Okay, I thought I should post this summary, its hardly going to be exact because I’m not brilliantly read in the area (I’ve picked it up piecemeal from reading the odd theory or activist book), but its got some useful concepts in that are handy for discussion (oh and yeah, I’m aware that a lot of these areas can overlap quite happily :) My view of the model starts from the “bottom” if you will and builds layers on “top” of the proceeding layers, although theres debate about how they interact, I think some people see them as more a floating cloud of qualities. This is a really fast write up so lacking citations, although those can be provided if required. And yes this was pretty much written up to back up my comments posted in response to a recent post over on luvlymish.com. But anyway, this is the “standardish” model for gender theorists as of about nowish probably, unless I’ve missed something:
Oh, and before I forget, time for the fun last minute disclaimer: It’s only a model and The map is not the territory while its not a bad theory its certainly not going to cover everyone all the time, especially if people think each of these things is static and unchanging.
So the physiological sex includes the Karyotype (chromosonal makeup), primary and secondary sexual characteristics, current hormonal make up, past hormonal make up, and a shed load of other factors (by many accounts 300+), it represents the physical bodily displayed sex. The typical broad categories are male, female and intersex.
This is the idea that the brain has a subconscious knowledge and map of the physiological sex it is expecting, this includes primary and secondary sexual characteristics, as well as hormonal balance (interestingly in cis people treated for some cancers by giving them cross-sex hormone treatment they tend to become anxious, depressed and dysphoric about their bodies). Common categories include: male, female, masculine, feminine, none or mixes of the above.
The core of the persons gender identity is what doesn’t really change despite all the layers above it, this tends to be their sense of self and is usually in line with the subconscious sex.
The expression is how someone expresses their identity, through mannerisms, speech, body language, etc. This can include common things like masculine, feminine, or mixed expression.
The presentation is how someone presents themselves to the world, usually this will be in line with their identity to give everyone else the maximum number of cues to help them read the person as they wish to be read. Often Expression and Presentation layers are mixed up, and the overlap is pretty big. The classic example is “wearing a dress” which in modern western society is gendered female.
The kind of behaviours and norms that a person engages in that are gendered, this includes a whole bunch of societally created bits and bobs.
Societal Gender Map
Sort of floating on top of this person-by-person model is the big mass of wibbly-wobbley-gendy-wendy stuff that is societies map of how gender “works” and is applied. This is all those expectations that people carry around about other people and how they should feel, look, act and interact. This is a place where intersectionality tends to happen – when being in a number of different categories interlock to produce better/worse outcomes than they would on their own i.e. white, cis, masculine, straight men tend to get more societal privilege, although stepping away from gender a number of factors such as social class, criminal status, culturally coded beauty standards, physical and mental health et.al. all have a big role to play.
Okay and stepping away from the model a bit, here’s some random aside.
Cis and Trans
Both from the prefixes normally used in organic chemistry where trans is “across” and cis is “on the same side”. Basically if you have a split in the expectations at one of the layers then you can probably call yourself trans of some kind (but this is a choice thats up to you), if all your layers line up and don’t cause you distress then you’re probably cis. For example if your physiological sex is “male” and your subconscious sex is “female” then chances are you’re trans, and if you presentation is “masculine” then you can be a trans female butch or tomboy, but expect flack from society.
Feminism and All This Stuff
Classically the targets for feminism have been starting at the top of the model and working back down as time goes on as far as I can tell, starting attacking the societal map and roles, and also presentation and expression (and also skipping identity to go to physiological sex and assert autonomy there). Recently third wave/trans-feminism is carrying things down to identity and subconscious sex.
Your sexuality is typically considered who you want to have sex with (or don’t want to have sex with), and often based on the kinsey scale of “heterosexual” to “homosexual”, needless to say this is typically based off your gender identity in relation to the other persons. But sexuality is really complicated as soon as you step off the typical way these layers all line up.
(edit: 2013-01-14) Passing and Reading
If you hang around trans people you’re likely to hear the phrase “pass” a lot, this is a phrase that has its origins in the US during the times of (worse) racial segregation where those members of various ethnic groups who could “pass” as, or appear to be and act “white” gained access to privilege in society. For a trans woman to “pass” is for observers to believe she is cis and hence allow her cis privilege. Passing is normally thought of as being a binary thing, you either pass or you fail, which of course isn’t true as its situationally dependant.
These days a lot of people are trying to replace the word pass with that of “read”, which changes the focus of interpreting gender presentation onto the observer, so that they may read you as female, or male or something else. The advantage of this is that (a) its not so binary dependant in terms of pass/fail and also (b) Someone can read you as a woman, without necessarily reading you as cis, which avoids that whole giant can of worms (see also Pass/Fail – Natalie Reed and Whipping Girl – Julie Serano).
Comments, corrections and better examples welcome :)