7 Gender Lies You've Been Told
Don't listen to the BS.
Our gender is assigned to us at birth – we’re usually labelled male or female based on our biological sex even before we’re squeezed out the womb.
These are the questions trans people are tired of hearing...
But the binary system of male vs. female doesn’t cater to how subjective gender is. Whether you're male or genderqueer, everyone's gender identity and expression is different, but because society's definition of gender is so simplified there ends up being loads of misconceptions.
Here are some of the gender lies you’ve probably been told...
1. You’re either biologically male or female
Your gender is assigned to you at birth based on your sex characteristics, yes, and the doctors will usually name you one of two things because of them. But gender isn't as rigid as male or female, even biologically. Some people are born intersex and have a mix of female and male biological characteristics, which is a totally natural thing.
2. Gender is binary
Gender is only binary if you see it as binary. Some people feel that they sit outside of this system and that their gender is non-binary. There's a whole spectrum of gender identities that fall within the umbrella of non-binary too. For example, some people define themselves as agender (who don't experience gender, or feel they have no gender) and some don't sit within the system but feel more masculine or feminine day-to-day. There's a huge spectrum of gender identities out there, so you shouldn't feel trapped inside the binary system if it doesn't feel right.
3. To be female is to be...
Society plays a big role in gender. When people are assigned male or female at birth, they're assigned lots of gender-based expectations too. Cinderella never made the floors extra slippery so that her evil step-relations took a tumble and Snow White never said a bad word about her murderous stepmother. In our society being nice, polite and self-sacrificing are seen as ideal female traits. But whether or not you are kind depends on MANY different ever-varying factors, not just because you’re female. Women can be angry, mean and selfish, as all people can. Give a gal a break.
Many of the female ideals set by society actually limit and oppress women. Down with the patriarchy.
4. To be male is to be...
Our patriarchal society introduces dangerous expectations that should be dominant, strong and unemotional, and that expressing their emotions makes them vulnerable and "unmanly".
As fellow humans, men have emotions too and shouldn’t have to suffer in silence because of their gender. Not only does talking about our problems lighten the load but it helps us to connect with others, and when we don't feel like we can talk to anyone it can harm our mental health. Down with the patriarchy.
5. Makeup and clothes are gendered
Three words: RuPaul’s Drag Race. Not only do some men dress up as their fabulously flamboyant female alter-egos in drag but some men boss makeup and feminine dress in a subtle way too. And why not? Why should people of one gender be confined to present themselves in a certain way? No matter what your gender, no way of expressing yourself is off-limits to you.
6. You're stuck with the gender you were assigned at birth
You may feel horribly at odds with the gender you’ve been assigned at birth like you’re trapped in the wrong body, as transgender people do. It can be a traumatic experience and result in body dysmorphia and mental health problems.
Just because you were assigned male at birth, doesn't mean you have to keep living as a man if you feel you are a woman. People choose to transition because they want to be treated like the person they feel they are inside, and now thanks to science they often can (though transitioning is still a difficult process for many within our healthcare system). Regardless of whether or not someone has transitioned, people's gender identity should be respected. Otherwise it's just hella rude.
7. Your sexuality is based on your assigned birth gender
People often get confused about the link between gender and sexuality, but the truth is that they are totally separate things.
We should never assume we know someone's sexuality based on their gender expression. For example, no matter how masculine a woman may appear or how feminine a man may appear, we can't assume that they aren't straight, and vice versa. Anyone of any gender and any gender expression can be sexually attracted to anyone of any gender at any time, and can define their sexuality in any way they choose. Let's leave it at that.
So there you have it, seven gender lies you've probably been told at some point in your life. Although gender can be a confusing topic it's a good thing to get your head around so that you can be respectful and help anyone who might be struggling with their own gender identity to feel comfortable.
Gender is what you make of it, and everyone deserves to feel content and at one with their own identity. Respect other people's, and stay woke guys.