Let's talk about Gender: Gender binary and Self identification

Friday, 10 June 2016

So as I said a few posts ago, I want to start talking on this blog about things/issues that really matter to me. And I guess this is where I'm starting. I'm not quite ready yet to be talking about my own gender, how I identify and all that stuff because there's a lot of stuff I haven't figured out. Plus I thought that I'd explain, to those guys of you who maybe don't know, a bit about what gender actually is. How sex and gender are different and about gender roles in society a little bit too.
Just a warning I'm going to be talking about genitals (briefly) and mentioning words like penis and vagina and stuff like that so if that makes you uncomfortable you can instead just read this post about adorable sloths.
 So when you're born you're assigned a gender, based on your sex (your anatomy). So, generally, if you have a vagina you're female and if you have a penis you're male. But if your anatomy doesn't quite fit these two definitions then you're intersex (though there are issues with doctors performing surgery on babies to make them fit into male and female but that's for another post).
But gender doesn't have to be based on what you were born with. Men can have vaginas, women can have penis' and there are genders outside of those two. So on with the show.



Cisgender and Transgender
The majority of people identify as the gender  they were assigned at birth(so you were born with a vagina, the doctor went "congratulations it's a girl" and you still identify as a woman; and 'vice versa'), these people are cisgender. But others don't. They either identify as the "opposite" gender the the one they were born (male to female and vice versa) or identify as a different gender, one which isn't in societies gender binary and these people are transgender.

Now it is worth noting quickly that gender and sexuality are completely independent of each other. As some people do seem to think that they're somehow linked. This means that if you're trans, it doesn't mean you're automatically gay, or bisexual or whatever. They have nothing to do with each other. Completely separate.

Gender Binary and Gender Roles
Now let's just talk about this whole "gender binary" thing shall we, as this is the reason there are issues with people being transgender. The gender binary is the idea that gender and sex are both the same thing (i.e if you have a penis you're a man and if you have a vagina you're a woman). It's also the idea that men and women have gender roles as in man=masculine and woman=feminine.
So in western society it's the idea that men are the physically strong, they don't show any weakness, like strong emotions so they never cry. Men like things like fast cars, lots of sex, high power jobs and women(sexuality does also come into pay with the gender binary too). The idea that little boys like playing with toy soldiers, cars and guns but not anything pink or sparkly. Whereas women on the other hand are the nurturing ones, they like babies, sharing feelings and shopping. They're emotional and not interested in anything mentally challenging. Little girls like playing with barbies, toy babies and shopping sets. But are much delicate to be playing cops and robbers, rolling around in mud or being interested in mentally challenging things.
Though these are very basic examples, and I know not everyone thinks as rigidly as this. Of course society dosn't all think completely like this, we have moved forward in the last 100 years. But this is largely still how society and roles work. With men and women in their boxes, coming under scrutiny for acting out of their roles. So men being made fun of for showing emotion such as crying and women being as assertive as male counterparts being called "bossy" or "bitchy".
Men still hold most of the top positions in large companies, government and STEM jobs. While the work, benefit, and legal system (at least in the UK and the US) is largely skewed towards women being the primary carer of children. And most of society has no idea (or won't accept) that people can exist outside of sex=gender male and female boxes.

As these roles and the binary stands it makes it very hard for people to identify and express themselves outside of their assigned boxes.
But it does happen, men can be feminine and still be men, women can be masculine and still be women. I think most people can accept that to some degree. But people can also exist who are neither men or women, or who are both or somewhere in between or whatever else. And people can be assigned female but decide they're a man, or be assigned male and decide they're a woman. And that's basically all I wanted this post to say. It's not as complicated as it seems.
People decide their own gender based on how they feel about themselves. You can't look at someone and know their gender just from their physical appearance; well unless they're wearing a t shirt that says "I'm genderqueer" but even then they could've borrowed it from a friend.

So this post was probably quite boring if you knew all these things, and if I've made an error somewhere (which does happen as I'm a human) then let me know. But I basically wanted this post to be an introduction to transness and why it's seen as an issue in society. Why it is so hard for some people to express themselves or be accepted. I will be writing more posts on this topic at some point soon, and will also be talking about my own personal experience of gender etc when I'm ready for all that jazz.
But until then I hope this post was informative and you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, see ya next week~
Thanks for reading!

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