Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Changing Notions Of Gender
The assumption in our society that there are only two genders, male and female, is challenged by what is found in nature and other human cultures. There were earlier human societies, like Native American tribes, which recognized three or more genders (male/female/two-spirit).
Facebook made news this month when it decided to allow users to identify their gender beyond the typical binary. They made it possible for people who are transgender (like me) or intersex (born with ambiguous genitalia) or gender-fluid (in various places on the spectrum) or gender-queer (rejecting cultural notions of gender-behavior) to describe themselves with greater accuracy. Facebook executives say that when this idea was proposed inside the company, nobody opposed it because it just made sense.
Of course, challenging something as engrained in our culture as this provokes ridicule and outrage. Conservative commentators on Fox News and elsewhere are mocking the new option as silly and unnecessary. One jokes that the choices don't include people who might want to identify as a "pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker."
I hope we move past ridicule and educate people about the reality of gender-diversity. Society needs to show respect and tolerance for those who differ from convention.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about gender-identity?