In the 1960s, a prominent psychologist by the name John Money, convinced himself and sought to convince others that gender identity was independent of early hormones. This can be taken to mean that gender identity is an idea and hence if a parent believed their child was a boy, even if it was a girl, and treated it as such, then the child would develop a male gender identity. Scientists called this the “parent” theory of gender identity and a scientific test was done where a boy who was two months old. The boy grew up as a girl and came to accept her gender identity. She eventually became bisexual but yes, she was a girl in everything except her sexual organs.
Many people mistake sex and gender. So much that they use these terms interchangeably despite the fact that they are as different with each other as day and night. Sex is whatever the doctors and nurses choose to assign you upon birth based on your organs. The gender however is what the person identifies with more and influences his or her behaviour (sic).
The gender is influenced by three spectrums of a person:
- Body: this is how the body looks, how the society has gendered people’s bodies as well as the experiences of the body itself and how others relate to you based on your body.
- Identity: this is how the person internally identifies themselves as and know themselves to be.
- Expression: this is our mode of presentation of our gender to the world and how the society perceives and reacts to it. This is also directly influenced and related to the already set gender roles and perception each society has.
The gender that you are to identify as then, will depend on how well these three dimensions are in harmony.
A person who was assigned the male sex at birth and identifies as a boy, becomes a cismale and vice versa. People that do not identify with any gender, become agender, and a male that identifies as a girl is a transgender. The list is endless with over fifty gender identities given depending on how a person feels and expresses themselves.
Gender becomes an idea then, and if so, it means that no one is born with a male or female brain. The brain is what plays a huge role in determining someone’s gender. It therefore beats logic that we have a female chess team that represents Kenya as well as other countries at the Olympics. It does not make sense. Why should we put them apart yet a chessboard and pieces women use are not pink coloured nor wear dresses. As a matter of fact, why do we have gendered clothes? This will however come later.
Except sports that give a man an advantage over a woman due to hormonal strength et al, there is no reason at all as to why we have over the years institutionalised the genders. Why should we have a comprehensive list of best performing girls’ schools? Why don’t we simply have a list of best performing schools and stop at that?
I recently read a magazine that had a segment of “Exemplary Female Scientists in Africa” and was taken aback by this headline. I mean, what warrants this separation of roles? If a male scientist writes a thesis or research report article, how different will it be from that written by a female? Will they have gendered identifications hidden in between or mass of testosterone hidden in between the words? Will I have to keep it hidden in my library because the female scientist might have been naked while writing it? Of course not. Then, why should we separate these two this much?
Why should Margaret Atwood be identified as a “female writer” and not simply a writer? Why should Yvonne Odhiambo be called female first over “writer”? If we treated all genders the same way, this will be the end of a huge of gender based problems we have including rape and sexual injustices. The only way we can bury and forget about toxic masculinity is if we stop and get rid of exclusivity, gender exclusivity.
I mean, remember when there was an uproar on the athletism of South African athlete, Semenya? If we had already gotten rid of gender separatism, we wouldn’t have problems of such. If we have a broad idea and definitions of gender, we wouldn’t be worried about what people will say when our sons prefer dolls over guns and car toys or when our daughters pick the biggest helicopter from the shelves in a mall or supermarket.
I dream of a time where I can comfortably put on a dress and walk around with it for reasons other than aesthetic, a time when my girlfriend will write a paper on quantum physics and it’ll be put in the same shelf as Isaac Newton instead of a dusty “Works of female scientists” compartment.
“And in the broad expanse below,
An unmarked grave lay in hid,
And on its stone,
“Herein lies the remains of gender; demystified,
And in rid.”…”
From CIS – by Wizard. (A poem)