This semester, I wrote about gender neutrality. I wrote about the Swedish, and their very progressive and active role in the debate, from encouraging gender neutral toys for boys and girls, to neutral advertisements and neutral bathrooms. I presented and discussed the idea of gender neutral housing at universities, as well as the struggles and “scandals” that come along with it. And lastly, I covered the topic of a gender neutral pronoun, and the basic concern that accompanies it: respect for a person’s fellow human beings.
And yet, in spite of all these many posts, I barely even scratched the surface of the true topic at hand, lurking behind all these headlines and stories.
The last time I posted my Civic Issues post, I cited a source from the Washington Post and used a quote from Columnist Steven Petrow. But while I was on that article and reading into what he had to say concerning the issues of gender neutral pronouns, I watched this video that he linked.
At about five and a half minutes, it isn’t very long. But this interview and conversation was very enlightening and striking to me, and I really encourage you all to take a peek.
http://on.mtv.com/1Cz0Bcx (for some reason it won’t embed the video.. 🙁 my apologies)
Now, before I go on to discuss the points I really want to emphasize, I’d just like to provide a bit more insight into the definition of “genderqueer” because I haven’t used this word very much, and I honestly wasn’t sure of its definition until now.
According to the gender wiki, genderqueer is defined as such:
“Genderqueer is a catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and heteronormativity. People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as one or more of the following:
• both man and woman
• neither man nor woman (genderless, agender, Neutrois)
• moving between genders (gender fluid)
• third gendered or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender
• having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual orientation
Some genderqueer individuals also identify as transgender, and may or may not wish for physical modification or hormones to suit their preferred expression.”
Gender neutrality and genderqueerness therefore go hand in hand, as these individuals prefer to identify with various genders, and may not conform to any one in specific.
During the discussion in this video, one of the women (who just so happens to be a transgender female who is absolutely stunning and fabulous) asks Jacob, a genderqueer individual, what gender pronouns they prefer to use.
“I use gender neutral pronouns… It’s just a way to reflect my identity. And when people use the pronouns that I like, it makes me feel respected, and happy, and loved.”
Jacob goes on in the video to describe the life they live, and the daily struggles and triumphs that any genderqueer individual must face in their lives. From hateful acts, to difficulty with parental acceptance, the burden society places upon these individuals for simply expressing and being who they truly are is revolting, sad, and unnecessary.
Listening to Jacob and witnessing their strength really made me think in yet another light on the topic. Despite the fact that I had already been discussing the subject, I really hadn’t completely wrapped my head around the all-inclusive and haunting scale of the gender neutral issue. The lack of respect and understanding that constantly surrounds them – from the judgmental looks and hateful stares from the narrow minded, to blatant disregard of their simple title preferences– must be a lot to deal with.
For some reason, listening to Jacob and their hopeful, positive, and confident account of their identity just made it all hit home to me in a way it hadn’t quite before.
As this is my last post, I would just like to summarize and say that this is just one of many tales that exist to be heard; many of which are tragic and hopeless unlike Jacob’s.
The issue is slowly being recognized by the public, from the Swede’s new addition of an official gender neutral pronoun to their dictionary (continuing in their passionate efforts toward neutrality), to the somewhat radical attempts of parents all over the world keeping their children’s gender a secret as long as possible in order to prevent stereotyping and gender-specific treatment being directed at them.
Will our world ever be a peaceful place for those who are different and wish to be happy? I certainly hope so. But only through constant effort and comprehension of the issues that these people really face can any type of change be accomplished. Until that day, we can but hope, dream, and do our damnedest to make a difference. And I really hope you’ll do so as I have tried – and will continue to try – to do.