Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ragashanti Interviews 'Male Cross-Dresser'

I find the content of this interview quite objectionable, because Raga’s analysis is characterized by misunderstandings, and ignorance about human sexuality and gender identity. Sadly, she too supports the anachronistic gender binary, which renders people like her invisible.

Ragashanti ignorantly refers to her as being “gay” numerous times, as if to suggest that gay men typically cross-dress. This is a fallacy. Being effeminate does not equate to being a woman, and even so, many gay men are not effeminate. Therein lies a popular misperception that Ragahanti uses the interview to perpetuate. His insistence that she is not a woman is ridiculous, but understandable, since it is common knowledge that most Jamaicans conflate genitalia with gender identity. A baby with a penis is male, which means he must like trucks and the colour blue, and he will be attracted to girls. This reductionist model of human sexuality and gender fuels our belligerent reaction to gender non-conformists.

What does it mean to be male or female? When we meet people, we assume their gender based on their gender presentation- clothing being the most significant gender marker. It is improbable, that you would ask someone if they have the genitalia to match their gender presentation. This woman clearly has a feminine gender presentation, and has genuine interest in undergoing gender reassignment surgery. If the genitalia of all your friends whose genitalia you have not yet seen is insignificant to your understanding of their gender, then it shouldn’t be used to disqualify this woman’s claim that she is a woman.

Ragashanti expresses his desire for her to stop “deceiving” people. Gender is not something you turn off or on at will; it is inherent to your being. It is unfair to expect that this woman should conform to unrealistic gender norms that do not reflect the way she identifies herself. Deception is unavoidable in this situation, because she cannot speak truthfully about her gender without realistically fearing that she might be on the receiving end of vigilante justice. And for what? Many Jamaicans do not fit into the binary model of gender and sexuality. This may be hard to imagine, but males do not always have a penis, and having a penis does not necessarily indicate that someone is attracted to women. The sky will not fall, and the world will not end with the acknowledgement of this truth.


  1. You have time! I stopped trying to justify/understand what Jamaicans do or say. It's just a waste of "MY" time.

    On side note...I always enjoy your writing. So well put together.

  2. I know Dave, seriously. I can't help myself though. I am very easily bothered by issues like this, even here in America. It's what you get for sitting in Gender Studies classes every term.

    It's either I talk this through with someone, or I write. I mostly talk :) Otherwise, I think I might explode (and not in a good way).

    Thanks for the compliment. And we still need to talk!!! lol

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