Intersex Issues when she acknowledged concerns about how to classify her post. I spoke with Cheryl Chase, the subject of the article Melissa links to, and her partner about this very topic last November over lunch at a chinese restaurant in Oakland, CA. ]]>"/> Intersex Issues when she acknowledged concerns about how to classify her post. I spoke with Cheryl Chase, the subject of the article Melissa links to, and her partner about this very topic last November over lunch at a chinese restaurant in Oakland, CA. ]]>"/>

Bil Browning

Intersection and Divergence in Transgender and Intersex Issues

Filed By Bil Browning | September 24, 2006 6:39 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: identity politics, intersex, LGBT community, transgender

Melissa makes a good point in her post on Intersex Issues when she acknowledged concerns about how to classify her post.

I spoke with Cheryl Chase, the subject of the article Melissa links to, and her partner about this very topic last November over lunch at a chinese restaurant in Oakland, CA. They and the organization Chase founded, Intersex Society of North America, are quick to make distinctions between transgender and intersex issues and experiences, but also agree there is commonalities in each community's struggles for equal rights.

While we shouldn't be conflating these two issues, I also do not think changing Transgender to Gender Identity is going to solve the classification issue we are having on bilerico.com.

See the excerpt below from this article on ISNA's site:

These two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one. The truth is that the vast majority of people with intersex conditions identify as male or female rather than transgender or transsexual. Thus, where all people who identify as transgender or transsexual experience problems with their gender identity, only a small portion of intersex people experience these problems.

While I disagree with characterizing "all" transgender people as experiencing "problems with their gender identity," it is clear that ISNA would not consider gender identity as the appropriate umbrella term for intersex issues.

The struggles trans and intersex folks face come from the consequences of transgressing societal norms. I am uncomfortable problematizing gender identity and genital configuration. Rather I believe the "problem" we face lies with an intolerant societal response to diverse identity, expression, and anatomical realities.

Getting back to the question of classifications within the bilerico.com blog, I don't necessarily have a good answer. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves why an LGBT blog feels the need to have a "Transgender" category and a "Women's Issues" category at all. It appears to me to be saying, the rest of the categories are really about "gay" stuff and we need special categories for the "other" identities. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to remove these identity-based categories, because it helps with a certain amount of visibility to these often marginalized issues, but I do find it interesting and often difficult to figure out where to post things about Transgender that are also Hoosier Politics or Commentary or Life in Indiana, etc. Is the compromise then between lending visibility to marginalized issues and reinforcing their marginalized "other" status?

I think at this point considering the broader audience for this blog, we should expand the Transgender category to also include Intersex. "Transgender and Intersex Issues".


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Thanks for the information, Brylo. I think your recommendation sounds reasonable. I'll make the change to the Transgender category - it should update late Sun or early Mon. :)

We have a transgender and a women's issues categories because those are topics that our contributors are interested in posting about. The categories on bilerico have evolved over the years as more and more have been added and others have dropped off or been renamed. Not all our of categories are necessarily gay related though - there are categories like Spirituality, Labor Issues, Cartoons & Graphics, Just for Fun, and Songs for Sunday. In fact, we only have one gay category - The Gay Agenda. The rest of the categories detail other areas we post about a lot (political categories) or don't necessarily fit in other categories (animal friendly). If you include lesbians under either Women's Issues or The Gay Agenda then the only part of LGBT not to have a category currently is the bisexuals. No one has requested that category yet, and I haven't really posted anything specific to bisexuals - hence, no category.

If you're having troubles deciding between one category or another as a contributor, I would suggest marking more than one category listing. I'd also recommend that you use the tags feature that is now part of bilerico. It allows readers to find other articles on words you've picked to represent your post. We recently installed the features on bilerico, so if you don't know how to do this, e-mail me off-site and I'll tell you how. You just do it as you post.

Thanks for giving a more informed opinion on the issue. I want bilerico to properly reflect the contributor's needs, so it is important to know what works best. :)