Today, news broke of the Supreme Court’s ruling that LGBTQIA+ individuals are protected from sexual orientation/gender identity based discrimination in the workplace, marking an invigorating victory in the midst of heightened activism over the last few weeks. In honor of this victory, we have another #MythMonday post to keep the wheels of education and awareness rolling. We’ve talked about sexuality over the course of Pride Month, but today we’re getting into gender myths.
Although we’ve made strides in the past few years, gender is still largely assumed as a direct correlation to one’s sex organs. Gender socialization begins even before birth – many parents throw “gender reveal” parties, conflating sex and gender while their fetus is still in the womb. The reveal typically utilizes common gender signifiers like the color pink or blue – two colors that have increasingly become associated with binary gender identity over the course of modern western civilization.
The reality, however, is that gender does not exist in a binary, and there are a vast range of gender identities that are independent from the pink-blue dichotomy we’re so accustomed to. Forcing our children into these boxes can have detrimental effects on the wellbeing of those who know they do not identify in congruence with the sex organs they were born with. According to Psychology Today, several studies have shown that a denial of one’s self-identity leads to higher rates of depression, suicidality, and stress. The results of a study on transgender children show that when raised in a supportive environment, transgender individuals exhibit normative levels of depression, indicating that gender identity is not a gauge of psychopathology, but rather, predispositions to mental health issues in transgender communities are instead determined by the level of support they receive in their identity.
A common fallacy of gender identity is the conflation of transgender and non-binary. In actuality, the vast majority of transgender individuals strongly identify as men or women, and typically seek gender identifiers aligning with male or female on their identification documents. Non-binary individuals identify as being either somewhere in between male and female, or as agender (i.e. having no gender). A myth that non-binary individuals have to constantly confront is that non-binary or agender means androgynous. Androgyny is simply one expression of many that non-binary folks choose as their outer self-expression. That does not mean that a non-binary or agender person can’t appear feminine or masculine – a non-binary person can wear lipstick, or have a beard, or utilize gendered expressions without sacrificing their GNC identity. In the past, humans understood the earth to be confined to a flat, rectangular surface. Just as we discovered and learned to accept the spherical, rotating nature of our planet, we now know that gender is also more aligned with an infinite, multi-dimensional, expansive sphere than a stiff duality, and so too will acceptance follow.
Written by our amazing intern Olivia Poulin!