Facebook now has 71 possible gender types. For some explanation, see.
Has the diversity of sexuality really changed, or are we just – like autism or other, physical, maladies - better at recognising and accepting them? Criticism – from some corners – has been leveled at those people who “identify” as a non-conformist gender/sex. They’re young people trying to shock their parents’ generation, or mentally ill people in need of “fixing”. It’s just a phase.
That sentiment was similarly leveled at homosexuals in the latter half of the 20th century, with public acceptance of and support for things such as gay marriage only recently surpassing 50%. Times and attitudes change, shouldn’t we embrace peoples’ self-proclaimed sex/identity and just accept it? An open, welcoming society that does not discriminate against a person for their sexual preferences is surely a more peaceful, harmonious one?
Are we in danger of being too accepting though? What about freedom of speech – a right the Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed – and our choice to not just accept how someone decides to identify themselves; Do protests and “no-platforming” of people who express contrary opinions really aid the public discourse? Should we really spend so much time and effort in focusing on what is ultimately a very small minority of people?
How intertwined are our personal and gender identities?
What societal norms or rules do we need to ensure all are afforded equal rights?
What role, if any, does the state have in supporting (via taxes or other legislation) unconventional relationships?
More fundamentally what is meant by "gender"? It seems to be much more complicated than when it was synonymous with "sex": male or female, determined at birth for almost everybody, and fixed for life.
"Gender" now seems to include other attributes of our personalities. Why has it become more complicated? "Gender re-assignment" surgery certainly opens more possibilities, but perhaps the roots are in the extreme polarisation of sexual stereotypes, which leave many of us feeling uncomfortable misfits in the pigeon-holes that society tries to place us in?
Is the term "gender" being too overloaded – perhaps instead we need a richer set of separate attributes – each with a continuous scale, to describe important aspects of who we are. What traits are significant in this richer notion of "gender"?
Examples might include:
Sex at birth
Sex after surgery
Sexual attraction (orientation)
Level of sexual drive
Clothing/style preference (dresses or trousers; colourful/flowers or blues/greys; long or short hair; extent of removal of natural body hair…)
… and more controversially perhaps, with tongue firmly in cheek …
Ease, ability and readiness to discuss emotions and feelings
Ease, ability and readiness to read maps
Dominant or Submissive personality
Willingness to listen without trying to identify problems and propose solutions
Ability to multi-task
Power tools or knitting needles?
And of course, which variety of public convenience do you feel most comfortable using?
To what extent do these and other attributes have anything to do with "gender"? What is it that makes us "men" or "women" or something different? Why do some people feel the need to express so much about themselves when asked for their biological sex? Why do we need to know someone's "gender" at all?
Why are traditional sexual stereotypes still portrayed so strongly in the media, especially in advertising?
Lots for us to consider.
1 - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/10930654/Facebooks-71-gender-options-come-to-UK-users.html
2 - http://neutrois.com/definitions/terms/
3 - https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/12/28/12-ridiculous-times-the-daily-mail-got-upset-about-lgbt-people-in-2017/
4 - https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/12/homosexuality-came-dsm/
5 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40743946
6 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-45789759