Sex Education: The Gender Spectrum
The Media and Sexual topics
The entertainment industry has long been mainstream media’s primary overtone when discussing sexual topics. Movies have delivered sexual topics in different ways, with the “conventional” approach typically focused on informing people about sex.
Sex education, a British original series from Netflix in romatic comedy ‘Coming of Age’ genre in which its storyline is relatable and informative. The movie perfectly portrays the current and real scenario of our society and how our mindsets on gender roles are more rigid and stereotypical in nature, likewise the name of the show: Otis, an adolescent son of a sex therapist, encounters several changes in sexual interest and performs as a helpful instructor towards his friends regarding sex knowledge.
How could we forget the well-known erotic romance movie, The fifty shades of grey, that once fascinated audience with role-play sexual activities like BDSM: (B)Bondage, (D)Discipline, (S)Sadism and (M)Masochism. Whatever you think about this movie, it’s undeniable that Fifty Shades of Grey brought sex to the forefront of media.
The media has constantly been evolving in a way that is closely associated to the society – both are connected. As a society, we have progressed to the point that this issue became normalized and individuals are more open to discuss. This article aims to help you better understand gender and sex, so that you can more effectively identify what’s happening to you and others in the community.
Sex and Gender: Difference
You have probably already heard that there are gay and bisexual people. Also, you might know that some women have sex with other women, and that this is not uncommon. You may even know a few things about the biology of gender identity and sexual attraction; you might have learned about chromosomes, hormones, or brain structures in your biology class. But chances are you have a lot more questions than answers.
‘Sex is biological, Gender is socially constructed.’
I will give you a general background about the issue and explain some terms that are associated with this topic. Sex and gender is something we all have, yet it’s not easy to define. The terms themselves can be confusing, as the words sex and gender are used interchangeably by some people. Some definitions refer to sex as male or female biology. I perceive that definition is too confining and not complete – it excludes people with intersex conditions. Hence, I prefer a broader definition that incorporates elements of both anatomy and gender identity/expression. It is important to realize that sex and gender are two different concepts. While sex refers to biological differences found in human beings, gender is a socially created construct. There is no clear binary of sexes either, as there are forms of intersex people, who are born as neither male nor female.
Two simple yet so confusing terms that have been controversial within the society for a long time. People usually categorize a person based on their genitalia, if you have a penis, you are a biological male, if you have a vulva, then you are probably a female. However, I want to offer you an understanding of the ‘Gender spectrum’ in which opposing a traditional belief ‘sex is binary’ concept. The gender spectrum is not a straight line that consists only of opposite identities at both ends, but there are a variety of characteristics in between the line.
‘Sex is bimodal, not binary.’
According to the Cate Hildreth article, The Gender Spectrum: A Scientist Explains Why Gender Isn’t Binary. Sex–which referd to one’s biological charateristics–also exists as a spectrum, because intersex people exist. They simplified the current scientific study that sex is bimodal, here is an explanation to support the current scientific study.
Bimodal means the presence of two statistical modes, which can be seen as two peaks in a graph. But, we cannot neglect the clear possibility in between the peaks, that is a place for intersex individuals. There is a common misconception that intersex individuals are inherently abnormal. This is false and intersex is just another biological variation in humans like left–handedness or being born with different eye colors. Approximately 150 million people worldwide or about 2% of live births, who naturally born intersex.
Emily Quinn was born with XY chromosome, she has a vagina with testis in her body, she does not have uterus, hence she is not able to menstruate or giving birth. In accordance to her biology, does it make her any less of a person? The answer is no, her physical appearance resembles a female figure and lives just like any other ordinary people.
Another interesting case of Juleigh Amanda Mayfield, who was born 47XXY, she has an additional chromosome attached to every pair in her chromosomes chart. Neither male nor female, but a configuration of both sexes. She was raised as a male. With a lack of understanding and education regarding her condition.
The misconception of biological sex
The frequency of intersex individuals undergoing “corrective” genital surgery is probably between 1-2 per 1,000 live births. Forced gender assignment is a form of discipline used by medical professionals on intersex infants. The practice is an attempt to forcibly diminish other characteristics in between the gender spectrum. People who are born with ambiguous genitalia should not be forced to decline their natural characteristics to accommodate with the social norms. The human rights violations of intersex figures is on progress and i advocate every individual to acknowledge about the minority’s existence, in order to arise the true concept of diversity in the community.
Gender Identity: LGBTQIA+ Community
What is LGBTQIA+? L(Lesbian), (G)Gay, (B)Bisexual, (T)Transgender, (Q)Queer/Questioning, (I)Intersex, (A) Asexual/Ally and (+) further more non-cisgender traits that one is comfortable to identify oneself as.
LGBTQIA+ community is a diverse group of people whose sexual preference and identity fall outside the norm.
Wherever you are in life, sexual orientation is something that is constantly evolving. It doesn’t mean that your sexual orientation always stays the same but rather that people develop their identities around it. Sexuality, gender identity and gender expression are all constructs on a spectrum with some people more comfortable with expressing their sexuality while others may identify as more inside the gender binary.
Human sexuality, gender identity and gender expression can be difficult to understand for those outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. For instance, transgender people are often misunderstood or underestimated. Chances are you don’t know someone personally who is trans – which is an unfortunate situation considering how many great people come out of the LGBTQIA+ community. Everyday people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi or asexual find it easy to be out and to choose to live their lives authentically. But this isn’t always easy for someone who isn’t out yet or has limited understanding on what it means to be queer.
LGBT Pride Protest against systemic oppression in 1969
The Stonewall Riots (1969)
The Stonewall Riots was an incident that occurred on June 28, 1969, when a gay bar in New York City was attacked by police after they brutally arrested eight patrons for being at an organized event. You can perceive that our legal system was corrupted and influenced by homophobic perception, and led to many sacrifices and discrimation against queer people.
Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community can be both exciting and scary. In the beginning, you’re excited because you’re considered normal. You don’t have to dress in drag or hide who you are, people won’t walk up to you and force themselves on you or tell you that you aren’t good enough for their group. You also aren’t expected to fit in any more than anyone else. Nonetheless, there will always be the opposition when it comes to something that is ‘new’ and distort of the traditional belief, homophobia and transphobia are not just prejudices that exist, they are behaviors that are actually harmful to mental and physical health of queer persons.
Gender identity is one of the most misunderstood topics in the world. We tend to focus on cismen and ciswomen relationships. We cannot deny that many still have a hard time defining what sexual orientation is. Moreover, many people have different views about same sex relationships and sexuality itself. Personally, when I look back at how I was taught as a child about gender equality, I am ashamed. With the passage of time, certain aspects of the queer community have become more accepted and visible. The gay rights movement for example, introduced society to take a look at same-sex relationships with positive mindsets. Finally, in such a climate a huge portion of youth persons recognize the value in gender diversity.
Gender Equality is key to a better society
Sex refers to the biological aspects of a person while gender is socially constructed. The concept of gender varies according to culture, religion, and society. As an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, I urge everyone to accept and understand intersex individuals. They aren’t ‘abnormal’ but are parts of the gender spectrum that aren’t often acknowledged by society. Cade Hildreth, a founder/president of Bioinformant.com, the world’s largest stem cell industry blog, stated in one of their articles ‘External genitals are not an accurate marker of gender to use at birth.’ The spectrum of gender and sexuality is a legitimate and substantial element of human nature within the universe. It is necessary that its validity be recognized by those who hold power and this aspect of modern biology shall not be excluded by patriarchal society. However, Science changes over time, and recent findings should always be considered when analyzing information.