Thursday, June 13, 2024

Subconscious sex - what is it and how does it affect your gender identity?

A discussion of the concept of "subconscious sex", that which is partly or fully repressed by trans people denying or avoiding their own real identity, has led to some interesting observations over at Crossdream Life.

 This is how transgender scientist, philosopher and activists Julia Serano presents her term "subconscious sex":
"Subconscious Sex: a term I coined in Whipping Girl (pp. 26-29, 77-93) to describe an unconscious and inexplicable self-understanding regarding what sex one belongs to or should be. I felt the phrase was necessary to distinguish between these unconscious experiences and the more conscious way we make sense of such feelings (i.e., what we typically call gender identity)...
I purposefully used the word “subconscious” (which is ambiguous and rarely used in academic/research settings) to capture the vagueness of such feelings (at least as I experienced them) and to avoid making it sound like I believe that they resided in a specific gene or region of the brain. 
And I intentionally used the word “sex” (rather than “gender”) to reflect the fact that for many transsexuals (including myself) the desire to transition is often driven by sex embodiment (i.e., aligning our subconscious and physical sexes) more so, or in addition to, a sense of sex/gender affiliation (i.e., belonging to and being recognized as a member of that sex/gender). 
I also argued (in the cited passages) that cissexuals also likely have a subconscious sex, but they tend not to notice or appreciate it because it is concordant with their physical sex (and therefore they tend to conflate the two); this helps to explain the strong knee-jerk negative reactions some cis people exhibit toward transsexuals and the very notion of physical transition. See also intrinsic inclinations."
The term has helpful for a lot of gender variant trans people and crossdreamers, as it may be used to refer to what it is that is that they suppress or deny when they try to live up to the standards of a cisgender society  and present as the gender they have been assigned at birth. 

There is something in our psyche that compels us to crossdream, think about being trans or want to express another gender, and that "something" can be referred to as "the subconscious sex" (or "subconscious gender" for those who do not share Serano's experience of bodily gender dysphoria). 

Poles believe that  one of the reasons why people aren’t talking about subconscious sex is a set of misconceptions, which are as follows:
  • “Being trans is either about sex, or about gender, and the only way to be inclusive is to claim that it’s about gender.”
  • “If someone’s transness is primarily about sex, that means they must necessarily experience physical dysphoria.”
  • “A mismatch between one’s subconscious sex and one’s birth sex cannot account for the experience of social dysphoria.”
  • “To say that it’s possible for one’s subconscious sex to not match one’s birth sex validates gender essentialism.”
  • “People who emphasize biological sex are transmedicalists.”
  • “Subconscious sex cannot apply to non-binary people.”
All of this has led to several interesting discussions over at Crossdream Life, which you might want to take a look at.

See in particular:

Image: Parinka.

A safe place for discussing gender variance!

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