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Jonathan Aquino
Mx. Cody
English 5
5/19/17
The Ouroboros Known as Identity
I perceive gender as an endless process one endures during which they are what they are

which itself is molded by the experiences, interests, and feelings of the given individual until

what they are is altered by a given experience which the mind processes and responds to

resulting in a different perception of what they were initially. Our class discussions on the nature

of gender and sex, in combination with readings given to us, give more clarity to the

distinguishing the two apart but ultimately leave more questions than answers. Personally, I

identify as a male but recognize that growing up I have attained qualities that are part of my

identity which do not exclusively adhere to the male persona and that these same qualities will

not affect my future perception of my own gender. A persons identity may also find its way into

ones writing by taking numerous forms like characters and emotions brought on by the

experiences of the characters while also shaping the writing of a given person by conveying the

struggles and ideals they experience through their story. Even as I type now, the concept of ones

own gender is hard to put a concrete definition on because it is part of identity which itself is

something too mobile for one to solidify in mere words. Im going to try and express this as best

as I can.
First, our class discussions and readings on the nature of gender and sex allow one to

distinguish between the two but leave more questions than answers. At the beginning of the year

our class analyzed a handout detailing the difference between gender and sex by West and

Zimmerman. Sex itself is something based on an individuals genitals or socially agreed upon

biological material (West and Zimmerman 127). Gender, however, is something someone

identifies as and falls on a spectrum with the two extremes being masculine and feminine.
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Further in-class discussion on gender revealed it is part of ones identity and opens up a plethora

of questions. What is gender? I think of gender as an endless process one endures during which

one forms an identity from their experiences, interests, and values, but this identity eventually

alters itself to a varying degree because of new experiences that bring about thoughts and

feelings which result in a somewhat new frame of mind. This connection to identity and process

of using experiences as beacons for self-discovery and change bring about another question. If

gender itself is reliant on something as dynamic as thoughts birthed from experiences, does that

mean gender can never really be held to ones personal set definition? Is it something we

ourselves can never completely understand? I believe we walk away from any experience with

something that changes our identity and we pit our thoughts and past experiences against new

ones in hopes of uncovering something new about ourselves or about something around us. The

change itself, mind you, can vary from minute to immense. All these questions surround gender

and speak to its ambiguity which bring to light so much more to consider about gender than one

might take at face value. In short, the class discussions and readings on the nature of gender and

sex allows one to distinguish between the two but leaves more questions than answers.
I personally identify as a male but recognize that growing up I have developed qualities

that are part of my identity which do not exclusively adhere to the male persona and that these

same qualities will not affect my future perception of my own gender. The stereotypes or master

narratives of gender would have one believe many things about being a man or woman. For

example, a man is believed to hide their emotions and take pleasure in being strong or proving

their strength whereas a woman is believed to be very emotional and derive pleasure from

being elegant or practicing obedience. Stereotypes also deem certain occupations and activities

appropriate and belittle those who stray from their gender-charged occupations. One prime

example would be cross dressing because using makeup and wearing clothing opposite of ones
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gender is something that leads people to believe an individual is less masculine or feminine

which, according to some, is wrong. This exact mindset can very much be seen in Stone Butch

Blues when Jess is belittled at the doctors office for not looking feminine enough (Feinberg 235-

236). The fact that she needed to look a certain way to be granted service demonstrates the

hostility given to those defying gender norms because Jess didnt look like a woman and was

almost turned away because of that. This leads me to my own thoughts on stereotypes and my

identity.
In my eyes, such master narratives are meaningless. The annoying hubris that

accompanies these stereotypes gives people a reason to demean others which is why I detest

them. I would say as a child was when I valued how I was gendered. My brain seemed to

consider strength and masculinity the same which is why I took fencing classes. This image

would be a good representation of my identity at the time because it shows that I valued skill

with a blade and sought to prove masculinity using that skill (Verhasselt, Mathias Lion Knight).

However, after X amount of years, I became a teenager and found that my interests lay

elsewhere. The value I once had for masculinity had diminished in a way. Shaving certain parts

of my body, plucking eyebrows, and having conversations about inner thoughts and emotions

were things I enjoyed which conveys I didnt mind stepping out of my gender norms. I believe

for one high school project I even went in full drag and had no problem running around campus

dressed as the opposite gender. A good way to convey my comfort in stepping out of gender

norms would be for me to refer to a Buzzfeed video. The Buzzfeed video shows men getting

facials (0:00:00-0:7:59). I would like people to acknowledge that the activity of getting a facial is

one usually associated with women, but these guys dont seem bothered by getting one. It speaks

to my identity because the men in this video arent shy about doing things considered less

masculine which itself demonstrates self-confidence through their decision to get a facial
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treatment. This confidence and acceptance of things considered outside ones gender are qualities

I carry to this day. Currently, I hold both my masculine and feminine qualities close yet I feel my

identity is incomplete. I have a good sense of who I am, but I feel like what I know about myself

now pales in comparison to what I have to discover. The final and most honest way to convey my

identity is through music. A piece known as The Lonely Shepherd conveys how I see myself now

through the thoughts conjured by its rhythm (0:00:00-0:04:25). Its gentle, calming, and docile

much like myself, but the melody also uses its rhythm to convey the long road one walks in an

effort to find oneself and their identity. One could even compare it to a solemn wave goodbye as

one sets off on a journey. In summation, I believe my gender will stay dominantly masculine

while maintaining those feminine qualities that are a part of me and do consider stereotypes and

master narratives to be insignificant.


A persons identity may also find its way into ones writing by taking numerous forms

like characters and emotions brought on by the experiences of the characters while also shaping

the writing of a given person by conveying the struggles and ideals they experience through their

story. One excellent example of this would be Harvey Milk and how his identity influences his

writing. He states in his speech that Without hope, not only are the gays, but the blacks, the

seniors, the handicapped, the us-es. The us-es will give up (Transcript: Hear Harvey Milk's

The Hope Speech.). When one considers that Harvey Milk was indeed gay, they find that his

identity as a gay man did influence his writing as demonstrated through his inclusion of gays in

his speech. This inclusion is important because Harvey Milk was gay and wanted to use his

privilege as a candidate to uplift the gay community as well as other communities. Another

example would be my own writing and how I implemented parts of my identity into it. My three

characters Clod, Sylvia, and Abel are all imbedded with pieces of me. Abel possesses my

ambition to create and nurture beautiful things. Clod holds my lack of interest in obeying the
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gender-charged practices currently dominating society. Sylvia has my respect for and willingness

to defend individuality. This insertion of my traits into characters is an excellent way of showing

facets of ones identity but also serves as an opportunity to give others a glimpse of another

persons perspective. Leslie Feinbergs character Jess makes a fine example of this. Reading

about Jess struggle to find happiness in herself through identity was eye opening. It seemed that

even after taking her hormone injections to look more masculine, Jess still couldnt find

happiness but found something I perceived as far more valuable. To have people see you as one

thing and then switch their perspective about you reveals more about the consequences then

rewards which is something I found interesting. Leslie Feinberg did a really good job trying to

capture the anguish and feeling of being utterly alone that someone in the process of molding

their gender might feel in earlier times. In short, identity may also find its way into a persons

writing by taking numerous forms like characters and emotions brought on by the experiences of

the characters while also shaping the writing of a given person by conveying the thoughts and

feelings they experience through their story.


In conclusion. I perceive gender as an endless process one endures during which they

form an identity from experiences, interests, and values which itself is changes to a varying

degree as a result of new thoughts brought on by experiences. Class discussions on the nature of

gender and sex, in combination with readings given to us, give more clarity to the distinguishing

the two apart but ultimately leave more questions than answers. Personally, I identify as a male

but recognize that growing up I have attained qualities that are part of my identity which do not

exclusively adhere to the male persona and that these same qualities will not affect my future

perception of my own gender. Ones own identity may also manifest in ones writing by taking

numerous forms like characters and emotions brought on by the experiences of the characters

while also shaping the writing of a given person by conveying the struggles and ideals they
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experience through their story. This paper may be over but my quest in trying to understand all

parts of my identity is something that will continue and likely never end.

Works cited
BuzzFeedVideo. The Try Guys Give Each Other Facials. YouTube. Commentary by Zachary

Kornfeld, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, and Eugene Yang. 6 May. 2017,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN8tfxdaSQI
Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues: a Novel. New York, Leslie Feinberg, 2014.
Transcript: Hear Harvey Milk's The Hope Speech. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 4 Mar. 2014,

www.mfa.org/exhibitions/amalia-pica/transcript-harvey-milks-the-hope-speech. Accessed

28 Mar. 2017.
West, Candace and Zimmerman, H., Don. Doing Gender. Gender and Society. 1 (1987): 125.

SAGE Publications. Web. 8 May. 2017.


Verhasselt, Mathias. Lion Knight. 4 May. 2010. Digital art, CGSociety.org.

http://mv.cgsociety.org/art/photoshop-lion-knight-879150
Villada, Antonio. The Lonely Shepherd (Kill Bill Soundtrack) Gheorghe Zamfir. YouTube.

Music composed by Gheorghe Zamfir. 28 Jul. 2007, https://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=1qsgBF7ZIsk