Dismantling the Gender Binary System

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I dream of a future in which the gender binary system--the system that forces all people into one of two strictly defined gender categories, man and woman--will no longer exist. Regardless of how they identify in terms of sex or gender, regardless of how they express themselves, all people will be treated equally as human beings. Diversity of gender will be respected instead of being ignored or forced to conform to rigid binaries.

However, we have a long way to go before that can become a reality. This change cannot happen until society is changed dramatically. People must be educated about how socially constructed gender is; it is only when people realize that the gender binary is not innate that they will realize that it can be changed.

People must be aware of the ways in which the gender binary system hurts all people, not only those who do not identify with the category in which they have been placed.

I believe that the most what is the binary system of gender change will come about through education. Without people seeing gender outside of the binary as legitimate and acceptable, society cannot change. The gender binary system is deeply entrenched in US society. There are serious consequences--morally, politically, socially, and legally--for those who transgress gender norms. Because there are only two legally recognized genders, people who cross gender boundaries cannot exist, what is the binary system of gender a legal and social sense, without denying a fundamental part of themselves.

Although gender is deeply personal, it is also political. Gender, and biological sex because it is often tied to gender in US society, affect all parts of our lives. Our sex and gender affect how other people treat us, and they determine our legal status. For some people, their internal sense of themselves as gendered beings does not match with the gender society as determined for them, based on their biological sex.

For other people, neither side of the gender binary fully represents how they see themselves. Society is particularly confused about them because there is little awareness on a large scale about the concept of gender outside of what is the binary system of gender gender binary. People who identify as neither men nor women, and people for whom the categories of man and woman do not adequately encompass all of their gendered identities, are made invisible in society.

The legitimacy of their identities is ignored, and they are what is the binary system of gender represented in society. Legally and socially, their genders do not exist. As an ultimate goal, What is the binary system of gender believe we should aim for dismantling the gender binary system entirely. Although I am not in favor of eradicating gender completely, I believe that the binary of men and women should be overturned.

I believe in allowing people to identify, in terms of gender, however they will, and in allowing people to express that gender what is the binary system of gender they choose to do so. No gender should be more legitimate, or more worthy, than another gender. However, I acknowledge that fully ridding our society of the gender binary system will what is the binary system of gender generations.

It cannot happen overnight. Furthermore, I realize that I cannot truly imagine what it would be like to live in such a society. As it currently is, our society is strongly based on the idea of two genders that follow from two sexes, and that message is too deeply ingrained in all of us for anyone to fully grasp what it would be like if those societal pressures no longer existed. Nevertheless, I believe that my dream of a society without a restrictive gender system will someday be realized.

However, we cannot focus all of our energy toward a radically different, ideal what is the binary system of gender, if that means ignoring the present pain of all of the people we are working to help. Gender-nonconforming individuals are still being harassed, discriminated against, and legally treated as less than citizens. She continues by saying that hate crimes affect more than their victims:. Continue to be this way, the message goes, and all of you face this type of punishment--humiliation, pain, or death" Girshick This treatment must be stopped.

It is not enough to solely focus on making situations marginally better by giving gender-nonconforming individuals some of the rights and protections that everyone else takes for granted.

There must be a balance between dealing with the present and planning for the future. I believe that education is the answer to both problems. I believe that through educating people in order to enact change now, we can pave the way for changing society as a whole. There are a variety of legal issues that must be addressed, and legislators must be educated as to why they are important issues.

Federal anti-discrimination legislation must be amended in order to protect gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. That legislation should also be amended in order to protect people on all levels; these levels include, but are not limited to, employment, housing, medical care, and access to education. Sexual orientation must be included because homophobia is based on adherence to gender norms and ideas about how men and women are to act. Anti-discrimination legislation on a statewide level could also be a start.

We need to eliminate the legal structures in place that force people into one sex and gender, determined at birth. Changing gender and birth sex on documents should be made a far easier process. There also needs to be some way to distinguish between sex and gender on such, depending on which is actually appropriate for the document and whether either is needed at all.

There also needs to be change on an everyday level. While change is being enacted on a larger scale, gender-nonconforming people need to be able to go about their daily lives without facing discrimination, harassment, or fear of violence. Public restrooms are a serious source of anxiety, and potentially dangerous places, for many people who do not fit societal gender norms.

People need to be educated about the legitimacy and existence of both non-normative gender identities and expressions. They are no more a threat than anyone else. Of particular importance is educating the police force, emergency response workers, and all medical staff at hospitals and clinics. The police are in charge of enforcing the law; any legislation that may be passed will make no difference if the police will not enforce it.

Transgender people, and other gender-nonconforming people, have died due to hatred and bigotry at the hands of people who were supposed to help them:. People also need to be educated about gender on a broader level. Students should be educated about the difference between biological sex and gender and the diversity that exists within both categories. The social construction of gender can be explained, and the existence and legitimacy of gender expression and identity outside of the what is the binary system of gender of men and women should be acknowledged.

Ultimately, I believe that change will only come about if people are willing to work for it on an individual level, one conversation at a time. Through conversation, people can learn that the gender binary system that currently influences our lives should not, and need not, do so any longer.

Once people open their minds and accept gender nonconformity as a legitimate option, grassroots organizations can organize them to effectively lobby their congress people to enact legislation to protect those who transgress gender norms.

Furthermore, once enough people change their minds about people who do not fit into the gender binary, society itself will change. One day, I hope, such legislation protecting gender identity and expression will be a mere formality because society will no longer treat people differently based on gender. Works Cited Girshick, Lori B. Beyond Women and Men. University Press of New England: Currah, Paisley, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter, eds.

University of Minnesota Press, Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary. The Binary Gender System Sucks image. I agree full heartedly with this. I identify as agender, as what is the binary system of gender my sex-at-birth was designated as female, I don't identify as either gender. Currently, I am forced to remain quiet and select female as my only option because there is no other box to check. I dream of a world where gender is not exclusively male or female.

Where gender is no longer a synonym for sex. Where it isn't so important what we do with our lives based on those singular factors about ourselves. Where our lives are not determined when we're born by the sex as being our gender. Where we are all free to express and identify the way we please without being discriminated what is the binary system of gender.

It may not come in my life, but the only way anything will change is if we start acting on it. Thank you for writing this, Rae. Education is the strongest weapon in our hands. And just when I thought all hope was gone. Thank you, now if you'll excuse me I'm off to go cry tears of joy. Hello, I came through your blog after reading Spade's what is the binary system of gender that you have eloquently put in your post.

I am a student of health policy at UCSF and currently writing a paper on transgender discrimination. Although the radical concept of eliminating the gender binary documentation sounds like the ultimate method of eradicating gender discrimination, it might not work in how feasible it can be achieved right now.

For the meantime, seeking protection under the guises of gender what is the binary system of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation is what is necessary at this time. On another note, Canada is an interesting point of comparison as they implemented a ban on transgender discrimination a decade ago, but currently still have problems with it in all institutional levels.

Perhaps, going the "compliance" route is truly different from the equality we deserve. Keep Hope alive, Marissa. My name is Austin, My sex is a female. I grew up always thinking there were only two genders to identify as. I have learned so much from hir that I decided to writed a paper about no genders in my sociology class.

I feel as though I too do not belong in a gender sometimes because of the way my mind works now. I plan to do some experiments such as going into a mens bathroom in public places and identifing as a male instead of female when I meet new people. I want to push the limit as far as I can to try what is the binary system of gender prove the point that there should be more respect for no genders. I want to be able to open the minds of my friends and family also.

I;ve been so inspired and my eyes have been open to a whole new world of people.

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More specifically, it classifies two distinguishable, distinct, and oftentimes contrasting genders: Therefore, any quality feminine or masculine attributed to the way a certain sex is widely perceived to act within the confines of social norms refers to the gender binary.

Some areas that are strongly dictated by the gender binary are expectations of dress, private and public behavior, sexual orientation , names, pronouns, personality traits, careers, and the usage of restrooms.

In Uganda, where homosexuality is outright banned, a man is thrown into prison for life because he was accused of being with another man. These situations occur all over the world, but are united by a common theme: Though each culture determines their own gender roles and definitions of masculine and feminine, there are a few common traits of masculinity and femininity shared by many cultures.

These traits can range from physical appearances such as wearing clothes regarded as only for females or having a lack of muscular development to having unrestrained emotional reactions especially for sadness and fear, which is widely perceived to be a feminine trait by many cultures. Femininity is unfortunately often considered a sign of weakness in many cultures. The opposite holds true as well, where masculinity and being a man has close ties to power. There is an association of strength, aggression, initiative, and leadership with the idea of being masculine.

Because these traits are associated to masculinity, even in matriarchal societies, masculine women tend to hold more power than feminine women. Over time, societies have begun to recognize that stereotypes of masculine and feminine behaviors and characteristics are inaccurate. Most children tend to learn gender roles from an early age. Children usually inherit their beliefs from parents , other family members, close friends, and religion. Children also absorb ideas of gender roles from media and culture, including television, magazines, music, and other media.

They also stop or begin to hide behaviors that are subject to contempt, ridicule, or punishment. Unfortunately, even adults can still feel embarrassed, ashamed, and distressed if they do not adhere to the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that are expected of them.

Oftentimes, this fear of being outcasted or the process of growing up with a static mentality can prevent many people from empathizing with others, and can lead to people isolating themselves as a way to avoid judgement. Fortunately, with each new generation, there seems to be a generally positive trend around the world of acceptance for more diverse gender identities.

People have grown increasingly tolerant of others with views or lifestyles that differ from their own, even when those views are highly controversial.

An expanding tolerance is especially true amongst many western countries, as well as North America, many parts of South America, and Australia.

Many children's gender identity aligns with their biological sex. However, for some children, the match between biological sex and gender identity is not so clear. If the distress and discomfort that arises from this discrepancy is severe, the child may be experiencing a condition known as gender dysphoria.

It is natural for parents to want their child to be accepted socially. However, children need to feel comfortable with themselves and the environment they grow up in. Conversely, more girls are joining sports teams and integrating into school subjects traditionally thought of as masculine, such as science.

Almost all children show some behaviors that were once thought of as typical for the opposite gender. In other words, very rarely does a person exhibit exclusively male or female traits, which is completely normal.

However, these strengths will still be a source of his or her current and future success. Encouragement and positive influence are far healthier than simply forcing a child along a strict path or mindset that they do not wish to follow. Classification within the gender binary does not encompass individuals who are born with non-binary reproductive organs intersex and excludes those who identify as lesbian , gay , bisexual , transgender , transsexual , genderfluid , or third gender.

Around the world, there are many individuals and subcultures who defy specific gender or transgender identities. In several North American indigenous cultures, there are third and fourth gender roles that encompass gender variant individuals within their communities. These tribes do not conform to the traditional gender binary and some consider there to be at least four genders: Within these communities, Two Spirits are completely accepted and many even hold respected positions as healers, conveyors of oral traditions and songs, and traditional dancers.

In South Asia, there exists a category of trans women called hijra. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the hijras are officially recognized as third gender by the government, being neither completely male nor female. This protection ranges from basic legal rights, such as freedom of expression, to job and education welfare and security.

The gender binary is even challenged by some unlikely sources within certain subcultures. American Rock and Roll is widely considered an accepted and mainstream form of music. For example, Robert Plant of the rock and roll group Led Zeppelin took the idea of masculinity and gave it many physical aspects that one would find traditionally feminine.

Though many would argue that his persona was incredibly assertive, confident, and masculine, his physical presence conflicted with this notion. In some cases, these third gender or gender fluid communities are well rooted in history and culture, while some are fairly modern and ever changing.

It is important to understand and respect this as proof that the gender binary is not as concrete as some may think. Gender along with biological sex since it is often tied to gender in many societies affect all parts of our lives. Although gender is inherently personal, it is also political in many situations.

Since the gender binary is so well ingrained into culture, any deviation from it often results in antagonistic attitudes, prejudice, and mistreatment in public areas or the workplace. Transgender or transsexual people can even face harassment from their friends and family. The term for this form of discrimination is called transphobia. Transphobia is defined as a range of antagonistic attitudes and feelings against transgender or transsexual people, or towards the concept of transsexuality itself.

Transphobia can be emotional disgust, fear, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to society's gender expectations. It can often be fueled by insecurities, religious dogma, or ignorance. Transsexual or transgender people, similar to gay or lesbian citizens, are often discriminated against for challenging and undermining traditional beliefs about gender norms and the gender binary. Sometimes a person will grow up constantly exposed to a certain way of living or will only experience one particular ideology within a closed community.

When that person encounters a behavior or idea that is not reflected in his or her lived experiences, he or she might defensively respond by trying to confront and denounce the problem until it aligns with a familiar perspective. It is a sad reality that is the root cause of gender binary discrimination, and unfortunately one of the most difficult aspects of human nature to change or unlearn. Since there are only two legally recognized genders in most societies around the world man or woman , there is an outstanding issue with gender and the law.

People who identify as neither men nor women, as well as people for whom the categories of man and woman do not adequately encompass all of their gendered identities, are rendered almost invisible within the laws of society. Our sex and gender affect how other people treat us, and they determine our legal status. This legal status as either male or female is detrimental in matters such as marriage , divorce, adoption , child custody, inheritance, immigration status, and employment.

For example, in many places, transgender individuals are often unable to enter into a heterosexual marriage after undergoing sex-reassignment. Gender status also affects access to services such as shelters, clinics and centers, and health benefits.

On identity papers and personal records, gender entitles the owner to certain rights through a structured state constitution or federal mandate. A current hot issue in the United States is the legality of bathrooms and trans bathrooms.

A transgender person should use the restroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity. This behavior is now mandated by federal law. States have the sovereignty and ability to define and create their own interpretations of the law, but it was not until recently that the federal government began definitively protecting transgender rights.

States like Mississippi and, most recently, North Carolina have imposed strict laws that codify being a man or a woman into the law. It is human nature to oppose change and to fear something that is unfamiliar with the norm. However, the law, in theory, exists to avoid issues of emotional discontent and to focus on equality for the larger scale.

There is still much work that needs to be done and plenty of legal reform in many areas around the world, but there is a hopeful trend of progressive laws starting to be passed or at least discussed in many countries.

To some people, being masculine or feminine is a lifelong and absolute part of what makes us human; it is a fact that is constantly reinforced by their religion, sense of self, sense of duty, and daily life. To others, gender is unimportant, fluid, or simply chosen by the individual. Societal categories for what is masculine and feminine are constraining, unrealistic, and hinder basic human freedoms for expression.

All men have some so-called feminine traits, and all women have some so-called masculine traits, both of which may appeat at different times. Many cultures teach women and men to be the opposite of each other in many ways. However, more and more people are beginning to see gender as what it really is: There are a variety of legal issues that must be addressed, and legislators must be educated as to why they are important issues.

Federal anti-discrimination legislation must be amended in order to protect gender identity , gender expression, and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, ridding society of the gender binary system, or even acknowledging that there are other gender systems in play, will take generations. It will take empathizing, understanding, and tolerance to begin focusing all of our energy toward a radically different, ideal future. The truth is that all people, regardless of gender or biological sex, share more similarities than differences and that will always remain a positive source of human connection.

Bryn Mawr College, 18 Dec. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. Handbook of Gender Research in Psychology, Volume 2. Chakraborti, Neil; Garland, Jon Impact, Causes and Responses. Hartman, Caroline, and Letizia Schmid. Gender Roles in Rock and Roll Music.

Rutgers School or Arts and Science. Skip to main content. Social Discrimination Gender along with biological sex since it is often tied to gender in many societies affect all parts of our lives.

Legal Discrimination Since there are only two legally recognized genders in most societies around the world man or woman , there is an outstanding issue with gender and the law.

Concluding Remarks To some people, being masculine or feminine is a lifelong and absolute part of what makes us human; it is a fact that is constantly reinforced by their religion, sense of self, sense of duty, and daily life. References "Dismantling the Gender Binary System.

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