Above is a Ted Talk to briefly recap our Gender Theory meeting and help build a foundation to expand upon this Thursday at 5pm in the Grindstone Room at our Non-Binary meeting. Enjoy some snacks and bring a friend February 16th as we engage in a more discussion-based meeting about gender together. See you there!
Thank you to everyone who was able to join us at our meeting this past Thursday where we discussed Gender Theory. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here’s an overview of what we covered.
We talked about the differences between sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Sex (female/male/intersex) is defined by one’s biology. It is often assumed that sex and gender are one in the same, however this isn’t true for everyone. Gender identity is what you identify as regardless of your biological sex. Gender expression is the way in which one expresses their gender identity, typically through appearance and/or behavior. Society tends to associate and ascribe certain genders to certain sexes in a binary system. We’ll be discussing non-binary identities more in our next meeting on February 16th. When sex and gender are assumed to always be the same, rather than being independent of one another, individuals can experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is when an individual identifies as a gender other than that which was assigned at birth based on their sex. Due to the social construct of gender and its association with biological sex, “compulsory hetersexuality” becomes commonplace. This is to say we assume all the little boys will grow up to be men and will like women, and all the little girls will grow up to be women and like men. In fact, if an individual was born intersex (having ambiguous genitalia; falling outside of the categories of male and female in terms of biological sex) doctors used to test whether the child was born with a large clitoris or small penis by deciding whether or not they thought the organ could penetrate. Heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality played a large role in these individuals lives, and while there are some cases where medical action is required for the health of the child, when the gender and sexual orientation are assumed, it can cause a great deal of problems. It is generally accepted and agreed upon within the LGBTQIA+ community that gender is a social construct, but perhaps the more controversial idea, as Judith Butler claims, is that sex is also socially constructed. This concept is somewhat difficult to perceive, but essentially, we, as a society, tend to associate sex with chromosomes and primarily primary sex characteristics, however the mere existence of intersex individuals disrupts this and for all intents and purposes, proves that sex is socially constructed, just like gender.
This meeting was largely built on the ideas of Judith Butler and her book, “Gender Troubles”, which is available in the Ally-brary (our library) for anyone to borrow.