"Even though I see myself as a male, often I'm talking to other people, especially within the LGBT community, and I refer to myself with feminine pronouns and nouns and think nothing of it," said [a UW student]. "(It's) kind of a dichotomous relationship between my anatomy and my mannerisms and behavior."Is "gender fluidity" the next public debate after gay marriage? Gay marriage requires legal changes and demands that others readjust their behavior. To make "gender fluidity" into a political cause, do you need to generate tangible political demands that the individual should have choices about which sex-segregated facilities to use or that sex-segregated facilities be abolished? I'm not a fan of strict sex stereotypes, and I'm very tolerant, especially of young people experimenting with their identity. But as soon as males claim a right to use the women's bathroom, I'm flipped over to the other side. But those who want "gender fluidity" to be a political movement seem intent on creating this opposition (see the linked article). Too bad!
Eric Trekell, the director of the campus center, referred to this kind of expression as "gender fluidity." He believes that the way society reacts to people who don't conform to gender expectations will be the next public debate after gay marriage.
"What we're seeing more and more are students coming out of high schools who are rejecting the common notions of gender," Trekell said. "They say, 'I express myself how I want, whenever I want.'"
While researchers have yet to quantify the trend, Caitlin Ryan, a clinical social worker at San Francisco State University who's conducting a long-term sexual orientation and gender survey of youth and their families, says in the last five years, she's seen more young people coming out as transsexual - those who believe they are one gender trapped inside the body of the other.
She and others in her field also are seeing a noticeable number of young people who are ... taking it further by purposely evading gender definition, expressing androgyny with wardrobe, hairstyle or makeup - sometimes going as far as calling themselves a "boi" or a "grrl."...
[P]eople who stretch gender stereotypes do not always feel safe doing so publicly. Trekell, of OutReach, said many of the gender-fluid students he meets conform to their biological gender at school, work, or any place they perceive as hostile toward gender variance....
But as young people continue to challenge gender distinctions, the answer to the question "boy or girl?" will become more complicated. Trekell said it may be more difficult for the straight public to accept gender fluidity than gay or transgender culture.
"Gender identity is still such a pervasive part of our society that students that are really fluid in that are still seen, I think in some ways, more as 'freaks' than trans(gender) people," Trekell said. "It's like, 'Choose. What are you?'
"We still have that dipolar concept of what you should be."
MORE: I've written about the "transgender bathrooms" before. Here's an old post (collecting links to earlier posts). There are detailed discussions of the problems in the comments.