Every time someone asks me what ‘gender, sexuality and diversity studies’ is, I give them something along the lines of… “it’s all about questioning the gender binaries, about accepting gender and sexuality has something that is not limited to anything”, the usual. And every time I get the same response… “What?”, “Are you serious?”, “I don’t get what you’re saying”, “Sounds… interesting”. It’s society lack of understanding of the word gender that has led many to believe that gender is nothing more than male or female.
Youtube blogger Halle Hermanson recently posted a video entitled ‘what is gender?‘ in which students and teachers give their meaning of the word gender. Most of the responses are expected… “Boys and girls”, “Traditional roles of male or female”, “Penis and vagina”… and while these ideas of gender are dominant it’s still refreshing to know that some believe that gender is “fluid, a person can determine their own or choose their own gender” (See youtube video). These conflicting ideas of gender are also reinstated in another youtube film titled ‘what is gender?‘ by XCAlexandria.
The question is how do we break away from these binaries? Will gender neutral toilet facilities make a difference (British council rules toilets gender-neutral)? Will gender-neutral advertisements make a difference (Gender-neutral toy catalogues leave the boy holding the baby)? Perhaps education and awareness will be enough that one day gender will be seen as more than just a category. Perhaps it is classes such as gender, sexuality and diversity studies that will provide us with enough understanding to can create our own gender identities.