In America, our views regarding transgender individuals are very influenced by our own personal views on sex, sexuality and gender. Since Americans tend to lump all of these issues together, the discussion of transgender individuals is often considered a taboo subject. Other countries, such as England and France, have separate ideas of gender, sex and sexuality, and as such, their views of transgender individuals are very different. When the ideas of gender, sex and sexuality are separated, it is easier to discuss each without the sense of taboo that discussing sex has for some cultures. With this separation, discussions and acceptance regarding transgender individuals in other countries is not the issue it is in America. To understand these differences, it is necessary to look at how these subjects are viewed in both America, and other countries around the world.
The Pfizer Drug Company did a research study regarding people’s views on sex and sexual satisfaction, known as The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Beliefs (GSSAB). This research study was done as research for their erectile dysfunction drug, but this study has given a vast amount of information regarding the different views about sex around the world. There are several factors which make this study unique. First, it was done in 29 countries and with a sample size of 27,500 men and women. One of the other unique aspects of this study is that is also looked at sexual regimes, which they define as ” how a person’s evaluation of sexual satisfaction is also based on the sexual norms within the specific society as a whole”. The GSSAB also looks at the attitudes, beliefs and health in sexual relationships. In their discussion of the results, it was clear that those societies which had a more open discussions of sexuality, there were also higher levels of sexual satisfaction ( Laumann, Paik, Glasser, Kang, and Levinson,2006). It is not to far an assumption to state that the more satisfaction a person has with their sexuality, the more they are going to be comfortable with allowing others to have a different definition of sex, sexuality and thus gender. We will be looking at and discussing the difference in the views between the United States, France and England.
Before we can discuss the differences, we will need to define the terms gender, sex, and sexuality. Webster defines gender as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex. Sex is defined as, “either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures” (Webster). Sexuality is “: a: the condition of having sex b: sexual activity” (Webster). These definitions are not what most people consider when they think of these terms. Generally, the term gender is thought to refer to whether you are male or female, the terms sex and sexuality are often used interchangeably and not distinguished clearly from each other. Sex and sexuality are both thought to refer to the act of sex with sexuality also implying your amount of sex you have, such has “he is very sexually active.” Sex is also used interchangeably with gender, such as “what sex is the baby?” As you can see, the technical definitions and the lay definitions are very different, which contributes to the confusion regarding transgender individuals in America. These definitions do not seem to vary in other countries, except that they are used in the more technical definition in everyday discussions.
The French have been known for their freedom of expression regarding sex and sexuality, and their views of transgender individuals are accepting also. In England, sex and sexuality are not typically discussions which are discussed in everyday, polite conversations. With this lack of conversations, it is also seen an increased lack of acceptance or discussion of transgender individuals. In America, sex and sexuality are not directly discussed and transgender individuals are rarely accepted or discussed.
When Pfizer started its study, its purpose was to investigate the sucessfulness of its drug for erectile dysfunction, but it has grown into so much more than that. With its study and discussion of erectile dysfunction, the American public has began to discuss sex and sexual pleasure on a daily basis and to thus increase their comfort with their own sexuality and sexual pleasure. In a strange twist of events, it is partly thanks to Pfizer that transgender individuals are able to have discussions with the general public regarding gender, sex and sexuality.
With the increase in conversations regarding sex and sexuality, the difference between these two areas has become clearer, and the topic of gender is more a conversation today than it has been in the past. This increase will create more opportunities for transgender individuals to become accepted, not only in America, but in other countries also.
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Laumann, Edward O., Anthony Paik, Dale B. Glasser, Jeong-Han Kang, and Bernard Levinson. A Cross-National Study of Subjective Sexual Well-Being among Older Women and Men: Findings from the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors. 2006. University of Chicago. Web. 13 May 2010. .