Ungenderd and Endangered or Gendered and Locked in a False Binary?
Edward Guerro Junior had lived a significant part of his life, and was brutally murdered, in a different identity; she was severely hit and strangled to death by three friends, some of which she had sex with. They knew her in the name Gwen, and had killed her in the fall of 2002, after discovering the fact she had male genitals. She was the 23rd person murdered in the U.S. by men they had relations with in twelve months. The statistics did not improve much since this winter night in California: about 50% of intersexed people are either killed or commit suicide before they become 18 years old (according to the movie Middlesexes; Redefining He and She).
Especially in the United States the perceived gender roles are very strictly enforced. Deviation from the norm is usually punished quickly and violently, especially if there are men who feel their masculinity was put into question because of their interaction with the â€śdeviantâ€? other. Despite improvement in enforcement and punishment, â€śgender-basedâ€? hate crimes are all but vanished from the United States political and social landscape.
In young, urban, educated and pluralist settings there is growing tolerance and acceptance of GLBTQQâ€™s and people Holly Devor calls â€śgenders blendersâ€? (in 1989, almost twenty years ago). Genders blenders, according to Devor, were women who â€śrefused to do femininityâ€? (Devor, Qtd. in Lorber, 45) by dressing in identifiable womenâ€™s clothes, wearing makeup and otherwise behaving in ways that were deemed appropriate for women. The women Devor interviewed wore unisex clothes, cut their hair short, but did not necessarily saw themselves as men. Some of these women pass as women in the private sphere, behave as men in the public sphere, and generally attempted blending into the two acceptable genders- not challenging the existent gender system. The future may hold hope for greater acceptance of variation of gender, sex and identity, and reduction in the violence between the two approved genders in our society, but in the near future we will still leave in a society that define genders in a sharp binary and severely punishes any variation from the norm.
In the world of violent masculinity there are sharp and clear divisions. Men are supposed to always pursue sexual relations, have them or even â€śtake themâ€? by almost any mean: the worst curse a â€śmanly manâ€? like some people in the hip-hop industry can hit with is being a woman (which is mostly equate with being some animal, body part or â€ścry babyâ€?).
Some men who demonstrate what Ray Birdwhistell calls â€śtertiary sex characteristicsâ€? (talk, walk, gestures and other means of communication, Qtd. in Lorber, 46) which are deemed inappropriate for men can also suffer from a violent response of â€śreal menâ€? who feel their masculinity is challenged by these â€śunmanlyâ€? behaviors or ways of communication. But the violent masculinity is in trouble, as Jackson Katz (and other anti-violence advocates) note: even men who behave â€śappropriatelyâ€? (violently) cannot protect themselves or their families from becoming victims of other menâ€™s violence. Jackson Katz is not alone in his warning that we have to find other ways to structure our gender relationships: Marvin (?) Byron warns in the movie Bits and Rhymes from the violent misogyny in hip-hop music, which turns quickly into a range of violent behaviors, Robert Jensen researched the penetration of pornography into our culture and the â€śmainstreamingâ€? of what used to be called â€śhard-coreâ€? pornography, and Tony Porter publishes â€ścalls for menâ€? to stop being â€śwell meaning menâ€? and become well behaving ones.
With the greater involvement of men in anti-violence movements (women were there long before men) there is a growing hope for better, more peaceful and accepting future for intersexed babies and GLBTQQâ€™s in the United States. I hope to see the days in which the gender hate-crimes of the early 21st century would look like the dark-ages looked to us now; a long past period of violent intolerance that would and should never return to hunt us.