Today’s society has begun to acknowledge the LGBTQ community as they make their voices heard. But the people who represent the T in that string of letters — those who do not identify as the traditional male and female from birth — often experience little consideration when the topic “gender” comes up in applications, government forms, and even the census.
Anything having to do with signing one’s signature, signing up for activities, fee waivers, etc, gender will most likely also come up. Transgender people, along with the rest of the community who do not identify the sex they are given at birth, are often clumped together as the “other” option when they are asked the question, “Your gender is:” This additional option does not as appear as open and kind as the people would think. Though the change expands the concept of gender by a pinch, it does not fully allow for non cisgender people to fully express themselves, often leaving them feeling disheartened by this act of ignorance. There are plenty of options for race, but in the gender section there are often only three options to pick from. Generalizing all the people who are not cisgender into one option, “other,” is just as harmful as generalizing the minority people into the option of “colored”.
Conservative Americans cannot help being very fixated on the belief that only “two genders” exist, but if there are only two genders, then in their world of only two genders, how would they identify people who had both male and female genitalia from birth? One in 1,000 born babies are born having both male and female genitalia, and often identify themselves as “intersex.” It is not possible to live in a world with only two genders when some people are born with both. On any applications and documents where a person would have to identify their gender this would not be something an intersex person could answer easily, or at all. Sometimes the additional third option is “trans” instead of “other,” and sometimes trans people will still select the male or female option rather than the trans one. After all, a trans woman considers herself a woman, not a trans. Additionally. with the third option as trans, where does that leave people who are neither male, female, or trans? Though the awareness of transgender people has grown significantly within the past couple of decades, along with an incredible, 1.4 million adults who are transgender, there are more genders than just the three male, female, and trans. Gender identity is not only in the mind, but sometimes also physically a part of the body.
The brains behind the US Census have evolved their data collection regarding race. They have expanded to having multi-racial options, opening their mind to how diverse the US is. Expansion of gender options has been underway. In 2015 the Census Bureau thought, “If the Census could evolve on the issue of race, could it evolve on the issues of sex and gender as well?”
Foreign countries had addressed this issue before America; India and Nepal added a third option “other” to their gender question, and New Zealand gave their people the option of declaring themselves as male, female, or “X” on their passports. This brought a notice to America to advance the sex and gender options of Census, adding the option of “trans,” but even with this addition to the Census, more trans people have chosen to select the male and female option rather than trans. The word “transgender” can be very vague, and not every person will identify as trans, male, or female. If genders were presented more specifically, “transgender male” or “transgender female,” for example, that would decrease the amount of trans people from picking the male or female options. More LGBTQ citizens would feel less marginalized, being able to properly represent themselves to the world and the country.
America isn’t just behind on gender identity on forms. Many foreign countries have moved ahead of the US when it comes to transgender rights, passing many laws to help make their trans people feel more equal, along with protecting their trans people from discrimination and hate. Argentina has moved far ahead, passing the Gender Identity Law, allowing sex-change surgery to be a legal right in both public and private health care plans, while the Danish Parliament has allowed legal gender recognition for transgender people that are over the age of 18. Malta has adopted the Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics Act, allowing the privacy of the person requesting to change their official documents to match and reflect their gender. India has also given trans people the right to self-identify without sex reassignment surgery, and equal rule and protection from discrimination. Other countries are able to overcome this difference and make everyone equal, meaning that the US should be able to do the same in passing laws to give the LGBTQ community their equal rights.
Though it is true that these foreign countries do not have as much diversity as the US, other non-governmental examples demonstrate that even a widely diverse population can have the opportunity for each individual to properly identify themselves. Recently social media sites such as Facebook and Tinder have come out with an update that gives people a large variety of sex and genders to select from. Facebook contains about 50 sexes and genders to select from along with the choice of using gender-neutral pronouns. Though the new changes may not greatly impact people who stick to the tradition genders from birth, it means everything to the few people who are not cisgender, because for once they are able to tell the world who they really are.
Facebook is a media site that is large and full of diversity, maybe even larger than the US when it connects the whole world together, but if this entire site can add on such a large variety of sex and gender options, then the US can do the same in doing this favor for the people of the LGBTQ community.
There was a time where people in the US had fought against discrimination towards race, and great strides have been made. It is time to do the same and resolve the issue with sex and gender. It is time to recognize that there are more than two genders, just as there is more than two or three races in this world.