The myths and prejudices involving transgender are still prevalent in modern society. The main contributor is the lack of information available to the public on this specific subject. Below are the reviews of both a scholarly article and a popular media piece that seek to inform a group of people about the challenges an individual whom is transgender may face. One focuses more on the psychological aspects and attempts to improve the standards for counseling such an individual. The other provides insight into a transgendered male’s personal conflicts in finding and keeping employment. Both of these articles have value in times of quickly advancing medicine and science.
A scholarly review:
"Using Gender Role Conflict Theory in Counseling Male-to Female Transgender Individuals" is an article written in the spring 2010 Journal of Counseling & Development. The authors are listed as follows: S. R. Wester; T. A. McDonough; M. White; D. L. Vogel; and L. Taylor. All affiliations and credentials are listed in the footnotes of the first page.
It is obvious from the title that men, specifically, are being written about. The first page mostly describes the stressors that society places on males by expressing the gender role conflict (GRC) theory. This theory covers competition and success, emotional reserve, the limited affection between males and the balance between home and work (214). The authors then go on to explain the process of males transitioning to female (215-217). There are also brief examples of how to handle the families of said transgender males (217-218).
This article describes GRC theory and the positive benefits it can have in creating a detailed history of causation for the transgender male and how understanding the aspects of GRC can help effectively socialize the female sense of being (215-218). The GRC theory is summed up in four components and the results of the pressure to adhere to them, such as depression, anxiety, and relationship difficulties (214).
The main focus of this article is how to counsel a transgender individual in a non-biased manner (217). Using GRC theory, the authors go through the stages involved in this specific type of therapy. Five stages are listed. It begins with accepting that they may be different and ends with incorporating their new identity into their every-day-lives in a healthy fashion (215-218).
Covered, in addition, were the many ways in which an individual could express their psychological identity (217). This includes activities and behaviors they feel more comfortable engaging in once understanding society’s role in their socialization. Changing their appearance may be appropriate for an individual, and, still, some may not feel they are complete until they have had gender reassignment surgery (216-218). The theory discussed takes relevancy from a reader’s perspective when the authors give an over-view of the dangers involved in becoming female (216).
The authors conclude that their methods are meant to inspire liberation in these individuals rather than restriction. They believe utilizing GRC theory in therapy for male-to-female transgender individuals gives the therapist a greater perception of each client’s unique situation while easing the client into her new identity (218).
A popular media review:
On CNN.com there is an article titled “I am transgendered and I want my voice to be heard,” dated April 14th, 2010. The author of this article is J. Sarver and in this article this internet reporter has collected submitted photos of transgendered internet reporters holding messages they want the world or their friends and family to know.
Most of the article is an interview with a particular internet reporter called Rebecca Avery. Her personal excursion as a transgender male is explored. The author mentions when she discovered her difference and how long it took for the transformation to be complete. Her sign expressed her appreciation for her psychological gender as well as a refusal to be stifled by the threat of choosing her gender as male or female on important forms. Other internet reporters are mentioned and quoted, as well. Some of the vague or cryptic signs are explained by going into brief detail about the maker’s personal experiences in living transgendered.
The theme of the article, though, seems to be public awareness. The individuals in the pictures all seem to have at least one thing in common in their journey; being misunderstood. Ms. Avery’s noted injustice was job discrimination. Other reporters had similar stories. Some had personal stories centered on family and friends. Illinois is provided as one of the fourteen states that protects the civil rights, such as prohibiting employment or boarding discrimination, of a transgender individual, though no evidence or other examples are provided.
At the time of the interview she had found employment and when they touch on the details of this they then begin to discuss the topic of sharing their identities. Some don’t see any other option than to hide. Some don’t feel they are true to themselves without offering the information and others wait until they trust someone. One of the reporters even left their home state after hormone therapy to avoid continuous stereotyping.
The conclusion of this article is not very clear, but the idea of keeping their past identities undisclosed is further discussed. A specialist is quoted as stressing the importance of the human right to privacy, especially when such information could cause hostility, prejudice, and even violence. Avery is reported to have been honest about her sexual identity to her employers as well as her co-workers. She does not share whether her co-workers’ privy is of her volition, though, she mentions that new employees tend to know and ask appropriate questions accordingly.
Compared and Contrasted:
Both of these articles delicately describe the personal trifles of a transgender male. The scholarly approach is, of course, more scientific and follows the guidelines from a professional perspective. The popular media piece is more personally focused with specific examples of how challenging psychological sexual identity can make someone’s every-day life. The scholarly article’s concentration is more for the causation of these challenges.
They’re both capable of informing the average consumer about some of the science behind what it means to be transgender. The popular media article has no credible sources, however, while the scholarly article lists first the main sources of transgender therapy guidelines as well as several for the theory the article was promoting. In addition, the credentials of the authors are in the footnote of the first page.
Both articles seem to emphasize the importance of individuality in the identity of someone who is transgendered. Both touch on society’s likelihood to react negatively to gender transition and give some insight into the social and civil conflicts of the transgender community. “Gender role conflict” tends to focus more on the community’s psychological challenges, where as “Transgendered voice” is themed exclusively by social and economic conflict.
Another curious difference is the gender emphasis between the two articles. The scholarly article refers to a transgender male as such, a male; the emphasis is on biological gender. The popular media piece emphasizes a transgender individual based on their psychological gender.
“Gender role conflict” would absolutely help someone ignorant to the validity of psychological gender identity to fully understand the nature of such a situation and why transition is so integral to the health of these people. On a more educated level, I think this is an important piece of literature for a professional therapist to be familiar with, and invaluable to the psychology student training to counsel modern society.
“Transgendered voice” promotes awareness of transgender culture to the general population and is from a source the typical consumer would consider reliable. This article allows an average person to connect on a personal level with someone like Ms. Avery. They are given the ability to see the situation through her eyes. There is even an internet reporter featured on the page with bible verses quoted. The American Christian could possibly identify with her dilemma. There seems to be an air of dispelling myths present that some might appreciate.
The scholarly article may be a challenge for the average person to follow due to the scientific nature of its text. Also, though substantial support is given in regards to the theories and stages of psychological progression, the commonality of such an occurrence, the authors suggest, is so new to the psychological community that there is no real evidence outside of theory that such a process would be a success. It stands to reason that someone who is immensely psychologically distressed by their condition could be confused or feel threatened by gender role conflict if not handled delicately.
The popular media article is most likely to speak to the average person, but anyone with some college education would automatically question the validity of the content. The only specialist that is mentioned is done so briefly and her credentials are simply working with the transgender community for thirty years. Her quote does not give insight to a generalization about their personalities or progresses in therapy. She comments on their civil rights, but a lawyer she is not. Also there is no list of sources for the tidbits that were not common knowledge or taken from interviews.
The superiority of the scholarly article lies in the evidence. There are sources to check if you question any of what you are reading. There is a perspective presented but it is supported by research and history. Also, it is clear that the article is written with the subjects in mind. The intent of the authors is to improve the quality of counseling that is provided for transgender clients through better educating the therapist.
The superiority of the popular article lies in the personality of interviewees. The men and women interviewed are just your typical writer trying to make a living. Yes, they were born in the wrong body in their minds, but some people are born with birth marks, extra fingers, underdeveloped body parts, abnormal growths or mental incapacity. Looking at someone with a gender identity crisis is no different than looking at someone with a different defect, either more or less severe. Identifying with specific individuals who have suffered the discomfort of feeling confined by their own gender helps you to sympathize. Most people can relate to being judged or discriminated against in our country because we’re so diverse.
Rather than just a professor, I feel anyone with an educated background would prefer the scholarly information over popular media, unless specific examples of societal influence are a must. Socially, the media is an excellent source. However, if you’re set on science the information in medical journals and the like hold credibility because of the detailed, organized list of sources. Also, if one is looking to further their knowledge on a subject they need look no further than the references for the same, related, or more in-depth information.
With the advances in modern medicine, we’ve been made to face real illnesses and ailment physically, physiologically and psychologically. For the modern educator, therapist, employer and parent, it is helpful and efficient to be properly educated in human sexuality. People in our society, even in modern times, tend to take sexuality and demonize it, but it is such a large component of a person’s sense of self (Greenburg & Bruess, 2010, preface). There is still much to be discovered regarding the human anatomy and physiology and why it can develop less than perfect.
Discoveries that redefine what we believe about ourselves happen often enough for more people to need to understand the importance of our sexuality as a species. Research is integral to the scientific community and participants would be more willing if they knew what their efforts provided.
Perhaps if more people took a curious, scientific approach to the world, then people like Ms. Avery and her back-up of internet reporters wouldn’t have to fear for their job security, much less their lives, simply because their brain and body don’t match.
Greenberg, J.S., Bruess, C.E. & Conklin, S.C., (2011). Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality (4th ed.). Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones And Bartlett Publishers.
McDonough, T. A. Taylor, L. Wester, S. R. White, M. (2010). Using gender role conflict in counseling mate-to-female transgender individuals. Journal of Counseling & Development. Vol. 88.The American Counseling Association. Jstor database. Web. Aug. 18, 2010.
Sarver, J. (2010). I am transgendered and I want my voice to be heard. http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/14/transgender.irpt/index.html. Web. Aug. 19th, 2010.