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According to Hagg and Fellows (2007:4), sex generally refers to anatomy and biology such as male or female, whereas gender refers to the qualities and behaviours society expects from a boy or girl, a man or woman. The definition of transgender refers to a person having no identification with, or no presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth (Hagg and Fellows 2007:4). The definition of transsexual in Hagg and Fellows (2007:4) refers to a person who had undergone a sex change operation or a person identifying with the opposite sex. It is often recognized that a baby boy with genitalia is supposed to grow up to become a man. Anything that deviates from the norms of what the society perceives is “not
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It was 40 years of struggle for Reynah until he finally discovered his true self to undergo a sex change operation to match his sex with his gender. Argued in Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (2003:15), living up to our gender is learning through a life-long process of socialization. Further supported in Kulick and Schieffelin (2006:352), one’s gender emerges over a lifetime through interactive process in which one accepts, rejects, or modifies the cultural and gender norms they are socialized in. These two arguments supported the idea of this essay’s research question in which cultural and social factors do contribute to gendering an individual, and in turn implicating the creation of a boundary that exclude transgenders from the society.


Culture and society shape and mould us into who we are in today’s world, and it is apparent that the fluidity of culture and society is held responsible for one’s gender to change over time. In the East, most transgenders in countries such as India and Thailand challenge cultural and social norms to claim alternative gender in this world. In the West, however, most transgenders define themselves as the opposite gender than the one others would consider as matching the one they were born. Looking at the example of a male identifying as a female, Lewins (1995:48) mentioned the tensions intertwined to the culture one was born into to the confusion of one who
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