Opinion

Beyond the Bathroom

While​ ​biological​ ​sex​ ​can​ ​be​ ​determined​ ​by​ ​chromosomes​ ​and​ ​hormones,​ ​gender extends​ ​past​ ​X​ ​and​ ​Y.​ ​Professors​ ​and​ ​Pride​ ​directors​ ​know​ ​this,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​people​ ​who identify​ ​outside​ ​the​ ​binary.

The​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​sex​ ​and​ ​gender​ ​is​ ​one​ ​that​ ​not​ ​many​ ​people​ ​fully​ ​understand. “Sex​ ​is​ ​biological-​ ​we​ ​use​ ​internal/external​ ​genitalia,​ ​chromosomes,​ ​and​ ​hormones​ ​to identify​ ​if​ ​someone​ ​is​ ​male,​ ​female,​ ​or​ ​intersex,”​ ​said​ ​Matthew​ ​S.​ ​Jeffries,​ ​director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gender Identity/Expression​ ​and​ ​Sexual​ ​Orientation​ ​Resource​ ​Center​ ​at​ ​WSU.​ ​​ ​“Gender​ ​is​ ​social construct​ ​based​ ​on​ ​characteristics​ ​expected​ ​of​ ​men​ ​and​ ​women.”

This​ ​means​ ​that​ ​people​ ​are​ ​free​ ​to​ ​identify​ ​as​ ​any​ ​gender​ ​(or​ ​no​ ​gender)​ ​regardless​ ​of biological​ ​sex.​ ​However,​ ​the​ ​gender​ ​that​ ​a​ ​person​ ​identifies​ ​as​ ​may​ ​not​ ​always​ ​be​ ​how​ ​they present​ ​themselves.

A mural in the LGBT+ Student Center shows society’s diversity by displaying identification and pride flags.                                                                                                        | Victoria Eby-Bounds

“Gender​ ​identity​ ​is​ ​how​ ​one​ ​describes​ ​and​ ​understands​ ​their​ ​own​ ​gender,”​ ​Jeffries​ ​said. “Gender​ ​expression​ ​is…​ ​how​ ​someone​ ​performs​ ​their​ ​gender.​ ​This​ ​expression​ ​can​ ​be​ ​in​ ​the terms​ ​of​ ​clothes,​ ​haircuts,​ ​jewelry,​ ​and​ ​other​ ​mannerisms.”

It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​note​ ​that​ ​gender​ ​identity​ ​is​ ​completely​ ​separate​ ​from​ ​sexuality​ ​or​ ​sexual orientation.​ ​The​ ​people​ ​discussed​ ​in​ ​this​ ​article​ ​are​ ​not​ ​simply​ ​crossdressing​ ​or​ ​motivated​ ​by sexual​ ​reasons.

The LGBT+ Student Center is open to all students Mondays-Thursdays from 8:30am-12:30pm in Room 125 in the Student Union Building    | Victoria Eby-Bounds

And​ ​there​ ​are​ ​certainly​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​more​ ​genders​ ​than​ ​male​ ​and​ ​female.​ ​These​ ​include nonbinary​ ​(neither​ ​male​ ​nor​ ​female),​ ​genderfluid​ ​(moving​ ​freely​ ​along​ ​the​ ​spectrum),​ ​gender nonconforming​ ​(not​ ​performing​ ​expectations​ ​of​ ​their​ ​gender),​ ​and​ ​more.

“So​ ​for​ ​coming​ ​out​ ​to​ ​myself,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​very​ ​slow.​ ​Like​ ​it​ ​wasn’t​ ​like​ ​‘holy​ ​s—​ ​I’m​ ​nonbinary now’​ ​it​ ​was​ ​more​ ​like​ ​adjusting​ ​to​ ​the​ ​thought​ ​process​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am​ ​not​ ​male,”​ ​said​ ​Jamie​ ​Brown, EWU​ ​student.​ ​“Coming​ ​out​ ​to​ ​people​ ​is​ ​okay,​ ​mostly​ ​because​ ​I​ ​only​ ​came​ ​out/come​ ​out​ ​to people​ ​who​ ​I​ ​know​ ​are​ ​accepting,​ ​but​ ​even​ ​then,​ ​it’s​ ​still​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit​ ​nerve​ ​wracking.”

In​ ​recent​ ​years​ ​these​ ​identifications​ ​have​ ​become​ ​more​ ​accepted,​ ​more​ ​common,​ ​and more​ ​publicized​ ​in​ ​the​ ​US.​ ​Unfortunately,​ ​with​ ​any​ ​new​ ​group​ ​comes​ ​discrimination.​ ​Most gender​ ​nonconforming​ ​people​ ​face​ ​high​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​discrimination,​ ​much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​either​ ​women or​ ​men.

“Honestly,​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​discrimination​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​uneducation,”​ ​said​ ​Jamie,​ ​“I’ve​ ​also​ ​had discrimination​ ​because​ ​people​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​there’s​ ​only​ ​two​ ​genders​ ​or​ ​sexes,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​wrong scientifically.​ ​It’s​ ​just​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​ignorance​ ​on​ ​the​ ​side​ ​of​ ​discrimination.”

Education​ ​about​ ​gender​ ​identity​ ​is​ ​not​ ​common,​ ​especially​ ​in​ ​schools.​ ​Articles​ ​such​ ​as this​ ​one​ ​can​ ​help​ ​to​ ​get​ ​information​ ​out.​ ​Workshops​ ​and​ ​public​ ​speakers​ ​can​ ​also​ ​be​ ​very​ ​useful in​ ​educating​ ​the​ ​public​ ​about​ ​such​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​topic.

Other​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​reduce​ ​discrimination​ ​would​ ​be​ ​better​ ​representation​ ​in​ ​the​ ​media.​ ​Very rarely​ ​are​ ​transgender​ ​or​ ​gender​ ​nonconforming​ ​people​ ​portrayed​ ​at​ ​all​ ​in​ ​film,​ ​music,​ ​or​ ​other types​ ​of​ ​media.