Sex And Gender In Mary Beth Norton's Searchers Again Assembled

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Sex and gender have always been an intricate topic. Both appear within society on a spectrum, not binary opposites. In Colonial times, such a belief would be nonexistent in a culture that places a tremendous weight on an individual’s sex and gender. Despite such beliefs individuals still identified outside the binary; for example, the case of Thomasine/Thomas Hall. When historians attempt to study cases like the one, it can be difficult to reconcile the court's decision with how the individual identified themselves. In Mary Beth Norton’s “Searchers Again Assembled” she interprets the importance of Hall’s gender roles compared to their sexual identity. The first and possibly the most important point that Norton addresses are that of proper pronoun usage. She does her best to remain respectful to Hall and the same shall be done here. So, following this example Hall will be referenced by the surname and/or the pronouns T/they. This distinction that Norton makes also adds a to her emphasis on the importance of gender roles in the colonial era. The period was one…show more content…
At the heart of this case is the questions surrounding Hall’s ambiguous genitalia. The women determine that it is too different from their own. This is easy enough to understand but where it gets confusing is when the men also distinguish Hall’s genitals from their own. In the case of the men, Norton argues that it is less about the anatomy and more about the physiology. (Norton 195) Hall admitted that they could not produce a family, so too men, this made them a woman. Norton uses this to further her argument that the idea that sex which is meant to correlate with gender dictates an individual’s role. Even John Tyos, Hall’s master perpetuated this. It is hinted that he knew the true nature of the ability surrounding Hall’s sex, yet Tyos insists that Hall is female because of the gender roles they perform. (Norton

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