Towards a self-directed postgender identity.

Andreja Pejić, born Andrej, is a Bosnian-born Australian model. Before coming out as a trans woman in late 2013, Pejić was known as the first completely androgynous supermodel. Today, she is one of the most recognisable transgender models in the world and a living example of gender fluidity.

Pejić, who worked at a McDonald’s before becoming a model, gained attention for modelling both masculine and feminine clothing in the Paris fashion shows of January 2011 for designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs.In late 2013, xe (=gender neutral pronoun) underwent gender-confirmation surgery (the term that has come to replace gender-reassignment surgery) after modelling in Barcelona Bridal Week 2013 as a sexy androgynous man.

In may 2015 Pejić became the first openly transgender model profiled by Vogue, the influential a fashion and lifestyle magazine, the first ever trans woman to sign a cosmetics contract. In 2016 Andreja was awarded “Best International Female Model” by GQ Portugal and the following year she made history by becoming the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of GQ. Pejic’s success neatly coincides with—and embodies—a kind of cultural and political mainstreaming of transgender identity. As Vogue Magazine stated “the distinction between man and woman is disappearing, aesthetically at least”.

Since in 1952 the Daily News (New York) broke the story of Christine Jorgensen, formerly George Jorgensen, several studies have examined the brains of transgender people to see whether they accord with their gender identity or with their external sexual anatomy. The fanciest MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) may show subtle differences, but give a specialist a stack of brain images and it would be impossible to know which one came from a transgender person, just as it would be tricky to tell a male from a female brain (EPSTEIN, 2018).

People whose sex/gender identity is fluid challenge the ontological assumption that sex/gender fall into male and female binary categories. Current Western sexual orientation categories: heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual, are also disrupted because they rely on these binaried forms of identity classification. This without taking into account that the inclusion of sex/gender diverse people in discussions about gender theory problematises our approaches, including feminisms, masculinity studies, and queer theory (MONRO, 2007). What this text aims is to defend postgenderism, a social, political and cultural movement which argues that the presence of gender roles, social stratification, and cogno-physical disparities and differences are generally to the detriment of individuals and society (DVORSKY & HUGHES, 2008).

Assuming that gender identities are produced predominantly or exclusively by environmental conditions -including cultural conventions (FAUSTO-STERLING, 2017)- biological identity should not be a constrainment for a voluntary and directed evolution of homo sapiens. Transhumanism by challenging our conceptions in this regard -and expanding science to further explore the very definitions of “life”, “sentience”, “conscience”, and person- is the only way to give ourselves the means to pursue this quest (KREPELKA, 2014).

This way, Andreja Pejić through embracing a fluid sex/gender identity in the fashion catwalks, and specially by going beyond postmodernist performativities, might be a leading cultural example of self-directed postgender politics and bionormativity transgression. And probably this will be an interesting issue to add to the long nature versus nurture debate…

For clownfish sex change from male to female is a normal process in biology.


*Bibliography:

Epstein, R.H. (2018) “Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything”. W. W. Norton & Company.

Fausto-Sterling, A. (2017) “Against Dichotomy”. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture. Vol.1-No.1.

Dvorsky, G. & Hughes, J. (2008) “Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary”. Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Originally published on March 20th, 2008, on ieet.org

Krepelka, J. (2014) “Transhumanism: the next step of civilization”. Originally published on July 29th, 2014, on Laissez-faire.ch

Monro, S. (2007) “Transmuting Gender Binaries: the Theoretical Challenge”. Sociological Research Online, Volume 12, Issue 1.


*(Pictures: nytimes.com & livescience.com).

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