Virginia Commonwealth University
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ESSAY:
The crossing of genders has been a hurdle that society has stumbled to accept since the beginning of time. Early hypotheses about the so-called cause of homosexuality originated from the psychodynamic perspective that men became gay because of a dysfunctional family system in which they were emotionally enmeshed with their mothers and had a distant relationship with their father. As a result, the thought of changing one’s sex immediately becomes a staple of criticism, despite the psychological effect it could have on the individual. Yet, Imani, a man who lives life as a woman, successfully copes with work, intimate relationships, family and peer relationships, and has developed a positive assessment of self. Imani is a resilient, creative, and resourceful individual, who has overcome societal myths that a transgender cannot function normally in society. Thus, this essay will attempt to outline Imani’s life journey and compare it to Hutchinson’s (2008) common risk and protective factors, while revealing how she copes with personal and professional relationships according to Werner and Smith (2001) ratings of the quality of adult adaptation and what she attributes her success. Six Criteria of Coping
Understanding and coping with cultural differences becomes crucial when attempting to come out about gender or sexual identity. Social constructionist perspective suggests that “sexual orientation unfolds within a context of environmental or social influences” (Morrow & Messinger, 2006, pp.161). Growing up poverty stricken, Imani learned to cope at an early age. The eldest of six, Imani grew up without a positive male role model and poor, while dealing with sexual desires for the same sex. “I use to pretend like I was attracted to girls because that was the normal thing, but since I was twelve, I had sexual desires for other boys” (Imani, personal communication, February 6 2009). Therefore, recognizing her gender identity at an early age, but able to cope with the stigmas of society involved Imani’s ability to reconcile competing demands from the dominant society. In addition, feelings for the opposite sex thwarted Imani from forming peer groups at an early stage in her life. “Many gay men do not accomplish normal development tasks of adolescence, such as forming a peer group…therefore, when experiencing some of the emotionality of teenagers as adults in their twenties or older, there is dissonance between chronological age and developmental tasks they may be struggling with” (Mallon, 2008, pp. 150). Normally, this would have had an unfavorable effect, but, it had a favorable effect on Imani’s life. For example, Imani is a leader in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. She mentors young individuals that are dealing with gender identity issues. Imani has also been in a long term intimate relationship for fifteen years; which induces her happiness. “When I was growing up, being gay was taboo, but, today you can speak out about who you are and feel comfortable, so I’m taking full advantage of every opportunity and helping others who may feel isolated as well” (Imani, personal communication, February 6, 2009). Even in analyzing her relationship with her siblings, Imani is respected and accepted wholeheartedly by her entire family. This could be attributed to two major reasons. Firstly, Imani was a defiant child, but, she also helped rear her brothers and sisters, which established a sense of respect from them early on. She also was defiant and never conformed to the norm when instructed to complete a task. For example, if her mother instructed her to go right, she would go left. Secondly, unlike people in a cohort group born in the eighties, which are more adept to come out sooner rather...