Apr 11, 2016 - Communication    4 Comments

The complexities of gender

Since the turn of the century gay rights have made significant advances and with gay marriage now legal in the UK and Ireland LGBT activists can be happy with the progress made over the last 16 years. However, LGBT is much more complex than it’s four letters suggest. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender as an acronym has been expanding and more tags are being added with some people preferring to use the acronym LGBTQIA which adds the terms queer, intersex and asexual. As the size of the LGBT or LGBTQIA movement expands surely more and more people are going to look at the acronym and be dissatisfied that the letter they identify with is not there. We have to take a step back from this and realise that sexuality is a spectrum and therefore we’re all on the LGBT spectrum somewhere, as humans we are sexually attracted and romantically attracted to all sorts of different people; you might approach someone and get the response ‘You’re simply not my type’. Well, surely we’re not going to add everyone’s type onto the acronym to denote everyone’s sexuality as just as important as the next person.

Sexuality is a spectrum that encompasses everyone and as time passes people seem to becoming more conscious of this and specifically within the urban youth of Britain, the perception of sexuality is beginning to change. It is not simply heterosexuals and the gay community. I think it’s time that we applied the same ideas to gender. In the same way that sexuality is a spectrum with different recognised points all along, I believe that gender is the same and I think it’s incredibly important that we begin to realise and accept this.

In the world today, it is widely recognised that a person could be male, female or transgender/transsexual. Transgender is understood to be a person who has transitioned or is transitioning in some way from male to female or the inverse. This understanding of gender is far too polarised and there are huge amounts of stereotypes that are associated with being male or female. This leaves someone who is transgender as generally not being understood or connected with unless they live up to the stereotypes of the gender that they are transitioning to. This is simply taking someone out of one box of stereotypical expectations in which they don’t feel comfortable and placing them into another that might be more comfortable but likely still isn’t quite right for everyone.

The only thing showing any recognition of a gender spectrum is gender fluidity or neutrality but at this particular moment in time it is still largely an unknown and seems to be mainly unheard of unless you are familiar with ‘Orange Is The New Black’ star Ruby Rose who is confident enough to stand in the public eye identifying as gender fluid and therefore not defining herself as male or female.

Gender is impossibly riddled with male or female stereotypes and if you cross those stereotypes that instantly arouses suspicions that you may be LGBT. A boy who likes to dance; need more be said? It cannot continue to be as polarised as this and we have to start teaching people that as they grow up they do not have to fulfil the stereotypes of their assigned gender and that they can be themselves and that doesn’t make them any less of a man or any less of a woman.



  • I agree, the topic is interesting. Is the thrust of your argument that we all need to appreciate that gender is not fixed?

    • Yes, I’m trying to express the importance of removing the polarisation around gender and accepting that we aren’t simply male or female and by association a number of stereotypes that come with that gender. This being a particularly acute issue in the case of transgender people who remove themselves from one box of stereotypes but aren’t understood if they don’t live up to all of the stereotypes of either being transgender or being of the gender they are transitioning or have transitioned to.

      As you can tell, I’m really struggling with structure and direction on this…

      • Perhaps you could describe the experience of someone who is transgender and use that to frame your discussion?The One Show of all places had an interesting piece on this recently.

  • Optional additional paragraph after para3…

    For example, someone that is born male may feel as though they are female yet when they transition they prefer to wear gender neutral clothes instead of immediately choosing to wear overtly female clothes. Stereotypes are here to stay for a number of reasons; one of these being the eternal struggle of people to connect with others that might not share their cultural ideals. Now, if a transgender person clearly displays the exaggerated stereotypes of the gender that they have transitioned to, people find it easier to connect with them as they can attach stereotypes and then know what to expect. However, if this isn’t done, people may find connection very difficult because they don’t have a set of stereotypes to attach to the person. 

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