Some of us are secure in our own identity as individuals. We are comfortable and confident in our skins. When we see someone who doesn’t fit into our own view of Boy is Boy, Girl is Girl and Boy loves Girl, we feel a little uncomfortable.
Imagine how they feel? Especially when they are young, or going through puberty, or being bullied at school or the workplace for being “different”.
More and more young people around the world are identifying “Outside the Binary” (Binary: adjective – consisting of, indicating, or involving two).
They reject the idea of male or female. Some see themselves on a scale between these two accepted norms. Or outside them completely. These people are gender non-conforming. So how do they fit into our communities, our schools, our workplaces?
The individual who doesn’t identify with their assigned gender not only faces massive personal challenges, but also has to deal with rigid, conservative attitudes. The education system takes on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude towards gender identity, as it does toward Sexual Orientation.
The “queer” child trapped inside a society that doesn’t see their struggle with their Gender Identity or their Sexual Orientation is often pushed away from meaningful relationships with peers, teachers and sometimes even family. This exclusion, due to an outdated world view, is damaging to their development.
It is vital that we, as communities, influencers, fellow learners or colleagues, as friends or family, understand and embrace the new reality that gender identity is not either girl or boy. It is a spectrum. And it is not a choice. It is who we are at the core of our being.
It is also important that we understand the difference between Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.
GI is how we see ourselves; it is core to who we are. SO is who we are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to, regardless of our own sense of gender identity. It’s who we want to be with, as is our constitutional right.