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- Social Issues
The Gender Binary: is that all there is?
Some people may believe that you come into this world and leave it being only one of two things: male or female. We take this for granted as cultural canon and as irrefutable science, despite there being anthropological records and psychological data that points to the opposite.
I'm making it my life's personal goal to educate the world on being non-binary (of a gender that is not male or female) and spread awareness that we do exist. I'm not alone. There are a plethora of videos upon Youtube that discuss this subject. OutofthisBinary is one of the best places to look.
There, you'll find weekly content by enbies (which is what some of us call ourselves) and for enbies, or anyone who's curious about our subset of the trans community.
Alternative genders and their symbols
It doesn't stop at Caitlyn
Although transgender people still lag behind the rest of the larger LGBTQ community in terms of rights, recognition, and visibility (even with Caitlyn Jenner in the headlines), we're quickly catching up, thanks to allies in high places. As a social worker myself, I'm proud that the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) takes the official position that Gender Identity Disorder (GID) should not be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)http://www.socialworkers.org/diversity/new/lgbtq/51810.asp
We still have a long way to go, though. When I appeared on my local news (WBNG Action News) to spread awareness on being non-binary, the typical reactions ranged from "huh?" to "shut up, freak." I'm not saying I felt like I was in any danger, it was simply annoying. I have not been approached in real life by anyone with ill intentions. I am privleged, in that way, for "passing" as cisgender (meaning I appear to be a woman even though I do not identify as one). I realize that most transgender people of a feminine nature don't have that luxury.
Keisha Jenkins, RIP
Just recently, Keisha Jenkins became the latest casualty in a string of murders, possibly the 20th transgender woman of color to die this year alone. My fight isn't for the "typical" non-binary person who looks androgynous, flat-chested, and is white, but for trans people who are of color, disabled, or marginalized or disadvantaged in any other way. Keisha was a woman, but is still affected by the harmful gender binary system that dictates how women are supposed to look and act like in order to be accepted as "feminine enough." Falling outside of those standards leaves one open for ridicule at best and violence at worst.
I'm not saying we destroy the concept of gender altogether. It's just kind of ridiculous how bigoted and angry people act. When Target decided to eliminate gendered children's clothing, for example, people were outraged, as if someone had suggested we all put kittens in a blender. The gender binary is just accepted and enforced so strongly that anything in opposition to it must be seen as wrong and dangerous. It's this reason why Indigenous peoples who recognized more than 2 genders as part of their culture, either close to home like the Two-Spirits of many Native American tribes or far away, like the Samoan Fa’afafine were virtually wiped off the map. Yes, gay and transgender people have been around since the dawn of civilization, despite people's best efforts to erase, eradicate, and ignore these traditions.
Trans Native leader We'wha
It's 2015, and those of us who are different than the cishetero norm are still struggling to be seen as human beings. It's my hope that if I do enough writing and raising hell, we'll finally get the respect we deserve.