Facebook recently updated its gender settings on profiles, allowing users to pick between 56 different genders that range from Agender, Pangender, Two-Spirit, other, and a whole a variety of other options that I cannot tell the difference between. Now, I have absolutely no problem with someone choosing to identify with one of these 56 concoctions. If you want to be a Pangender, go for it. If you aren’t quite Pangender, and you’re more of a gender fluid person, awesome. You’re a Cisgender male, previously Cisgender man? Fine by me. My issue arises when someone expects me to know the difference between all of them.
As an example I’d like to discuss my political identity. Practically, I am a utilitarian leaning libertarian, although ideologically I would say that I am an Anarcho-Capitalist. Now, the base readership of this blog will probably know what these words mean, but go outside of the Libertarian community and you will be met with a lot of confused faces. Most people outside of the community just know the word Libertarian. They don’t know the difference between Geolibertarianism, Libertarian Socialism, Neo-classical liberalism, Anarcho-Capitalism, or the 100 other sub sections of this political ideology. They simply know ‘Libertarian’ because they are not experts in the subject.
Compare this to the new wave of ever increasing options for gender identity. Most people know Male, Female, and are familiar with transgenderism to a degree. Just as most people, politically speaking, know Republican, Democrat, and are maybe familiar with the Libertarians and Progressives.
To most people the common language definition of gender really means sex; male and female. It is not a reflection of what your role in society should be, but a mere labeling of what reproductive organs you were born with. The issue here is people who are confusing gender identity with the common language definition of gender as most people understand it.
If one of my friends were to say in conversation,”Oh yeah, Trey is really into politics. He’s a diehard libertarian.” I would not respond by saying, “Excuse me, but I am not just a Libertarian. I am a utilitarian libertarian, and also have Anarcho-Capitalistic tendencies”. I would not correct the person because they do not know the difference between all of these things, and furthermore I do not feel the need to educate them on the differences if they don’t feel like learning them. At the end of the day, how others perceive my political identity really has no affect on my life at all.
Correcting someone in this manner, to me, is exactly the same as if a Transgendered person were to respond to someone calling them transgendered by saying “Excuse me, I am not just Transgendered. I am a Transgender-woman, maybe leaning a bit more towards Pangenderism or gender fluidity.” To the laymen who know nothing about gender identity, who simply know the traditional male and female, this sounds like gibberish. Just as my explanation of my political identity would sound to someone who knows nothing about Libertarianism.
Gender identity is something that you choose. Yes, it really is. Some people will tell me that it’s not a choice, but I reject that notion. Telling me that you don’t choose your gender identity is as ludicrous as saying that I didn’t choose my political identity. Yes, I’m sure that I was born with a predisposition to certain Libertarian ideals but arriving at my political identity is something that has taken years of research and contemplation, and it’s something that is ever changing. The terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are objective in that they merely refer to the reproductive organs assigned at birth. These different political identities, like gender identities, are man made constructs which seek to describe ideological tendencies.
Having male reproductive organs, or female reproductive organs, this is something that you do not chose. The common language definition of gender is something that cannot be chosen. Gender identity, like political identity, is something that you pick, because these are abstract ideas that are ever evolving. Decades ago we had 2 ‘genders’, now we are approaching 56. I’m sure in the next decade we will break 100. As more genders are discovered more people will read their descriptions and think, “by god, that’s me”, until the newer more accurate gender identity is conjured.
Having your own personal gender identity is fine, the issue arises when the rest of us are expected to know the differences between all of them lest we be called bigots.
The point here being that personally I am not going to learn the difference between these 56 genders, just as I don’t expect anyone who isn’t interested in Libertarianism to learn the subtle nuances to every form of Libertarianism. I know male, and female. If you were a woman, and have since undergone transgender hormone therapy and surgery to become a man, I will refer to you as a man. If you are a man and undergo the same process to become a woman, I will refer to you as a woman. Why is there a need for anything beyond that for us laymen?
You have your gender identity, that’s all well and good, but to the extreme majority of the population there are two genders; male and female. If you wish to be Pangender, Gender-fuild, cisgender, so be it, but don’t expect me to learn the difference unless you would like to learn about the differences in Anarcho-Capitalism, Libertarian Socialism, Neo-Classical Liberalism, and the other various man-made political identities within Libertarianism, because gender identity, not gender, is just that, man-made.