made my subject move on the intellectual axis of a continuum scale had not all the same importance. What can a hierarchy between all those elements be? This will be my next post.