The Gender Revolution

August 23, 2009 at 1:50 am 3 comments

I came across this touching short documentary (under 7 minutes) courtesy of YouTube, which follows a British intersex person as she accesses health care services to continue her gender transition.

As far as her dream of being recognized as a third gender goes, I’m not exactly sure when that will become a reality–I doubt whether it will be in our lifetimes (although I hope I’m wrong). Those of us who exist outside the gender binary are simply too small in numbers to push something like that through without the support of ordinary people. While support is growing, there is as yet still strong resistance to recognizing us as equal members of society. One has only to look at the recent controversy over gender ambiguous Caster Semenya (the South African running sensation whose gender is currently under scrutiny) to recognize society’s discomfort with gender variance.

It all boils down to whether gender still has a function in our society today. Or is it just a relic that accompanies us from our earlier evolutionary days? In many ways, technology has already given us the ability to transcend the traditional functions of gender. No longer do you need to have sex to give birth–the romance between sex and procreation has been severed for good. Thanks to myriad fertility techniques, birth control pills and vasectomies, when and where we have children has become much more a matter of choice than it has ever been before. And when human cloning becomes a reality (if it hasn’t already), I don’t think it will take long before it supplants more traditional means of reproduction as a major family expansion tool. At least, I should add, among the middle and upper classes.

Technology has freed women to pursue careers (think birth control), and has offered men new possibilities for either limiting their procreative abilities (vasectomies) or prolonging their penile proclivities (viagra anyone?). Our and the next generations have been freed to create our own destinies. Indeed, gender has ceased to be a life-sentence, instead becoming something mutable, flexible and emergent. This new way of life is both frightening and liberating to many. Frightening because we don’t yet know the full ramifications of such a drastically different future. Liberating because a new era is beginning; the gender revolution is upon us. And people wonder why the Roman Catholic papacy is upset!

Technology is not the enemy of nature. Instead, it is an extension of it; it’s what drives our species forward. Technology has found gender and it’s not turning back. The question is: when will we be ready for the ride?


Entry filed under: Gender, Transgender.

Grace note Forays into Masculinity

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nome  |  August 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Indeed, I agree that gender is absolutely an unnecessary carry-over, although I do not even think it has an evolutionary basis (for then all societies would have the same/very similar genders and that is not the case). I would more argue that gender is a tool of the patriarchy.

    But I do strongly believe that everyone needs to push to abolish gender, no matter where on, or off, these binaries society constructs about gender. Hopefully we do get to see the end of gender. 🙂

  • 2. thekeenobserver  |  August 30, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Nome

    Thanks for your comment! I do want to clarify, though, that I don’t think gender in and of itself is bad. The issue I have with gender, is that it should not be imposed on us from the outside. We all contain within us elements of masculinity or femininity. How we balance and express those elements is what makes us beautiful in our unique ways. Gender can be a beautiful thing if it is expressed authentically. In my view, the goal is to expand gender, not abolish it. 🙂

  • 3. nome  |  August 31, 2009 at 2:34 am

    *sigh* I waver on my thoughts on gender. Sometimes I feel the way I expressed there.

    Others I dream of this system where there is no gender until someone decides on a gender that feels right to them or whatever. Have a system that is more about self-labeling than having gender forced upon them.

    I sometimes rejoice in my gender. Both other times, it’s too painful being gendered in ways I am not to see any pretty in the entire concept.


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