Buckle up folks, this is Jordyn Thomson’s introductory re-sex education class for those who truly want to embrace inclusivity.
Let me preface this by acknowledging I am not an expert on this very complex subject, and there are wonderful resources out there for people who want to learn more about modern sex education.
Our society has a problem when it comes to misusing the terms gender, sex and sexuality. And while unintentional mistakes can be forgiven, the underlying problem is that when we constantly misuse these terms, we are continuing to oppress our friends and loved ones in the LGBTQ+ community.
Because these are not just terms. We are talking about their identity, what makes them who they are.
Sex refers to a person’s physical anatomy and gender is the role we assign to a person based on their sexual anatomy. Sexuality refers to whom you are attracted to, if anyone, and that is a sliding scale.
In North America, the societal norm is that since there are two sexes (not including intersex people who possess both sexual organs) then there are two genders.
For example, if you were born with a vagina then your typical gender role in our society is being a woman. This comes with wearing dresses, being delicate, liking the colour pink and femininity galore.
If you were born with a penis, then your typical gender role in our society is being a man. This comes with the notion of being tough, liking the colour blue, wearing suits and masculinity galore.
Most people who fit within these two gender roles usually don’t give it much more thought than that. But it’s important to remember that just because this is how a large portion of our society operates, it is not necessarily right. And there is so much more to gender than those two roles our society would call the norm.
Did you know there are societies in the world that adhere to as many as five genders? There are also societies that only believe in one gender. There’s even a society that, while it adheres to two genders, they are assigned by your ability to either hunt or gather, not by your sex organ.
My point is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to gender because it is a fluid concept. It’s a role, an expectation, a set of guidelines formed by society and subconsciously passed from one generation to the next.
But as people who do not identify in the classical gender norms continue to advocate for their rights and embrace who they truly are, such as transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals, we need to set aside this notion that everyone must fit perfectly into the labels our society has created.
I like to think of myself as a post-modernist when it comes to labelling people based on their sexuality and gender, and I would love to see a world where we don’t care how someone identified themselves, we just accept them as whoever they are and however they present themselves.
Maybe if we were less concerned with these trivial things, there wouldn’t be an abhorrently high suicide rate among transgender youth. Maybe there would be fewer hate crimes targeted towards this demographic and others who don’t fit perfectly into our labels of what we think is right. Maybe groups like gay-straight alliances and Pride factions wouldn’t be the only places some of these individuals feel safe.
At the end of the day, we are all just people trying to make sense of the world around us. And it’s going to look different for everyone. We need to stop limiting ourselves in these labels and stereotypes, I’m just saying.
Jordyn Thomson is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.
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