The BBC published a very good article on transgenderism on the News Magazine area of their website entitled Richard O’Brien: ‘I’m 70% man’
The article, written by Jo Fidgen, quotes Richard O’Brien (of Rocky Horror fame) as talking about the gender spectrum, and how he sees himself as maybe 70% male and 30% female.
However, one part of the article really surprised and struck me. It said:
“O’Brien’s idea of a gender spectrum may sound far-fetched to many, but there is scientific research that backs up his position.”
I’m really surprised that in this day and age, where people readily acknowledge the concept of bisexuality, that the idea of a gender spectrum could be considered ‘far-fetched’. Certainly the idea of a sexuality spectrum is well established, encompassing gay, straight and bisexual. And even then, bisexual doesn’t automatically mean you fancy men and women equally. Surely then, the idea of a gender spectrum can come as no real surprise and is equally logical? One only has to look at the concept of a girl being a tomboy, or describing herself as “not a girly girl”, to see that it is so. And, despite being less socially acceptable to say it, the same is true of men too. However, men have far more pressure (in Western society at least) to conform to a gender stereotype.
Having said that, I read on the news today of Maria Toorpakai; The Pakistani squash star who had to pretend to be a boy. In the area of Pakistan that she lives, it is completely socially unacceptable for a girl to play such sports, or wear shorts, or be a tomboy. She was forced to pretend to be a boy (with her father’s consent and support) and won several tournaments before being ‘outed’. Since then she and her father have had death threats and persecution, just because she doesn’t conform to a gender expectation. I’m both heartened by her and her father’s courage, and dismayed by the actions of their persecutors.
(Please note that the links in this article are to the BBC website and may not be available to you if you are outside of the UK)