Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Define Your Own Gender

Define Your Own Gender
The Genderbread depiction that we viewed in class described gender and sexuality in a new way that I had never thought of before. The two continuums of “male-ness” and “female-ness” that apply to each aspect of gender and sexuality allow for more freedom in choice. Narrow mindedness towards gender and sex as a binary system has led to conflicts and disagreements. It is often the case that those who are unable to relate to what they cannot understand marginalize people who are different. Just the other day I heard someone belittle a person’s confusion with gender identity by saying “they’re just trying to be different because they want the attention.” It’s hard to understand something that you yourself are not going through, but when someone is uncomfortable with their socially “assigned” gender or sexuality, they should not be persecuted for wanting to feel right with their identity.
While we still have a long ways to go in being more accepting and understanding of the right to choose and define your own gender identity, there has been a lot of progress made. I found an article from CBC News acknowledging a school in Alberta that is writing up new guidelines to “erase old divides that force students into male and female roles.” After reading the article and looking at the new guidelines I think it is extremely commendable and brave that the school is taking such measures to make all of its students feel safe to be themselves.
One of the most controversial points of the guidelines document is that students are now allowed to pick the locker room they change in during gym class. I found it extremely interesting that they included this point because while I have seen efforts being made by schools to be more inclusive of individuals who do not identify as male or female, I have not heard of a school going this far. I found out the other day that my own high school might be implementing a gender neutral bathroom, but no word on a locker room just yet. Ultimately I think establishing gender neutral locker rooms is only reinforcing the idea that we're all humans, and as humans we share the same rights. Regardless of the fact that we are all just humans and should be equal on all counts, it is still impossible for me to imagine schools allowing girls and boys to change, shower, etc. in the same locker room. As a society we were socialized to see that kind of behavior as taboo, but now we are supposed to embrace it as the new norm. Like any radical social change, the acceptance of defining your own gender will be a long process, but it will be well worth it.

Here is the link to the article. Check it out!


  1. I definitely agree at the Genderbread man offered a whole new way of thinking about gender identity. I certainly have never considered "male-ness" and "female-ness" to be completely separate from each other but it makes sense! I found the article quite interesting. Certainly here at TCU, we do not experience a lot of freedom when it comes to gender. In dorms, we are clearly separated by genetic sex and there are no gender neutral restrooms on campus. However, these schools in Alberta reminded me of stories I have been told by my sister about her university. She attends Colorado State University. She does have a female roommate, but her hall is co-ed. In her hall there is a women's restroom, a men's restroom, and a gender-neutral restroom. They are discouraged from using gendered words or phrases like "you guys." When she went to the "mountain campus" with a school organization she was placed in a cabin with two males rather than solely with other females. One thing I find particularly interesting is that when she was participating in a conference she was asked what pronouns she preferred so they could print those on her name tag along with her name and school.
    I think this goes to show that some universities are making strives to break gender norms. I think its great that primary and secondary schools are following behind.
    Certainly it can be uncomfortable for change to happen, especially when we are all used to separation of gender and the idea that there are only two genders (I certainly think they should have asked to make sure my sister was comfortable before assigning her a cabin with only males), but if we try to stay comfortable all the time it will never become the norm to accept all gender identities.

  2. I think it's amazing that they're allowing people to choose--and also to provide "gender neutral" bathrooms. It sounds like a small thing, but the issue of deciding which bathroom to use can be problematic--and even dangerous--for people who are transgender.