By Jordan Hoctor
For many people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are not changeable or questioned. The idea of changing our sex or gender is still taboo and it is assumed we are born, assigned a sex, and sent out into the world. Perhaps we should consider that our biological physical anatomy, sex and our gender are different? Why do we need gender? What is gender identity and why does it matter? What if we took gender and got rid of it? Do we need gender equality or gender abolishment?
Maybe it’s better for everyone if we stopped defining ourselves from having preconceived ideas of what gender is!
Biological Sex includes physical attributes such as external genitalia, sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and internal reproductive structures. At birth, it is used to assign sex, that is, to identify individuals as male or female. Gender on the other hand is more complex. It is the multifaceted interrelationship between an individual’s biology, one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither, as well as one’s outward presentation and expressions which relates to perception. Together, the intersection of these different features produces one’s authentic sense of gender, both in how people experience their own gender as well as how others perceive it.
Many aspects of gender are socially and culturally constructed, particularly regarding gender expression. Think about it; pink for girls, blue for boys…Right? Culture determines and influences our gender. Sexual characteristics and expectations bombard us continually. Childhood, peers, schools, community, media, and religion are some of the many influences that shape our understanding of this core facet of self. Like other social constructs, gender is closely scrutinized and reinforced by society. Practically everything in society is assigned a gender—toys, colour, clothes and behaviours, blah blah blah….
When a baby is born, a quick glance between the legs determines the gender label, if it dangles it’s a boy, if it doesn’t it’s a girl and one of two boxes are ticked. Rather than two boxes, there are more possibilities in the gender spectrum! This spectrum of anatomical variations by itself should be enough to disregard the simplistic notions of a binary gender system. Instead of the fixed, binary model produced through a solely physical understanding of gender, let’s have a rich spectrum of biology, gender expression, and gender identity intersecting in a multidimensional array of possibilities. Quite simply, the gender spectrum represents a more ultimately truly authentic model of human gender.
Does gender matter? NO!!!
To prove this point let’s take Facebook for example. In 2014 Facebook in the UK added over fifty gender options for users to choose from, some of the options included are; agender, polygender and two-spirit, neutral or no gender! In addition, people who select a custom gender, now can choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly — male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their). Wow, makes you wonder why other companies and countries still only recognise two genders.
People argue for gender and gender roles to make life easier. It is easier for us as a society to be able to classify, categorize and put people into boxes. Now more than ever we are learning more and more about gender and in doing so further boxes are being made and the lines of these boxes are becoming increasingly blurred. In a civilization where this crucial aspect of self has been so narrowly defined and enforced, individuals who exists outside its norms face numerous challenges and repression. Yet this does not have to be the case forever. Through a selfless consideration of the uniqueness and validity of every being’s experiences of self, we can develop greater acceptance for all. Isn’t it about time we became more aware? It is how we describe ourselves and as human beings we are forever changing; even the gender spectrum is becoming more of a gender continuum. We can be more of ourselves, be honest and find the person who truly makes us happy and that could be anyone. Not only will this create greater inclusion for individuals who encounter exclusion for being different, it will create space for all people to discover more and celebrate who they are.