What is Gender and Who is Transgendered?



Dr. Carl W. Bushong, known as "Dr. B." to many, is the originator of a new style of long-distance transsexual and transgender services having helped hundreds fully transition. Since the early 1990's, his pioneering efforts broke the mold of the few remaining gatekeeper-style gender clinics by establishing the progressive Tampa Gender Identity Program which allowed access to a variety of transition services including hormone therapies, electrolysis and guidance to be readily available under one roof. Dr. B. continues to innovate by removing the need to travel great distances for many transition services such as guidance, hormone therapy, laboratory review and recommendation through his web site, doctorbushong.com.
When we speak of gender, in a context other than language, it is a recent concept in our culture, both lay and professional. It was not until 1955 that John Money, Ph.D. first used the term "gender" to discuss sexual roles, adding in 1966 the term "gender identity" while conducting his gender research at Johns Hopkins. In 1974, Dr. N.W. Fisk provided our now familiar diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria. Previously, one's sexual role was considered one of two discrete, non-overlapping congenital attributes—male or female determined by one's external genitals. These two mutually exclusive categories allowed for no variation. Of course, we acknowledged the cultural differences in sexual roles, but there still could be only two modes of expression - of being.
We then began to see one's gender as a continuum, a blending, analogous to a "gray scale." But, our distribution of gender was still bimodal, that is, most people are lumped at the two ends (see graphic) with only a minority in the middle. The great majority would be either male or female with all that implies.
But, my review of current research and experience with gender dysphoric, gay and traditional clients has led me to see gender not as a bimodal male or female dichotomy but as a matrix—a possible mix of male and female development within the same individual.

From research and observation, I have developed a list of five semi-independent attributes of gender, as a map to help you to understand this complex often hotly emotional issue of gender. Consider sexual identity/behavior (gender) springing from five semi-independent attributes:

  • Genetic Gender — Our chromosomal inheritance.
  • Physical Gender — Our primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
  • "Brain Gender" — Functional structure of the brain, along gender lines.
  • "Brain Sex" — Love/sex Patterns, How we relate to others on a social and interpersonal as well as sexual level. "Love Maps."
  • Gender Identity — Our subjective gender, our sexual Self-Map, how we feel ourselves to be: male or female.

It is my contention that it is possible for an individual to view oneself and function as male or female to varying degrees in each of the five sub-categories independent of the others.

From a few weeks after conception until two to three years of age, our brains develop gender in at least three independent dimensions which I have called "Brain Gender." [How the brain is wired along gender lines.] "Brain Sex" How we perceive sex, relationships and goals along male or female sets] and Gender Identity [how we perceive ourselves-male or female.]
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