OPINION: Are you a girl or a boy? The classic question we answer throughout our lives.
A question based on the word assigned to you at birth. A word assigned to you based on key biological differences backed by hard science. Where is it?
It is common to use anatomy and chromosomes to define sex, as these factors are believed to be definitive symptoms of either sex.
In response to transgender people coming out, some transphobes like to use the term “basic biology” to claim that their identity is invalid, their gender is definitive, and there is a strict set of definition guidelines. .
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However, if we were to look at advanced biology, we would see that there are not only conditions in which females are born with XY chromosomes and males are born with XX chromosomes. There are also mutations in which the anatomy of a person does not correspond to the norm, prescribed for one or the other sex.
Even normal brain anatomy shows that a transgender person has a brain structure closer to the gender they identify with, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.
There are all these holes in the way we prescribe someone’s sex, and yet, despite great consequences, we still use this system.
Imagine being assigned the wrong gender. Imagine that your brain is screaming at you that something is wrong, that your body is wrong, that your life is wrong.
This is the experience of many transgender people. Yet we keep throwing all these biological terms at them, telling them they’re wrong and science works.
Some even operate on intersex children to try to prove to themselves that something is wrong with them, not our science.
Now, because of this unshakable belief in this system, we have created something called the Gender Binary. It’s like binary code, where something is a one or a zero.
You are classified as male or female, as male or female.
People who sit outside of this binary, like me, cannot have their identity recognized as their gender.
So, non-binary people have a gender that doesn’t match their identity, which seems harmful.
Like trans men or trans women, non-binary people also experience dysphoria (discomfort) with their physical characteristics not matching their identity, and constantly reminding themselves that they are biologically female or male can exacerbate the problem. .
Even if non-binary people were okay with this constant reminder, some health care providers and schools confuse sex with gender, so when a non-binary person needs to fill out a form or enroll in a program, they usually have to reluctantly indicate their gender. incorrect identity.
This reinforces daily anxiety and dysphoria.
In my own experience, it is our gendered society that is the main cause of my dysphoria.
I have to constantly think about how I want to be perceived every day, and how my clothes and hairstyle will make me be perceived.
Before, I wanted to be androgynous. I hated my feminine features and my long hair, but I realized that I didn’t have to change my appearance for people to use my pronouns. Society must change.
The fact that I have to pretend to be a cis woman every time I go to church for my own safety is not fair.
The fact that I get nervous when my friends use my pronouns around other people, because I’m afraid other people will find out and judge me is not fair.
I shouldn’t feel invisible at school because teachers refuse to use neutral terms.
I have the right to live my life without constant fear or discomfort. Being non-binary shouldn’t mean I don’t have the same rights as a cisgender person.
Others shouldn’t feel the need to tell me that my identity isn’t real, that my experience isn’t valid because of science. However, it is the society in which we live, a society that was created around the majority. A society that must change.
Changing the rules of society is difficult because they are firmly embedded in our brains.
One of my recent experiences is a perfect example of the stubbornness of our binary society.
I tried to get my school to change the gender they assigned me on my student profile. I asked my dean to email the person in charge of student information and that person replied that I needed legal documents and they had never seen a written no binary on a birth certificate.
This email triggered my dysphoria and I thought I needed reassignment surgery just to get my gender recognised.
Having this experience in a school that I love and where I feel safe really hurt me. My teachers did their best to get my pronouns correct and they really agreed.
I assumed that because the school accepted my preferred pronouns it would also change the way my gender was categorized, but I underestimated people’s reluctance to change the system.
Some people like structure and rules, even if they are outdated and discriminatory. It’s disappointing how we stick to what we’re comfortable with, even when it negatively impacts others.
From another point of view, using binary gender indicators is a simple and effective way to register people. Trying to account for a spectrum of chromosomal and anatomical differences on shapes is a complex process that would require a sophisticated solution.
Although this is an explanation of our current state, it is not a good justification for continuing this practice.
Another possible reason for keeping this antiquated ID system is that it has been around for a long time, and if there was a problem, wouldn’t we have changed it some time ago?
This rationale is very weak, as trans identities have only recently been recognized, so according to historical beliefs, everyone identified with their gender.
Anyway, more than two possible gender identifiers have been around for much longer. Since at least 4 BC, in fact,
This is proved by the fact that in Plato’s Symposium it is said that there were three original sexes: feminine, masculine and androgynous.
While current systems attempt to make life easier for most people, there is still a large group of people affected by binary classification.
While we encourage our children to be true to themselves and their identities, our systems seem to say otherwise.
Actions speak louder than words, and our reluctance to make a change seems to show that we are not fully committed to allowing people to be themselves.