By Sav Gibbs
I shouldn’t have to do this. I shouldn’t have to be the educated voice on gender for all of you who don’t live in the LGBTQ community, who can’t just open your web browser and Google these things.
I already have to face discrimination just for being who I am, so will you cut the crap?
Most people think that being born with a penis or a vagina is all that there is. But about one in 1,500 people are born with some sort of variation of reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of male or female sex organs.
This could be something like a child with a penis but XX chromosomes, or a child with a clitoris but no vagina.
Previously, these children were forced to have invasive surgeries to “correct” something that isn’t an issue. Now, it’s more common to let the child mature and make their own choices about gender identity. Someone’s sex describes the reproductive organs that a doctor would need to know, and unless you are using someone’s sex in a medical or legal sense, there is no need to ask about it. Asking is one of the most invasive things you can do to someone outside the binary.
Gender identity is how someone defines their place on the gender spectrum in a technical term. This is unrelated to sexual orientation or gender expression.
Gender identity, like liquid starch, can be incredibly solid to some people and a gooey flexible mess for others. That gooey flexible mess could be defined as genderqueer or genderfluid, where an individual doesn’t feel like they have a fixed gender.
Transgender describes someone who doesn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Nonbinary describes someone who doesn’t identify with the preconceived notions of gender, male or female, and finds themselves somewhere between the two “defined” genders. Agender describes someone who doesn’t identify with any gender.
There are many more gender identities than listed here. All are valid and worth exploring. If you find yourself reevaluating what your gender actually means to you, or if you care to learn about other gender identities, I strongly recommend you research it.
Gender expression also doesn’t have to align with any one singular notion of gender identity. I dress very femininely, often wear makeup and have relatively long hair. But I’m non-binary.
I have no intentions to transition with hormones or surgery, and I don’t wish I was a man. I simply don’t feel like a woman or a man.
I’m just a person — a person who was in Girl Scouts, who uses tampons, who has a vagina, but a person who is not female.
A person who uses the singular they pronoun, despite the comments like “it just doesn’t work grammatically” that discredit my entire existence every time.
I’m not asking for a lot from you. Just respect the pronouns someone asks you to use and take a second to understand the struggle that comes with putting one’s true self out there. It takes courage to, one, accept that part of yourself, and two, explain it to the public while knowing it could lead to discrimination.
I know I have privilege as a white person who passes as a female and must acknowledge that trans people, especially trans women of color, face far more discrimination than I ever will.
Trans people are murdered and assaulted at a much higher rate than anyone else in the United States. People outside the gender binary often have little to no legal protection against job and housing discrimination.
So let’s take one stressor out of their lives, and if you consider yourself an LGBTQ ally, respect the choices that we as people outside the traditional gender binary make.
Pictured Above: Sav Gibbs wants people who don’t live in the LGBTQ community to understand that alternative gender identities are valid and deserve to be respected. Evy Guerra | The Crow’s Nest