Unlocking the “Gender-box”

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Unlocking the “Gender-box”

The subject of gender has become a controversial one in the past few years, and it’s the furthest thing from being a trend. More and more trans-individuals are seen in Hollywood’s spotlight, putting the issue on the agenda – which is certainly a step in the right direction. We have definitely hit a transgender wave, but are people ready for it?

We are becoming more accepting of the fact there is no gender-binary. With famous transgender people and advocates leading the way, it is slowly people becoming more aware of it existing, and with awareness often comes acceptance. But there is still a lot to do before we reach the point of equality. Because even though an increasing number of the world’s population are accepting gender fluidity, the ‘norm’ is that the identities of transgendered people are often seen as invalid or non-existing. People, and society in general, fail to understand the issue, or do not wish to understand it.

A common example is that of public restrooms which, probably 95 per cent of the time, are divided into female and male sections (honestly, why?). Now imagine all the obstacles you will meet visiting public restrooms as a trans* person. Apparently your choice regarding what restroom to use can really offend people. Why is this such a major problem? If I, as a woman, want to use a male restroom, why can’t I?

Target just recently announced they ‘welcome transgender team members to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity’ (go Target!). At the same time several places in America are passing laws saying if people use public bathrooms not matching their biological sex, they could face jail time. If this isn’t absurd I don’t know what is. This is merely one of the ways our gender-binary society excludes and divides.

The problem shows an institutional defect in our society. Gender roles are something created because humans have the urge to sort and label information – women are supposed to be like this, men are supposed to be like that, but this can become very oppressing if your sense of gender is not consistent with the one given to you at birth (or just for anyone in general).

What if you are one of those who don’t fit within the guidelines? These norms can often hinder us from finding and defining our own identity, which I think is a major problem of our generation. The foundations of our individuality should be self-identification, not our appearance and biological factors or society’s ideas of gender. Who made those rules anyway? As long as you are a decent human being, someone else’s idea of gender roles shouldn’t matter. And this is making transgendered people’s very existence threatening to the conventional gender rules, because they are showing us there is no need for us to conform to certain ways of behaving or presenting ourselves.

There are no need for boxes for us to lock ourselves into, because we do not always truly belong in them. And we do not need more social exclusion. In 2014 there were 84 homicides of transgendered people. And in 2015 more than 20 transgender women were murdered in the US – the largest number to date. If there is one thing humanity should have learned through history it is that no good will ever come from excluding someone who is different to you. With our access to internet and the endless web of information, we need to get on top of our education regarding issues like this and learn that we need to stop judging people according to their gender, sexuality or race. It is not right to objectify and define an individual based on their appearance or how they wish to live their life.

Even though Australia has yet to legalise same-sex marriage, a lot of countries have finally jumped on that train. Oh what a world it would be if we could skip the whole, ‘Oh no, people are not supposed to be like this so we have to fix them’phase, and just go straight to accepting everyone for who they are.

Why is it so hard for humans to accept the fact we cannot lock in rules about gender, sexuality or race? One of the biggest challenges we have in our global society is to become united, and to stop separating ourselves from each other. We are all one and the same, yet different, and we need to come to terms with this. The illusion of separation is one of the ego, and we all know that ego is the source of all suffering. Just because you grew up with the perception that something is right, it doesn’t mean it is the reality. Meanings don’t have to be fixed. Our reality is often distorted because of our society’s institutions, and we have to realise this before we can make proper progress.

Written by Nilo Danai

To find out more stats on the LGBTI+ community in Australia visit: www.humanrights.gov.au.