Many of us never question our birth assigned gender, so we don’t understand those who do. Many of us will simply wonder this: Why can’t they just stick with the way they were born?
You see, for those of us who never felt like we were misrepresented by our birth assigned gender, it is difficult to understand why one cannot simply just be a tomboy or a sissy when feeling an affiliation with the opposite gender. We don’t always understand or know that children are born without a distinguishable set of genitalia. Many schools don’t even adequately cover how hormones effect the body for us to understand the impact of opposing hormones and genitalia. We aren’t taught that there are actually more variations in DNA then XX and XY. We certainly don’t realize that not everyone wants to wear their gender on their sleeve as if what your “private parts” are should make a difference to anyone who doesn’t know you intimately.
For those who are curious about the ways that the sex can vary and the implications of it, please watch:
But let’s get back to gender, which is not inextricably linked to sex. The question that I ask back to the binary is this: Why does it matter to you what someone else’s social gender is?
We have an expression in our household for things that people say that are so outside of the norm, or genius, ridiculous or insane that we can’t properly process it in one sitting. It’s a silly expression, but I think it gets the point across. “My head exploded” is the expression. I won’t speak for others, but that was what happened to me when I first encountered concepts of the non-binary gendered. This was followed by a curiosity about what the heck the other genders could possibly be and how did people even come up with them? Why did they have to be special and different and make everyone else’s lives difficult?
Obviously, I recovered from that obnoxious train of thought. So why did it matter to me and why did it cause such an obnoxious initial reaction? Because, as stated in the video, it challenged my idea of the world. If we aren’t man and woman, what are you going to say next? Is gravity a myth? But since the intersex have always been around, how did they choose which gender to be?
Well, that is both easy and difficult to answer. As I understand it, the intersex along with all the non-binary people out there didn’t choose their gender in the first place. Neither did I and, presumable, neither did you. Gender is something that is innately known by a person, it is not a choice. It is not like choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Choosing between the binary genders when you are not one is more like deciding to tell people that you are Italian because you like Italian food and your appearance could pass for Italian. The point is this: people don’t conform to the binary because at the very core of their being, they know that it is not true of them.
So let us stop challenging their identity and expressions of it. There are people out there who are already good at this. Let us continue to work to accept people as they are and not who we would rather they be. And let us definitely stop presuming that we are entitled to know what someone’s gender or genitalia is when we meet them.
Join me Monday for some random musings in gender issued and Wednesday for some thoughts on media representation!