Growing up, we were taught there are two kinds of genders: boys and girls. It made sense, the two anatomical sexes of male and female coincided with the genders succinctly, and we followed this information obediently, not ever questioning it.
But being taught that was incorrect—at least partially incorrect. As you might have noticed, that doesn’t work for everybody. Some people, including students here at UW-Whitewater, don’t identify with either gender or may identify with both.
Individuals who are non-binary, pansexual, asexual, gender fluid or gender queer rent the same books as you, may be sitting next to you in class or may be delivering your pizza.
When thinking about diversity, race is the first medium that often pops into people’s heads. But when truly promoting diversity, we must readily accept all people. Educating ourselves on our fellow classmates, coworkers, friends and family is a part of that acceptance process.
Society likes to portray that anatomical sex is the same thing as gender but gender is a social medium. In other words, if someone is born male, it does not necessarily mean that they are going to identify with the boy gender. They may identify with the girl gender, may be non-binary (not male or female), or gender fluid (a dynamic mix of boy and girl).
IMPACT recently put on its event called “Are you on the Spectrum?” designed to inform others of the different sexualities and gender identities that exist.
With different gender identities come PGPs, or preferred or personal gender pronouns. We call boys he, him and himself and for girls we use she, her and herself, but what pronouns should we use for someone when we aren’t sure what pronoun to use? Ask. More likely than not, the individual will be appreciative and inform you of their PGPs. Some PGPs are ze, per, thon, xe, ey, zim, zir, thonself, etc.
A campus is meant to be a place where we broaden our minds and our experiences. Look around you. There may be a teammate, friend, coworker or classmate who is waiting for you to ask what their PGPs are. This individual may have felt pain when being asked to separate into a boys or girls team for gym class.
Things many of us take for granted everyday aren’t always available for other people. Just like we try to learn more about different cultures and promote ethnic diversity, it is just as important to promote gender diversity. Just because somebody is a boy or a girl does not mean it is acceptable to shun the company, respect and presence of somebody who is non-binary just because of their gender identity.
There is a whole group of people that we as a campus must embrace if we truly want to call ourselves diverse. Be the person who makes one of these individuals comfortable. It’s time we open our arms and accept those around us. If we are diverse, we will.