Social Construction And Gender Roles Inequality Sociology Essay Help

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What does it mean to be socialized into a gender role? How do we learn gender identities and roles as young children? How does this article help us understand that gender is a social construction? What does it mean to “do” gender? How do gender roles reproduce inequality?

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Article JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? How Transmen Make Gender Visible at Work KRISTEN SCHILT University of California, Los Angeles This article examines the reproduction of gendered workplace inequalities through in-depth interviews with female-to-male transsexuals (FTMs). Many FTMs enter the workforce as women and then transition to become men, an experience that can provide them with an “outsider-within” perspective on the “patriarchal dividend”—the advantages men in general gain from the subordination of women. Many of the respondents in this article find themselves, as men, receiving more authority, reward, and respect in the workplace than they received as women, even when they remain in the same jobs. The author argues that their experiences can make the underpinnings of gendered workplace disparities visible and help illuminate how structural disadvantages for women are reproduced in workplace interactions. As tall, white FTMs see more advantages than short FTMs and FTMs of color, these experiences also illustrate how men’s gender advantages at work vary with characteristics such as race/ethnicity and body structure. Keywords: gender; gender inequality; gender and work; transgender; transsexual; transgender employment; masculinities; gendered organization theory Theories of gendered organizations argue that cultural beliefs about gender difference embedded in workplace structures and interactions create and reproduce workplace disparities that disadvantage women and advantage men (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Williams 1995). As Martin (2003) argues, however, the practices that reproduce gender difference and gender inequality at work are hard to observe. As these gendered practices are citations of established gender norms, men and women in the workplace repeatedly and unreflectively engage in “doing AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wish to thank Christine Williams, Ruth Milkman, Gail Kligman, and Abigail Saguy for their insightful comments on this article. I also would like to thank the anonymous reviewers from Gender & Society for their constructive feedback, and Sociologists for Women in Society for awarding an earlier draft of this article the 2005 Cheryl Allan Miller Award for excellent research on women and work. REPRINT REQUESTS: Kristen Schilt, University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Sociology, Los Angeles CA 90095-1551. GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 20 No. 4, August 2006 465-490 DOI: 10.1177/0891243206288077 © 2006 Sociologists for Women in Society 465 466 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 gender” and therefore “doing inequality” (Martin 2003; West and Zimmerman 1987). This repetition of well-worn gender ideologies naturalizes workplace gender inequality, making gendered disparities in achievements appear to be offshoots of “natural” differences between men and women, rather than the products of dynamic gendering and gendered practices (Martin 2003). As the active reproduction of gendered workplace disparities is rendered invisible, gender inequality at work becomes difficult to document empirically and therefore remains resistant to change (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Williams 1995). The workplace experiences of female-to-male transsexuals (FTMs), or transmen, offer an opportunity to examine these disparities between men and women at work from a new perspective. Many FTMs enter the workforce as women and, after transition, begin working as men.1 As men, they have the same skills, education, and abilities they had as women; however, how this “human capital” is perceived often varies drastically once they become men at work. This shift in gender attribution gives them the potential to develop an “outsider-within” perspective (Collins 1986) on men’s advantages in the workplace. FTMs can find themselves benefiting from the “patriarchal dividend” (Connell 1995, 79)—the advantages men in general gain from the subordination of women—after they transition. However, not being “born into it” gives them the potential to be cognizant of being awarded respect, authority, and prestige they did not have working as women. In addition, the experiences of transmen who fall outside of the hegemonic construction of masculinity, such as FTMs of color, short FTMs, and young FTMs, illuminate how the interplay of gender, race, age, and bodily characteristics can constrain access to gendered workplace advantages for some men (Connell 1995). In this article, I document the workplace experiences of two groups of FTMs, those who openly transition and remain in the same jobs (open FTMs) and those who find new jobs posttransition as “just men” (stealth FTMs).2 I argue that the positive and negative changes they experience when they become men can illuminate how gender discrimination and gender advantage are created and maintained through workplace interactions. These experiences also illustrate that masculinity is not a fixed character type that automatically commands privilege but rather that the relationships between competing hegemonic and marginalized masculinities give men differing abilities to access gendered workplace advantages (Connell 1995). THEORIES OF WORKPLACE GENDER DISCRIMINATION Sociological research on the workplace reveals a complex relationship between the gender of an employee and that employee’s opportunities for advancement in both authority and pay. While white-collar men and women with equal qualifications can begin their careers in similar positions in the workplace, men tend to advance faster, creating a gendered promotion gap (Padavic and Reskin 2002; Valian 1999). When women are able to advance, they often find themselves barred from attaining access to the highest echelons of the company by the invisible barrier Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 467 of the “glass ceiling” (Valian 1999). Even in the so-called women’s professions, such as nursing and teaching, men outpace women in advancement to positions of authority (Williams 1995). Similar patterns exist among blue-collar professions, as women often are denied sufficient training for advancement in manual trades, passed over for promotion, or subjected to extreme forms of sexual, racial, and gender harassment that result in women’s attrition (Byrd 1999; Miller 1997; Yoder and Aniakudo 1997). These studies are part of the large body of scholarly research on gender and work finding that white- and blue-collar workplaces are characterized by gender segregation, with women concentrated in lower-paying jobs with little room for advancement. Among the theories proposed to account for these workplace disparities between men and women are human capital theory and gender role socialization. Human capital theory posits that labor markets are neutral environments that reward workers for their skills, experience, and productivity. As women workers are more likely to take time off from work for child rearing and family obligations, they end up with less education and work experience than men. Following this logic, gender segregation in the workplace stems from these discrepancies in skills and experience between men and women, not from gender discrimination. However, while these differences can explain some of the disparities in salaries and rank between women and men, they fail to explain why women and men with comparable prestigious degrees and work experience still end up in different places, with women trailing behind men in advancement (Valian 1999; Williams 1995). A second theory, gender socialization theory, looks at the process by which individuals come to learn, through the family, peers, schools, and the media, what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate for their gender. From this standpoint, women seek out jobs that reinforce “feminine” traits such as caring and nurturing. This would explain the predominance of women in helping professions such as nursing and teaching. As women are socialized to put family obligations first, women workers would also be expected to be concentrated in part-time jobs that allow more flexibility for family schedules but bring in less money. Men, on the other hand, would be expected to seek higher-paying jobs with more authority to reinforce their sense of masculinity. While gender socialization theory may explain some aspects of gender segregation at work, however, it leaves out important structural aspects of the workplace that support segregation, such as the lack of workplace child care services, as well as employers’ own gendered stereotypes about which workers are best suited for which types of jobs (Padavic and Reskin 2002; Valian 1999; Williams 1995). A third theory, gendered organization theory, argues that what is missing from both human capital theory and gender socialization theory is the way in which men’s advantages in the workplace are maintained and reproduced in gender expectations that are embedded in organizations and in interactions between employers, employees, and coworkers (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Williams 1995). However, it is difficult to study this process of reproduction empirically for several reasons. First, while men and women with similar education and workplace backgrounds can be compared to demonstrate the disparities in where they 468 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 end up in their careers, it could be argued that differences in achievement between them can be attributed to personal characteristics of the workers rather than to systematic gender discrimination. Second, gendered expectations about which types of jobs women and men are suited for are strengthened by existing occupational segregation; the fact that there are more women nurses and more men doctors comes to be seen as proof that women are better suited for helping professions and men for rational professions. The normalization of these disparities as natural differences obscures the actual operation of men’s advantages and therefore makes it hard to document them empirically. Finally, men’s advantages in the workplace are not a function of simply one process but rather a complex interplay between many factors, such as gender differences in workplace performance evaluation, gendered beliefs about men’s and women’s skills and abilities, and differences between family and child care obligations of men and women workers. The cultural reproduction of these interactional practices that create and maintain gendered workplace disparities often can be rendered more visible, and therefore more able to be challenged, when examined through the perspective of marginalized others (Collins 1986; Martin 1994, 2003; Yoder and Aniakudo 1997). As Yoder and Aniakudo note, “marginalized others offer a unique perspective on the events occurring within a setting because they perceive activities from the vantages of both nearness (being within) and detachment (being outsiders)” (1997, 325-26). This importance of drawing on the experiences of marginalized others derives from Patricia Hill Collins’s theoretical development of the “outsider-within” (1986, 1990). Looking historically at the experience of Black women, Collins (1986) argues that they often have become insiders to white society by virtue of being forced, first by slavery and later by racially bounded labor markets, into domestic work for white families. The insider status that results from being immersed in the daily lives of white families carries the ability to demystify power relations by making evident how white society relies on racism and sexism, rather than superior ability or intellect, to gain advantage; however, Black women are not able to become total insiders due to being visibly marked as different. Being a marginalized insider creates a unique perspective, what Collins calls “the outsiderwithin,” that allows them to see “the contradictions between the dominant group’s actions and ideologies” (Collins 1990, 12), thus giving a new angle on how the processes of oppression operate. Applying this perspective to the workplace, scholars have documented the production and reproduction of gendered and racialized workplace disparities through the “outsider-within” perspective of Black women police officers (Martin 1994) and Black women firefighters (Yoder and Aniakudo 1997). In this article, I posit that FTMs’ change in gender attribution, from women to men, can provide them with an outsider-within perspective on gendered workplace disparities. Unlike the Black women discussed by Collins, FTMs usually are not visibly marked by their outsider status, as continued use of testosterone typically Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 469 allows for the development of a masculine social identity indistinguishable from “bio men.” 3 However, while both stealth and open FTMs can become social insiders at work, their experience working as women prior to transition means they maintain an internalized sense of being outsiders to the gender schemas that advantage men. This internalized insider/outsider position allows some transmen to see clearly the advantages associated with being men at work while still maintaining a critical view to how this advantage operates and is reproduced and how it disadvantages women. I demonstrate that many of the respondents find themselves receiving more authority, respect, and reward when they gain social identities as men, even though their human capital does not change. This shift in treatment suggests that gender inequality in the workplace is not continually reproduced only because women make different education and workplace choices than men but rather because coworkers and employers often rely on gender stereotypes to evaluate men’s and women’s achievements and skills. METHOD I conducted in-depth interviews with 29 FTMs in the Southern California area from 2003 to 2005. My criteria for selection were that respondents were assigned female at birth and were currently living and working as men or open transmen. These selection criteria did exclude female-bodied individuals who identified as men but had had not publicly come out as men at work and FTMs who had not held any jobs as men since their transition, as they would not be able to comment about changes in their social interactions that were specific to the workplace. My sample is made up of 18 open FTMs and 11 stealth FTMs. At the onset of my research, I was unaware of how I would be received as a non-transgender person doing research on transgender workplace experiences, as well as a woman interviewing men. I went into the study being extremely open about my research agenda and my political affiliations with feminist and transgender politics. I carried my openness about my intentions into my interviews, making clear at the beginning that I was happy to answer questions about my research intentions, the ultimate goal of my research, and personal questions about myself. Through this openness, and the acknowledgment that I was there to learn rather than to be an academic “expert,” I feel that I gained a rapport with my respondents that bridged the “outsider/insider” divide (Merton 1972). Generating a random sample of FTMs is not possible as there is not an even dispersal of FTMs throughout Southern California, nor are there transgender-specific neighborhoods from which to sample. I recruited interviewees from transgender activist groups, transgender listservers, and FTM support groups. In addition, I participated for two years in Southern California transgender community events, such as conferences and support group meetings. Attending these community events gave me an opportunity not only to demonstrate long-term political commitment to 470 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 the transgender community but also to recruit respondents who might not be affiliated with FTM activist groups. All the interviews were conducted in the respondents’ offices, in their homes, or at a local café or restaurant. The interviews ranged from one and a half to four hours. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and coded. Drawing on sociological research that reports long-standing gender differences between men and women in the workplace (Reskin and Hartmann 1986; Reskin and Roos 1990; Valian 1999; Williams 1995), I constructed my interview schedule to focus on possible differences between working as women and working as men. I first gathered a general employment history and then explored the decision to openly transition or to go stealth. At the end of the interviews, I posed the question, “Do you see any differences between working as a woman and working as a man?” All but a few of the respondents immediately answered yes and began to provide examples of both positive and negative differences. About half of the respondents also, at this time, introduced the idea of male privilege, addressing whether they felt they received a gender advantage from transitioning. If the concept of gender advantage was not brought up by respondents, I later introduced the concept of male privilege and then posed the question, saying, “Do you feel that you have received any male privilege at work?” The resulting answers from these two questions are the framework for this article. In reporting the demographics of my respondents, I have opted to use pseudonyms and general categories of industry to avoid identifying my respondents. Respondents ranged in age from 20 to 48. Rather than attempting to identify when they began their gender transition, a start date often hard to pinpoint as many FTMs feel they have been personally transitioning since childhood or adolescence, I recorded how many years they had been working as men (meaning they were either hired as men or had openly transitioned from female to male and remained in the same job). The average time of working as a man was seven years. Regarding race and ethnicity, the sample was predominantly white (17), with 3 Asians, 1 African American, 3 Latinos, 3 mixed-race individuals, 1 Armenian American, and 1 Italian American. Responses about sexual identity fell into four main categories, heterosexual (9), bisexual (8), queer (6), and gay (3). The remaining 3 respondents identified their sexual identity as celibate/asexual, “dating women,” and pansexual. Finally, in terms of region, the sample included a mixture of FTMs living in urban and suburban areas. (See Table 1 for sample characteristics.) The experience of my respondents represents a part of the Southern California FTM community from 2003 to 2005. As Rubin (2003) has demonstrated, however, FTM communities vary greatly from city to city, meaning these findings may not be representative of the experiences of transmen in Austin, San Francisco, or Atlanta. In addition, California passed statewide gender identity protection for employees in 2003, meaning that the men in my study live in an environment in which they cannot legally be fired for being transgender (although most of my respondents said they would not wish to be a test case for this new law). This legal 471 Age 28 42 34 25 31 42 30 38 20 32 30 45 48 42 24 26 44 24 39 37 Aaron Brian Carl Christopher Colin Crispin David Douglas Elliott Henry Jack Jake Jason Keith Kelly Ken Paul Peter Preston Riley Race/ Ethnicity Black/White White White Asian White White White White White White Latino White White/Italian Black White Asian/White White White/Armenian White White Sample Characteristics Pseudonym TABLE 1: Queer Bisexual Heterosexual Pansexual Queer Heterosexual Bisexual Gay Bisexual Gay Queer Queer Celibate Heterosexual Bisexual Queer Heterosexual Heterosexual Bisexual Dates women Sexual Identity 5 14 16 3 1 2 2 5 1 5 1 9 20 1 2 6 months 2 4 2 1 Approximate Number of Years Working as Male Semi-Professional Semi-Professional Higher Professional Semi-Professional Lower Professional Blue-Collar Higher Professional Semi-Professional Retail/Customer Service Lower Professional Semi-Professional Higher Professional Retail/Customer Service Blue-Collar Semi-Professional Semi-Professional Semi-Professional Lower Professional Blue-Collar Lower Professional Industry (continued) Open Stealth Stealth Open Open Stealth Open Open Open Open Open Open Stealth Open Open Open Open Stealth Open Open Status at Work 472 Age 23 45 33 42 35 42 35 44 40 Robert Roger Sam Simon Stephen Thomas Trevor Wayne Winston (continued) Pseudonym TABLE 1 Asian White Latino White White Latino White White/Latino White Race/ Ethnicity Heterosexual Bisexual Heterosexual Bisexual Heterosexual Queer Gay/Queer Bisexual Heterosexual Sexual Identity 2 22 15 2 1 13 6 22 14 Approximate Number of Years Working as Male Retail/Customer Service Lower Professional Blue-Collar Semi-Professional Retail/Customer Service Higher Professional Semi-Professional Higher Professional Higher Professional Industry Stealth Stealth Stealth Open Stealth Open Open Stealth Stealth Status at Work1 Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 473 protection means that California transmen might have very different workplace experiences than men in states without gender identity protection. Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are a large number of transgender individuals who transition and then sever all ties with the transgender community, something known as being “deep stealth.” This lack of connection to the transgender community means they are excluded from research on transmen but that their experiences with the workplace may be very different than those of men who are still connected, even slightly, to the FTM community. TRANSMEN AS OUTSIDERS WITHIN AT WORK In undergoing a physical gender transition, transmen move from being socially gendered as women to being socially gendered as men (Dozier 2005). This shift in gender attribution gives them the potential to develop an “outsider-within” perspective (Collins 1986) on the sources of men’s advantages in the workplace. In other words, while they may find themselves, as men, benefiting from the “patriarchal dividend” (Connell 1995, 79), not being “born into it” can make visible how gendered workplace disparities are created and maintained through interactions. Many of the respondents note that they can see clearly, once they become “just one of the guys,” that men succeed in the workplace at higher rates than women because of gender stereotypes that privilege masculinity, not because they have greater skill or ability. For transmen who do see how these cultural beliefs about gender create gendered workplace disparities, there is an accompanying sense that these experiences are visible to them only because of the unique perspective they gain from undergoing a change in gender attribution. Exemplifying this, Preston reports about his views on gender differences at work posttransition: “I swear they let the guys get away with so much stuff! Lazy ass bastards get away with so much stuff and the women who are working hard, they just get ignored. . . . I am really aware of it. And that is one of the reasons that I feel like I have become much more of a feminist since transition. I am just so aware of the difference that my experience has shown me.” Carl makes a similar point, discussing his awareness of blatant gender discrimination at a hardware/home construction store where he worked immediately after his transition: “Girls couldn’t get their forklift license or it would take them forever. They wouldn’t make as much money. It was so pathetic. I would have never seen it if I was a regular guy. I would have just not seen it. . . . I can see things differently because of my perspective. So in some ways I am a lot like a guy because I transitioned younger but still, you can’t take away how I was raised for 18 years.” These comments illustrate how the outsider-within perspective of many FTMs can translate into a critical perspective on men’s advantages at work. The idea that a “regular guy,” here meaning a bio man, would not be able to see how women were passed over in favor of men makes clear that for some FTMs, there is an ability to see how gender stereotypes can advantage men at work. 474 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 However, just as being a Black woman does not guarantee the development of a Black feminist perspective (Collins 1986), having this critical perspective on gender discrimination in the workplace is not inherent to the FTM experience. Respondents who had held no jobs prior to transition, who were highly gender ambiguous prior to transition, or who worked in short-term, high-turnover retail jobs, such as food service, found it harder to identify gender differences at work. FTMs who transitioned in their late teens often felt that they did not have enough experience working as women to comment on any possible differences between men and women at work. For example, Sam and Robert felt they could not comment on gender differences in the workplace because they had begun living as men at the age of 15 and, therefore, never had been employed as women. In addition, FTMs who reported being very “in-between” in their gender appearance, such as Wayne and Peter, found it hard to comment on gender differences at work, as even when they were hired as women, they were not always sure how customers and coworkers perceived them. They felt unable to speak about the experience of working as a woman because they were perceived either as androgynous or as men. The kinds of occupations FTMs held prior to transition also play a role in whether they develop this outsider-within perspective at work. Transmen working in blue-collar jobs—jobs that are predominantly staffed by men—felt their experiences working in these jobs as females varied greatly from their experiences working as men. This held true even for those transmen who worked as females in blue-collar jobs in their early teens, showing that age of transition does not always determine the ability to see gender discrimination at work. FTMs working in the “women’s professions” also saw a great shift in their treatment once they began working as men. FTMs who transitioned in their late teens and worked in marginal “teenage” jobs, such as fast food, however, often reported little sense of change posttransition, as they felt that most employees were doing the same jobs regardless of gender. As a gendered division of labor often does exist in fast food jobs (Leidner 1993), it may be that these respondents worked in atypical settings, or that they were assigned “men’s jobs” because of their masculine appearance. Transmen in higher professional jobs, too, reported less change in their experiences posttransition, as many of them felt that their workplaces guarded against gender-biased treatment as part of an ethic of professionalism. The experience of these professional respondents obviously runs counter to the large body of scholarly research that documents gender inequality in fields such as academia (Valian 1999), law firms (Pierce 1995), and corporations (Martin 1992). Not having an outsider-within perspective, then, may be unique to these particular transmen, not the result of working in a professional occupation. Thus, transitioning from female to male can provide individuals with an outsiderwithin perspective on gender discrimination in the workplace. However, this perspective can be limited by the age of transition, appearance, and type of occupation. In addition, as I will discuss at the end of this article, even when the advantages Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 475 of the patriarchal dividend are seen clearly, many transmen do not benefit from them. In the next section, I will explore in what ways FTMs who expressed having this outsider-within perspective saw their skills and abilities perceived more positively as men. Then, I will explore why not all of my respondents received a gender advantage from transitioning. TRANSITION AND WORKPLACE GENDER ADVANTAGES4 A large body of evidence shows that the performance of workers is evaluated differently depending on gender. Men, particularly white men, are viewed as more competent than women workers (Olian, Schwab, and Haberfeld 1988; Valian 1999). When men succeed, their success is seen as stemming from their abilities while women’s success often is attributed to luck (Valian 1999). Men are rewarded more than women for offering ideas and opinions and for taking on leadership roles in group settings (Butler and Geis 1990; Valian 1999). Based on these findings, it would be expected that stealth transmen would see a positive difference in their workplace experience once they have made the transition from female to male, as they enter new jobs as just one of the guys. Open FTMs, on the other hand, might find themselves denied access to these privileges, as they remain in the same jobs in which they were hired as women. Challenging these expectations, two-thirds of my respondents, both open and stealth, report receiving some type of posttransition advantage at work. These advantages fell into four main categories: gaining competency and authority, gaining respect and recognition for hard work, gaining “body privilege,” and gaining economic opportunities and status. Authority and Competency Illustrating the authority gap that exists between men and women workers (Elliott and Smith 2004; Padavic and Reskin 2002), several of my interviewees reported receiving more respect for their thoughts and opinions posttransition. For example, Henry, who is stealth in a professional workplace, says of his experiences, “I’m right a lot more now. . . . Even with folks I am out to [as a transsexual], there is a sense that I know what I am talking about.” Roger, who openly transitioned in a retail environment in the 1980s, discussed customers’ assumptions that as a man, he knew more than his boss, who was a woman: “People would come in and they would go straight to me. They would pass her and go straight to me because obviously, as a male, I knew [sarcasm]. And so we would play mind games with them. . . . They would come up and ask me a question, and then I would go over to her and ask her the same question, she would tell me the answer, and I would go back to the customer and tell the customer the answer.” Revealing how entrenched these stereotypes about masculinity and authority are, 476 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 Roger added that none of the customers ever recognized the sarcasm behind his actions. Demonstrating how white men’s opinions are seen to carry more authority, Trevor discusses how, posttransition, his ideas are now taken more seriously in group situations—often to the detriment of his women coworkers: “In a professional workshop or a conference kind of setting, a woman would make a comment or an observation and be overlooked and be dissed essentially. I would raise my hand and make the same point in a way that I am trying to reinforce her and it would be like [directed at me], ‘That’s an excellent point!’ I saw this shit in undergrad. So it is not like this was a surprise to me. But it was disconcerting to have happen to me.” These last two quotes exemplify the outsider-within experience: Both men are aware of having more authority simply because of being men, an authority that happens at the expense of women coworkers. Looking at the issue of authority in the women’s professions, Paul, who openly transitioned in the field of secondary education, reports a sense of having increased authority as one of the few men in his work environment: I did notice [at] some of the meetings I’m required to attend, like school district or parent involvement [meetings], you have lots of women there. And now I feel like there are [many times], mysteriously enough, when I’m picked [to speak]. . . . I think, well, why me, when nobody else has to go to the microphone and talk about their stuff? That I did notice and that [had] never happened before. I mean there was this meeting . . . a little while ago about domestic violence where I appeared to be the only male person between these 30, 40 women and, of course, then everybody wants to hear from me. Rather than being alienated by his gender tokenism, as women often are in predominantly male workplaces (Byrd 1999), he is asked to express his opinions and is valued for being the “male” voice at the meetings, a common situation for men in “women’s professions” (Williams 1995). The lack of interest paid to him as a woman in the same job demonstrates how women in predominantly female workspaces can encourage their coworkers who are men to take more authority and space in these careers, a situation that can lead to the promotion of men in women’s professions (Williams 1995). Transmen also report a positive change in the evaluation of their abilities and competencies after transition. Thomas, an attorney, relates an episode in which an attorney who worked for an associated law firm commended his boss for firing Susan, here a pseudonym for his female name, because she was incompetent— adding that the “new guy” [i.e., Thomas] was “just delightful.” The attorney did not realize that Susan and “the new guy” were the same person with the same abilities, education, and experience. This anecdote is a glaring example of how men are evaluated as more competent than women even when they do the same job in careers that are stereotyped requiring “masculine” skills such as rationality (Pierce 1995; Valian 1999). Stephen, who is stealth in a predominantly male customerservice job, reports, “For some reason just because [the men I work with] assume Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 477 I have a dick, [they assume] I am going to get the job done right, where, you know, they have to second guess that when you’re a woman. They look at [women] like well, you can’t handle this because you know, you don’t have the same mentality that we [men] do, so there’s this sense of panic . . . and if you are a guy, it’s just like, oh, you can handle it.” Keith, who openly transitioned in a maledominated blue-collar job, reports no longer having to “cuddle after sex,” meaning that he has been able to drop the emotional labor of niceness women often have to employ to when giving orders at work. Showing how perceptions of behavior can change with transition, Trevor reports, “I think my ideas are taken more seriously [as a man]. I had good leadership skills leaving college and um . . . I think that those work well for me now. . . . Because I’m male, they work better for me. I was ‘assertive’ before. Now I’m ‘take charge.’” Again, while his behavior has not changed, his shift in gender attribution translates into a different kind of evaluation. As a man, being assertive is consistent with gendered expectations for men, meaning his same leadership skills have more worth in the workplace because of his transition. His experience underscores how women who take on leadership roles are evaluated negatively, particularly if their leadership style is perceived as assertive, while men are rewarded for being aggressive leaders (Butler and Geis 1990; Valian 1999).5 This change in authority is noticeable only because FTMs often have experienced the reverse: being thought, on the basis of gender alone, to be less competent workers who receive less authority from employers and coworkers. This sense of a shift in authority and perceived competence was particularly marked for FTMs who had worked in blue-collar occupations as women. These transmen report that the stereotype of women’s incompetence often translated into difficulty in finding and maintaining employment. For example, Crispin, who had worked as a female construction worker, reports being written up by supervisors for every small infraction, a practice Yoder and Aniakudo (1997, 330) refer to as “pencil whipping.” Crispin recounts, “One time I had a field supervisor confront me about simple things, like not dotting i’s and using the wrong color ink. . . . Anything he could do, he was just constantly on me. . . . I ended up just leaving.” Paul, who was a female truck driver, recounts, “Like they would tell [me], ‘Well we never had a female driver. I don’t know if this works out.’ Blatantly telling you this. And then [I had] to go, ‘Well let’s see. Let’s give it a chance, give it a try. I’ll do this three days for free and you see and if it’s not working out, well then that’s fine and if it works out, maybe you want to reconsider [not hiring me].’” To prove her competency, she ended up working for free, hoping that she would eventually be hired. Stephen, who was a female forklift operator, described the resistance women operators faced from men when it came to safety precautions for loading pallets: [The men] would spot each other, which meant that they would have two guys that would close down the aisle . . . so that no one could go on that aisle while you know 478 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 you were up there [with your forklift and load] . . . and they wouldn’t spot you if you were a female. If you were a guy . . . they got the red vests and the safety cones out and it’s like you know—the only thing they didn’t have were those little flashlights for the jets. It would be like God or somebody responding. I would actually have to go around and gather all the dykes from receiving to come out and help and spot me. And I can’t tell you how many times I nearly ran over a kid. It was maddening and it was always because [of] gender. Thus, respondents described situations of being ignored, passed over, purposefully put in harm’s way, and assumed to be incompetent when they were working as women. However, these same individuals, as men, find themselves with more authority and with their ideas, abilities, and attributes evaluated more positively in the workforce. Respect and Recognition Related to authority and competency is the issue of how much reward workers get for their workplace contributions. According to the transmen I interviewed, an increase in recognition for hard work was one of the positive changes associated with working as a man. Looking at these stories of gaining reward and respect, Preston, who transitioned openly and remained at his blue-collar job, reports that as a female crew supervisor, she was frequently short staffed and unable to access necessary resources yet expected to still carry out the job competently. However, after his transition, he suddenly found himself receiving all the support and materials he required: I was not asked to do anything different [after transition]. But the work I did do was made easier for me. [Before transition] there [were] periods of time when I would be told, “Well, I don’t have anyone to send over there with you.” We were one or two people short of a crew or the trucks weren’t available. Or they would send me people who weren’t trained. And it got to the point where it was like, why do I have to fight about this? If you don’t want your freight, you don’t get your freight. And, I swear it was like from one day to the next of me transitioning [to male], I need this, this is what I want and [snaps his fingers]. I have not had to fight about anything. He adds about his experience, “The last three [performance] reviews that I have had have been the absolute highest that I have ever had. New management team. Me not doing anything different than I ever had. I even went part-time.” This comment shows that even though he openly transitioned and remained in the same job, he ultimately finds himself rewarded for doing less work and having to fight less for getting what he needs to effectively do his job. In addition, as a man, he received more positive reviews for his work, demonstrating how men and women can be evaluated differently when doing the same work. As with authority and competence, this sense of gaining recognition for hard work was particularly noticeable for transmen who had worked as women in Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 479 blue-collar occupations in which they were the gender minority. This finding is not unexpected, as women are also more likely to be judged negatively when they are in the minority in the workplace, as their statistical minority status seems to suggest that women are unsuited for the job (Valian 1999). For example, Preston, who had spent time in the ROTC as a female cadet, reported feeling that no matter how hard she worked, her achievements were passed over by her men superiors: “On everything that I did, I was the highest. I was the highest-ranking female during the time I was there. . . . I was the most decorated person in ROTC. I had more ribbons, I had more medals, in ROTC and in school. I didn’t get anything for that. There was an award every year called Superior Cadet, and guys got it during the time I was there who didn’t do nearly what I did. It was those kinds of things [that got to me].” She entered a blue-collar occupation after ROTC and also felt that her workplace contributions, like designing training programs for the staff, were invisible and went unrewarded. Talking about gender discrimination he faced as a female construction worker, Crispin reports, I worked really hard. . . . I had to find myself not sitting ever and taking breaks or lunches because I felt like I had to work more to show my worth. And though I did do that and I produced typically more than three males put together—and that is really a statistic—what it would come down to a lot of times was, “You’re single. You don’t have a family.” That is what they told me. “I’ve got guys here who have families.” . . . And even though my production quality [was high], and the customer was extremely happy with my work . . . I was passed over lots of times. They said it was because I was single and I didn’t have a family and they felt bad because they didn’t want Joe Blow to lose his job because he had three kids at home. And because I was intelligent and my qualities were very vast, they said, “You can just go get a job anywhere.” Which wasn’t always the case. A lot of people were—it was still a boy’s world and some people were just like, uh-uh, there aren’t going to be any women on my job site. And it would be months . . . before I would find gainful employment again. While she reports eventually winning over many men who did not want women on the worksite, being female excluded her from workplace social interactions, such as camping trips, designed to strengthen male bonding. These quotes illustrate the hardships that women working in blue-collar jobs often face at work: being passed over for hiring and promotions in favor of less productive male coworkers, having their hard work go unrecognized, and not being completely accepted.6 Having this experience of being women in an occupation or industry composed mostly of men can create, then, a heightened appreciation of gaining reward and recognition for job performance as men. Another form of reward that some transmen report receiving posttransition is a type of bodily respect in the form of being freed from unwanted sexual advances or inquiries about sexuality. As Brian recounts about his experience of working as a waitress, that customer service involved “having my boobs grabbed, being called ‘honey’ and ‘babe.’” He noted that as a man, he no longer has to 480 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 worry about these types of experiences. Jason reported being constantly harassed by men bosses for sexual favors in the past. He added, “When I transitioned . . . it was like a relief! [laughs] . . . I swear to God! I am not saying I was beautiful or sexy but I was always attracting something.” He felt that becoming a man meant more personal space and less sexual harassment. Finally, Stephen and Henry reported being “obvious dykes,” here meaning visibly masculine women, and added that in blue-collar jobs, they encountered sexualized comments, as well as invasive personal questions about sexuality, from men uncomfortable with their gender presentation, experiences they no longer face posttransition. Transitioning for stealth FTMs can bring with it physical autonomy and respect, as men workers, in general, encounter less touching, groping, and sexualized comments at work than women. Open FTMs, however, are not as able to access this type of privilege, as coworkers often ask invasive questions about their genitals and sexual practices. Economic Gains As the last two sections have shown, FTMs can find themselves gaining in authority, respect, and reward in the workplace posttransition. Several FTMs who are stealth also reported a sense that transition had brought with it economic opportunities that would not have been available to them as women, particularly as masculine women. Carl, who owns his own company, asserts that he could not have followed the same career trajectory if he had not transitioned: I have this company that I built, and I have people following me; they trust me, they believe in me, they respect me. There is no way I could have done that as a woman. And I will tell you that as just a fact. That when it comes to business and work, higher levels of management, it is different being a man. I have been on both sides [as a man and a woman], younger obviously, but I will tell you, man, I could have never done what I did [as a female]. You can take the same personality and it wouldn’t have happened. I would have never made it. While he acknowledges that women can be and are business entrepreneurs, he has a sense that his business partners would not have taken his business venture idea seriously if he were a woman or that he might not have had access to the type of social networks that made his business venture possible. Henry feels that he would not have reached the same level in his professional job if he were a woman because he had a nonnormative gender appearance: If I was a gender normative woman, probably. But no, as an obvious dyke, I don’t think so . . . which is weird to say but I think it’s true. It is interesting because I am really aware of having this job that I would not have had if I hadn’t transitioned. And [gender expression] was always an issue for me. I wanted to go to Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 481 law school but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wear the skirts and things females have to wear to practice law. I wouldn’t dress in that drag. And so it was very clear that there was a limit to where I was going to go professionally because I was not willing to dress that part. Now I can dress the part and it’s not an issue. It’s not putting on drag; it’s not an issue. I don’t love putting on a tie, but I can do it. So this world is open to me that would not have been before just because of clothes. But very little has changed in some ways. I look very different but I still have all the same skills and all the same general thought processes. That is intense for me to consider. As this response shows, Henry is aware that as an “obvious dyke,” meaning here a masculine-appearing woman, he would have the same skills and education level he currently has, but those skills would be devalued due to his nonnormative appearance. Thus, he avoided professional careers that would require a traditionally feminine appearance. As a man, however, he is able to wear clothes similar to those he wore as an “obvious dyke,” but they are now considered gender appropriate. Thus, through transitioning, he gains the right to wear men’s clothes, which helps him in accessing a professional job. Wayne also recounts negative workplace experiences in the years prior to his transition due to being extremely ambiguous or “gender blending” (Devor 1987) in his appearance. Working at a restaurant in his early teens, he had the following experience: The woman who hired me said, “I will hire you only on the condition that you don’t ever come in the front because you make the people uncomfortable.” ’Cause we had to wear like these uniforms or something and when I would put the uniform on, she would say, “That makes you look like a guy.” But she knew I was not a guy because of my name that she had on the application. She said, “You make the customers uncomfortable.” And a couple of times it got really busy, and I would have to come in the front or whatever, and I remember one time she found out about it and she said, “I don’t care how busy it gets, you don’t get to come up front.” She said I’d make people lose their appetite. Once he began hormones and gained a social identity as a man, he found that his work and school experiences became much more positive. He went on to earn a doctoral degree and become a successful professional, an economic opportunity he did not think would be available had he remained highly gender ambiguous. In my sample, the transmen who openly transitioned faced a different situation in terms of economic gains. While there is an “urban legend” that FTMs immediately are awarded some kind of “male privilege” post-transition (Dozier 2005), I did not find that in my interviews. Reflecting this common belief, however, Trevor and Jake both recount that women colleagues told them, when learning of their transition plans, that they would probably be promoted because they were becoming white men. While both men discounted these 482 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 TABLE 2: Highest Level of Education Attained Stealth FTMs Highest Degree Level High school/GED Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree Ph.D. J.D. Other Total Open FTMs As Female As Male As Female As Male 7 2 2 0 0 0 0 11 2 3 4 1 1 0 0 11 3 3 7 2 1 1 1 18 2 3 4 4 2 2 1 18 NOTE: FTMs = female-to-male transsexuals. comments, both were promoted relatively soon after their transitions. Rather than seeing this as evidence of male privilege, both respondents felt that their promotions were related to their job performance, which, to make clear, is not a point I am questioning. Yet these promotions show that while these two men are not benefiting undeservedly from transition, they also are not disadvantaged.7 Thus, among the men I interviewed, it is common for both stealth and open FTMs to find their abilities and skills more valued posttransition, showing that human capital can be valued differently depending on the gender of the employee. Is It Privilege or Something Else? While these reported increases in competency and authority make visible the “gender schemas” (Valian 1999) that often underlie the evaluation of workers, it is possible that the increases in authority might have a spurious connection to gender transitions. Some transmen enter a different work field after transition, so the observed change might be in the type of occupation they enter rather than a gender-based change. In addition, many transmen seek graduate or postgraduate degrees posttransition, and higher education degrees afford more authority in the workplace. As Table 2 shows, of the transmen I interviewed, many had higher degrees working as men than they did when they worked as women. For some, this is due to transitioning while in college and thus attaining their bachelor’s degrees as men. For others, gender transitions seem to be accompanied by a desire to return to school for a higher degree, as evidenced by the increase in master’s degrees in the table. A change in educational attainment does contribute to getting better jobs with increased authority, as men benefit more from increased human capital in Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 483 the form of educational attainment (Valian 1999). But again, this is an additive effect, as higher education results in greater advantages for men than for women. In addition, gender advantage alone also is apparent in these experiences of increased authority, as transmen report seeing an increase in others’ perceptions of their competency outside of the workplace where their education level is unknown. For example, Henry, who found he was “right a lot more” at work, also notes that in daily, nonworkplace interactions, he is assumed, as a man, to know what he is talking about and does not have to provide evidence to support his opinions. Demonstrating a similar experience, Crispin, who had many years of experience working in construction as a woman, relates the following story: I used to jump into [situations as a woman]. Like at Home Depot, I would hear . . . [men] be so confused, and I would just step over there and say, “Sir, I work in construction and if you don’t mind me helping you.” And they would be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah” [i.e., dismissive]. But now I go [as a man] and I’ve got men and women asking me things and saying, “Thank you so much,” like now I have a brain in my head! And I like that a lot because it was just kind of like, “Yeah, whatever.” It’s really nice. His experience at Home Depot shows that as a man, he is rewarded for displaying the same knowledge about construction—knowledge gendered as masculine— that he was sanctioned for offering when he was perceived as a woman. As a further example of this increased authority outside of the workplace, several FTMs report a difference in their treatment at the auto shop, as they are not assumed to be easy targets for unnecessary services (though this comes with an added expectation that they will know a great deal about cars). While some transmen report that their “feminine knowledge,” such as how to size baby clothes in stores, is discounted when they gain social identities as men, this new recognition of “masculine knowledge” seems to command more social authority than prior feminine knowledge in many cases. These stories show that some transmen gain authority both in and out of the workplace. These findings lend credence to the argument that men can gain a gender advantage, in the form of authority, reward, and respect. BARRIERS TO WORKPLACE GENDER ADVANTAGES Having examined the accounts of transmen who feel that they received increased authority, reward, and recognition from becoming men at work, I will now discuss some of the limitations to accessing workplace gender advantages. About one-third of my sample felt that they did not receive any gender advantage from transition. FTMs who had only recently begun transition or who had transitioned 484 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 without using hormones (“no ho”) all reported seeing little change in their workplace treatment. This group of respondents felt that they were still seen as women by most of their coworkers, evidenced by continual slippage into feminine pronouns, and thus were not treated in accordance with other men in the workplace. Other transmen in this group felt they lacked authority because they were young or looked extremely young after transition. This youthful appearance often is an effect of the beginning stages of transition. FTMs usually begin to pass as men before they start taking testosterone. Successful passing is done via appearance cues, such as hairstyles, clothes, and mannerisms. However, without facial hair or visible stubble, FTMs often are taken to be young boys, a mistake that intensifies with the onset of hormone therapy and the development of peach fuzz that marks the beginning of facial hair growth. Reflecting on how this youthful appearance, which can last several years depending on the effects of hormone therapy, affected his work experience immediately after transition, Thomas reports, “I went from looking 30 to looking 13. People thought I was a new lawyer so I would get treated like I didn’t know what was going on.” Other FTMs recount being asked if they were interns, or if they were visiting a parent at their workplace, all comments that underscore a lack of authority. This lack of authority associated with looking youthful, however, is a time-bounded effect, as most FTMs on hormones eventually “age into” their male appearance, suggesting that many of these transmen may have the ability to access some gender advantages at some point in their careers. Body structure was another characteristic some FTMs felt limited their access to increased authority and prestige at work. While testosterone creates an appearance indistinguishable from bio men for many transmen, it does not increase height. Being more than 6 feet tall is part of the cultural construction for successful, hegemonic masculinity. However, several men I interviewed were between 5’ 1” and 5’ 5”, something they felt put them at a disadvantage in relation to other men in their workplaces. Winston, who managed a professional work staff who knew him only as a man, felt that his authority was harder to establish at work because he was short. Being smaller than all of his male employees meant that he was always being looked down on, even when giving orders. Kelly, who worked in special education, felt his height affected the jobs he was assigned: “Some of the boys, especially if they are really aggressive, they do much better with males that are bigger than they are. So I work with the little kids because I am short. I don’t get as good of results if I work with [older kids]; a lot of times they are taller than I am.” Being a short man, he felt it was harder to establish authority with older boys. These experiences demonstrate the importance of bringing the body back into discussions of masculinity and gender advantage, as being short can constrain men’s benefits from the “patriarchal dividend” (Connell 1995). In addition to height, race/ethnicity can negatively affect FTMs’ workplace experiences posttransition. My data suggest that the experiences of FTMs of color Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 485 is markedly different than that of their white counterparts, as they are becoming not just men but Black men, Latino men, or Asian men, categories that carry their own stereotypes. Christopher felt that he was denied any gender advantage at work not only because he was shorter than all of his men colleagues but also because he was viewed as passive, a stereotype of Asian men (Espiritu 1997). “To the wide world of America, I look like a passive Asian guy. That is what they think when they see me. Oh Asian? Oh passive. . . . People have this impression that Asian guys aren’t macho and therefore they aren’t really male. Or they are not as male as [a white guy].” Keith articulated how his social interactions changed with his change in gender attribution in this way: “I went from being an obnoxious Black woman to a scary Black man.” He felt that he has to be careful expressing anger and frustration at work (and outside of work) because now that he is a Black man, his anger is viewed as more threatening by whites. Reflecting stereotypes that conflate African Americans with criminals, he also notes that in his law enforcement classes, he was continually asked to play the suspect in training exercises. Aaron, one of the only racial minorities at his workplace, also felt that looking like a Black man negatively affected his workplace interactions. He told stories about supervisors repeatedly telling him he was threatening. When he expressed frustration during a staff meeting about a new policy, he was written up for rolling his eyes in an “aggressive” manner. The choice of words such as “threatening” and “aggressive,” words often used to describe Black men (Ferguson 2000), suggests that racial identity and stereotypes about Black men were playing a role in his workplace treatment. Examining how race/ethnicity and appearance intersect with gender, then, illustrates that masculinity is not a fixed construct that automatically generated privilege (Connell 1995), but that white, tall men often see greater returns from the patriarchal dividend than short men, young men and men of color. CONCLUSION Sociological studies have documented that the workplace is not a gender-neutral site that equitably rewards workers based on their individual merits (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Valian 1999; Williams 1995); rather “it is a central site for the creation and reproduction of gender differences and gender inequality” (Williams 1995, 15). Men receive greater workplace advantages than women because of cultural beliefs that associate masculinity with authority, prestige, and instrumentality (Martin 2003; Padavic and Reskin 2002; Rhode 1997; Williams 1995)— characteristics often used to describe ideal “leaders” and “managers” (Valian 1999). Stereotypes about femininity as expressive and emotional, on the other hand, disadvantage women, as they are assumed to be less capable and less likely to succeed than men with equal (or often lesser) qualifications (Valian 1999). These cultural beliefs about gender difference are embedded in workplace structures 486 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 and interactions, as workers and employers bring gender stereotypes with them to the workplace and, in turn, use these stereotypes to make decisions about hiring, promotions, and rewards (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Williams 1995). This cultural reproduction of gendered workplace disparities is difficult to disrupt, however, as it operates on the level of ideology and thus is rendered invisible (Martin 2003; Valian 1999; Williams 1995). In this article, I have suggested that the “outsider-within” (Collins 1986) perspective of many FTMs can offer a more complex understanding of these invisible interactional processes that help maintain gendered workplace disparities. Transmen are in the unique position of having been socially gendered as both women and men (Dozier 2005). Their workplace experiences, then, can make the underpinnings of gender discrimination visible, as well as illuminate the sources of men’s workplace advantages. When FTMs undergo a change in gender attribution, their workplace treatment often varies greatly—even when they continue to interact with coworkers who knew them previously as women. Some posttransition FTMs, both stealth and open, find that their coworkers, employers, and customers attribute more authority, respect, and prestige to them. Their experiences make glaringly visible the process through which gender inequality is actively created in informal workplace interactions. These informal workplace interactions, in turn, produce and reproduce structural disadvantages for women, such as the glass ceiling (Valian 1999), and structural advantages for men, such as the glass escalator (Williams 1995). However, as I have suggested, not all of my respondents gain authority and prestige with transition. FTMs who are white and tall received far more benefits posttransition than short FTMs or FTMs of color. This demonstrates that while hegemonic masculinity is defined against femininity, it is also measured against subordinated forms of masculinity (Connell 1995; Messner 1997). These findings demonstrate the need for using an intersectional approach that takes into consideration the ways in which there are crosscutting relations of power (Calasanti and Slevin 2001; Collins 1990; Crenshaw 1989), as advantage in the workplace is not equally accessible for all men. Further research on FTMs of color can help develop a clearer understanding of the role race plays in the distribution of gendered workplace rewards and advantages.8 The experiences of this small group of transmen offer a challenge to rationalizations of workplace inequality. The study provides counterevidence for human capital theories: FTMs who find themselves receiving the benefits associated with being men at work have the same skills and abilities they had as women workers. These skills and abilities, however, are suddenly viewed more positively due to this change in gender attribution. FTMs who may have been labeled “bossy” as women become “go-getting” men who seem more qualified for managerial positions. While FTMs may not benefit at equal levels to bio men, many of them do find themselves receiving an advantage to women in the workplace they did not have prior to transition. This study also challenges gender socialization theories Schilt / JUST ONE OF THE GUYS? 487 that account for inequality in the workplace. Although all of my respondents were subjected to gender socialization as girls, this background did not impede their success as men. Instead, by undergoing a change in gender attribution, transmen can find that the same behavior, attitudes, or abilities they had as females bring them more reward as men. This shift in treatment suggests that gender inequality in the workplace is not continually reproduced only because women make different education and workplace choices than men but rather because coworkers and employers often rely on gender stereotypes to evaluate men and women’s achievements and skills. It could be argued that because FTMs must overcome so many barriers and obstacles to finally gain a male social identity, they might be likely to overreport positive experiences as a way to shore up their right to be a man. However, I have reasons to doubt that my respondents exaggerated the benefits of being men. Transmen who did find themselves receiving a workplace advantage posttransition were aware that this new conceptualization of their skills and abilities was an arbitrary result of a shift in their gender attribution. This knowledge often undermined their sense of themselves as good workers, making them continually secondguess the motivations behind any rewards they receive. In addition, many transmen I interviewed expressed anger and resentment that their increases in authority, respect, and recognition came at the expense of women colleagues. It is important to keep in mind, then, that while many FTMs can identify privileges associated with being men, they often retain a critical eye to how changes in their treatment as men can disadvantage women. This critical eye, or “outsider-within” (Collins 1986) perspective, has implications for social change in the workplace. For gender equity at work to be achieved, men must take an active role in challenging the subordination of women (Acker 1990; Martin 2003; Rhode 1997; Valian 1999; Williams 1995). However, bio men often cannot see how women are disadvantaged due to their structural privilege (Rhode 1997; Valian 1999). Even when they are aware that men as a group benefit from assumptions about masculinity, men typically still “credit their successes to their competence” (Valian 1999, 284) rather than to gender stereotypes. For many transmen, seeing how they stand to benefit at work to the detriment of women workers creates a sense of increased responsibility to challenge the gender discrimination they can see so clearly. This challenge can take many different forms. For some, it is speaking out when men make derogatory comments about women. For others, it means speaking out about gender discrimination at work or challenging supervisors to promote women who are equally qualified as men. These challenges demonstrate that some transmen are able, at times, to translate their position as social insiders into an educational role, thus working to give women more reward and recognition at these specific work sites. The success of these strategies illustrates that men have the power to challenge workplace gender discrimination and suggests that bio men can learn gender equity strategies from the outsider-within at work. 488 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 NOTES 1. Throughout this article, I endeavor to use the terms “women” and “men” rather than “male” and “female” to avoid reifying biological categories. It is important to note, though, that while my respondents were all born with female bodies, many of them never identified as women but rather thought of themselves as always men, or as “not women.” During their time as female workers, however, they did have social identities as women, as coworkers and employers often were unaware of their personal gender identities. It is this social identity that I am referencing when I refer to them as “working as women,” as I am discussing their social interactions in the workplace. In referring to their specific work experiences, however, I use “female” to demonstrate their understanding of their work history. I also do continue to use “female to male” when describing the physical transition process, as this is the most common term employed in the transgender community. 2. I use “stealth,” a transgender community term, if the respondent’s previous life as female was not known at work. It is important to note that this term is not analogous with “being in the closet,” because stealth female-to-male transsexuals (FTMs) do not have “secret” lives as women outside of working as men. It is used to describe two different workplace choices, not offer a value judgment about these choices. 3. “Bio” man is a term used by my respondents to mean individuals who are biologically male and live socially as men throughout their lives. It is juxtaposed with “transman” or “FTM.” 4. A note on pronoun usage: This article draws from my respondents’ experiences working as both women and men. While they now live as men, I use feminine pronouns to refer to their female work histories. 5. This change in how behavior is evaluated can also be negative. Some transmen felt that assertive communication styles they actively fostered to empower themselves as lesbians and feminists had to be unlearned after transition. Because they were suddenly given more space to speak as men, they felt they had to censor themselves or they would be seen as “bossy white men” who talked over women and people of color. These findings are similar to those reported by Dozier (2005). 6. It is important to note that not all FTMs who worked blue-collar jobs as women had this type of experience. One respondent felt that he was able to fit in, as a butch, as “just one of the guys.” However, he also did not feel he had an outsider-within perspective because of this experience. 7. Open transitions are not without problems, however. Crispin, a construction worker, found his contract mysteriously not renewed after his announcement. However, he acknowledged that he had many problems with his employers prior to his announcement and had also recently filed a discrimination suit. Aaron, who announced his transition at a small, medical site, left after a few months as he felt that his employer was trying to force him out. He found another job in which he was out as a transman. Crispin unsuccessfully attempted to find work in construction as an out transman. He was later hired, stealth, at a construction job. 8. Sexual identity also is an important aspect of an intersectional analysis. In my study, however, queer and gay transmen worked either in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender work sites, or were not out at work. Therefore, it was not possible to examine how being gay or queer affected their workplace experiences. REFERENCES Acker, Joan. 1990. 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Padavic, Irene, and Barbara Reskin. 2002. Women and men at work. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. Pierce, Jennifer. 1995. Gender trials: Emotional lives in contemporary law firms. Berkeley: University of California Press. Reskin, Barbara, and Heidi Hartmann. 1986. Women’s work, men’s work: Sex segregation on the job. Washington, DC: National Academic Press. Reskin, Barbara, and Patricia Roos. 1990. Job queues, gender queues. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Rhode, Deborah L. 1997. Speaking of sex: The denial of gender inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Rubin, Henry. 2003. Self-made men: Identity and embodiment among transsexual men. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. Valian, Virginia. 1999. Why so slow? The advancement of women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. West, Candace, and Don Zimmerman. 1987. Doing gender. Gender & Society 1:13-37. Williams, Christine. 1995. Still a man’s world: Men who do “women’s” work. Berkeley: University of California Press. Yoder, Janice, and Patricia Aniakudo. 1997. Outsider within the firehouse: Subordination and difference in the social interactions of African American women firefighters. Gender & Society 11:324-41. 490 GENDER & SOCIETY / August 2006 Kristen Schilt is a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include youth culture, sexuality, and gender in the workplace. She has an article on feminist ‘zines and cultural resistance in Youth & Society, as well as an article on gay and lesbian media advocacy in the Gay and Lesbian Journal of Social Services. Her dissertation examines the experiences of transmen in the workplace. Yale University Press Chapter Title: “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender Book Title: Paradoxes of Gender Book Author(s): Judith Lorber Published by: Yale University Press. (1994) Stable URL: JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Yale University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Paradoxes of Gender This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to Part I PRODUCING GENDER This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to [Gethenians) do not see each other as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imagination to accept. What is the first question we ask about a newborn baby? -Ursula Le Guin (1969, 94) "NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER Talking about gender for most people is the equivalent of fish talking about water. Gender is so much the routine ground of everyday activities that questioning its taken-for-granted assumptions and presuppositions is like thinking about whether the sun will come up. 1 Gender is so pervasive that in our society we assume it is bred into our genes. Most people find it hard to believe that gender is constantly created and re-created out of human interaction, out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life. Yet gender, like culture, is a human production that depends on everyone constantly "doing gender" (West and Zimmerman 1987). And everyone "does gender" without thinking about it. Today, on the subway, I saw a well-dressed man with a year-old child in a stroller. Yesterday, on a bus, I saw a man with a tiny baby in a carrier on his chest. Seeing men taking care of small children in public is increasingly common-at least in New York City. But both men were quite obviously stared at-and smiled at, approvingly. Everyone was doing gender-the men who were changing the role of fathers and the other passengers, who were applauding them silently. But there was more gendering going on that probably fewer people noticed. The baby was wearing a white crocheted cap and white clothes. You couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl. The child in the stroller was wearing a dark blue T-shirt and dark print pants. As they started to leave the train, the father put a Yankee baseball cap on the child's head. Ah, a boy, I thought. Then I noticed the gleam of tiny earrings in the child's ears, and as they got off, I saw the little flowered sneakers and lace-trimmed socks. Not a boy after all. Gender done. Gender is such a familiar part of daily life that it usually takes a deliberate 13 This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to 14 PRODUCING GENDER disruption of our expectations of how women and men are supposed to act to pay attention to how it is produced. Gender signs and signals are so ubiquitous that we usually fail to note them-unless they are missing or ambiguous. Then we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other person in a gender status; otherwise, we feel socially dislocated. In our society, in addition to man and woman, the status can be transvestite (a person who dresses in opposite-gender clothes) and transsexual (a person who has had sex-change surgery). Transvestites and transsexuals carefully construct their gender status by dressing, speaking, walking, gesturing in the ways prescribed for women or men-whichever they want to be taken for-and so does any "normal" person. For the individual, gender construction starts with assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth. 2 Then babies are dressed or adorned in a way that displays the category because parents don't want to be constantly asked whether their baby is a girl or a boy. A sex category becomes a gen:der status through naming, dress, and the use of other gender markers. Once a child's gender is evident, others treat those in one gender differently from those in the other, and the children respond to the different treatment by feeling different and behaving differently. As soon as they can talk, they start to refer to themselves as members of their gender. Sex doesn't come into play again until puberty, but by that time, sexual feelings and desires and practices have been shaped by gendered norms and expectations. Adolescent boys and girls approach and avoid each other in an elaborately scripted and gendered mating dance. Parenting is gendered, with different expectations for mothers and for fathers, and people of different genders Work at different kinds of jobs. The work adults do as mothers and fathers and as low-level workers and high-level bosses, shapes women's and men's life experiences, and these experiences produce different feelings, consciousness, relationships, skills-ways of being that we call feminine or masculine. 3 All of these processes constitute the social construction of gender. Gendered roles change-today fathers are taking care of little children, girls and boys are wearing unisex clothing and getting the same education, women and men are working at the same jobs. Although many traditional social groups are quite strict about maintaining gender differences, in other social groups they seem to be blurring. Then why the one-year-old's earrings? Why is it still so importailt to mark a child as a girl or a boy, to make sure she is not taken for a boy or he for a girl? What would happen if they were? They would, quite literally, have changed places in their social world. To explain why gendering is done from birth, constantly and by everyone, This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to "NIGHT TO HIS DAY" 15 we have to look not only at the way individuals experience gender but at gender as a social institution. As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways that human beings organize their lives. Human society depends on a predictable division of labor, a designated allocation of scarce goods, assigned responsibility for children and others who cannot care for themselves, common values and their systematic transmission to new members, legitimate leadership, music, art, stories, games, and other symbolic productions. One way of choosing people for the different tasks of society is on the basis of their talents, motivations, and competence-their demonstrated achievements. The other way is on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity-ascribed membership in a category of people. Although societies vary in the extent to which they use one or the other of these ways of allocating people to work and to carry out other responsibilities, every society uses gender and age grades. Every society classifies people as "girl and boy children," "girls and boys ready to be married," and "fully adult women and men," constructs similarities among them and differences between them, and assigns them to different roles and responsibilities. Personality characteristics, feelings, motivations, and ambitions flow from these different life experiences so that the members of these different groups become different kinds of people. The process of gendering and its outcome are legitimated by religion, law, science, and the society's entire set of values. In order to understand gender as a social institution, it is important to distinguish human action from animal behavior. Animals feed themselves and their young until their young can feed themselves. Humans have to produce not only food but shelter and clothing. They also, if the group is going to continue as a social group, have to teach the children how their particular group does these tasks. In the process, humans reproduce gender, family, kinship, and a division of labor-social institutions that do not exist among animals. Primate social groups have been referred to as families, and their mating patterns as monogamy, adultery, and harems. Primate behavior has been used to prove the universality of sex differences-as built into our evolutionary inheritance (Haraway 1978a). But animals' sex differences are not at all the same as humans' gender differences; animals' bonding is not kinship; animals' mating is not ordered by marriage; and animals' dominance hierarchies are not the equivalent of human stratification systems. Animals group on sex and age, relational categories that are physiologically, not socially, different. Humans create gender and age-group categories that are socially, and not necessarily physiologically, different.+ For animals, physiological maturity means being able to impregnate or This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to 16 PRODUCING GENDER conceive; its markers are coming into heat (estrus) and sexual attraction. For humans, puberty means being available for marriage; it is marked by rites that demonstrate this marital eligibility. Although the onset of physiological puberty is signaled by secondary sex characteristics (menstruation, breast development, sperm ejaculation, pubic and underarm hair), the onset of social adulthood is ritualized by the coming-out party or desert walkabout or bar mitzvah or graduation from college or first successful hunt or dreaming or inheritance of property. Humans have rituals that mark the passage from childhood into puberty and puberty into full adult status, as well as for marriage, childbirth, and death; animals do not (van Gennep 1960). To the extent that infants and the dead are differentiated by whether they are male or female, there are different birth rituals for girls and boys, and different funeral rituals for men and women (Biersack 1984, 132-33). Rituals of puberty, marriage, and becoming a parent are gendered, creating a "woman," a "man," a "bride," a "groom," a "mother," a "father." Animals have ho equivalents for these statuses. Among animals, siblings mate and so do parents and children; humans have incest taboos and rules that encourage or forbid mating between members of different kin groups (Levi-Strauss 1956, [1949]1969). Any animal of the same species may feed another's young (or may not, depending on the species). Humans designate responsibility for particular children by kinship; humans frequently limit responsibility for children to the members of their kinship group or make them into members of their kinship group with adoption rituals. Animals have dominance hierarchies based on size or on successful threat gestures and signals. These hierarchies are usually sexed, and in some species, moving to the top of the hierarchy physically changes the sex (Austad 1986). Humans have stratification patterns based on control of surplus food, ownership of property, legitimate demands on others' work and sexual services, enforced determinations of who marries whom, and approved use of violence. If a woman replaces a man at the top of a stratification hierarchy, her social status may be that of a man, but her sex does not change. Mating, feeding, and nurturant behavior in animals is determined by instinct and imitative learning and ordered by physiological sex and age (Lancaster 1974). In humans, these behaviors are taught and symbolically reinforced and ordered by socially constructed gender and age grades. Social gender and age statuses sometimes ignore or override physiological sex and age completely. Male and female animals (unless they physiologically change) are not interchangeable; infant animals cannot take the place of adult animals. This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to "NIGHT TO HIS DAY" 17 Human females can become husbands and fathers, and human males can become wives and mothers, without sex-change surgery (Blackwood 1984). Human infants can reign as kings or queens. Western society's values legitimate gendering by claiming that it all comes from physiology-female and male procreative differences. But gender and sex are not equivalent, and gender as a social construction does not flow automatically from genitalia and reproductive organs, the main physiological differences of females and males. In the construction of ascribed social statuses, physiological differences such as sex, stage of development, color of skin, and size are crude markers. They are not the source of the social statuses of gender, age grade, and race. Social statuses are carefully constructed through prescribed processes of teaching, learning, emulation, and enforcement. Whatever genes, hormones, and biological evolution contribute to human social institutions is materially as well as qualitatively transformed by social practices. Every social institution has a material base, but culture and social practices transform that base into something with qualitatively different patterns and constraints. The economy is much more than producing food and goods and distributing them to eaters and users; family and kinship are not the equivalent of having sex and procreating; morals and religions cannot be equated with the fears and ecstasies of the brain; language goes far beyond the sounds produced by tongue and larynx. No one eats "money" or "credit"; the concepts of"god" and "angels" are the subjects of theological disquisitions; not only words but objects, such as their flag, "speak" to the citizens of a country. Similarly, gender cannot be equated with biological and physiological differences between human females and males. The building blocks of gender are social!J constructed statuses. Western societies have only two genders, "man" and "woman." Some societies have three genders-men, women, and berdaches or hijras or xaniths. Berdaches, hijras, and xaniths are biological males who behave, dress, work, and are treated in most respects as social women; they are therefore not men, nor are they female women; they are, in our language, "male women." 5 There are African and American Indian societies that have a gender status called man!J hearted women-biological females who work, marry, and parent as men; their social status is "female men" (Amadiume 1987; Blackwood 1984). They do not have to behave or dress as men to have the social responsibilities and prerogatives of husbands and fathers; what makes them men is enough wealth to buy a wife. Modern Western societies' transsexuals and transvestites are the nearest equivalent of these crossover genders, but they are not institutionalized as third genders (Bolin 1987). Transsexuals are biological males and females who This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to 18 PRODUCING GENDER have sex-change operations to alter their genitalia. They do so in order to bring their physical anatomy in congruence with the way they want to live and with their own sense of gender identity. They do not become a third gender; they change genders. Transvestites are males who live as women and females who live as men but do not intend to have sex-change surgery. Their dress, appearance, and mannerisms fall within the range of what is expected from members of the opposite gender, so that they "pass." They also change genders, sometimes temporarily, some for most of their lives. Transvestite women have fought in wars as men soldiers as recently as the nineteenth century; some married women, and others went back to being women and married men once the war was over. 6 Some were discovered when their wounds were treated; others not until they died. In order to work as a jazz musician, a man's occupation, Billy Tipton, a woman, lived most of her life as a man. She died recently at seventy-four, leaving a wife and three adopted sons for whom she was husband and father, and musicians with whom she had played and traveled, for whom she was "one of the boys" (New York Times 1989). 7 There have been many other such occurrences of women passing as men to do more prestigious or lucrative men's work (Matthaei 1982, 192-93). 8 Genders, therefore, are not attached to a biological substratum. Gender boundaries arc breachable, and individual and socially organized shifts from one gender to another call attention to "cultural, social, or aesthetic dissonances" (Garber 199 2, 16). These odd or deviant or third genders show us what we ordinarily take for granted-that people have to learn to be women and men. Men who cross-dress for performances or for pleasure often learn from women's magazines how to "do femininity" convincingly (Garber 1992, 41-51 ). Becau~e transvestism is direct evidence of how gender is constructed, Marjorie Garber claims it has "extraordinary power . . . to disrupt, expose, and challenge, putting in question the very notion of the 'original' and of stable identity" ( 199 2, 16). Gender Bending It is difficult to see how gender is constructed because we take it for granted that it's all biology, or hormones, or human nature. The differences between women and men seem to be self-evident, and we think they would occur no matter what society did. But in actuality, human females and males are physiologically more similar in appearance than are the two sexes of many species of animals and are more alike than different in traits and behavior (C. F. Epstein 1988). Without the deliberate use of gendered clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to "NIGHT TO HIS DAY" 19 and cosmetics, women and men would look far more alike. 9 Even societies that do not cover women's breasts have gender-identifying clothing, scarification, jewelry, and hairstyles. The ease with which many transvestite women pass as men and transvestite men as women is corroborated by the common gender misidentification in Westernized societies of people in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. Men with long hair may be addressed as "miss," and women with short hair are often taken for men unless they offset the potential ambiguity with deliberate gender markers (Devor 1987, 1989). Jan Morris, in Conundrum, an autobiographical account of events just before and just after a sex-change operation, described how easy it was to shift back and forth from being a man to being a woman when testing how it would feel to change gender status. During this time, Morris still had a penis and wore more or less unisex clothing; the context alone made the man and the woman: Sometimes the arena of my ambivalence was uncomfortably small. At the Travellers' Club, for example, I was obviously known as a man of sorts-women were only allowed on the premises at all during a few hours of the day, and even then were hidden away as far as possible in lesser rooms or alcoves. But I had another club, only a few hundred yards away, where I was known only as a woman, and often I went directly from one to the other, imperceptibly changing roles on the way-"Cheerio, sir," the porter would say at one club, and "Hello, madam," the porter would greet me at the other. (1975, 132) Gender shifts are actually a common phenomenon in public roles as well. Queen Elizabeth II of England bore children, but when she went to Saudi Arabia on a state visit, she was considered an honorary man so that she could confer and dine with the men who were heads of a state that forbids unrelated men and women to have face-to-unveiled-face contact. In contemporary Egypt, lower-class women who run restaurants or shops dress in men's clothing and engage in unfeminine aggressive behavior, and middle-class educated women of professional or managerial status can take positions of authority (Rugh 1986, 131 ). In these situations, there is an important status change: These women are treated by the others in the situation as if they are men. From their own point of view, they are still women. From the social perspective, however, they are men. 10 In many cultures, gender bending is prevalent in theater or dance-the Japanese kabuki are men actors who play both women and men; in Shakespeare's theater company, there were no actresses-Juliet and Lady Macbeth This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to 20 PRODUCING GENDER were played by boys. Shakespeare's comedies are full of witty comments on gender shifts. Women characters frequently masquerade as young men, and other women characters fall in love with them; the boys playing these masquerading women, meanwhile, are acting out pining for the love of men characters. 11 In As You Like It, when Rosalind justifies her protective crossdressing, Shakespeare also comments on manliness: Were it not better, Because that I am more than common tall, That I did suit me all points like a man: A gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh, A boar-spear in my hand, and in my heart Lie there what hidden women's fear there will, We'll have a swashing and martial outside, As many other mannish cowards have That do outface it with their semblances. (I, i, 11 5-22) Shakespeare's audience could appreciate the double subtext: Rosalind, a woman character, was a boy dressed in girl's clothing who then dressed as a boy; like bravery, masculinity and femininity can be put on and taken off with changes of costume and role (Howard 1988, 435). 12 M Butteifly is a modern play of gender ambiguities, which David Hwang (1989) based on a real person. Shi Peipu, a male Chinese opera singer who sang women's roles, was a spy as a man and the lover as a woman of a Frenchman, Gallimard, a diplomat (Bernstein 1986). The relationship lasted twenty years, and Shi Peipu even pretended to be the mother of a child by Gallimard. "She" also pretended to be too shy to undress completely. As "Butterfly," Shi Peipu portrayed a fantasy Oriental woman who made the lover a "real man" (Kondo 1990b). In Gallimard's words, the fantasy was "of slender women in chong sams and kimonos who die for the love of unworthy foreign devils. Who are born and raised to be perfect women. Who take whatever punishment we give them, and bounce back, strengthened by love, unconditionally" (D. H. Hwang 1989, 91). When the fantasy woman betrayed him by turning out to be the more powerful "real man," Gallimard assumed the role of Butterfly and, dressed in a geisha's robes, killed himself: "because 'man' and 'woman' are orpositionally defined terms, reversals . . . are possible" (Kondo 1990b, 18). 13 But despite the ease with which gender boundaries can be traversed in work, in social relationships, and in cultural productions, gender statuses remain. Transvestites and transsexuals do not challenge the social construction of gender. Their goal is to be feminine women and masculine men (Kando This content downloaded from on Sat, 12 Jan 2019 22:37:54 UTC All use subject to "NIGHT TO HIS DAY" 21 197 3). Those who do not want to chang...
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Topic: Social Construction and Gender Roles
Thesis Statement: Socialization of gender roles refers to the process of learning attitudes and
behaviors which the society considers to be appropriate for different sexes. For example, girls and
boys are expected to behave in a particular way. The economic, cultural and societal values in each
given society are the ones that often define what is considered appropriate for each gender. The
socialization process often begins at birth and goes all the way as the children grow (Lorber, 1994).
Societies assign girls and boys or men and women different roles and responsibilities that they are
expected to perform.

Socialization into Gender Roles
Learning Gender Identities and Roles as Young Children


Social Construction


To “do” gender


How Gender Roles Reproduce Inequality


Social Construction and Gender Roles
Institution Affiliat...

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