Critical Analysis on Hird’s “Gender’s Nature: Intersexuality, Transsexualism and the Sex Gender Binary” Essay
In this article, Hird’s uses feminist theory to support her studies, involving postmodernist concepts to the morphological notion of ‘sex’. She advanced on by unifying her study with evidence from two bodily forms: intersexuality and transsexualism that are currently challenging the modern ‘sex/gender’ binary. The purpose for Hird to take intersexuality and transsexualism into her argument is to demonstrate that it is not unusual for people to be born with an indefinite sex; ‘sex’ is socially inscribed and ambivalent; transsexuals who refuse to identify themselves undermine the two-sex and gender system or determine on an obscure sexual identity. Hird recognizes that the sex/gender binary result in women’s oppression and the bifurcation between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ rise the issue of challenging the hierarchical relationship that subservient women to men. However, she argues that these fix notions of feminism and ‘sex/ gender’ need rigorous attention in order to perceive understandings about nature and it’s relevancy to sex/ gender.
Hird illustrates how feminist theories respecting ‘sex/ gender’ binary and indicate that ‘sex’ is biological and natural that initiates the social construction of gender. She clarifies how interrelated assumptions occur and ‘sex/gender’ binary often taken for granted due to the combination between nature and biology. Futhermore, when understanding the natures value, she supports her arguments base on feminist theorist Judith Butler (1990) points that “gender operates as an act of cultural inscription’. Hird seems to be successful in supporting her notion that challenges the ‘sex/gender’ binary, where the constitution of the physical body inflict the cultural inscription of gender. Hird applies Wittig’s (1993) theory of lesbian identity as an example, where the ‘sex/gender’ premise fails to work. Lesbians correspond with the biological structure of ‘women’ but they are unsuccessful to meet the heteronormative definition of ‘women’. She advances further by suggesting a greater challenge to the complex nature of socially marked gender identities, inferring to intersexuality and transsexualism, the two lived bodily identities and reification of ‘sex/
Intersexuals provide a crucial possibility to look into the relationship between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Intersexual is relating to individual who ‘sex’ cannot be categorized clearly either male or female. ‘Sex’ is defined base on the distinction of biological determinants, for example genital appearance. When the nature’s visual indication fail to provide adequate evidence to define a sex, the sex will be determine by undergoing the chromosomal tests. However, it is not unusual for infants with an XY chromosome configuration but mostly will be assigned and brought up as a female due to a the condition of a micro-penis that doctors might fear to cause inability to function properly if living with masculine identity later on in future. Therefore, examining that nature does not necessarily give enough information to determine the sex as Hird successfully concludes in her article. She continues her article by looking into male-to-female (MTF). Transsexuals relate themselves as being trapped in the wrong body. She argues against transsexuals’ assumption, that one needs a certain relation of a system of society in order to ‘know’ themselves as women because it only hold on to ‘gender essentialism’, and Beauvori’s (1953) also argues that a woman should participate in the living experience of being a woman in order to understand the significant aspects of a woman and become one. Nevertheless, Hird oppose this idea arguing that it only underpins the definition based on the ‘sex/ ‘gender’ but without realizing that gender identities are constantly undergoing construction. Hirds emphasis the importance on the authenticity of sex, where she claimed that the authenticity of sex exist as a result from a particular forms of power, knowledge and truth which can not be found on or in the body (2000, p. 353).
She applies Butler’s (1990) notion of performativity where gender is accepted as an influenced being rather than core to the self. This queer theory has, a male to female transsexual who espouse that sex change does not indicate the change in gender but instead of that it is an assert to identity and knowing the self. This reassures the early feminist conceptions that gender is rather individualistic and the ‘sex’ is least important biologically speaking. Therefore, Hirds analysis on the orientation of the Male to Female transsexuals in her attempt of seeking to challenge the ‘sex/ gender’ binary might have emphasized more on relating to society responses toward the vagueness in ‘sex/ gender’ that affect the determination for sex change operations. Hirds seeks to reveal ‘sex’ as a social construction is radical and it is less likely to be accepted by other feminist theoreticians, however from her fundemental engagement with queer theorists who are more interested with the multi-dimensional features of gender and sexuality she deliveries her point explicitly on the drawback of ‘sex/ gender’ binary approaches. Her application of intersexuality is particularly applicable in validating her argument on heteronormative definitions that dependent on sex as a biological and natural baseline that establish the role of gender. However, in her attempt to clarify the drawback on the transsexuals nature of ‘sex/gender’ her state is productive so far as she turned our awareness to the division in transsexualism. In conclusion, she believes that’s why intersexuals and transsexuals provide such important and valuable insights into coexisting reliance on the sex/gender binary.
– Hird.J.M.(2000), Gender’s nature: Intersexuality,transsexualism and the sex gender binary, sage