Do We Even Need Gender?

Creative Commons image by: Male-símbolo2
Creative Commons image by: Male-símbolo2

Gender can be a confusing subject for LGBT and straight people alike. Many people often mistake sex and gender to be the same thing, for example, or when a person’s gender doesn’t match the stereotypes associated with his or her sex, the results often include some form or discrimination (though it can be unintentional), verbal challenges or confrontations, and refusal to accept that this person does not want to accept society’s biased demands.

Creative Commons image: Tombe

This disparity stems from a long-standing tradition throughout the world of assigning how an individual should act, dress, etc. based on nothing more than the genitalia assigned at birth. Not only do these gender ideals change throughout time, but they also vary according to location. If what society wants us to be can be so easily changed, we may wonder how we are supposed to live up to its expectations. A simple, yet often overlooked answer is that we shouldn’t.

 The fight against gender stereotypes is timeless. It has lead to the immersion of new gender idea such as transgender, transsexual, and agender. However, there are many more terms than these many people have trouble wrapping their minds around concepts such as a “male lesbian” or a person having no gender. While it is fantastic that people have fought against oppression and created a new system of self-expression, in some ways, this still plays off of the original system. This is not to say that these people are wrong to assign their own gender; however, it is interesting to think about the concept that this new system would not be necessary if the concept of gender were wiped away entirely.

Although his may seem like a radical idea, but there are still flaws in the current system. A main flaw is that a majority of people tend to think in terms of gender binaries: male or female. This generally leads people to conclude that a person will overall act in a way that fulfills a most, if not all, aspects of a male or female idea. However, there are many people who cannot easily be placed into either category. Their response is often part of the newer system that involves creating one’s own gender identity. Even so, there are people who feel distanced from the terminology that has evolved from this movement. They may not understand what some of the terms mean, or even feel like they can fit into any of these categories, despite there being a seemingly infinite range. Others have no interest in categorizing themselves.

Drawing off of this last group of people, if we were to drop all names for gender, the possibility could exist that people would have the freedom to be who they want to be without worrying about a gender label. People would be able to act in a way that was previously perceived as the way a person of the “opposite gender” would act and not be believed to be homosexual for simply being themselves. This possibility opens the door to question what would happen if we no longer held the belief that gender is a vital part of humanity. What would happen if we all just let it go?