When my youngest daughter, Sara, was 5, I overheard her having a conversation with herself while she played with her toys in her room. “Girls have long hair and boys have… wait.” Big breath. “Girls wear earrings and boys…hmm.”
It was fascinating to hear her mind working to try to figure out ways to identify the differences between boys and girls. She had three older sisters and no brothers, so the ways of boys were less familiar to her.
That long-ago memory resurfaced today because I saw a discussion on gender identity, with a panel made up of three people fluid in gender-neutral terminology and lifestyles, and other guests adamant that “you are either a boy or a girl—end of discussion.”
In the 1950s, the dictionary defined gender as the sex of a person. Gender became an identity, meaning personal experience of one’s own gender, sometime in the 1960s. Since then, the term gender has increasingly been used to distinguish a social role and/or personal identity.
Now let’s fast-forward to 2022. Apparently, if I want to upgrade the “blue is for boys” and “pink is for girls” gender mentality I inherited from the 1950s, here is some information that for the most part is new to me.
There are 13 acknowledged gender terms, each with a short definition:
Agender: no identification with gender
Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally male and traditionally female based on behaviors and identities
Cisgender: a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth are the same
Gender expression: the external display of one’s gender through how they dress and act, measured on scales of masculinity and femininity
Genderfluid: a person who feels like a mix of the two traditional genders—different day, different gender
Genderqueer: people who do not identify with being a man or a woman, or used as an umbrella term for gender-nonconforming and nonbinary identities
Intersex: a person born with a reproductive anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definition of female or male
Gender Variant: someone who does not conform to gender-based expectations of society
Mx: a title (similar to Mr. or Ms.) that is gender neutral
Third Gender: a term for a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with other genders
Transgender: a person who lives as a gender other than that expected based on the sex assigned at birth
Two-Spirit: an umbrella term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities of both genders
Ze/Hir: alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and often replace he and she; they/their are also used
At this late date in my development of what makes the world go around, I can empathize with just how much I don’t know.
My intent in opening the door to this topic is that, if I want to deepen my connection with my children, my grandkids and their friends, it is up to me to be open, receptive and willing to learn how they see their world.
Susan is a local leadership consultant and author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of your Intuitive Mind”. Website: susanvelasquez.com.