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zharth's avatar

gender is optional

By zharth
Maybe this is another one of my crazy ideas, but it's already quite clear to me that gender exists on a spectrum, and is not simply a binary (i.e., either male or female). It occurs to me that gender may also be entirely optional, in that a person can choose - not how they identify - but certainly how they present themselves. In that sense, gender is very much a performance that a person can put on, or refrain from altogether.

Particularly in the context of recent debates about transgender bathroom privileges. Our restrooms currently exist on a binary scale. Most people conflate sex with gender, which is why they're having trouble with the idea that a transgender person might use a bathroom designed for a sex with different plumbing than they currently have. But while bathrooms are primarily functional spaces, they are also communal spaces, and I think it's at least as important (and probably more so) to use the bathroom for the community that you feel comfortable among, and not necessarily the one designed for your plumbing (because men and women have more similarities there than we do differences - and the actual "function" part is supposed to be happening in private anyway).

I come from the perhaps unconventional perspective of the transgender experience not necessarily ending with surgical transitioning. For a pre-op transgender individual in the process of aligning their sex with their gender, it's only a matter of time before they belong in the bathroom of their gender identity - as opposed to their sex assigned at birth - in both body and mind. But for those of us who don't mind going through life with a sex and a gender that don't match, it's conceptually a little more complicated. We have to decide in various circumstances whether our sex trumps our gender or vice versa (and these are not clear-cut cases).

In any case, by entering a restroom in public, you are essentially gendering yourself in this culture. If you go into the men's room, people will see you as a man in mind and body (until proven otherwise), and likewise for the women's room. I don't mind if people are mistaken about my sex; it's more important to me that I be accepted as the gender I identify with, since this (and not a person's genitals) is what most people interact with most of the time (that is, everything except when it's your intimate partner in the rather limited context of the bedroom). [Humorously, I like to think that if a person demands to know my sex, I'd be happy to show them my genitals - but if they're not willing to go that far, then what difference does my anatomy really make? It's my mind they're interacting with].

But what about those of us Qs in the LGBTQ spectrum? Those of us who aren't really sure what our gender is? I've already said that gender is a spectrum. So what about people who are neither male nor female, but somewhere in between? And what about people who just haven't figured it out yet? Do they have to make this extremely difficult and important life decision every time they need to use the bathroom, and before they are allowed to relieve themselves? Talk about being put on the spot! And what about tests or online profiles that ask you not your sex, but your gender? I think it should be optional. Whether or when a person chooses their gender (and whether or not it's included in the pair of male and female) is a personal choice people should be free to make on their own terms, and in their own time. Most people acquire a sex at birth (whether it's male, female, or one of the alternatives, and whether or not they stay that sex throughout their life), but gender is an ongoing process.
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© 2016 - 2021 zharth
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Bannie11's avatar

There’s only two real genders male and female the rest are all fake

zharth's avatar

You're fake, and my profile is only for real people.

Inky-Shade's avatar
Gender is a mixture between biology and psychology, and not just your feelings so no, it is not optional. Gender and sex are connected after all.
Sure, you can give you feelings names but you can't pick your gender like flowers. This whole 76+ gender stuff is a mere concept but not scientifically valid.
Acting like your gender is a mere option is pretty much making fun of trans people who really have troubles with their birth gender.
It's also just like saying that being straight/homosexual is an option.

P.S The gender is a spectrum research was not done with nonbinary people. They did it with cis men, cis women, transmen and transwomen. It was done in the binary "spectrum" so no, this reserach is no proof for nonbinary genders being actual genders.

Also, before you say I'm confused or whatever, I actually did some research on this topic.
Sure, many people believe that nonbinary stuff but the only "proof" they have is sociology and sociology is not proof for something's actual existence.
According to society you can identify as whatever you want as long as there are people buying it. It's the same with religion, for example. There is no proof for god but people believe it because other people say he's real. That is how society works. You can make people believe everything in society but it doesn't make it automatically a real deal just because some people follow those beliefes.
sin-and-love's avatar
First, 19 out of 20 of the folks who don't support the transgender movement do so not out of hatred, but simply because we don't see how the ideas behind it could stand up to the Socratic method.

For example, if I and my entire ancestry come from America, then would it really make any sense for me to claim I "identify" as Kenyan?  Of course not.  No matter how much I might like Kenya,  I'd still be an American, no matter what I say (moving there would be a different story, however).

Remember these two things:
1)If your feelings get hurt by the facts then your feelings are quite simply wrong.

2)Just because you've suffered doesn't mean you're right. (I mean, I nearly died this month when my appendix exploded, and the hospital stay was the worst two weeks of my life.)
zharth's avatar
You're right, most people who don't support the "movement" don't do so out of hatred - just confusion, and a lack of understanding. That's why awareness is important. Gender may be about feelings, but it is a fact that our conception of "gender" is not inextricable from physical sex, and that the male-female binary that may be more or less adequate to explain physical anatomy (and yet, there are still intersexed and transsexual individuals) cannot explain the wide spectrum between "male" and "female" that people exist on, since "gender" is such a nebulous concept that encompasses so many different things. I know you'd prefer things to be as simple as "boys will be boys and girls will be girls" but human nature is not that simple. Don't let your fear of change get in the way of progress.
SpyroTailz's avatar
Ha, thats the tumblr version.

Great, now I have to clean my browsing history because I did the mistake of checking out your gallery. 
zharth's avatar
Thanks for stopping by. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.
UsagiToxic's avatar
I think gender as generally understood by commonfolk isn't needed, and the very idea of gender running in the wild misused by tumblrinas and so on is very bad and is going to end badly, damaging transsexual community as it already does. Promoting idea that gender is something that you can choose is wrong at its core, because just like sexuality, gender is not a choice and gender identity can't be influenced - see David Reimer. If you don't have gender dysphoria you don't even need to think about gender, because no matter what you do or how you dress, it's not going to make your gender any different. And while gender (and to some degree even sex) is a spectrum, stuff like "I'm female 70% of the time!" or "I'm genderfluid!" are bullshit. 

And bathroom is for doing your business, not communicating. Here body should go ahead of mind, because if you have a penis and are able to use these thingies in which men pee, go use them, goddammit, female bathrooms have huge queues as they already are :stare:
zharth's avatar
Thank you for the comment.

By the way, those thingies in which men pee are not all that different from the ones women use. If you're talking about urinals - I never use them. Never liked them. Am incapable of using them in a room with other people (see "shy bladder syndrome"). Most bathrooms do not have queues most of the time, but when they do, it's already not unusual for women to use the men's room. Doesn't mean a transwoman has to keep using the men's room when there's no queue. It does not make sense for a person who is presenting and passing as a female to walk into the men's room under ordinary circumstances - it causes confusion and puts that person in a position of vulnerability, surrounded by men who have been socialized to sexually harass women, and verbally or even physically abuse men who do not conform to the commonly accepted social standards of masculinity.

People who are genderfluid have it even harder because they don't really belong in either restroom. It's not fun having to court anxiety every time I have to use the restroom in public, and agonize over whether I think I look more male or female, before I can relieve myself - especially when I'm wearing a dress but the cashier at that store called me "sir"...
All of what you wrote is not a "crazy idea".  It makes a lot of sense to me and I like the questions you ask and the statement that gender is an ongoing process.  Maybe if I were clearly on one end of the spectrum or the other life would be easier but not nearly as interesting.
zharth's avatar
Glad I'm not alone! :-)
whackodon's avatar
technically you develop your sex in the womb
zharth's avatar
Yes, that's true.
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