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Gender Fluidity

Updated 31 August 2014.

This is a guide of readings, multimedia examples, and teaching notes I have prepared on Gender Fluidity from an anthropological perspective. Please feel free to use with credits back to this page. If you have a suggestion please do comment below.



– When you are out on the street, can people immediately tell that you are a man/woman/other?

– If some one is meeting you for the first time, would they be able to tell if you are male/female/other? What about if you are heterosexual/homosexual/other? How and why?

– Now think about other people in your everyday life. How do they seem to be performing their gender and sexuality?


Case Study: Takarazura Revue (Japan)

On artificiality and performativity of feminine and masculine genders in an all-female Japanese theatre genre, and the pervasive of this gender fluidity across public and private persona/lives

Reading: Stickland, Leonie Rae (2008) Gender gymnastics: performing and consuming Japan’s Takarazuka Revue. Trans Pacific Press: Rosanna, Vic. (Especially chapters 1 and 4)

Takarazuka short clip (0:59-1:49)

– otokoyaku: male-role players “challenges notions or orthodox gender roles, as she can change her gender according to the requirements of each situation she finds herself, at least while she is officially a Takarasienne”

– musumeyaku: female-role players “exposes the constructed nature of gender by her exaggerated performance of femininity, which is not necessarily simply an extension of her every day persona as a female”

– Fan affection is not homosexual because the object of love is male

– Partners/parents of fans are not threatened because they are not biologically men

– ‘Kata’: stylized theatrical techniques, markers of coded masculinity or femininity like gestures, satire, body, cosmetics, language. E.g. Musumeyakucloyingly sweet, pretty, smaller in stature, powerless to emphasize masculinity of woman-playing-male partner

– Learning: otokoyaku low voice register via smoking, drinking, improper care of throat. i.e. stereotypes of gendered language, vocabulary, directness, politeness, intonation; personal observation of everyday people, films, and television


Case Study: Kathoeys (Thailand)

On culturally gender-based conceptions of sexuality in Thailand, and Contemporary Thai Male Sex/Gender Identities.

Parinya Charoenphol, Muaythai boxer who underwent a sex change operation to become a woman; Used to wear lipstick and flowers in her kickboxing career during the transition.

Film: Beautiful Boxer (2004) dir. Ekachai Uekrongtham.

Beautiful Boxer short clip (6:23-7:24)

Beautiful Boxer short clip (3:40-4:53)


Case Study: Norah Vincent (USA)

A journalist lives as a man for 18-months and documents the embodied experience.

Reading: Vincent, Norah (2006) Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man.

Press: 2006 Self Made Man: Norah Vincent chooses Female Privilege over Male Privilege (18:43)

Press: A Self-Made Man

Teaching notes


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