Gender, Sex, Sexuality. Three different things. Yet, the general public tends to use these terms interchangeably, unintentionally invalidating other people’s identities. Before we get started on the Binary Gender Myth, let’s break down the basics to make sure we are all on the same page: Sex is concerned with your genitalia, gender regards the spectrum from feminine to masculine traits as well as everything in between and beyond that. As for sexuality – that pertains to your level of attraction to one or more partners.
Those who firmly believe that there can only be two genders, mostly come from two different standpoints. On the one hand, you have those who are not too keen on changing their already established world views. Let’s call them the Conservative Stereotype. Motivated by beliefs that can be rooted in culture or other social influences, the Conservative Stereotype may be afraid of accepting other peoples’ opinions or identities for the sake of preserving a particular version of reality. On the other hand, there are also those who are not afraid of being confronted with what they cannot understand. I like to call them Emotionless Rationalists. The Emotionless Rationalist does not understand the need for more than two genders. If a woman wants to dress like a man, why can’t they just do that? Why put a label on anything? Why make a big deal out of irrational needs when there are bigger fish to fry in the world? The Emotionless Rationalist likes to ask a lot of questions – but not for the sake of getting answers.
The Perfect World
In an ideal world, everyone would feel comfortable in their own skin. Society would not cast any ill-fitting, universal expectations on a group of diverse individuals. A benign human being could act and speak the way they saw fit without having to worry about the gaze of the public or being othered. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most people. Prejudice, asocial phobias and an abundance of -isms exist. Therefore, many people who are hindered at living the life they truly desire have to make compromises. Of course it would be ideal to wear what you like or act in a way that feels most natural to yourself – but societal pressure tries to shape us all in one way or another. Resisting this pressure is tough – but more and more voices are speaking up against it.
Never Stop Learning
Loud and proud voices for social justice can be easily found on social media platforms. Young educators on Youtube in particular have set their minds on raising awareness on topics like the gender spectrum. Ashley Mardell and Kat Blaque are one of the most prominent advocates for equality between all genders and sexualities. As a video creator and bestselling author, Mardell is known for making quality content on contemporary topics. When educating oneself on a topic that does not directly pertain to oneself, it is important to get the information from those, who experience discrimination first-hand and thus know best how to tackle social obstacles. Mediums like
online blog posts or newspaper articles, written by outsiders can certainly be a gateway to the first-hand facts. However, they should primarily function as a starting point for further research. Riley J. Dennis is another video blogger who dedicates her time to educating an incredibly huge, virtual audience by creating a content-mix of history lessons, accounts of personal experiences, political news updates as well as social commentary. Being a self-proclaimed science-lover, atheist and social rights activist, Dennis is living proof that critical thinking as well as compassion do go together.
Privilege and Awareness
When diving into the discourse about sex, gender and sexuality, it is important to always keep yourself in check. That simply means being aware of your own privilege when speaking on a subject matter. If you do not understand another person’s struggle, that does not mean it is not real. Do not take your privilege for granted by invalidating peoples’ identities or problems. Instead, become part of the solution by spreading awareness, being a good ally and helping minority groups find a medium to speak up through. Listening to those who experience discrimination first-hand is key because it shines a light on those who really know what they are talking about.
Watch Riley J. Dennis’ video about non-binary genders and their validity here:
Source: Riley J. Dennis via Youtube
Photo credits: Cover image by Pixabay