Re: Sex Change

Kathryn Aegis (
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 19:44:41 +0000

>This quote says only that gender *is* constructed, which I have not
>disputed. It does not address my question, which is why social
>institutions would want to hide the fact of that construction.

I would not say that they 'want' to hide the fact of the
construction, I would say that it runs contrary to the interests of
social institutions to reveal the mechanics of their own
constructions to the individuals that are affected by them. Every
social institution develops its own methods of ascribing status and
responsibility, with attendant mechanisms for reprimanding or ousting
those who do not comply. Iconoclastic individuals can be dealt with
through ouster, marginalization, violence, or education.

Lorber posits gender as a social institution; by extension, utilizing
the writing of Bornstein and others on trangressive acts, I can say that
a gender-bending individual, in revealing the constructed nature of
gender to others around them, will provoke enforcement reactions from
those fully conditioned into the norms and rules of any social
institution that intersects with the social institution of gender.
The individuals may not conciously realize the source of their anger
or negative reaction, and they may believe that they have been
wronged in some manner. The personalization of their feelings masks
their status as an agent of the social institutions within which they


Kathryn Aegis