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By Malia Disney
Do you know anybody who identifies as neither a man nor a woman? Whether you are a man, women or neither you fall on the gender spectrum. Many people don’t know what the gender spectrum is. The gender spectrum goes between the traditional male and female with different genders in between the two.
According to non-binary.org, genderqueer is an umbrella term that covers anybody who doesn’t fit the gender binary, these people often dress androgynously, they don’t dress in masculine or feminine clothing often. However, a genderqueer person can express themselves any way they want. Cis people are people who identify as the gender they are assigned at birth. When Lee joined the staff at my school late last year I didn’t know anybody who didn’t identify as either male or female. I had heard about people like that online but I never knew anybody in real life. I didn’t know their pronouns until early this year when they started a club called rainbow alliance. This club was meant to help educate people on the gender and sexual spectrum. In this club I learned that a person’s gender and sexuality are two separate things and that there are other pronouns besides female, male and they/them. I also learned that to be questioning is a legitimate identity.
Genderqueer people face oppression and resistance because of their gender identity- especially in places that aren’t as liberal as the Bay Area. Many cis people make fun of genderqueer people for being “special snowflakes”. They don’t allow people who address androgynously to have their own bathrooms, often forcing them into the bathrooms of their assigned sex. This can cause psychological harm. These people are completely disregarding their identity and are oppressing people of alternate genders. Many people also think that people who identify genderqueer as are only doing it as a political statement, this is because very few countries recognize genderqueer and alternate genders. These people are invalidating genderqueer people which is not acceptable. Unfortunately, many cis people will physically or verbally harass people who are gender non- conforming.
Many people don’t think that genderqueer people exist or only recently started to become common because it’s a “fad”. This is untrue. Throughout history there have been people who don’t fit into the boxes of either male and female. One example of this is the “two- spirit” people in Native American culture. People who were two spirit were highly respected and often were leaders in the community. Because of imperialist expansion these people were discriminated against by western minded people. However, the spirit people have been able to preserve some of their culture, there is an annual two spirit powwow that takes place in San Francisco. There are also examples of genderqueer all throughout history.
Genderqueer people also face discrimination. According to the National Transgender Discrimination survey 32% of genderqueer people suffer physical assaults and 31% face police brutality. The study also shows that, 43% of genderqueer people have attempted suicide.
Society doesn’t allow people who don’t conform many rights. When I met Lee the idea of genderqueer people hit home, I realized that these people were a lot like me. I realized that it was important for me too learn more and respect people of alternate genders. I hope that you and other people are able to have moments like this.