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The Non-Gendered Identity - the logical basis

Updated on January 17, 2012

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

18 January 2012

“Is it a boy or a girl?” – is usually the first question after a new human life enters the world. A question that often takes precedence over enquiries as to the health and wellbeing of the newborn. The necessity to determine the biological sex of a newborn child is that armed with this information there is the capacity for others to relate to that person as a human being. Once the sex has been established there follows the appropriation of a gendered role – boy or girl – male or female.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” – even the way this question is commonly presented (referencing the newborn as “it”) would imply the fledgling newborn is suspended in some kind of inanimate state until “it” is humanised through the process of gendered classification.

The words ‘gender’ and ‘identity’ are frequently used together as ‘gender identity’. The gendered state is elevated to a position where gender is perceived as a mandatory prefix to the core identity. Other prefixes are sometimes applied to identity (eg. racial identity, sexual identity) but in the case of gender identity the two words with separate meanings have been twinned and become intertwined to an extent there is an assumption that one element cannot exist without the other.

There is a considerable amount of confusion over the differentiation between (or definition of) identity and gender that is often fuelled by the published material from governments and institutional policy makers where the term ‘gender identity’ is used as a generic reference point for issues relating to the transpopulation.

The identity represents the core of the person and the identity incorporates a number of aspects that combine to form the complete personality. Some of these aspects may change over time and through various stages of personal development and maturity.

The gender is an aspect of the identity and also represents the social role one plays within a gendered societal structure where society is divided into two opposites: male and female. The appropriation of gender to a newborn depends entirely on whether “it” is perceived to be a boy or a girl relative to visibly apparent genitalia at the time of birth.

It is generally assumed that all human beings are either male or female – notwithstanding the secretive existence of individuals whose sex cannot be determined at birth (historically, in these cases a sex would be ‘assigned’ by the medical professional and invasive surgical intervention performed on the helpless newborn to ‘normalise’ in order that the individual would have a place within the gendered societal structure).

It is rarely admitted although now accepted by endocrinologists and sexologists and by those working in similar medical professional fields that there is no such thing as the one hundred percent male or the one hundred percent female.

The human species exists on a physiological continuum with male and female at opposite ends of the continuum.

The position one occupies on the human continuum is determined through a combination of elements relative to the pattern of the sex chromosomes (for humans and other mammals, females have similar XX and males develop dissimilar XY) and the body’s production of sex hormones. The genital appearance does not necessarily always correspond with these other factors in the determination of a person’s sex. It is possible that two individuals who are assumed to be of the same sex can be poles apart on the continuum. And all people are intersex to a certain degree.

The uninformed perception that society is physiologically composed of two polarised opposites is based upon flawed logic and similarly the perception that gender is an absolute or requisite state of the human identity is also fundamentally flawed and illogical.

Whereas it is accepted that many gendered transpeople cannot identify with the gendered role appropriated at birth and may choose to present in the other gender, there is less awareness of non-gendered transpeople or that it is possible to exist without a gendered identity.

It is possible that human identity can exist without gender but the nature of the gendered societal structure has made it extremely difficult for non-gendered human beings to interact with society and the non-gendered existence is frequently compromised and marginalized – on a social level where “Is it a boy or a girl?” becomes “But you must be a man or a woman!” and in terms of function and productivity because most official records of personal identity contain gendered references – the passport, the birth certificate, medical records etc. and the non-gendered individual is effectively forced to declare a gendered role and become an unwilling colluder in their own social invisibility. The commercial sector often require a gendered reference before enabling access to certain goods and services (many financial service providers demand a gendered role in their application procedures, for example). This requirement is completely unnecessary and prevents access to goods and services to those who cannot comply.

It is therefore the all consuming and all encompassing nature of the gendered societal structure and the apparent impossibility of functional existence outside the societal structure that serve to ensure the absolute status of the structure is maintained.

It can only be through the visibility of human identity outside the gendered societal structure that attitudes will eventually change and permit the societal framework to expand in order to integrate and accommodate those members of society whose core identities are non-gendered.

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Copyright ©2012 Christie Elan-Cane

All rights reserved


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