General Question

flo's avatar

What is the difference between I feel like another ethnicity and I feel like I'm in the wrong anatomy?

Asked by flo (10479points) July 12th, 2017

I can’t add to it.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Ethnicity is a cultural thing. Under the skin, regardless of the notion of ethnicity, we are all human beings. An Aboriginal person in Australia might look as fair-skinned as me, but they still identify as being Aboriginal. Many of the signifiers relating to ethnicity are human constructions rather than biological signifiers.

Whether we are categorised as a male or female is a biological difference. You either have a penis, or you do not. However, I don’t believe our sexual orientation is limited to the physical. I think our hormones and perhaps other physiological effects that I’m not knowledgeable enough to discuss, influence our femininity or masculinity. Being male or female extends beyond the physical manifestation of our sex. And I’m not simply talking about gender constructs. I suspect (and this is my interpretation), if the wires become confused during the development phase, we can end up with a person who physically looks male, but who ‘feels’ they are in the wrong body, they feel female. I believe this difference extends beyond simply ‘wanting’ to be considered a different sex.

I think we are still very ignorant about the inner workings of our bodies. We might understand the mechanics, but the body is a sensitive, complex instrument and when we start to try to understand the role of different organs, of hormones and so on, there is much we still don’t know.

janbb's avatar

To be very simplistic, society seems to have decided that gender is something you can change and ethnicity is something you can’t. I’m not sure it’s any clearer than that.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@janbb The point is ethnicity is something that people made up or constructed.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Yes @Tropical_Willie. I agree. Ethnicity is not static. It’s a human construct. I used the example of an Australian Aborigine. A person can look just the same as me, and yet identify as belonging to the Australian Aborigine group because of their family and community connections and their cultural background. They can equally choose to identify as not being an Aboriginal person.

janbb's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That’s @Earthbound_Misfit‘s point but actually that would make it easier to change.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t think society HAS decided that ethnicity can’t be changed and that gender can. If that were true, why would all the confusion and argument about transgender people exist?

janbb's avatar

I agree but I think that’s the direction we’re moving in though.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@flo, interesting and thought-provoking question. Thank you.

janbb's avatar

^ I agree with that as well!

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think there’s a difference. If someone identifies with an ethnicity, and is part of that culture, even if they weren’t born into it, I’m fine with it.

cookieman's avatar

^^ I agree with @JLeslie and I have two examples.

My aunt and uncle were adopted by my grandmother’s second husband (my grandfather). My grandmother and her children were from Nova Scotia of English heritage. My grandfather was all Italian. After the adoption, into adulthood, my aunt made a point of maintaining her English ethnicity and wanted nothing to do with the Italian culture she’d been adopted into. My uncle, on the other hand, if you asked him, would say he was Italian. He went so far as to adopt the mannerisms and vocabulary.

We adopted my daughter from China when she was one. She is, obviously, Chinese. And yet, in third grade, when the teacher went around the room and asked each student their ethnicity, my daughter said, “I’m Italian.” She was completely serious. The teacher contacted me concerned. I explained that yes, she knows she’s Chinese, but she feels Italian. It’s part of her identity. Just like my uncle.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@JLeslie and @cookieman, how are these examples different to someone saying they’re in the wrong body? I don’t disagree that the notion of ethnicity is not fixed, but that’s not what the OP was asking.

Sneki2's avatar

The first one is bullshit and the other one is being transgender.

Why? Well, as it was said, ethnicity is a social thing. If you’ve never been a member of a culture, you can’t suddenly be that culture. An outsider would never actually know what it is like to be the member since birth. Claiming to be trans ethnic is actually being offensively fond of a certain culture.
It’s like if I suddenly start calling myself American, even though I’ve never even visited the US, much less lived there, all because I love American cartoons. It’s what weaboos do to Japanese culture, thinking they are Japanese in soul and that they know everything about Japan because they’ve seen a lot of anime. It’s highly offensive both to the culture you’re a supposedly a member of, and the culture you actually belong in. You can consider yourself a member of a culture only of you’re born and raised in it.
Besides, many trans people claim to have felt trans since they were kids. How many kids has an actual, detailed knowledge about another culture to be able to claim it? Most kids can’t even read, much less have any idea what a culture is and which one they belong to. I can’t claim I’m trans American when I didn’t even know there’s such a thing as America until I was a bit older.

When it comes to gender, it’such more plausible. Your gender is a part of your identitiy. A kid knows what is a boy and what is a girl from a very young age, and they’d very soon become aware if there’s any oddity. It’s not about blue vs pink ribbon; kids are separated by gender since birth. They are treated differently, exposed to different things, expected to behave differently, and in the very core, they are different. And we’re aware of this since day one.

To know your gender doesn’t require any education and knowledge. It’s in you.

To know your culture requires a lot of education and a lifetime experience.

You can’t “feel you’ve been another culture since you’ve been a kid” if you never even knew that culture even exist until recently.

DominicY's avatar

“The first one is bullshit and the other one is being transgender.”

This is essentially my view as well. One is bullshit, the other is not.

When Rachael Dolezal revealed herself to be “transracial”, this was brought up by the anti-LGBT crowd as proof prositive that being transgender was bullshit. But I see a perfect chance to draw a line on the “slippery slope”. One key difference is the biological element of gender. There’s estrogen and there’s testosterone. Transgender people often feel more like who they are supposed to be after receiving hormone therapy (with the opposite sex’s hormone). There’s no such thing as a “black hormone” or a “white hormone”. There is a mental aspect to gender (especially with regard to these hormones) that goes beyond social constructs. There is no such aspect to race or ethnicity. Other than physical characteristics, the differences are social.

Now there’s nothing wrong with someone effectively being a member of an ethnic group because they were raised in it even if they are not descended from people of that ethnicity. But that’s not the same as being “transethnic”. That’s just being a member of a social group (whose membership may not be entirely dependent on bloodline), not claiming that on a biological level you are a different ethnicity than you are.

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Then maybe I don’t understand the question. Explain to me what you believe the OP is asking and where I missed the mark. I was saying I think feeling part of a different ethnic group, and living that life, is just as valid to me as being trans or gay or whatever.

@DominicY My problem with the “gene” argument, is I don’t give a shit if a person has a gay or trans gene, because let’s say a particular person doesn’t have the gene, but still strongly feels LBG or T, I’m not going to say their feelings are less legitimate. There are plenty of women, probably men too, who later in life found a same gender SO after not necessarily being inclined towards same sex previously.

I also think sometimes people are just born knowing they are gay or trans, and some get heavily influenced by environmental circumstances (sometimes good ones, sometimes not).

I really feel the “born this way” and gene argument are giving into the religious people who are so horrible (and I don’t mean all religious people are horrible, I mean the ones who are). It’s like saying we have to show those mean people why LGBT people are legitimate. I say; no, we don’t need to prove anything! What we need is kindness, respect, understanding, and a basic belief that each individual is unique and find their way in life.

I realize with children it’s a little sticky, but certainly we should respect that an adult gets to identify how they want, gets to live and spend their life with whomever they want to (any other consenting adult) and everyone else who wants to try to say it’s “unnatural” can take a flying leap. We don’t need to prove to them scientifically anything in my opinion, because it shouldn’t matter anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie, like this: If a 1 year old European child is kidnapped by American Indians in 1692, and lives out their whole life with them, do you think they would identify with European ethnicity, or Native American ethnicity? Especially if no one had a clue what European ethnicity means or how to tell the child about it, should they have a desire to. The child would have no way of “living a European life.” Ethnicity is an emotional thing.

Being gay or transgendered crosses all borders, racial and ethnic. It’s a physical thing.

flutherother's avatar

Feeling you are in the wrong anatomy is something personal and real and is an issue recognised by medical science. Feeling like another ethnicity is just about impossible. One ethnicity doesn’t replace another they just exist together side by side but we can only have one anatomy.

flo's avatar

Thank you all. I hope the discussion continues.
Added: Thanks for the compliment @Earthbound_Misfit and @janbb

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@JLeslie, you said “I don’t think there is a difference”, but you only explained your understanding of ethnicity. You didn’t explain how your examples relate to a person’s anatomy. I should say, @flo, didn’t ask about gender (although I’m assuming she meant that). She said ‘anatomy’.

I’m not being picky, by the way. I’m interested in your perspective.

flo's avatar

I have never been a male so there is no way I could know what being a male feels like. It’s not logical. Conditioning would let me think one thing or another though.

Mariah's avatar

Perhaps try imagining what it would be like if everybody you knew insisted you were male, and how that would make you feel.

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit I didn’t feel like you were being picky, I don’t kind the questions. I just feel like it’s all about identity. I’m not going to question how people identify themselves, or how they feel in regards to their gender or their ethnicity. @Dutchess_III talked about a white European being raised by American Indians. I do think it’s possible for that person to grow up feeling they never really fit in, or they might completely identify American Indian, or maybe they feel a belonging to both cultures.

An orthodox Jewish woman who used to work with me was so very entrenched in Judaism, no one would ever guess she was raised Catholic. Her ethnicity was Cuban-American Sephardic Jewish as far as I’m concerned. She felt Jewish. She went towards it. She married a Jewish man and that was the final for her to finally convert. She is completely part of the culture, and completely accepted.

flo's avatar

@Mariah said it. It’s all about going with what you’re told to be. “Perhaps try to imagine what would be like if everybody you knew insisted you were male”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not all of it is. Not for everyone.

flo's avatar

Everyone: let me just add the word “or race“into the OP’s title: I feel like I’m… (another ethnicity or race)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, do you mean race or ethnicity @flo? They are two different things.

Strauss's avatar

@Dutchess_III, both race and ethnicity are social constructs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Anthropological evidence would disagree. But as we intermingle more and more much of that will become moot.
It’s all good.

Mariah's avatar

@flo I think you misunderstood my post. I’m asking you to imagine how it would feel, as the person you are now – you know inside your mind that you are female, right? – if everybody else insisted you were male. That would feel wrong. You might feel that they were wrong, that what you feel inside is the truth, that you are female despite what everyone else seems to think.

That’s what it feels like for many transgender folks.

flo's avatar

Edited but not for substance.
@Mariah Again, you are not helping your argument in the least. What you presented is:
If people keep insisting that you’re a female, not strong enough to do construction etc. eventhough you know you are because construction is what you’ve been doing for decades it would feel bad. Because of the feeling, some women get into the belief that if they have to have surgery and become men so they would have no problem. And with the men, you’re a man you’re not supposed to do or be good at raising a child that’s “female work” so, same idea.

You didn’t bring up the surgery part.

Mariah's avatar

Flo, what? I said nothing like that. You need to reread my comments.

My questions were intended as a thought exercise for you in order to help you empathize with trans people. Their situation is that everybody thinks they are opposite gender of the one they feel inside. That’s why I asked you to imagine everyone insisting you’re male when you know you’re female.

Being trans has nothing to do with changing gender in order to match whatever gender stereotypes you may already fit.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not all transgender people have surgery.

Also @flo, what in the world is your idea of “construction” that it would go on for decades?

flo's avatar

@Mariah “Flo, what? I said nothing like that.” You didn’t, that’s true. You actually presented the opposite what the theory is supposed to be, which is: The person strongly feels the ooposite of their anatomy the person her/himself, and no matter what anyone insists you are, i.e what matches your anatomy.
But my first statement stands.

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