OPINION | Is having 100+ genders too many?
Recently the BBC was attacked for teaching children that there are over 100 different types of gender. This move from the BBC received widespread criticism from the right-wing media (as expected) and unfortunately when a gender spokesperson on Good Morning Britain was interviewed on the matter they struggled to explain the differences when challenged by presenters on what the 100 genders stood for and why some of them were ‘genders’ and not simply aspects of their personality.
It was, put bluntly, a car crash and did nothing to explain to your the majority of UK viewers what the
Don’t get me wrong, I have my issues with Piers Morgan, but that interview was a car crash and made the gender argument look ridiculous. Love him or hate him, Piers won that round and inflicted serious damage on the public perception of gender freedom.
It left even those of us in the LGBT community that weren’t aware of 100+ genders before now baffled and unsure of what was expected of us as allies?
As someone that has worked with the wider LGBT+ community, I found the statement that there are 100+ gender staggering. It might easier for a child to get their head around, I can’t say as I’ve not been a child for quite some time now, but if we even struggle then how on earth is wider Society meant to cope? So I went looking to see what on earth the 100+ genders are and what they could mean.
I found this list from Tumblr which has listed around 116 different types of genders. Some I recognise and some have just baffled me. Many of them, especially those where they say they aren’t ‘Male’ or ‘Female’, but they aren’t anything else either until you ask them, then they say they are X or Y based on that moment. That is not a ‘gender’ type, that’s an attitude or personality trait. At most that
For a community that claims to despise labels and being put in boxes are we really telling the wider world that we now have 100+ labels for ourselves, a fair majority of which are based on our mood and situation at any given time?
Me: “I don’t want you [Society] to label me, we should be beyond labels”
Also Me: “Here are 100+ more labels, many of which depend on my mood on any given day. You wanna label me, ha I’ve just made it 100 times more difficult.”
People have to remember that we are a community, built and based on social interaction. This 100+ list of genders and associated pronouns has just put a massive barrier up to other human beings communicating with us/them.
If you have no idea how to address someone (as even ‘they’ wouldn’t work for some of these) then surely that person is simply not going to address you, and just avoid you completely as it’s the path of least resistance (easier). They don’t mean anything by it, they aren’t out to ‘get you’ or ‘oppress you’ they just have no idea how to interact with you because of this mind-boggling wall you’ve put up and have 1001 things to deal with other than how on earth to say hello to you and ask how you are.
The rise in gender fluidity and the challenge of the traditional masculine and feminine associations is something to be celebrated, especially if it means we get closer to achieving true gender equality, eradicate sexism and truly accept into Society transsexuality and gender re-assignment. However, with saying to the world that there are now 115 different genders, many of which are based on circumstances and mood, are we at risk to invalidating and demeaning that freedom we have enjoyed as it is coming across as ridiculous and unrealistic?
A friend of mine recently ‘came out’ as pansexual. For those unaware, pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others. Unlike Bisexuality, pansexuals tend not to see gender and just see the person/personality.
Recently Sam Smith (not the friend mentioned above) also came out as non-binary and raising awareness of gender descriptives within our language. Smith has a valid point and if we are truly to be 21st-century race then more accurate command of the language is a good thing. The abuse Smith received from the LGBT community was completely uncalled for.
However, the 100+ genders issue raises the question, are we using gender identity as a smokescreen for our own personality traits and rising trend to be identified as something and to use that as a banner against oppression? It’s almost as if the community has achieved a level of acceptance (which we have on the whole) but now we want evermore? Or to put it another way, have we just gotten so used to being oppressed and that feeling of ‘fighting the machine’ that we now seek new battles and new demands for acceptance?
If some of our allies and the community itself are struggling to keep up with the notion of 100+ genders and pronouns, and find they have to ask what someone’s gender is in order not to offend, are we just simply creating a society where no one can get it right because I’ve used the pronouns for gender 67 but actually you are gender 68 which causes you offence and now I’m the oppressor? Surely we want a world where gender isn’t even factored into someone’s decision making. But this seems to want to enshrine even further it into everyday life and make it yet another thing people can use to beat you over the head with.
Personally, I don’t see the argument for creating any more genders beyond the 6 the NHS currently uses and recognises. Or at least, certainly not for creating 100+ pronouns. I shouldn’t need to know your gender, simply what pronoun to use. For those unaware, the 6 genders the NHS uses are currently male, female, gender-neutral, non-binary, gender-fluid and gender-queer. Being referred to as ‘they’ should be perfectly acceptable for the majority if not all genders. I’ve not seen any of the 100+ that aren’t simply a very subtle variation of 1 of the six (with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions).
If you do identify as one of the 100+ genders then you don’t need my validation to exist. You certainly don’t need my confirmation of your gender so seeking it from others is a fool’s errand.
If you can look me in the eye and can honestly say that you are peace with the fact that you identify as whatever-sexual, I’ll believe you and quite happily accept for you that. But if you honestly think this does anything for reaching a stage where gender means nothing to Society then you are deluding yourself. This turns the gender discrimination and bias argument into a completely different beast, a beast you are very unlikely to master.
There are a number of resources out there on Gender Freedom and Identity. I would encourage everyone to read more on the issue, starting with Mermaids charity so you can understand more around Transsexuality and wider issues. There are also some good resources from the BBC on gender identity and pronouns.
Here I have simply asked the question and posed some issues that we need to find answers to. Do your own research and come to your own conclusion, but remember this is a debate the nation should have. Not prejudice, or an attack, or an invalidation.
Educate yourself then see where you end up.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.