Book Report: “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender”

In “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender,” stef m. shuster evaluates the medical and scientific communities’ “treatment” of gender, as well as the development of trans medicine as a field. This book was written in an effort to understand what has been normalized in the practice of trans medicine that has unintentionally perpetuated healthcare inequalities. It dives into issues the medical and scientific community face in regards to experience, skill, knowledge, and uncertainty in trans medicine, such as lack of experience, guidance, and scientific evidence. It addresses social constructs, such as the medical and scientific community holding ultimate authority over patients despite individual needs with respect to identity. It also acknowledges the uncertainty medical providers face with respect to providing gender affirming care to non-binary individuals and how the providers often operate under the normalization of a gender binary. While providers have difficulty keeping up with social changes as their practices become standardized, it is important that they strive to break from traditional ways of thinking about specific groups of people. This book makes an important intervention in how we understand the field of trans medicine. 

 The author of this book is stef shuster, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University and the Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology. They received their M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Iowa with a certificate in Gender Studies. stef Shuster’s research and interests involve topics of medical sociology, gender, inequality, and social movements. Their main point of interest is on the social, culture, and historical lens through which scientific evidence is constituted and utilized by the scientific and medical communities.

This book was constructed using research from interviews as well as archival and ethnographic research dating back to the mid 20th century. A wide variety of medical providers were interviewed about their experiences treating trans people, as well as their sentiments on the development and future of the field. Letters of correspondence between providers were also utilized as the basis of information for the book, and were cited heavily throughout it. Providers were also observed and recorded during their presentations at conferences discussing trans-specific healthcare.

The first part of the book addresses the historical context of trans medicine, specifically the uncertainty and suspicion surrounding trans patients and potential gender-affirming interventions or procedures during the mid-20th century. It begins by acknowledging the “doctor knows best” paternalistic model of medicine present at this time, and the strong sense of authority associated with medical providers. New scientific and medical advancements introduced a sense of excitement in exploration. The trans community and trans medicine, while viewed as abnormal, became the target for exploration by the medical and scientific communities. While the medical community viewed trans people as deeply troubled, it was excited to “be on the forefront of medical information and knowledge.” However, when seeking gender affirming care, trans patients were pressured to prove their “credibility” to providers, as they “sought assurances that trans people would be able to successfully live in their target gender.” However, “successful” was defined so rigidly that many trans patients were set up for denial of care if they were unable to fulfill expectations for “gender conformity, heterosexual desire, stable jobs, and no interest in raising children.” A knowledge base formed within the medical and scientific communities was established to filter out trans people who did not meet the expectations for a model citizen; these people were perceived as unworthy of gender affirming medical treatment. The sense of power and authority in medical professionalism also coincided with a need for the reliance on empirical evidence; many providers practicing trans medicine fought uncertainty due to such lack of scientific evidence. As many providers sought credibility in their work with trans patients, they “began to frame their work within the spirit of scientific research.” In an effort to avert questions of morality and distract people from their uncertainty, providers “instituted the trope of the ‘trickster’ trans person, deflecting professional critiques by focusing attention on the moral character of trans people.” This gave providers the authority to set boundaries and requirements for deeming a trans patient “credible” for gender-affirming treatment, and to establish these under the name of science. There was an overarching idea that transness should be diagnosed or proven before being able to undergo gender affirming medical interventions. Due to the lack of information to “verify” someone as trans, providers were keen to refuse to treat people who they suspected were lying about being trans. Noncompliance with the rigid expectations placed on trans people to prove their trans identities resulted in denial of care. Such expectations included matching the standard narrative of a trans person’s life: one feeling disgusted with one’s genitals from an early age and wanting to dress in the clothing of the “opposite” gender. Trans people were also required to tell providers everything about their lives in order to have the possibility of accessing medical care. Gender affirming operations were also only granted to those who showed most promise in conforming to gender norms and expectations, and being able to move through society in their “target gender.” 

In the second part of the book, shuster elucidates the contemporary practices and stigma surrounding trans medicine. This part discusses the rise in reliance on evidence based medicine and how this has impacted trans medicine and trans access to gender-affirming interventions. As technology becomes more advanced and more information on trans medicine is collected, providers have established professional documents to serve as guidelines and diagnostic criteria. This was motivated by the evidence-based medicine movement that emerged in the 1980s to make medicine more objective and standardized. Many believed that using the EBM approach would solve problems in trans medicine. With the increase in reliance on scientific evidence and trust in medical diagnoses, many providers have worked under the assumption that diagnoses are “anchored in science and therefore devoid of social values regarding proper bodily expression or behaviors.” However, shuster also highlights that the existence of diagnoses in trans medicine insinuates that being trans is an illness. This reinforces the harmful idea that being trans means that one is biologically deviant. In the tenth version of the International Classification of Diseases, “‘transexualism’ was one of several subcodes within a broader diagnostic category of ‘gender identity disorder.’” This conveys “broader implications in defining realt rans people as those individuals who understand their bodies as simply needing to be changed to fix a problem.” shuster then evaluates the unintended consequences of constructing evidence that can be used to form these diagnoses. They highlight the idea that evidence is never morally or ethically neutral, and that it relies heavily upon who has the control over the definition and qualification of evidence. As evidence-based medicine is constructed within a medical model that implies that a patient carries a “problem,” this reinforces providers’ power to control trans patients and their lives. Also, shuster adds that the lack of scientific evidence existing in trans medicine in the first place makes procedures and guidelines extremely uncertain and up to interpretation, which may lead to the unintended consequences. shuster argues that in using medical guidelines, providers “use strategies in trans medicine that raise broader questions about how the rhetoric of EBM and interpretations of clinical guidelines for medical decision-making may unintentionally perpetuate healthcare inequalities.” 

The main strength reflected in this book is the amount of detail displayed from the research, and the well organized structure of such information within each chapter. Each chapter dives into a wide range of information that include results from studies, interviews of providers, or the personal experiences of trans patients. All of this information is very well integrated within shuster’s own analysis of it. Upon bringing up a new point, shuster then shifts to cite entire letters written by medical providers or long personal accounts of medical providers to back up his argument. 

“Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender” demonstrates how medical providers are very uncertain in their work with trans people. Through their analysis of ethnographic and archival research as well as other personal accounts from medical providers, shuster shows how providers lack the scientific research and clinical experience to interact with trans patients and create treatment plans. This has resulted in providers relying on social and cultural norms or their intuition to inform their decisions in terms of care. This book offers a glimpse into the uncertainty surrounding trans medicine as well as an opportunity to understand the challenges to their expertise which providers face. It shows how in the process of navigating how to create an evidence based system of treatment for trans individuals while dealing with uncertainty, providers have acquired power of gender itself. 

No-Product Day Challenge Reflection

I think that this is a really cool idea for a challenge. I think I was a little hesitant to participate at first, but wanted to push myself. I don’t normally put on a lot of makeup, just a little blush in the morning and sometimes highlighter. I think that blush helps add a little life to my face and helps me look more awake, and the highlighter helps when I feel like my skin looks dull. I do use deodorant everyday and will feel uncomfortable if I forget to put it on, so that is what I was the most nervous about going into the challenge. I don’t worry as much about smelling a certain way, but I don’t enjoy the feeling of sweat. I did not use any of these products today because I wanted to commit to the challenge. I did not partake in any physical activity during the day. I do think that if I was planning on going to the gym or had a shift at work I would have broken the challenge and put on deodorant. This was the hardest thing to go without. The easiest thing to go without was makeup, because I recognise that it doesn’t make a huge difference to others, it mostly just helps me with my own self-image. While my routine doesn’t take up a lot of time in the morning, I did notice that I was able to get out of the door faster. As I expected, no one really noticed that I was going without products, and I didn’t anticipate people in class having a reaction. I was a little worried that people might think I seemed a little pale or tired, but that was not the case. I even mentioned it to some of my friends, and they said they couldn’t notice. Overall, this was an interesting challenge, and I wonder what the challenge would be like if I regularly used a lot of enhancement products. I have learned that people are usually just thinking about themselves, are not noticing what you look like, and we will always be our own worst critics. 

Deliberation Guide for Addressing Hegemonic Masculinity in Davidson Greek Life and Eating Houses

Title

A Deliberation Guide for Addressing Hegemonic Masculinity in Davidson Greek Life and Eating Houses

Central Question

How does Davidson Greek Life and Eating Houses embody and perpetuate hegemonic masculinity and unequal gender relationships? And how can Davidson Greek Life and Eating Houses begin to address and dismantle hegemonic masculinity within its institutions?

Intended Audience:

Davidson Greek Life organizations including all the college’s fraternities and sororities as well as Eating House members. I will abbreviate this group using the abbreviation (DGL&EH).

Organizations that fall under DGL&EH include:

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.
  • Connor Eating House
  • Rusk Eating House
  • Turner Eating House
  • Warner Hall Eating House
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
  • Kappa Sigma Fraternity
  • Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc.
  • Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
  • Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity

General Format:

DGL&EH represents a considerable number of students at the college so this deliberation would need to take place in a large space. However, as someone who has gone through large group orientations, such as Davidson’s first year orientation, I can speak to how students disengage very quickly in these contexts. For that reason, I propose this deliberation to take place over a series of events that would take place over the course of a week. I propose that the DGL&EH themselves host these events and oversee running them. That way, the DGL&EH members will not feel like they are being talked at (which leads to disengagement), but rather will be responsible for talking with their fellow DGL&EH members about these important issues. That means that every DGL&EH organization will be responsible for putting forth three members who will form part of three Leadership Teams (1, 2 & 3) that will oversee that the sessions go as planned.

Specific Format:

The deliberation will be broken up into separate sessions. Each session will be no more than 2 hours so that they minimize interfering with people’s schedules. The first will be devoted to defining hegemonic masculinity so that everyone can be on a level playing field when it comes to discussing how it manifests in DGL&EH in the second sessions. This will involve DGL&EH members intermixing and splitting into groups of 20 members to review materials that define hegemonic masculinity and how it operates. Each group will then be responsible for creating their own definition of hegemonic masculinity and writing it on a shared document that will be used by all those participating in the deliberation. This first session will take place in the Lily Gallery and the first floor of Union which means there will be two simultaneous sessions so that there is adequate space. Members of the Deliberation Leadership Team 1 will be in charge of splitting up into two groups and leading the sessions at the two locations.

The secondary sessions will entail DGL&EH organizations each giving a 10-minute presentation on how their institution embodies and perpetuates hegemonic masculinity. Every member of each organization may not end up being able to speak during the 10-minute presentation but will be required to be present, nonetheless. Leadership of each DGL&EH organization will be in charge of ensuring full attendance. These presentations will be hosted in the Duke Performance Hall so that every non-presenting DGL&EH member can attend each presentation. Attendance will again be overseen by the leadership of each DGL&EH organization. Additionally, I propose putting together a review panel of faculty and students interested in offering follow-up questions and feedback for each of these presentations. Deliberation Leadership Team 2 will be in charge of ensuring that the presentations run smoothly and stay within their time limits.

The final session will entail each DGL&EH organization preparing a report on hegemonic masculinity. These reports will entail an organizational definition of hegemonic masculinity and an organizational response to the results of an anonymous form on instances and experiences of hegemonic masculinity (which every Davidson student would be able to contribute to). The report will also include an internal reflection of how the organization has embodied and perpetuated hegemonic masculinity as well as a section devoted to steps towards addressing and dismantling hegemonic masculinity within the respective organization. Leadership Team 3 will be in charge of compiling these reports and building a rudimentary website on which the reports will be posted for everyone to see.

Background & Shared Language:

What is hegemonic masculinity?

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, hegemonic masculinity involves “the configuration of gender practice that embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy– which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women.” The definition also contends that “there are also subordinated or marginalized masculinities” with the existence of hegemonic masculinity. Thus, hegemonic masculinity not only subordinates women but also marginalized masculinities, gender identities and sexualities. That being said, there is no fixed image of a hegemonic masculinity, rather hegemonic masculinity is a relational concept that can change based on who is involved in the creation of an unequal gender relationship, which is the true basis for hegemonic masculinity. The term was coined by Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell in her 1987 book Gender and Power. Connell reformulated her concept with sociologist James W. Messerschmidt in 2005 to emphasize the relational nature of hegemonic masculinity and that “that this relationship is a pattern of hegemony—not a pattern of simple domination—that legitimates unequal gender relations.”

Why is it important?

Since hegemonic masculinity legitimizes unequal gender relationships, I contend that is a particularly important concept to address and dismantle. I also think that because of its relational nature, any work towards addressing hegemonic masculinity will require an examination of entire institutions and systems that perpetuate unequal gender relationships rather than individuals who might embody “dominant” forms of masculinity.

Why do sororities and eating houses have to participate?

According to sociologist James W. Messerschmidt, “all participants constituting an unequal gender relationship are collective orchestrators of hegemonic masculinity.” For this reason, sororities and eating houses, which are comprised primarily of women, should participate in this deliberation, as hegemonic masculinity not only impacts their membership but can also be “orchestrated” by their members through their participation in unequal gender relationships. One area where this could be explored would be cases where eating houses host joint events with fraternities.

Conversation Agreements:

While every member of DGL&EH organizations are required to attend each of these sessions, it should be acceptable for members to opt out of conversations that have the potential to bring up traumatic topics.

Members should demonstrate respect towards one another, and members of the leadership teams should collectively define what this looks like to maintain the collective nature of this deliberation.

These will be fairly public events, but members should agree towards keeping personal stories in the conversations they were shared in only.

Questions for Consideration:

  • How did hegemonic masculinity manifest itself at Davidson College before it began to accept women in the 1970s?
  • What are people’s current conceptions of hegemonic masculinity and where do they come from?
  • What is the difference between hegemonic masculinity and dominant masculinity?
  • Why is it, or why is it not, important to emphasize hegemonic masculinity in discussions around unequal gender relationships?
  • Is it possible to dismantle hegemonic masculinity?
  • Is hegemonic masculinity too narrow of a concept when considering unequal gender relationships?
  • Does everyone have the same understanding/conception of gender?

Reflections and Follow Ups:

After each session, participants should be encouraged to reflect on these questions. Perhaps there can be an award system for the most thoughtful responses:

What have you learned about hegemonic masculinity?

What are some manifestations of hegemonic masculinity in your Greek Life or Eating House organization?

What steps can be taken to address hegemonic masculinity at Davidson College, but specifically in its Greek Life and Eating House organizations?

Discussion Guide: Sex Workers and their Current Fight for Legality in North Carolina

Format for Deliberation

Before the Deliberation

1.  Read this document’s Background, Shared Language, Expected Outcomes and Conversation Agreements section.

  • If you encounter words or concepts that you are unfamiliar with or have questions about, refer to the Shared Language section that provides some discussion and definitions of key terms related to gender and sexuality

2. (Optional) Review the sources listed in the footnotes of this document

During the Deliberation

  1. Shared Language – 5 mins
  2. Expected Outcomes and Conversation Agreements – 5 mins
  3. Introduction and Personal Stake – 10 mins
  4. Gaps and Solutions – 30 mins
  5. Reflections – 10 mins

Background

From North Carolina Prostitution Offenses and Penalties

Prostitution is the act of “performing, offering, or agreeing to perform vaginal intercourse, any sexual act, or any sexual contact for the purpose of sexual or another gratification for money or other consideration.”

It is important to note that this law has only been updated twice in recent history: once is 2013, and the last time being 1919. As such, there is archaic language and traditional marital roles present within much of these laws. For instance, one can be charged with “patronizing a prostitute” with anyone “who is not his spouse.” Not only does this assume older individuals seeking sex workers are married, it assumes they are male. On top of those assumptions, it assumes they are heterosexual as well. Making the clarification of “vaginal intercourse” instead of simply stating “intercourse” clearly demarcates how some legislators define sex as vaginal intercourse between a man and woman. Additionally, even if the participants were heterosexual, it excludes anal intercourse from this specification. Still, the wording and referring to the readers as “his” indicates a misogynistic viewpoint that only men pursue prostitutes.

From Safer Sex Work – NC Harm Reduction Coalition

The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition defines a sex worker as someone that “provides sexual or sexual related services in exchange for money, drugs, other favors” explicitly as a form of income/work. This article addresses the myth that “all sex workers are women” or that “sex workers can not be raped.” In this page, the coalition also gives advice on avoiding STIs and date violence all while using common vernacular to explain their reasoning. 

Shared Language- 5 minutes

Language to Consider Adopting/Preferred Terms

  • Intercourse
    • Intercourse can be the emotional or physical acts of engaging in sex. It is not limited to vaginal intercourse and is not dependent on the participants’ gender or sexual orientation. 
  • Sex worker > Prostitute
    • Prostitute is a notoriously derogatory term for sex workers and is similar to “lady of the night.” It demeans their work with a socially negative connotation and falsely separates sex workers in categories between prostitutes (physical sex workers in cities) against pornography stars or strippers. 
  • Sex Trafficking versus Choice
    • While it possible that many sex workers acquired this profession via sex trafficking, there are many individuals that chose this line of work and being respectful of this choice is imperative to continue. 
  • Solicitor > John
    • While the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition refer to all sex worker clients as “John,” to avoid gendered language it would be beneficial to use “solicitor” or “client” instead. Calling all clients “John” ties back to the heterosexual myth that all sex workers are women and their clients are all men; both sides come with a range in genders. 

Dynamics to Consider

  • Many sex workers consider “prostitute” and “lady of the night” to be demeaning terms. These terms are also gender-exclusive which is why saying “sex worker” is preferred to the former options. Not all sex workers are cis gendered women, so it is imperative to use this distinction.
  • Despite the rise of technology, and the increasing use of platforms such as OnlyFans, we will only be discussing sex work when it comes to physical intercourse, stripping, and pornography. Although OnlyFans is new, its complex interface and user interaction are too expansive for this discussion. 

Expected Outcomes and Conversation Agreements- 5 minutes

Expected Outcomes

Given the complexity and religious as well as economic nature of this topic, the purpose of this forum is not to come to a formal agreement or declaration about any policies related to the legality of prostitution within North Carolina. Instead, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will take ideas generated from this forum to be utilized in committee meeting discussions and planning for future political decisions and lobbying.

Conversation Agreements

In entering into this discussion, to the best of our ability we each agree to:

  1. Be authentic to our experiences and be respectful of others’ experiences shared.
  2. Be an attentive and active listener for all parties involved–whether or not you agree with their stance on prostitution.
  3. Be a purposeful and concise speaker. 
  4. Approach fellow deliberators’ stories, experiences, and arguments with curiosity, not hostility.
  5. Assume the best-and not the worst-about the intentions and values of others, and avoid snap judgements.
  6. Demonstrate intellectual humility, recognizing that no one has all the answers, by asking questions and making space for others to do the same.
  7. Be open to answering others’ questions to the best of your ability; however, be aware it is not your job to educate others.
  1. Critique the idea we disagree with, not the person expressing it, and remember to practice empathy. 
  2. Note areas of both agreement and disagreement.
  3. Respect the confidentiality of the discussion
    1. When referencing specific individuals, whether part of the sex work industry or not, no names or identifying remarks will be shared outside of this group
  4. Avoid speaking in absolutes (i.e. “All people think this,” or “No educated people hold that view”).

Introduction and Personal Stake- 10 minutes

  1. Who are you, how old are you, what are your pronouns, what do you do for work, and what do you hope to gain from tonight’s discussion?
  2. What about the legality of sex work is important to you personally and for our broader community? 
    • If willing, please explain sex work’s economic impact on your livelihood.
  3. What immediate issues, if any, do you see regarding sex work in our current North Carolina social sphere?

Gaps and Solutions- 30 minutes

Gaps (15 minutes)

1. Based on the background materials or your own personal experiences, what do you think are the most pressing needs related to the sex work industry in North Carolina?

2. Living in an idealistic world, what would sex work look like in North Carolina in the future if we adopt change?

3. Now more realistically, what goals do you think are most achievable in the short and long term?

Solutions (15 minutes)

1. What solutions do you think have the greatest potential for positive change in North Carolina? Do you think these solutions can be applied nationally? Why or why not?

2. Which proposed solutions do you think would have a detrimental effect and/or negative unintended consequences? Why are you concerned about them?

3. Many of these actions will require different levels and combinations of time, political influence, and broad institutional support. Do these differences factor into your priorities for change, and if so, how?

Reflections- 10 minutes

  1. What was your biggest takeaway tonight?
  • How do these conversations begin larger discussions in the political atmosphere?

2. What perspectives aren’t in the room that would be important to consider?

  • What perspectives would be best to lead these conversations on a legal floor?

3. Is there any other future step you would like to take related to tonight’s discussion?

Drag Show Token Reflection

A few weeks ago, I attended the Drag Show performance that was put on by Rusk and Q&A. It was so much fun! I have always wanted to go to a drag show and it was truly a special night. The performers were incredible, and I was especially impressed by the student performers. I was struck by how unapologetically themselves they were– each person had their own unique persona, and each performance was different. Some embodied very stereotypically feminine looks– blonde hair, high heels, makeup. Others wore outfits that concealed more. Some of the performers merely wanted us to have fun and enjoy their dancing, while others had deeper messages about race and inequality. My favorite performance was done by three Davidson students. I just thought it was so amazing to see the talent that we have at our school and the way that they were able to get the crowd so lively and excited. Everyone was having fun, and I loved seeing the ways that gender was fluidly expressed. In class, we have talked about gender norms and the problems with the gender binary. These performers expressed gender how they wanted to, in ways that worked for them. I wish that our whole class had attended because it was great. Gender is a social construct, and these performers proved that. Gender can be labeled if you want it to be, but gender can also change and be expressed in so many ways. I am a cisgender woman, so my gender has remained constant throughout my life. However, sometimes my expression changes. The show reminded me that there are so many ways to express gender and love the way that I present myself to the world. I would like to attend more events like this in the future. 

No Product Day Reflection

Last week, when I was doing my final exams and spending time with my friends, I decided to do the No Product Day. I had done it earlier in the year when it was first proposed, but I will admit that I still put concealer under my eye-bags. This time, I wanted to commit. Because I am typically not a very active person and I shower every day, I was not too concerned about not wearing deodorant. However, I have a minimal but pretty regular makeup routine that I cling to, which includes light coverage to even out my skin tone, concealer on blemishes, and a bit of blush. Without it, I tend to think that I look sick or tired. However, I know that is just the internalized social norms. Throughout the day, I realized that it wasn’t a big deal if I wore makeup or not. My friends and my boyfriend didn’t notice or at least didn’t say anything. In fact, I was able to save time in my morning routine and I didn’t find myself adjusting my makeup throughout the day. I felt like I was giving my skin a bit of a rest. I definitely learned that it is not necessary to cover my face or use beauty products in order to feel like myself. This is an especially pertinent lesson because, as I am writing this, I currently have no makeup because the airline lost one of my suitcases when I flew home yesterday and it contained all of my beauty supplies. Although pretty upset, I am able to gain perspective knowing that it is not the end of the world. That being said, I do not think there is anything wrong with me wearing makeup. I like dressing up, and I think it makes me feel more confident. I am insecure about acne flare-ups, and I prefer to have them covered. Wearing makeup feels comfortable to me. 

                   THEORY TO PRAXIS: DELIBERATION GUIDE 

Title: 

 Deliberation on the participation of transgender athletes in college sports  

Before the Deliberation: 

  1. Read this document for the understanding of the subject matter in detail   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender and https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/gender-identity/transgender 
  1. Read this article regarding the recent laws against the transgender school and college athletes in North Carolina https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/n-c-lawmakers-file-bill-ban-transgender-athletes-sports-n1261958 and  https://www.wunc.org/politics/2021-04-15/north-carolina-anti-trans-athletes-bill-debated-high-school-sports   
  1. Analyze this graph on the public opinion on transgender athlete and their participation in college sports https://www.statista.com/statistics/1238594/college-transgender-athletes-by-age/ 
  1. Be familiar with Davidson NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation    https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/diversity-and-inclusion/lgbtqia-resources/gender-identity-resources 

Introduction: 

Everyone has their own gender identity depending upon the internal understanding of oneself as either male, female, or neither. Apart from our own gender identity, our gender expression helps us express our gender through the way we dress, pronouns we choose to be referred to, style, dressing, etc. Society’s understanding of gender construction as only male or female since birth has failed to recognize transgender people in the community. Similarly, in today’s world societies gender construction have mixed opinions on whether a transgender athlete should be able to compete in sports. 

The survey of the public opinion on whether a transgender athlete should compete in college sports in the United States as of April 2021, by age shows that only 20.2 % of the entire population support transgender in competing in college sports whereas the rest of the population is unsure and are against it (Reference). As a result, the debate on whether transgender people should participate in college sports in accordance with their gender identity has been a polarizing issue. Through this deliberation, I will include the several perspective and opinions of the entire Davidson community to provide a suitable conclusion for the Davidson college transgender athletes community in relation to their participation in sports. 

 
Background:  

North Carolina Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that hinders transgender students in schools and college from competing in sports. There have been 84 bills filed against transgender people mostly focusing on school and college sports. Mark Brody, one of the bill’s sponsors, Republican, introduced a bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives which argues how transgender dominance in sports has pushed out cisgender athletes from school and college sports. Such has affected their records and scholarships The North Carolina argues how such laws were introduced to protect the integrity of sports competition. 

Such laws limiting transgender people to school and college sports have had a significant impact on the mental health of transgender people. In response to such bills, statistics from a national survey of LGBTQ youth from Trevor Project (a non-profit organization on crisis and suicide prevention services) state that 40% of LGBTQ respondents, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, seriously considered attempting suicide.  

This has been a highly debatable topic in college sports. Similarly, the Davidson college recently follows the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation. Such a policy emphasizes the medical treatment of testosterone. 

  1. (FTM) A trans male assigned birth as a female receiving medical exception treatment with testosterone may compete on a men’s team but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing that team status to a mixed team. 
  1. (MTF) A trans female assigned birth as a male receiving medical exception treatment with testosterone may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment. ( Reference

 
Similarly, any transgender student-athlete not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in sex-separated sports activities in accordance with his or her assigned birth gender. 

  • A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team. 
  • A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team. ( Reference)  

Central question: 

 
To what extent should Davidson college intervene in transgender athletes participating in sports.? 

 Intended audience: 

 I acknowledge the fact that the collaborative voice of the entire Davidson college community is highly valuable and matters to improve the understanding of this topic in detail. As a result, an entire Davidson community along with some professionals will be directly or indirectly involved in this deliberation. It will include the voice of every Davidson member and each opinion, discussion and perspective will be highly valuable for suitable outcome in relation to the transgender athlete and their participation in college sports. I will invite lawyers and the North Carolina athletic director as participants in the deliberation. 

General Format: 

The event will be held in person at Duke Hall. Although it is extremely difficult to include the voice of all1983 students and the faculty members at a single event at once, everyone will somehow contribute to this deliberation through an online survey, petition, and a form to include their voice and perspective. The event will be highly monitored by the invited professionals such as lawyers and the North Carolina athletic director who will play an important part in the evaluation and conclusion process. Below will be the general format of the deliberation.  

Part one: – Introduction and discussion of the background material (10 minutes).             

– Presentation of the facts, article, laws, collected data, and research (10 minutes) 

Part two: –    Anonymous survey and petition (5 minutes) 

                  –   Identification of the pros and cons (5 minutes) 

                  –   Discussion of the main topic in detail (15 min) 

        –    Discussion on the current policy NCAA Policy on Student-Athlete Transgender.                                    

                 –    Debate to evaluate important considerations and opinions (10 minutes) 

                 –    Deliberation: generating and evaluating ideas to transcend (15 minutes) 

 
Part 3:        Reflection (15 min) 

 
Question of consideration: 

 
1. What do you mean by “transgender athlete “? 

2.  what are the current policies in the United States in relation to the transgender athlete and their participation in college sports? 

3. To what extent do cisgender athletes get affected by transgender athletes? 

4. To what extent do transgender athletes get affected by cisgender athletes?  

6. Should Davidson College preserve or amend the NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete Participation after the bill on not allowing transgender athletes to participate in college sports is passed? 

7. Does excluding transgender athletes protect the integrity of sports competition. 

8. What are the main arguments in Favour of the transgender athlete participating in college sports? 

9. What are the main arguments against transgender athletes participating in college sports? 

10. Should the North Carolina house committee pass the bill that would exclude transgender rights to college sports? 

11. What are the pros and cons of allowing transgender athletes in competing for college sports? 

12. How it is or not fair to allow the transgender athlete to college sports.  

13.  What are the ways in which both transgender and cisgender people can participate in sports while protecting the integrity of college sports competitions. 

14. How will Davidson college respond to the issue of not allowing transgender into college sports? 

14. What are the ways in which Davidson college can provide a fair and comfortable environment for transgender athletes in sports. 

Reflection and Follow ups: 

For the reflection, all the data, research, opinions, perspective, and recommendation of the entire Davidson community will be evaluated to provide an insight to make a new understanding of Davison college transgender athlete and their sports participation. Everyone’s opinions will be highly valuable. The gathered information will be evaluated to create a suitable environment for both transgender and cisgender athlete in the Davidson college sports. The evaluation will help determine if Davidson college should continue to implement and follow the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation or amend it in relation to new demands and policy.  

Confidentiality will be maintained. All the discussions among the parties involved along with the required documentation will be confidential unless a person makes a specific request. All the information regarding the collected data, information, and documents of the transgender and cisgender students including their identity and medical information will be kept confidential.  

 Following that, each will provide some feedback and suggestions at the end of the meeting for any future deliberations on this topic. Such opinions will help accumulate different plans, amendments, and changes. The Davidson athletic community will play a vital role and each transgender and cisgender athlete will be able to share their understanding, concerns, and questions. After the discussion and gathering of data, the invitee such as lawyers and the North Carolina athletic director along with Davidson college’s president and president of the athletic department will produce suitable conclusions to this subject matter in detail. 

 
 
 
References: 

https://www.wunc.org/politics/2021-04-15/north-carolina-anti-trans-athletes-bill-debated-high-school-sports

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/n-c-lawmakers-file-bill-ban-transgender-athletes-sports-n1261958

https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/diversity-and-inclusion/lgbtqia-resources/gender-identity-resources

Discussing Gender-Neutral Bathrooms At Davidson: A Step by Step Guide

Central Question: How might gender-neutral bathrooms on campus affect students’ wellbeing and comfortability?   

Introduction: After the passing and ultimate repeal of House Bill 2 by North Carolina legislature, which excluded transgender citizens from discrimination protections and prohibited them from using public restrooms aligned with their gender identity, the debate of gendered bathrooms has become polarizing topic. Arguments against HB2 argued that transgender Americans are entitled to safety and comfortability, while argument for the bill claimed that choice in restrooms breads predatory behavior and should be something to fear. However, the topic is now expanding to influence not only include trans, but non-binary people as well. A study by the Trevor Project found that one in four LGBTQ+ members of Gen Z are nonbinary, falling outside the traditional categories of “male” and “female.” This begs the question, how do the increasing number of genderqueer youth complicate the topic of public bathrooms? And specifically at Davidson, what are the potential impacts of gendered versus gender-neutral bathrooms on student wellbeing and comfortability? 

Intended Audience: Students of all gender identities should participate in this discussion, as they will all be impacted by decisions in bathroom policies. Trans and gender non-conforming students must be supported and encouraged to voice their opinion in this conversation, as they have been historically excluded from discussion of their own bodily autonomy. Thus, Queers&Allies could be a potential group to pull participants from. Those who have experienced gender-based harassment should also have a say in their comfortability in these public spaces, thus reaching out to Students Against Sexual Violence also might add a valuable perspective. Additionally, staff members from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion should also be included since they yield power to affect bathroom policies and infrastructure on campus that influences students’ everyday life and safety. Counselors from the Center for Student Health and Wellbeing who specialize in LGBTQ+ concerns would also provide a level of expertise on how this issue affects mental and physical health. Finally, the PCC E-Board must also be present in this discussion, since eating houses and frats continue to be among the only buildings without bathroom options for gender non-conforming students. 

Background: Trigger Warning: References to Self-Harm and Sexual Abuse 

To understand the relevance of gender-neutral bathrooms at Davidson, first one must be aware of the consequences of limited bathroom options for people of all gender expressions. Bathrooms can be one of the most stress inducing places on college campuses for trans and gender non-conforming students. According to the American Medical Association, when TGNC students are denied access to bathrooms that match their gender identity, they are at risk of numerous negative health outcomes, as well as verbal and physical harassment. Nearly 70% of transgender youth surveyed by the AMA reported verbal harassment and 9% reported experiences of physical assault in gender-segregated bathrooms. In a journal published by the National Institutes of Health, among the TGNB youth who experienced bathroom discrimination, 85% reported depressive mood and 60% seriously considered suicide. 

In arguments for using bathrooms aligned with ones prescribed “birth gender,” people cite the potential saftey risk for cis-gendered students. However, in reality, TGNC students are the most vulnerable in binary restrooms. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan Schools of Public Health, 36% of TGNC students with restricted bathroom access reported being sexually assaulted in the last 12 months. 

However, some TGNC students avoid public restrooms altogether. In a Human Right Campaign survey of 12000 LGBTQ teenagers, 65% of trans youth reported that they try not to use the bathroom in school. This avoidance can have serious medical consequences, including recurrent urinary tract infections, as well as the possibility of more serious health complications, including chronic kidney disease. 

In light of these findings of harassment and emotional distress caused by gendered restrooms, many college campuses have begun exploring the alternatives. At Boston University, 43 restrooms distributed evenly across campus were converted into all-gendered spaces. The University of California, one of the first colleges to write a comprehensive policy on gender-inclusive restrooms, cites 5 lessons when converting bathrooms in gender neutral areas.

  1. Converting existing single-occupancy restrooms is the most cost-effective solution
  2. Deciding how to label gender-inclusive restrooms is a more important decision than you might think (certain labels can be confusing, exclusive, or even offensive) Here is a link to bathroom signs that affirm gender diversity.
  3. Ensure gender-inclusive restrooms are distributed evenly across campus (This maximizes the number of students who can reach them)
  4. Converting gendered restrooms into gender-inclusive ones may affect compliance with laws and building codes
  5. Consider student privacy when making multi-stall restrooms gender-inclusive (Students are often most comfortable using this type of restroom if each toilet and urinal has a floor-to-ceiling stall)

Shared Language: Each individual coming into the discussion will have varying perspectives and knowledge on the topic of genderqueer identities and experiences. Thus, it is essential to provide inclusive, affirming language that can be used throughout the discussion. 

Language to Avoid:  

  • Using the word “transgender” as a noun. E.g. “She is a transgender.” Instead, use transgender as an adjective E.g. “She is transgender.”  
  • “It” as a pronoun. If unsure of someone’s pronouns, simply ask or opt for “they/them”
  • “Transvestite” and “Transsexual” (While some elder members of the LGBTQ+ community may self-identify with these words, transgender is a more commonly accepted term that is not seen as offensive)

Important Definitions according to Medical News Today

  • Gender: A person’s gender is how they identify internally and how they express this externally. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that gender is a social construction that people typically describe in terms of femininity and masculinity. In Western cultures, people associate femininity with women and masculinity with men, but this social construction varies across cultures.
  • ​​Sex: A person’s sex is typically based on certain biological factors, such as their reproductive organs, genes, and hormones. Like gender, sex is not binary. A person may have the genes that people may associate with being male or female, but their reproductive organs, genitals, or both may look different.
  • Gender-neutral Bathroom: a restroom that anyone of any gender can use. Gender-neutral restrooms can be single occupant or multi stall.

Common Gender Identities as Defined by The Trevor Project

  • Cisgender: A cisgender person identifies with the sex that they were assigned at birth.
  • Nonbinary: A person who does not experience gender within the gender binary of “male” or “female”
  • Transgender: This is an umbrella term that encompasses all people who experience and identify with a different gender than that which their assigned sex at birth would suggest.
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-conforming: A person who has a gender identity or expression that is not the same as society’s expectations for their assigned sex or assumed gender.
  • TGNC: transgender and gender non-conforming
  • Genderfluid: A person who has a gender identity and presentation that shifts between, or shifts outside of, society’s expectations of gender.
  • Two Spirit: an umbrella term that encompasses different sexualities and genders in Indigenous Native American communities.
  • Agender: A person who does not identify with any particular gender, or they may have no gender at all.

Conversation Agreements: Listening to students’ lived experiences surrounding bathrooms is the best way to ensure that their needs are made the number one priority. This is why there needs to be procedures in place to protect all voices and foster an environment of respect while having this challenging conversation. 

Therefore in the deliberation it is imperative that ALL participants must: 

  • be empathetic to the experiences of students regardless of how they identify.
  • be willing to challenge their assumptions and previous knowledge on bathroom preferences.   
  • engage in active listening while others are speaking 
  • understand that not everyone (not every trans/genderqueer, not every woman/man, Davidson student, etc) shares the same feelings, and experiences in regards to public restrooms. 

Deliberation Format:

Introduction: 5 min

Shared Language: 5 min

Conversation Agreements: 5 min

Background: 15 min (Participants will read to themselves and will be given extra time for individual research if needed) 

Small group discussions: 5 min (Discuss initial reactions, opinions, and questions to background information)

Large group discussions: 10 min (Discuss initial reactions, opinions, and questions)

Deliberation on Gender-Neutral Bathrooms at Davidson: 30 min

Reflections and Action Plans: 15 min

Group Discussion Questions to Consider: 

  • What are your impressions of the HB2 Bill? 
  • What were your first reactions to the background information provided? 
  • Have you thought about this topic before/have experience with gender-neutral bathrooms? 

Guiding Questions for Deliberation on Gender Neutral Bathrooms at Davidson: 

  • Do you know where the gender-neutral bathrooms are on campus? If not, pull up the map here
  • Who might have easy access to these bathrooms? Who might not have access? 
  • Do you think there are enough to sustainably provide for all gender queer people on campus, or people uncomfortable using gendered bathrooms? 
  • What might be the effects of the current gender-neutral bathrooms in the basement of Chambers/Belk? Consider how making these spaces separate might increase stigma/discrimination.  
  • What might be some perks of gender-neutral bathrooms for cis-gendered students and faculty? 
  • Discuss the implications of creating single-occupancy vs multiple-occupancy restrooms that are open to all genders? Think back to the background information and the University of California bathroom suggestions. What might the effects of more private floor-to ceiling stalls be at Davidson?  
  • What might be some economic costs/spatial limitations of constructing new bathrooms? How might we overcome these? 

Reflections and Action Steps:  In order to collect student and faculty opinions about the deliberation, each participant will write down their thoughts on the following questions below. If they answer yes to the last question, they will be included in an email thread that sends more information, a possible petition for more bathroom options, and dates for future meetings about this issue.

  • What is something new that you discovered in this deliberation? 
  • Did you challenge any of your previous assumptions about gender identity, student wellbeing, gender-based harassment, etc? 
  • Who else could be included in this conversation? Is there a perspective that was not considered? 
  • How could students rally support for more gender-neutral restrooms? 
  • Would you like to research and discuss this topic further?

UWC Deliberation guide: How has colonialism impacted us?

Instructions for facilitators

This guide is designed for a 1.5-hour session, for small groups (6-8 participants) of UWC students. The United World Colleges is a group of 18 schools that offer the IBDP to international students of diverse backgrounds. These boarding schools gather students from 150 different countries (some students come are undocumented or hold refugee status), offering financial assistance for 80% of students to ensure accessibility. Students usually are 16-19 years old, and are proficient in English. Therefore, facilitators should expect students to bring different understandings of colonialism, especially considering that participants have gone through different educational systems. 

The session aims to be the beginning of a longer conversation. More specifically, this session is designed to introduce a difficult topic for students to take to their residences and academic spaces, so as to raise awareness of the impacts that Colonialism has in the way we see our world and how we interact with each other. No materials have been assigned previous to the session. 

The session is structured as follows:

  • Introduction and agreement – 15min
  • Initial discussion – 20m
  • Themed discussions – 40m
  • Reflection – 15m
Continue reading “UWC Deliberation guide: How has colonialism impacted us?”

Feminist Mix Tape: “Bitch”

  When it comes to strong feminist music, there’s nothing quite like the songs from the 90s. When considering which of these songs best encapsulates that iconic spirit of 3rd wave feminism and assertive, powerful women taking control over their own sexuality, Meredith Brooks’s hit song “Bitch” is the clear winner. The overarching theme of the song is a woman owning her individuality, and unapologetically celebrating the many facets of her identity that make up who she is as a person. 

   The title itself is an ironic critique of the way that men will claim that they want a “strong woman,” and then call her a “bitch” when she actually speaks her mind or refuses to conform to certain gender norms. This is referenced most clearly with the line “So take me as I am / This may mean you’ll have to be a stronger man,” which is essentially saying “If my strength and agency make you feel threatened in your masculinity, then that is your problem, not mine. I will not make myself weaker for your comfort, so you will simply have to be a stronger man.” 

   Her expression of the ways in which modern feminism begins to recognize the intersecting identities of womanhood is evident in the chorus of the song, where she lists the many facets of her sense of self; “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover / I’m a child, I’m a mother / I’m a sinner, I’m a saint / I do not feel ashamed.” The first line addresses how she can be both independent (referencing how society calls free-thinking women “bitches”) and loving at the same time. The second line addresses the way in which our society has determined that once a woman becomes a mother, this is all that she is allowed to be. With the words, “I’m a child, I’m a mother,” Meredith states that the responsibility and stability that come with the role of motherhood are not concepts incompatible with the freedom and creativity of childhood. The third line again challenges this notion that women must be “one or the other,” but this time in regards to her innocence and intentions. 
   A final important line to consider is Brooks’s “And don’t try to save me,” where she acknowledges society’s tendency to disregard women who refuse to be silenced, and instead label them “hysterical.” She predicts that men will assume her duality is an illness or issue from which she needs deliverance, and reminds them she is not some “damsel in distress” in need of saving- so do not even try.

Token for Caleb Luna’s Lecture: “Filth Are My Politics: Toward an Anti-Racist Fat Queer Politic.”

A few weeks ago, I attended the Sally G. McMillen Lecture that featured artist, public scholar and theorist of the body Caleb Luna and their talk: “Filth Are My Politics: Toward an Anti-Racist Fat Queer Politic.” I was immediately struck by the way Luna (virtually) initially made the mood of the talk very welcoming and low-key, something most guest lecturers do not ever do. The fact that they were presenting virtually because they were very busy finishing their dissertation also allowed me to relate to Luna in the sense that we were both students who were busy with work. In terms of the content of the talk, Luna offered a fascinating history of fatness and fat phobia as they relate to race, which is an analysis I was completely new to. In their (paraphrased) words, fat phobia has little to do with health and more so with white supremacy’s goal of crafting a legitimate sex, race and class. To expand on this point, Luna spoke about the legacy of Saartje Baartman, in terms of how her body was commodified and put on display for the financial benefit and entertainment of white Europeans, and how it contributed to the creation of racialized genders and a conflation of fatness with conceptions of “racial Others.” Additionally, Luna spoke about art in the Baroque Period (17th & 18th centuries) and how it enshrined fat women, which some read as an acceptance of fatness back then. However, Luna problematizes this reading of the art and contends that the reason this depiction of fatness was acceptable was because the women were white. In the development of the “science” behind today’s normative conceptions of fatness, Luna claims there was also an underlining thread of anti-Blackness. After all, the European colonialists in Africa were exploiting and exporting the bodies and skeletons of Black Africans for “scientific” purposes during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of these skeletons are still kept and featured at well-known European museums. This intersectional analysis provided by Luna illuminated a history I was almost completely unaware of prior to the talk. While I knew the story of Saartje Baartman, I did not know about how her story plays into the racialized history of fat phobia.

Throughout the talk Luna recommended the scholarship of numerous authors to explore this topic further such as:

Feminist Mixtape: Try by Colbie Caillat

For the Feminist Mixtape assignment, I chose the song Try by Colbie Caillat. She wrote it as a rebellion against beauty standards, and the song resonated with both men and women. While the song may be viewed as merely that women should not wear makeup to feel beautiful, Caillat says that there is a deeper message– that everyone should learn to love themselves despite their imperfections. No one should have to change their appearance in order to please others. In the music video, a diverse set of women are shown with their makeup and hair done, and then as the song progresses, they (and Caillat) take off their makeup and reveal their true selves. They embrace the wrinkles, the smile lines, the messy hair. The song is empowering, and it aligns with the ideas of feminism.

Try" The Anti-Photoshop Music Video by Colbie Caillat - Alfalfa Studio
Colbie Caillat in the Try music video

In class, we learned about the pressures that society puts on people, especially women, to fit a certain standard of beauty. Specifically, we analyzed the discipline of bodies, make-up, and hygiene through a Foucauldian framework, and how fat-shaming influences our perceptions of beauty. Jean Kilbourne’s Ted Talk that we watched talked about how the media– and specifically advertisements– portray women and reinforce the idea that skinny women are beautiful. We also read a few articles on how we as consumers have been told that we need certain products to be attractive. In a way, Caillat is promoting her own No Product Day challenge. This seems to be mainstream feminism.

A limitation of the song is that Caillat is still a woman who fits into the idealized standards of beauty– she is white, blonde, thin, and attractive. It may be easier for her to sing this “rebellion song” than someone who does not fit into our society’s standards of beauty.

Token: No Product Day Challenge

About two to three weeks ago, I actually partook in the no-product day challenge. Rather than purposefully participating in this activity, this actually started for a few days coincidentally. However, after realizing I did not really need to use my deodorant, I decided to carry on with it to make it roughly a week. Because I identify as a man, the only product I use for body hygiene is my deodorant.Obviously, I wear deodorant so then I would not smell like body odor when around others.

As mentioned earlier, I used no product for about six to seven days, and I was rather surprised by myself. One thing that surprised me was how un-smelly I was with my deodorant. Furthermore, I realized that my deodorant would cause me to smell like body odor more frequently than whenever I did not use it. I also think that swimming helped me cleanse my body odor from the chlorine water that would rinse my body. Even though I use aluminum-free deodorant, its effectiveness of blocking the body odor smell is next to nothing, and makes my armpits sweat more as a result of applying the product.

For quite some time, I have noticed that I have had a body odor problem. After doing this challenge, I realized that the problem was not my natural process, but rather what I do to my body. Applying deodorant temporarily fixed the problem, but would worsen it long term. This challenge made me realize that it is best for your body to do its natural process. The functions of the human body should not be seen as “disgusting” or “uncivilized” – rather, we should all accept what our body does naturally and be proud of it. Products like deodorant are not designed to solve a problem with our bodies, but rather create one when we rely on them.

Feminist Mixtape: You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore 


For years, discrimination among men and women on social, political, and social aspects in society has been a growing issue. Women have been constantly fighting against the oppression of not being given equal rights as men. Such had led to the concept of Feminism, a worldview that women have equal rights as men on all political, social, and economic rights. 

There has been a lot of effort to promote the idea of feminism through various mediums.  Music has become one of the most engaging tools to promote feminism and raise awareness in today’s world. In this assignment, I have analyzed the song titled “ You Don’t Own Me” by Lesly Sue Goldstein, who is a popular American singer, actress, and activist. On September 21, 1963, she recorded one of the greatest feminist anthems of all time “ You don’t own me” at age 17.  The lyrics were written by Aka Johnny Madara and David White.  Lesley identified herself as ab Lesbian and was an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. 

 The song “ You don’t own me “, emphasizes the need for equality between men and women on several social, political, and economic issues. Lesley unpacks the issue of a misogynistic society, discrimination, and oppression of women in the society to advocate the rights of women on the ground of the equality of sexes.

“You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys’
“Don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay”
“I’m free, and I love to be free, To live my life the way I want”

Through these lyrics, Lesley addresses the idea of liberal feminism. The first few lines mentioned above emphasize the importance of women’s individuality and independence. The song argues how a woman is autonomous and capable of controlling her words independently of men. Lesley reflects on how the dominance of male society has led to the suppression and suffocation of women. Such has hindered the equality and liberty of women in society. Through the title  “ You don’t own me “, Lesley acknowledges the fact that freedom of choice is an important factor in feminism. This issue of liberal feminism in this song also unpacks several concepts we covered in class such as male supremacy, misogynistic society, and the concept of an egalitarian worldview of marriage. Such leads to the issue of Radical feminism.

Angela Davis provides, an author we covered during class discussion provides a similar insight on the misogynistic society and the expectation of women leading to liberal feminism. Similar to the song, Angela Davis acknowledges the fact that women’s enlightenment is a key to eradicating misogynistic worldview. She provides an insight into several discriminative anti-feminist societal structures putting women behind on social, economical, and political rights. She raises the issue of discrimination in the suffrage movement,  male supremacy, working-class black women, domestic violence, important economic equality (unequal paycheck ), and Radical feminism. Such harsh reality in society has influenced the supremacy leaving women behind. 

” You don’t own me ” by Lesley advocates and encourages women to stand for their rights and reflects the need to end the misogynistic and discriminative society to challenge inequalities faced by a woman.

References :

Working Women, Black Women, and the History of the Suffrage Movement, (1983) Angela Davis