Is this a boy or a girl?
I hear this question all the time. I’ve heard it as early as I can remember. I’ve heard it as a child, as an adolescent, and I still hear it today as an adult.
Most people don’t spend their life giving gender more then two seconds of thought – and these two seconds are most likely when they fill out a government form. I think about gender all the time. When I need to enter a public bathroom, a dressing room, fill-up a form, talk about myself to others. Am I a boy or a girl?
We live in a society that defines us. It gives us two categories to choose from. Pink or blue, Yin or Yang, Adam or Eve – choose one and stick to it.
Although many acknowledged long ago that this binary system is obsolete and we should understand it more as a spectrum – there is yet to be a “spectrum” area at the “babies-R-us” store. It is pretty much still pink and blue.
Feminism did a great job opening the doors of expression for girls and women to behave less stereotypical as women. Girls are allowed to jump around, play with trucks and wear pants – they are considered Tomboys. It’s all good as long as they are “over it” when they hit puberty. Men are different. There is no room for play here, unless play is with cars, baseball, or football.
Sissy, fag, boy-girl, girly-man and other offensive language and violent talk are directed at a kid that dares to play with Barbie. Parents panic, teachers alerted, intervention is plotted. Why?
The current paradigm
The present paradigm offers two archetypes. Even people that acknowledge a spectrum can’t define markers along the spectrum. Therefore the space between the marker “male” and the marker “female” is a void that most people call “gender variant” or “gender non-conforming.” It still does not allow the safety of a Name, a marker, a recognizable definition to who you are.
Having a definitive marker on the spectrum is necessary, and not just from an activist’s point of view. Having a name, having a definition, having an appropriate and fitting pronoun is necessary in the healthy development of a child.
It’s allowing that child a place to freely express what they are. It also allows the parents and society around the child to understand its needs without placing the child into a category it does not belong to. Having proper gender name, and pronoun makes the variant acceptable.
Naming validates. By calling it “spectrum” you avoid definition and refinement.
Using the ancient concept of Yin and Yang, this project illustrates how complex each of us is. It is crucial, today more than ever, to invent new words for genders, to allow for more boxes on government forms, and to create more pronouns in every language that allow expressions to all people.