Is Gender Binary?

Do Gender and Sex refer to the same thing?

Gender and sex aren’t the same things, even though they are used interchangeably. Sex is assigned to a newborn baby, and it depends on their genital parts – a penis is categorized as male while a vulva a female. However, gender encompasses a complex interrelationship between the body, identity, and expression. So, sex and gender only have a weak correlation, and therefore, aren’t alike.

The Three Components of Gender:

  1. Body: our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.
  2. Identity: our deeply held internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be.
  3. Expression: how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender. This includes gender expression, gender roles, and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

Each of these dimensions can vary greatly across a range of possibilities. A person’s comfort in their gender is related to the degree to which these three dimensions feel in harmony.

What is Gendered Socialisation?

Socialization is the process of internalizing society’s values in order to adapt to one’s culture. It influences how people behave as males and females in society. The social learning process that imbibes people into understanding the various aspects of culture includes the process of gender socialization. Gender socialization encompasses the process of learning society’s gender roles and their advantages and limitations.

From birth, and the identification of sex-class membership that happens at that moment, most female people are raised to be passive, submissive, weak and nurturing, while most male people are raised to be active, dominant, strong and aggressive. This value system and the process of socializing and inculcating individuals into it is gender socialization.

Why are people against gender roles?

As mentioned above, specific ideas based on the child’s gender is inculcated in the newborns, and this process continues even into adolescence. Ideas like men need to be strong, superior, and dominant, and women need to be submissive, kind, and genial are passed generation after generation. It’s not difficult to see what is objectionable and oppressive about gender, since it constrains the potential of both male and female people alike, and asserts the superiority of males over females.

The aim is to abolish gender roles altogether, to stop putting people into pink and blue boxes, and to allow the development of individuals’ personalities and preferences without the coercive influence of this socially-enacted value system.

How are gender roles inculcated?

Gender identity is established by age of two years. Its central component is the notion – I am male or I am female. Sigmund Freud theorized that identification and imitation of same-sex parents lead to effective gender – identity formation. In the latency period males and females tend to aggregate themselves from each other. This may be considered part of the socialization process and further solidifies gender identification and role-specific behavior. Schools and families continue to influence gender socialization throughout adolescence. During adolescence, peer influence becomes the strongest agent of gender socialization as teens form together in small social groups to facilitate their transition into adulthood and into the larger society. The socializing effects of the mass media also become powerful in formative years.

Are Gender and Sexual Orientation the same thing?

Gender and sexual orientation are two distinct aspects of our identity. Gender is personal, while sexual orientation is interpersonal. When we confuse gender with sexual orientation, we are likely to make assumptions about a young person that has nothing to do with who they are. For example, when someone’s gender expression is inconsistent with others’ expectations, they are frequently assumed to be homosexual. The boy who loves to play princess is assumed to be gay, and the adolescent girl who buys clothes in the “boys” section and favors a short haircut may be assumed to be a lesbian. These are faulty conclusions. What someone wears is about gender expression; you cannot tell what their sexual orientation is by what they have on.

Confusing gender and sexual orientation can also interfere with a young person’s ability to understand and articulate aspects of their own gender. For example, it’s not uncommon for a transgender or non-binary youth to wonder if they are gay or lesbian (or any sexual orientation other than heterosexual) before coming to a fuller realization of their gender identity.

Is there any point in classifying gender in a spectrum?

Humans of both sexes would be liberated if we recognized that while gender is indeed an internal, innate, essential facet of our identities, there are more genders than just ‘woman’ or ‘man’ to choose from. And the next step on the path to liberation is the recognition of a new range of gender identities. New vocabulary for new genders will definitely help people feel included. What follows from the view that “gender is a spectrum” is not that we need to tear down the pink and the blue boxes; rather, we simply need to recognize that there are many more boxes than just these two.



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