Finding Southern Comfort

An honest and insightful documentary, Southern Comfort brings forth interesting contradictions on symbolic interactionism. The gendered quality of language or heterosexual relationships comes off as thought provoking and even evoking a chuckle at the irony of it all.

Souther Comfort is a conference in Atlanta for the transgendered community. They write:

As always, the seminar schedule reflects Southern Comfort’s commitment to serve the diverse needs of our community. The topics include basic information for the newbie, the newly-out, as well as the transitioned. They include detailed legal, medical and political presentations; and informative sessions on family relationships, sexuality and spirituality, and tips on makeup, presenting, and many more topics.

It is very important to know which persons identify as transgendered. Transgendered does not equate to cross dresser, homosexuals, or drag queens. Their gendered identities do not coincide with their birth sex. Each of us, in almost all cases, was assigned a sex at birth called male or female. Transgendered folks with male genitalia identify as females (MTF), and folks with female genitalia identify as males (FTM).

The central character of the documentary featured FTM Robert. The only space Robert felt acceptable for is transgendered behavior was in gay and lesbian communities. Robert hid as a lesbian woman in order to be with a woman, but Robert always identified as a man who was attracted to woman. Robert even gave birth to two sons, where his son always referred to Robert as “mom”.

Other notions of gendered thought existed in the relationship of a biological female, identified as female who was married to a FTM trans; she stated she always saw her husband as nothing else but a man. People assume that this female is lesbian because she is married to a FTM trans, however she claims the heterosexual identity.

The notion of sex reassignment surgery has interesting implications. Our society deems sex alone to have significant implications. But what does it matter if humans possess a penis and/or vagina, except for reproduction purposes. Under the social construction to equate sex and gender, sexual reassignment surgery is preformed. This is not to place a value judgement on the surgery, but it is rather interesting to see that even those out of social norms will want to preform gender. We preform gender in many conventional ways of dress and social behavior. This process of biologically preforming gender requires a staunch and stringent process in the United States. In the documentary, all the featured focused persons are white. Robert has land and recalls the significance of passing on that land to descendants – a very Southern, middle class mentality. The feminist theory of intersectionality can be clearly seen in race, class, gendered aspects of access for such processes. Almost ninety percent of the white FTM’s had access to physicians compared to less than fifty percent of FTM’s of color (Kenagy 4).  Califrnia will now be the first state to cover the medical costs of sexual reassignment surgery.


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