The concept of being non-binary
Over the past decade, the concept of being non-binary has gained particular visibility in media and among general audiences, causing quite a controversy and stirring further discussion. A range of celebrities has disclosed their non-binary status lately, therefore, contributing to the increase in the impact of the movement. Among these individuals, one should mention Rebecca Sugar, an American animator who gained global acclaim with her award-winning series “Adventure Time” (Thorn, 2019). According to Sugar, being non-binary has led to multiple struggles and issues, which started at the earliest moments of her life. For example, Sugar mentions subverting the expectations of her parents by preferring TV shows targeted at boys, such as “SWAT Katz,” to the ones that were geared toward young girls (Thorn, 2019). Sugar explains teat the specified expectations often lead to the feeling of alienation.
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However, researching the issue deeper has led to questioning the concept of gender as the supposedly innate sense of self as either a man or a woman since the specified perceptions appear to be predicated upon what society deems to be associated with masculinity and femininity. For instance, Sugar mentions that her character’s rejection of viewing the color pink as an attribute of a girl seems to imply rejecting gender roles and embracing gender nonconformity; however, it does not defy his being a boy. Specifically, the implied message appears to be that boys who like the color pink and other items that society views as attributes of femininity do not cease being boys for having the specified preferences. However, by introducing the concept of non-binary, Sugar suggests that having such preferences transforms boys into the nebulous idea of a non-binary, which seems to be counterintuitive to the idea of embracing gender nonconformity and celebrating diversity. Thus, while Sugar’s intentions are clearly in the right place, the lack of clarity in the terms that she operates hinders further understanding of the issue.
The concept of gender
The concept of gender is typically seen as a constellation of perceptions and beliefs regarding the roles that people are supposed to play in society based on their sex and related functions. Being mostly regressive and restrictive, gender roles confine one’s opportunities to a very restricted range of options. (Van Beusekom et al., 2018). However, despite being prevalent in most communities, the traditional gender roles foisted upon men and women may not necessarily concede. For instance, in India, the caste known as Hijra represents a community of people who are unwilling or incapable of meeting socially constructed gender expectations; as a rule, Hijras are represented by gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, as well as gender nonconforming people (Van Beusekom et al., 2018). Applying the Symbolic interactionism framework to the described phenomenon, one will realize that the so-called Hijra do not differ from the rest of the men and women in Indian society in any way except for their unwillingness to meet society’s expectations of their roles and functions. As a result of their defiance, they are ostracized by the Indian community (Van Beusekom et al., 2018). The described example proves that gender as a social construct has mostly and profoundly harmful effects on people’s perception of themselves and their interactions with others. Namely, the presence of rigid gender roles and expectations restricts opportunities for self-expression, development of a unique personality, and leading a happy and satisfying life, in general. In fact, since finding a person that fits every single gender stereotype existing within a particular culture is barely possible, the use of gender categories becomes pointless since it rejects the concept of binary as a notion. Thus, abolishing gender and focusing on promoting sex-based rights instead appears to be the most sensible solution to most of the current gender-related issues and conflicts.
Thorn, J. (2019). Rebecca Sugar. NPR. Web.
Van Beusekom, G., Bos, H. M., Kuyper, L., Overbeek, G., & Sandfort, T. G. (2018). Gender nonconformity and mental health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults: Homophobic stigmatization and internalized homophobia as mediators. Journal of Health Psychology, 23(9), 1211-1222. Web.