Challenge Your Own Understanding of Gender as Binary

Challenge Your Own Understanding of Gender as Binary

By Iva Veazey, World Association of Sex Coaches Certified Sex Coach

Prelude: To a classically trained musician, the word “prelude” has contradictory definitions. From Bach (a prelude to a fugue) to Chopin (a song unto itself), there are many ways to utilize the concept of a prelude. It is my desire that this information will be not only a topic unto itself, but a heartfelt prelude to deeply understand and love being who you truly are.

May this essay also serve to help you develop the beginnings of compassion toward others and respect who they really are, even if they present themselves in a way that is completely different from anything you’ve ever known.

Why Don’t People Understand Gender Isn’t Binary?

Person with curly hair holding autumn leaves obscuring one side of face

Variations on gender identity and using the requested pronouns appear to be uncomfortable for a huge segment of the population. Though many people are now finding their way toward accepting transgender, MTF or FTM, they are confused by the concept of non-binary, gender-queer, and other labels outside of the specific boy/girl dynamic.

Gender binary is a restrictive social construct. It holds strong to the idea that gender and genitalia are specifically matched in all cases. Even with more acceptance of trans identity, questions like, “What kind of surgeries have you had to make your body more in alignment with your gender identity?” or “What is your body like under your clothes?” still seem to be a first reaction from many who try to understand from a purely binary and physical perspective. The thought that these intensely intimate questions could be perceived as rude and invasive doesn’t even cross their minds.

Short haired person in jean jacket leaning against wall

But is it any wonder? The limited sex education that most people receive is generally a brief description of penis-in-vagina penetration, leading to babies that are, of course, male or female. This perpetuates the binary expectations of sex, gender, personality, style, activities, etc., that all start with the genitals a person is born with.

This all too familiar view of “normal” does not usually consider intersex people (one in 2,000 people are born with some form of gender and chromosomal variations from the binary norm) or any other individual gender or sex identity variation (i.e., non-binary, trans, demigender, queer, gender queer, gender fluid, any combination of these and more).

Why Use Gender Labels At All?

Person facing away from camera wearing jean jacket that says "Born This Way"

Why are all the labels and identifiers necessary? In a world where diversity is marginalized and worse, this can be an easier way for a person to express their unique qualities. I feel that in some ways, the labels are a response to people needing to feel real in a limited world. Identifying with a label, or declaring that they are more than a label, is a way of breaking down the walls of the norm and paving a way toward authenticity. We are unlimited creatures and to tell children that they must fit into a certain role, right from the start of life, is stifling, smothering, and denies them their personal truth.

To step up and say “I’m queer, trans, gay, a crossdresser, etc.” requires a great deal of courage, but to speak your truth gives you access to like-minded people and the opportunity to connect in ways that feel real and rich.

Sometimes it’s dangerous to step into your truth.

Sometimes it can save your life to do so.

Some people make labels a hard and fast rule that require stiff and unnatural representations that unfortunately do not represent everyone. Therefore, there seems to be an ever-growing number of ways that people identify.

So, what do we do? How do we manage?

Two people looking at each other and laughing

ASK how a person identifies and respect their response. It’s as important as getting their name correct.

When addressing a crowd, use gender neutral language, such as they, them, people, parent, etc. It’s tricky to get used to. But like learning to ride a bike, these habits become more natural with practice.

About Iva Veazey

With a background in music education, music therapy, and yoga science - as well being a Certified Sex Coach from Sex Coach U, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community - I offer a respectful and confidential environment for discovering/owning your sexuality, gender identity or other related issues. Learn more about me here!