A new video takes a look at ending gender-based oppression.
A new video takes a hard look at a tricky topic: gender.
The video, titled "Gender Is Over," is by Gender Proud — a transgender-owned New York-based media company dedicated to capturing the trans and gender-nonconforming experience — takes a look at the intersection between gender identity, expression, and everything in between.
The video stars Tyler Ford, Meredith Talusan, and Jacob Tobia. Tyler identifies as agender, which quite literally means "without gender"; Meredith is a trans woman; and Jacob is genderqueer and gender-nonconforming.
Gender goes beyond male and female, boy and girl, man and woman. It's all of that and so much more.
Many people — probably most — identify as either male or female. Those people, whether they're transgender or cisgender (non-trans), are what we'd call "binary-identified." No matter what it says on their birth certificates or driver's licenses, their genders are legitimate. Can we all agree there? Good.
Then there are others — in this video, there's Tyler and Jacob — who identify as something else entirely. In Tyler's case, that's no gender at all; in Jacob's case, it's a mix of male, female, everything in between, and beyond. These people identify outside of the male-female gender binary. Much like their binary-identified counterparts, no matter what it says on their birth certificates or driver's licenses, their genders are legitimate.
If this is in any way confusing, we've covered this topic before, breaking down some of the terms associated with nonbinary genders. You can find that here.
Sometimes people confuse gender expression with gender identity, but they're actually two separate things.
Just as having a feminine presentation doesn't necessarily make you a woman, having a masculine presentation doesn't necessarily make you a man. Gender expression is what you look and act like in comparison to social gender norms.
Gender identity, on the other hand, is what determines whether you're a man, woman, both, neither, or something else entirely.
Having a gender identity that differs from the sex you were assigned at birth is what makes someone transgender. Landing on one's true identity can be a tricky, time-consuming process. Tyler, for example, identified as a cisgender woman and then a transgender man before coming to the conclusion that they are agender.
"Gender is an ongoing process," Meredith wrote in an email, and she's absolutely right.
Understanding yourself, who you are, and what makes you you isn't something that everyone knows right away. That's why while there are stories of transgender children who come out to their parents at 4 or 5 years old, there are also some that reach that level of personal understanding later in life.
What's important is coming to understand who you are — even if it's a lengthy process.
Too often, gender used is used a weapon. That needs to stop.
One of the concepts touched on in the short video is patriarchy. Patriarchy is a system of society in which men hold the power. For most of recorded history, we've lived under a patriarchy, whether implicit or explicit.
Gender shouldn't be what determines power or worth in society, and that's why all of us — men, women, boys, girls, and others — should push back on its role in our lives. How do we do that? It starts by acknowledging that there are gaps in how men are treated in the workplace, in education, in parenting, and elsewhere compared to women and nonbinary-gendered individuals. Just about anything that can be labeled as sexism or misogyny has its roots in the patriarchy.
Of course, none of this is to say that an ideal world would have women and nonbinary individuals as somehow superior to men, but rather, an ideal world would be one without gender-based power structures at all.
The fight for a just society means taking aim at a wide variety of issues.
Last month, Tyler, Jacob, and Meredith participated in a speakers' series at Brooklyn's William Vale Hotel devoted to addressing gender-based oppression. The series, put on by Gender Proud, continues later this month with a discussion about prison reform and the "ban the box" movement.