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What is Gender
Gender in a modern context is something that society has internalised into a binary idea. Gender and sex are no longer equated to the same definitions they once were; sex is what is referred to when speaking about the biological characteristics, while gender is more of a personal understanding and or experience of one’s own gender, and can exist outside of the stereotypical gender binary. Anne Fausto-Sterling’s book ‘Sexting the Body’ outlines that there is a strict binary culture at the moment, that ‘labelling someone a man or a woman is a social decision. We may use specific knowledge to help us make the decision, but only our beliefs on gender – not science – can define our sex. Furthermore, our beliefs about gender affect what kinds of knowledge scientists produce about sex in the first place’ (p.3) This essay will critically discuss key issues revolving around gender identity; how conservative culture and the lack of non-cisgendered representation throughout time has affected how modern society receives people’s identities.
Modern Day Conformity: Sex vs. Gender
Gender issues have been going on in the world for some time now. Imagine being born and being told what you must be from the beginning. No, and, if, or buts if you are born with a biological part you are required to act and dress according to that part. As kids, one was taught to understand and see other children as binary either boy or girl. Growing up everyone is raised believing the predetermined characteristic of what a typical run of the mill male and females should look and act like. However, due to this classical understanding of gender identity, it has become a topic that is misunderstood and misinterpreted as people confuse “sex” with “gender.” In this paper i will dive into the differences about sex and gender using information from sources such as Batya Greenwald’s ted-talk to convey how the issue of gender and sex has become so misunderstood and misinterpreted, and how the classically understanding of those words are becoming a tool to restrict certain individuals from expressing themselves on how they truly feel.
Gender is defined as the qualities in society that are tied with being a male and female. Batya Greenwald a passageworks lead faculty and a national board-certified teacher in her ted talk “how kindergarteners taught me about gender” speaks about the many myths about gender and in her talk amongst the many myths about gender she speaks on two that are mainstream. According to Batya Greenwald, the biggest myths about gender circulating in society since forever ago are that #1: “that gender is binary” this means that we have two choices to either be masculine male or feminine female no other choices no way around it. Myth #2 states according to Batya “sex and gender are the same thing” which according to Greenwald is false. Sex is defined as in common tongue our “birthday suit” Greenwald states that sex is “biology” she says it is “that moment at birth when someone picks us up looks between our leg and says it is a boy or it is a girl” sex is what is assigned to us at birth. In contrast to sex Gruenwald states that Gender identity is our understanding of how we feel inside. To sum up Batya Gruenwald’s main point, biological sex is what is “between our legs” while gender identity is “between our ears” meaning how we think of ourselves.
Greenwald focuses her talk mainly on transgender and agender children. she talks of the hardships they faced in a gendered world where people have a hard time grasping those who fall outside the characteristics that we have come to know as boys/girls. Greenwald pokes at the common stereotypes many people face growing up by asking questions “boys were you taught not to cry?” or “women were you taught to act like a lady” and because of those stereotypes many people did not want to do something because it was not appropriate. she goes on to convey how those stereotypes are forming the minds of children by telling a story of one of her students showed up to class with a pink shirt and the other kids made fun of him because of the color of his shirt. she goes on to say that by allowing the kids to list the gender rules for boys and girls they eventually realized that the rules are unfair and stupid, this proves that by breaking the gender stereotypes and rules at an early allows children to be proud and not be defined by their gender.
I think that the video had a lot to say about how people see gender and sex the similarities between how people see sex and gender and how we are programmed to see the two as the same from early as kindergarten and that is that it all is the same and that is where we mess up “sex is our biology our anatomy” gender is what you identify with, some boys feel like girls and some girls feel like boys that may sound confusing but masculine and feminine are acts you can act masculine and not be a boy and or male gender is like race I think it is important because that is something your born with and grow up with you cant hide your race or gender but if someone were to blindfolded you and introduced you to me and you only had to figure out what my gender and race was you would probably get it wrong therefore it is not fair that you can not act as you feel.
I think the message that Batya Greenwald is looking to convey is best illustrated by seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes who came up with the famous saying “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes wanted to find a way to confirm that what he was talking with his eyes was true because according to
Gender Identity & Equality
Investigating gender variation and asking how gender variation shapes the lives of people and communities who do not see themselves as transgender, but whose lives are shaped by abnormality of gender expectations is important. Gender normality shapes not just what it means to be a man or a woman, or what it means to be transgender but a person’s identity. Society tends to use the concept of defining one’s identity based off outer appearance. Inner identity is a misleading concept few tend to understand. It is vital to understand gender identity because society has changed and people can be more open about who they are, it is important to understand how people define themselves, and there are many negative consequences when people are not understood.
It is important to understand that individuals who choose to identify differently than their birth sex because of the various struggles they face. Many deal with self-acceptance, and society acceptance issues. Some individuals choose to express themselves by their appearance as a way of self-acceptance. Although many choose to dress feminine or masculine, society perceives this in a negative matter. In article “Longitudinal Associations between Gender and Ethnic-Racial Identity Felt Pressure from Family and Peers and Self-Esteem among African American and Latino/a Youth,” states that “Gender identity felt pressure is negatively associated with adjustment indices, including self-esteem, among children and early adolescents, and both gender and ethnic-racial identity felt pressure are negatively associated with self-esteem among young adults” (Aoyagi, et al 207-221). Due to the pressure this eventually leads to depression, and over the years suicide rates have increased among those who choose to be more open with how they identify. Imagine feeling not accepted or understood to the point where truing to ending a life as the answer simply because of self-expression. Understanding and being more open to accepting people as they are could make an impact to lower these rates.
A negative consequence that many come across is discrimination. Even though many who choose to be open with who they are and consider it to be their normal, some view it has taboo. Those with opposing views, often tend to base their opinion of law policy. Some in society see it as wrong or oppose because there aren’t many laws that obtain to gender identity and the protection of trans identity. Written in the report “Gender Identity Policies In Schools: What Congress, the Courts, and the Trump Administration Should Do” it says “The report never acknowledges or addresses (a) legal opinions that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination; (b) the near-consensus within the medical, scientific, and educational communities concerning how transgender students should be treated; and (c) other research or literature shedding light on the appropriate care for and education of transgender youth” (Roberts et al). When it comes to trans and gender identity the law is limited because there is not a national crisis on discrimination and treatment. It is more of a choosing on the states to deicide if they set policies to protect discrimination that occurs towards identity identification. People who chose to identify different shouldn’t be restrained or limited to the law that should be protecting every induvial equally. Just because someone is comfortable in their own skin they shouldn’t be penalized by someone else’s mistreatment and not feel protected fairly by the law. The system fails to acknowledge this social issue.
Its pretty normal to be shocked, or surprised, or even uncomfortable when you come across someone breaking gender barriers. When it comes to gender identity it’s more of an internal, rooted and central part of a person’s sense of themselves. However, a way that someone expresses their gender is not necessarily how they identify their gender. An example of a better understanding is in the new letter “Teaching students to question assumptions about gender and Sexuality”. Introduces the idea “Many people identify as neither male nor female, or they place themselves somewhere along the continuum from hypermasculine to hyperfeminine (Blackburn, and Pennell 28). Apart from using appearance as a form of expression some use pronouns as a way to identify who they are. We tend to think gender is a fixed quality but its more then that’s its traits one carries inside. If society could see its about more than a physical appearance its how a person chooses to define who they are not what’s being perceived. As actor Emma Watson quoted “It’s time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.”
The importance to understand how people define themselves when it comes to gender, and how there are many negative consequences when people are not understood. Like deductions of self-harm rates and becoming more knowledgeable when it comes to understanding someone mind set of self-acceptance. Understanding the various struggles of gender identity on a more constitutional side. Also how gender variation and asking how gender variation shapes the lives of people by knowing their preferences. Gender is varied in many forms and is viewed in different ways. In the end only a person’s inner identity and knowing who they are is what matters. Just because you chose to identify differently than your birth sex does not change the fact that you are human. Gender identity does not limit a person ability to be the best version of themselves!