The Changing Face of Gender
Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex and Genderqueer people aren’t just people who feel as though they were born in the wrong body or are comfortable as both genders (can you imagine Michael Jackson saying that?…I’ll take it). It doesn’t always specify a particular sexual orientation. Trans and genderqueers claim both or neither gender. Sometimes they float between the two. In other words they themselves have invented a third gender – a non-gender or neuter gender that defies male or female identification. It defies the gender binary system in terms of roles, biology and sexual orientation. This is also known as heteronormativity and it defines the majority of our society.
watch Gender queer me. The gender binary system is known to contribute to the prejudices which stigmatize intersex and transgenders. Gender binary as a restriction against trans, intersex and genderqueer people is undeniable. True, women universally are the only humans capable of giving birth (at this point in our history). Arguably, it is this biological function that many cultures and religions use to justify second-class treatment of women. And within the rigid roles women are forced to accept, the gender binary system flourishes.
Riki Wilchins author of GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary, argues that gender binaries “divide and polarize society“. They certainly do. In fact gender binaries result in stereotypes, bullying, exclusion and hatred of genderqueer and trans people (along with lesbian, gay, bisexual people – however that is a sexual orientation, not necessarily a gender role). Sexual orientation of pansexuality or polysexuality, provides a flexible option for people’s sexual orientation since it encompasses all kinds of sexuality and gender or non-gender roles; “pansexuality is not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regards to gender or activity.” Pansexuality can apply to heterosexuals too. Consider that gender roles are more of a psychological concept than a biological one. Can a heterosexual person not establish an intimate relationship with an intersex or transsexual person, even if the former thinks of his/her partner as the opposite sex? I believe that is possible. Chaz Bono on becoming a man
What concerns me the most is the struggle youth and young adults face when coming to terms with their gender or non-gender. Many teenagers in high school have committed suicide due to bullying over their sexual orientation; worse, these teens have lived in terror that their orientation would be discovered by others when they have worked so hard to conceal it. Of the annual teen suicides that occur in Canada every year 30% are committed by LGBT students. There are no stats available as to whether any of these youth are intersex, trans, genderqueer, neuter, or pansexual. Recently I watched a brief news documentary where a young man informed his parents he was homosexual. His mother’s reply was he would have to move out since her live-in boyfriend didn’t approve and she couldn’t bear to lose her boyfriend. It’s no wonder that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. It’s not rational for teachers and students to expect that LGBT students will be treated with respect and equity at school when they aren’t being treated as such at home. We need to start with educating the public and families about various gender roles and sexuality if we’re going to make a difference. Watch It Gets Better – LGBT Anti-Bullying Movement
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