Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Connections II Writing Assignment for Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015

Photo of Book Cover: MLB
While reading Janet Mock's memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, we have discussed the societal and political ramifications of being transgender in the United States, as well as the ways in which gender, sexuality, race, and class intersect to complicate a transgender individual's identity. This assignment is open-book and open-notes. You may use any part of any assigned course text, but you may not use other resources for this assignment.

Assignment: In a two-paragraph comment to this post, answer this prompt: How does the Gibson et al. chapter “Queer Diversities,” in Finding Out, enhance our understanding of Mock's memoir? How do Mock's memoir and the "Queer Diversities" chapter help us to identify and/or understand the existence of a diversity of gender and sexual identities in our society? What, if anything, might one... or you... or all of us... do with this understanding? Use standard English. Include your name and proper citation. Your comment may respond to previous comments as long as it otherwise fulfills these assignment criteria. Citation includes in-text citation and a list of Works Cited. See the citation link on this blog for instructions.

This assignment counts as one participation grade and is due by 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, 2015.


  1. This chapter in "Queer Diversities" only begins to enhance our understanding of Mock's memoir. This chapter is trying to shed light onto how much of a divide there is - both within the heterosexual and homosexual communities - that essentially isolates each member. Through the expression of how isolation and misunderstanding affects us all to the core; there can be a sense of clarity within each individual. Why must there be so much misrepresentation within the very community that is trying to find acceptance?

    This also arises the question of what we can do to help this. Especially since identifying as bisexual, there is a certain degree to which i can relate in the misrepresentation/misunderstanding that is harsh to deal with. This chapter helps to show that, there are those out there that still have a way to go before true acceptance and coexistence can be achieved. What everyone should be doing towards this very real problem is taking the proper steps in understand that, not everyone is the same. As well as making strides to come to a place of at least understanding; if not full acceptance. As we are all creatures of this Earth; walking different paths, yet constantly connected, we should attempt at a harmonious union of consciousness.


  2. The chapter Queer Diversities shares a common similarity with the thoughts that Janet Mock shares with us in her novel of differences in every homosexual or transgender person’s story. Janet explains to the readers early on in her novel that some of the events that occurred in her life (such as being molested) did not turn her into who she was as a person and that she had always just been who she was. Just ask Mock explains that to us, the author of the Queer Diversities chapter also explains that every gay or transgender person’s story isn’t the same. Every person regardless of their sexual orientation has different stories and are different people; some due to circumstance and others are just born the way that they are. In our society today, we love to pinpoint an event or a circumstance into why someone is the way that they are or do the things that they do but the Queer Diversities chapter and Janet argue that all people are different and the answer to why they are the way that they are are not always painted in black and white.
    Another key theme that I found interesting between the two readings were the levels of misunderstanding that people who are not heterosexual go through. For instance, there is a philosopher in the Queer Diversities chapter that argues that women who are lesbians are not even women and another doctor who wonders if men who undergo surgery and turn into women can truly be women even though they have not undergone many key experiences that women have been going through their entire lives. Mock was misunderstood by most people for a long time. Her family knew that she was different but they didn’t ask too many questions, which made Mock feel isolated and alone. In order to help people who are different from us, we must ask questions! “How do you feel about this?” “Tell me what I can do to make you feel comfortable.” Asking simple questions can 1. Help understand someone better and 2. Help that person to not feel alone and know that there are people who care about them.

  3. Within Redefining Realness, Janet Mock reiterates the fact that her experience as a trans woman differs from the “usual” experiences due to certain privileges she has. “Fortune and luck were the elements separating me from the hundreds of vulnerable women killed every year for being poor, trans, feminine, and of color” (Mock 234). Alongside telling her truths, triumphs, and struggles, Janet aims to further humanize non-cisgender people because anything outside of the “mythical norm” tends to be dehumanized in Western Society. As she elaborates on the realness of her experiences as a biracial trans woman Janet weighs in on the continuing silencing that the Transgender community receives from not only those outside of the LGBT+ community but by those within. She even goes as far as mentioning the fact that Transgender can even be an umbrella term that applies to people that are Agender, bigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, etc.
    The erasure and oppression that the Transgender community experiences can be considered a sub-theme in Redefining Realness since Janet intertwines that message while dismantling notions of “normality.” Despite the controversial usage of past tense when referring to members of the transgender community, in “Queer Diversities” it is also highlighted that, “Still, bisexuals and the transgendered were largely ignored by the authors in Herdt’s collection” (Gibson 155). This ties together how common it is to erase transgender people because it strays from the “norm” of being cisgender. In both readings enable us to understand that although the LGBT+ community appears to be like a supportive community, more so a family but that is not the case because sections of oppression do not disappear just because someone is oppressed in one [or more] way[s]. Therefore, through this understanding of erasure, those who are in positions of privilege can use their platforms to raise awareness to the types of oppression that occur in the LGBT+ community [without silencing the voices of the oppressed], and also amplify the voices of trans women [of colour].

  4. Queer Diversities is a fascinating, informative analysis of queer communities and the strains that are commonly found within them. The LGBTQ community is often thought of as a united connection of all members within; however, that is not always the case and many differences/arguments tend to arise. As a heterosexual/normative person myself, I thought this very thing; but just as there are difference between homosexual and heterosexuals, within both of those communities of the like, they pose their differences: it is just not common knowledge to those not familiar of either community.

    The LGBTQ community continues to have its equal portion of internal "isms" just as much as there is separation and conflict in heteronormative communities. An example of this conflict would be, "Within queer communities, intense debates have raged over who is really queer, who belongs under the queer umbrella." (177) Mock’s similar struggles of trying to have others accept/understand her identity as a woman, displays others’ ignorance towards the differences that each group faces. Both Mock’s memoir and “Queer Diversities” pose a realistic view on just how differences can divide people and bring strife where it does not need to be. Emphasis on the fact that we are to treat other’s how we would like to be treated or more simply, value lives of others regardless of how we may choose to live it, should be the primary focus. Nobody should be able to dictate or manipulate the way you feel in a negative way (unless it involves harming someone else).

  5. The chapter “Queer Diversities” enhances Mock’s memoir in many different ways for me. First, Mock’s memoir to me is the first transgender transition I have read about or seen from any person in the LGBT community, other than Caitlyn Jenner. I think that in Mock’s memoir she really emphasizes the fact that accepting yourself is the only way other people will truly see who you are, regardless of gender or sexuality. In the “Queer Diversities” chapter, it “debates over who is “OK,” who belongs under the queer umbrella” and shoes how the LGBTQ community is not always unified and united (Gibson 153). In “Redefining Realness,” so many people told Janet she couldn’t do this or that—especially growing up. Her mother said she was not allowed to wear dresses because she is a boy and boys don’t wear dresses—that’s just how it is (Mock 22). Her father always told her to “stop being a sissy” because she was afraid to do daring and dangerous things and did not like to “rough” around with the boys (Mock 31). Throughout Mock’s entire life she has constantly been told what she can and cannot do because of social standards—just like how the LGBTQ community tells people who do and do not classify as being queer. I do not think it matters whether or not the LGBTQ community says you fit under the umbrella of queer because all that matters is accepting yourself, regardless of gender and sexuality, which Mock portrays in her memoir. Once Janet accepted herself for who she was and decided when the right time to come out was, she freed her inner, isolated identity and started to work towards a happier and healthy life for herself. Mock claims at school, “I see myself as a girl, and I know the way I dress isn’t bothering anyone” (Mock 151). Mock was proud of herself, and even though everyone was against her and she did not have much support at first, it didn’t matter because she accepted herself for who she truly was—and eventually as time went on, others started to accept her as well. Even if a community does not recognize you based on gender or sexuality, it does not matter because happiness comes from within and when Mock embraces her true self, she is freed. When you start t embrace your true self, others start to accept you—just like Mock’s family. Although this is not true with all cases, I feel that accepting yourself and staying true to yourself is all that matters at the end of the day, whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, etc.

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  7. Both “Queer Diversities” and “Redefining Realness” can help us understand more in depth about the diversity of gender roles and sexual identities in society. At first, I thought that the LGBT community was just lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender—I did not know about all the other subcategories like “bear culture” or “bears” or “bear cubs” (Gibson 162). I didn’t even know there was a Q at the end of LGBTQ. I did not know that intersexuality or pomosexual were identities that fell under the LGBTQ community. After reading most of Mock’s novel and the chapter “Queer Diversities” I have learned that there are so many different diversities of gender and so many different sexual identities that are common amongst the people that are all around us everyday, and most of us have no knowledge of it. I think that society’s lack of knowledge on the LGBTQ community leads to non-acceptance of individuals who do not identify has heterosexual. These two works show how in society there are more then the two norms—straight and gay—and that gender does not necessarily assign you to your sexuality. I think that if people were informed more about the different sexual identities millions of Americans have, maybe there would be more acceptance in the community. Mock claims that “nearly one third of LGBTQ students are driven out of school—a dropout rate nearly three times the national average” (Mock 148). Maybe if society was more accepting to the LGBTQ community and embrace every human soul as a soul—regardless of gender and sexual orientation—societal standards of heterosexuality being “dominate” would drop and no more labels would be needed.

    Mock gives us an inside look on how hard it can be to transition and be transgender in today’s society. She shows us how people are not always going to understand your journey and shows us how not everyone has the same experience as she did transitioning. The chapter “Queer Diversities” also points out how every “coming out” story and being part of the LGBTQ community is different. Also, every member of the community is different. “Redefining Realness” and “Queer Diversities” exemplify how there will always be diversity/difference in gender and sexuality—but what can change is how people view it. Mock opened my eyes to see how we need to be more accepting of different gender and sexual identities in society as well as just accepting people for who they are as a person—nothing more or nothing less.

    Gibson, Michelle, Jonathan Alexander, and Deborah T. Meem. "Nature, Nurture, and
    Identity." Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies. Los Angeles: Sage,
    2014. 102-117. Print.

    Mock, Janet. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love
    & So Much More. New York: ATRIA PAPERBACK, 2014. Print.

  8. Throughout the readings of both “Queer Diversities” and “Redefining Realness” we see an underlying depth to sexual identities and gender roles in society. Even on the first couple pages of “Queer Diversities” Gibson reiterates the fact that even the diversity of the LGBT community isn’t cut and dry. She says, “...the good cheer and festivities of a pride day parade conceal tensions within that diversity, the kind of strain that exists when any large “family” gathers together to make – and define – a community” (Gibson 153). Now, clearly I didn’t expect that the LGBT community was all pleasure and joy 24/7, because honestly what form of civilization is… but when reading further into the chapter I was surprised by the actual diverse tension at hand. I liked the fact that Gibson referenced the LGBT community as a family but I couldn’t help to correlate Mock’s gender roles into this depiction. When Mock was growing up it was clear that the support of her family wasn’t exactly present on any level, let alone accompanying her muddled gender identity. With that being said, Mock’s family and self-interpretation were also not cut and dry.

    In “Queer Diversities” the other portion of the chapter that grabbed my attention was the vision of societal norms and “normality” surrounding sexuality and gender. Gibson states, “In some societies, homosexuality and queerness are assumed to be homosexual; in others, complex social roles have grown up around expressions of normative sexuality and gender” (Gibson 155). The idea of society playing a deifying role in the “normality” of sexual and gender identity is huge. In Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness” she references the struggle of self-expression and how societal norms placed a burden on her own internal approaches multiple times. For example, when Charles moved back to Hawaii with his mother he decided to be the best son he could be for her. Even though she never expressed this request directly to him, he assumed that if he acted, as society’s version of a stereotypical “male” then she would never let him go again. Furthermore, Mock even added the insight that the bullying and teasing came to a stop once she started to mask her true self.

    I think the readings from “Queer Diversities” and “Redefining Realness” both give great insight on topics that maybe aren’t as commonly discussed enough. Even though I haven’t finished the book yet, I can honestly say that through the reading of a true transitional story – I have gained a more real understanding of the concepts I’ve been open to previously. Even when writing this assignment I found myself contemplating when the proper times to use he or she is. The idea of sexual identity or gender identity is continuing to break out of this societal box and educating more people could quite possibly be the next step towards overall diverse acceptance.

    -Heather Shannon

  9. In both Mock's memoir and the chapter in Finding Out, we explore various elements of diversity within the queer community. We find that trans people (as well as basically anybody who isn't a cisgender homosexual person) are often excluded from the "gay rights" campaign within the community. Mock touches a lot on the fact that queer people don't necessarily have to be the same as straight people in order to have the same rights. There is just as much diversity within the queer experience as there is within the straight experience.

    On page 163 in Finding Out, the author writes about how some LG people seek approval and equality in the straight community by emphasizing the similarities between gay and straight people, whereas most of the rest of the community seeks both equality and recognition of diversity within the community. Mock discusses in her book that the experience of queer and trans people of color is vastly different than white queer and trans people.

    In conclusion, when discussing queer and trans issues, intersectionality is important. Race, gender, sexuality- they're all connected, and recognizing that sort of diversity isn't going to divide us; that is, unless we are prejudiced against someone for any of those reasons.

  10. Breanna Stewart
    October 8, 2015

    Gibson’s chapter “Queer Diversities” in Finding Out personally helps me understand the historical implications of institutionalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. The Gibbon book assisted me in learning the legal obstacles that LGBTQ+ individuals faced in the past and in the present. Then when reading Janet Mock’s book, I could further comprehend, understand, and empathize with her legal struggles to self identify as a woman. Reading Gibson’s book also assisted me in analyzing the historical struggles for acceptance and legitimacy within the LGBTQ+ community.

    Mock’s novel Redefining Realness gives a personal perspective and experiential reflection on her obstacles as a trans woman. Mock illustrates how many trans women of color endure multiple levels of oppression. Since she herself had to battle racial and trans phobic forms of oppression for all her life. Reading Mock’s book helps me discern that when advocating for equality, I cannot only speak about one issue that affects one group of people. Oppression and discrimination dehumanize individuals on multiple levels depending on their race, ethnicity, religion, and culture. I also find that Mock’s book reminds me of that when I represent a group of people, that even though our experiences our similar, I am not a default situation. For, one person might have an optimistic life experience because of certain privileges, however assuming that the one person’s experience is the same for all people in the group will further fester oppression. As Janet Mock states in her novel Redefining Realness, “Not all trans people come of age in supportive middle- and- upper middle- class homes, where parents have resources and access to knowledgeable and affordable health care that can cover expensive hormone- blocking medications and necessary surgeries. These best- case scenarios are not the reality for most trans people, regardless of age.” (Mock pg.119)

    Work Cited

    Meem, Deborah T., and Michelle Gibson. Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies. Second ed. Print.

    Mock, Janet. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & so Much More. Print.

  11. In the chapter “Queer Diversities,” the authors reaffirm much of what Janet Mock says in her memoir. To the reader, this validates and enhances Mock’s more theoretical observations and personal reflections throughout the memoir. The authors of Finding Out admit that although diversity enriches the LGBTQ(IPA) community, it also complicates things (Gibson 155). Mock addresses this issue by clearly stating throughout her memoir that the story is her own and cannot be projected onto any other male to female transgender. “When I think about Genie’s story, I can’t help but marvel at the resiliency of trans people who sacrifice so much to be seen and accepted as they are. … I was a young person who grew up poor, brown, and trans. I didn’t calculate loss because I had no job or money to lose. Luckily, my family, despite their messiness, was an asset (Mock 235).”

    The biggest asset from the chapter “Queer Diversities” is the authors’ acknowledgement of the diversity of gender and sexuality. For instance, while many in the LGBTQ(IPA) community refuse to acknowledge bisexuals, the authors of “Queer Diversities” suggest that bisexuality “poses a threat to the binary construct that gives both homosexuality and heterosexuality their meaningfulness in relation to one another” (Gibson 159). The threat is then assumed to be the reason that bisexuality is not acknowledged, rather than a belief that bisexuality does not actually exist. Although Mock does not touch on the subject of bisexuality, she does acknowledge the diversity within the transgender community by communicating to readers that some transgender people choose not to undergo gender reconstruction surgery, a fact which might not be readily known to a general audience.

    With the understanding gained from “Queer Diversities” and Mock’s memoir, I believe that we should do our best to communicate the truths evidenced within the works to those people in our every day lives that are uneducated or wrongly educated. The biggest harm that we as individuals could do with this knowledge is keeping it to ourselves.

    Gibson, Michelle, Jonathan Alexander, and Deborah T. Meem. "Queer Diversities" Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies. Los Angeles: Sage,
    2014. 153-166. Print.

    Mock, Janet. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love
    & So Much More. New York: ATRIA PAPERBACK, 2014. Print.