Most people are profoundly ignorant about what it means to be non-binary. People who don’t conform to our society’s rigid and exclusive male-female dichotomy face various forms of discrimination and brutality. Having one’s gender identity respected should not be such an uphill battle.
Fight ignorance and educate yourself. Here are five articles to get you started, but please don’t stop here. Keep reading, keep Googling, and challenge your presumptions.
Last semester, we ran a survey to see what you thought of the paper and where we could improve. We also collected demographics of our audience and provided fifty-seven different options to the question ‘What is your gender identity?’ Our attempt to avoid prescriptive and alienating gender binary options was noticed by Tim Blair over at the Daily Telegraph, and truly living up to their reputation of turd, Blair wrote an op-ed called “Gender Confusion or Silliness.” This was our response.
When we teach our children gender, we teach them intolerance. At university, asking gender diverse students to tick a box marked ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ diminishes their identities and robs them of their personal experiences.
This year Arcade Fire released a music video for its single ‘We Exist’ featuring Andrew Garfield as an trans* person struggling with their identity, where he is beaten and presumably killed. Charlie O’Grady describes it as “pity porn” that dehumanises trans* people, turns them into a group that can be saved, and celebrates their allies more than them. This is a powerful enunciation of what it’s like to be denied “the sense of self that comes with being able to express your experiences for yourself.”
As a trans*man, whether I’m in or out of the closet in any given situation, I am constantly editing what I say. I stop myself from telling stories that will make people question who I am… So I’m used to leaving myself out, and editing around. It would be nice, though, if popular culture weren’t doing it too.
Stickers saying “I’m here to pee not to be gender stereotyped” were stuck around toilets on campus late last year as part of a campaign organised by the National Union of Students. They aimed to reduce discrimination against trans* people in bathrooms by advocating for respectful behaviour. When Steph Abi-Hanna, Genie Kim and Eleanor Barz noticed these stickers were being vandalised, they explored the presence of transphobia on campus.
The ‘threat’ that transgender women can pose to cisgender women is manifested in the tasteless, senseless slurs of ‘chicks with dicks’. The hatred of trans-wom*n stems from the fear of the ‘fake’ woman, the pretender amidst the ‘real’ women who can bleed and birth as God intended.
52 Tuesdays focuses on a teenage girl dealing with her mother’s plans to transition gender. It received critical acclaim and broad positive reviews, however Benjamin Bolton and Leigh Nicholson questioned the portrayal of trans* experience. The story of James and his identity was explored only superficially through the lens of his daughter, and used as a backdrop for a coming of age film.
There are hardly any portrayals that focus on trans people in film, fewer still of older people transitioning, and none of older people transitioning with children. Until actual engagement with the trans community is explored, stories such as 52 Tuesdays should not take priority.
In October last year USyd’s Roller Deby League was barred from participating in the regional tournament on the Central Coast because the tournament was for women and the USyd team was gender-inclusive. Lucy Watson’s piece on the problematic definitions used in sports and what inclusivity should mean will make you reconsider the idea of the level playing field.
In order to create a true level playing field, one where all people are welcome, sporting institutions need to recognise both the existence of transgender sportspeople, and the possibility that there may be some ciswomen who are naturally faster, stronger, better, than some cismen.