Friday, June 12, 2015

I See Gender

When it comes to racism and prejudice, there are many essays and articles that have explained why saying “I don’t see color” is not a particularly helpful way to express that you feel you are an ally, well informed, and accepting of all people. 

In fact, Having A Color Blind Approach to Racism is Actually Racist:
“Instead of being color blind, allow yourself to acknowledge the fact that racism is still a problem that hurts a lot of people in a lot of different ways. Some acts of racism are violent and obvious, others are more subtle and even unintentional. If you want to really be an ally for people who experience racism, listen to them. That’s all you have to do: Listen.”

If you think that being color blind or “not seeing color” is a good thing then I strongly encourage you to read the above article in its entirety. 

O.K. so now hopefully we’re all on the same page about racism and how it’s a bad thing. Hopefully you get that until the world is actually a safe place for people of all colors we need to keep seeing color so that we can be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem. 

Now, using that as a point of reference, we are going to talk about gender identity. 

Lately there has been an uptick in the number of articles and conversations relating to transgender people and issues in my facebook feed. That’s awesome! 

What’s not so awesome is the lack of respect and compassion that creeps into the conversations from people who think they are intelligent, compassionate, respectful, and/or allies. What’s not so awesome is people who make excuses or who try to make light of their snark with statements such as: 

I was just joking
#sarcasm
I respect you as a human but….
I’m old
I don’t care what gender people are (as in “I don’t see gender”)

People try to dismiss the importance of discussing gender identity with comments such as “Why can’t we just all be humans and accept each other as we are? We don’t need all these Labels.” 

As long as half of all transgender people are attempting suicide, and as long as transgender children are been abused, teenagers are being kicked out of their homes, people are being assaulted and murdered, and hate crimes are happening - and all of these things are happening because of gender identity and gender expression - then no, we cannot all just be humans without labels. When people are dying because of who they are then it is not o.k. for you to belittle them or make sarcastic comments about them. It is not o.k. for you to say “I respect you as a human but I don’t care about your gender identity.”  As long as there are people in the world who comment on a 15 year old kid’s YouTube channel and tell them they should be shot because they identify as genderfluid, you should care. 

While you are treating gender identity labels as designer tags that are amusing, confusing, or annoying, while you are making comments about people “just wanting to feel special”, while you are hiding behind your facebook persona, using your age as an excuse, and treating gender identity as the latest fad, people are dying. 

Until the world is actually a safe place for people of all genders we need to keep seeing gender so that we can be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem. You need to be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem. You need to be respectful of people without the “but,” without snark, hashtags, or excuses.


Resources: 


Your Understanding of Gender May Be Wrong. Here’s Why.

Gender Spectrum.org
Gender Spectrum offers resources to empower your relationships, work, and interactions with youth and children. From how-to guides, to respected research, to sample training materials, we provide you with the tools necessary to create gender inclusive environments in your homes, offices, and communities.  


Pronouns are Important
Two years ago I wrote a blog post over at With The Family titled "If It's Important to You, It's Important To Me." That's what I want, I want to know that this topic that is important to me and my family is important to those who say they are my friend, are my relatives, or who say they care about me. And that's really what I'm trying to express about pronoun usage: when talking to or about a non-binary person, when you use the pronouns they have asked you to use it shows them that who they are is important to you. 

Vi Hart’s video on Gender  




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