Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let's talk about Sex

Don't get your hopes up, I am not meaning intercourse. Lets talk about bodies and what our brains tell us our bodies should be. The hypothesis I am working on when it comes to sex has it broken down into a couple of different areas as I outlined in my last post. These are (C)ASAB, Sex Identity, Sex Attribution and Body Map Fluidity. I am not entirely sure that this is what will end up as sticking in this category but it's a place to start. I'll go into more detail on each of the categories then go into ideas on how to do the research for this and potentially how it can be used.

(C)ASAB stands for (Coercively) assigned sex at birth. This can be assigned female at birth (AFAB), assigned male at birth (AMAB) or assigned intersex at birth which is then typically coercively assigned female or male following that designation. A lot of people in the non-binary and trans* communities are not only unhappy that they were assigned a gender at birth but that people seem to reduce us to our CASAB rather than listen to us when we give our gender. This is the only construct that is entirely stable for everyone, as each person has been assigned a sex at birth.

Sex Identity is if your internal body map matches your body, as well as if you plan on altering your body to better match your body map. This can be broken down into three categories. Cis sexual is where your body map and your body match. Trans sexual is where your body map and your body don't match and you have, or plan to have surgery or take hormones to align your body and map. Trans* sexual is where your body map and body don't match and you don't have plans to align your body either because you don't feel the need or can't do so. This body map and body match doesn't entirely have to do with sexual characteristics, it can also be other major aspects of your body. For example, a person who is a furry may have a body map that has a tail and since their body doesn't they may be considered trans* sexual.

Sex Attribution is what other people attribute your sex identity (usually assumed to be your asab) to be. This varies depending on the social context, but the majority of people will assume someone to be their asab or what they think is your asab. In other social contexts this might not be as likely but most people don't know what a trans* background might entail.

Body Map Fluidity is the final category under sex and is the amount that a persons internal body map fluctuates over time. Some people will have very stable body maps, where their idea of what their body should look like doesn't change much over time. People whose body map changes every so often will have a small amount of body map fluidity, people whose body map changes a decent skamount, enough to be noticeable on a regular basis would have a moderate amount of body map fluidity. The final group that has a high body map fluidity would have their map change quite often and regularly feel that change.

There isn't a lot of research to be done into ASAB as it is an assignation rather than something which will change over time. My research into sex identity will need to be in the form of surveys and interviews where I ask people about their body map, their body, and what they identify with for their sex (cis, trans, trans* etc.). This would need to be done with a sample of people who are cis as well as people who aren't. Sex attribution would need for me to have a group of people determine what someone's sex identity is based off of sight. This would need to be done with a number of people from a variety of backgrounds who would be viewing people who have cis, trans and trans* backgrounds. Body map fluidity could go in a number of ways. This could be done retrospectively by asking people about how often their body map changes or by having people regularly journal on their body map and any changes in it over a long period of time. The second one may need to be done after a retrospective survey is done so that there is a better idea of how often peoples body maps change.

What can be done with this information? To be honest I am not sure, if this system is found to be true with research then measures may be able to be developed which can help a therapist get a better picture of what a client is going experiencing. This also helps legitimize a person's body dysphoria by acknowledging it and respecting its legitimacy. This information would likely be most useful as a part of a complete picture of a persons gender and sex rather then standing on its own. 

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