Do I get triple points for coming up with not just one or two O words, but for hitting a homer with three??? I think so. Even if I’m just giving myself the points and they don’t actually accumulate towards a win of any kind. 😉
So, the idea that our sex organs define who we are. It’s a pretty heavy one, and rather long standing. And the longer folks have believed something, the more ingrained it is, the harder it can be to shake it. However, the fact of the matter is that our parts have little to no bearing on our actual sex or our gender.
A person’s “assigned sex” is based on their genitals. It’s when the midwife, doctor, or doula sees a baby’s bits and announces “it’s a boy/girl!” Actual sex, I’m afraid, is a LOT more complicated.
If you want to get right down to it, a person’s actual sex is determined by their chromosomes. And here, many folks would happily jump in with “Okay, so that means it’s XX or XY!” Yeah, but not really. Sure, those are the two combinations we’ve all been taught in grade school… but those are FAR from the only options. It’s not as uncommon as you’d think for individuals to have X0, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX, XXY, XXXY, XYY, or even XY/XXY chromosomes. And unless you’ve been tested for chromosomal abnormalities, you may be XXX or XYY and not even know it.
Still with me? Assigned sex is based on your organs, actual sex is based on your chromosomes, and Gender? Gender is the realm of the philosopher (back in the day, I was either practicing art or studying philosophy). Gender is about how you feel, it’s about who you are. It’s how you define yourself. And with gender there are as many options as there are individuals. No one can define your gender except for you, and it may or may not match up with your assigned or actual sex. Heck, it may or may not be the same from day to day. As we grow, learn, evolve, and change, our gender may do so right along with us, and that’s totally okay.
So our organs really can’t define us, not in any real way. And the idea of a sexual or gender binary? It just doesn’t work. There are more than two sexes (as our chromosomes clearly indicate) and there are more than two genders. Our parts may convince some that a binary view works, but all you have to do is check out the myriad within even the physical bits to know humans are more complex than that. And I, for one, am grateful for all of our beautiful and amazing complexities.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering taking up the April A to Z blog challenge. I already blog almost daily, so that wasn’t the issue. For me? The biggest challenge is actually staying on topic. I enjoy writing on whatever hits me as interesting or important at the moment. I lose my interest otherwise. But, I figure, if I pick a topic that is dear to my heart – putting in 26 days shouldn’t be an impossible task. So, I’m going to do it. …and if I feel the need to go off topic, well… on those days I’ll just post twice. LOL So here we go. Day one: Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity.
For some folk, the most intimidating thing when encountering someone who doesn’t clearly fit into box A or B on the sexual and gender binary, is asking. And honestly? It’s something we need to become more comfortable with as a society, because even when someone appears very clearly to fit into “HE” or “SHE” it doesn’t mean that’s their preferred pronoun. A wonderful individual, whom I am proud to call “friend”, recently posted the following on their Facebook status:
“I find it is no longer important or useful, and in fact has become a negative experience to identify as male. Rather than identifying as another type of gender, I will leave the spectrum of gender identity altogether. This means that the current English language of gender identity pronouns, such as she, her, his, her, xe, and hir, become problematic when referring to me. So with great respect and earnestness, I ask that you refer to me simply by using my name, for in a name the entire soul resides. Thank you.”
This is an individual, whom upon appearance, would very easily fit into the neat and tidy package we call “male” or “masculine” and is proof positive that we cannot, nor should we, presume to use male pronouns based solely on our impressions of said individual.
How we each identify is an intensely personal thing, and it is perfectly okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer – if any. In fact, for many of us, it’s a question we welcome. So the next time you are introduced to someone try asking. Not sure how to word it? Give this a go: “Hi Francis, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Would you mind telling me which pronouns you’d prefer?” Plain, simple, straightforward. And if you feel the need to say more, try this: “I’d hate to offend by insisting on using something that you don’t identify with.” Chances are they’ll be happy you had the respect and courtesy to ask.
And hey! Ever had something you wanted to ASK (see? I’m keeping it on topic) about gender, sex, affection, desire, expression, orientation or on any other topic of interest to the acronym community now’s the time. 26 days is a lot to fill, so help me out. Let me know what YOU would like to see me blog about. And thanks to Sarah for her suggestion of “Asking” as our very first in the alphabet series.