Gender-related terms represent concepts that are important in how people self-identify and are rooted in social, institutional, and medical histories. Sex and gender have historically been binary—male and female—and these terms have been applied to appearance, identities, and anatomies. The assumption of two and only two categories that neatly apply to all aspects of an individual is reinforced by social, medical, religious and legal systems. A sex/gender label is generally carried throughout a person’s life and any presentation desire to change this or expand its boundaries can come at great personal costs, whether financial, emotional, or social. The information gathered by Trans PULSE challenges this binary and suggests that gender presentation and identity are more complicated with a range of diverse presentations. It also makes clear the need for further education for service providers, educators, and the rest of society.
Reference: Coleman T, Bauer G, Scanlon K, Travers R, Kaay M, Francino M. Challenging the Binary: Gender Characteristics of Trans Ontarians. Trans PULSE e-Bulletin, 15 December, 2011. 2(2). Downloadable in English or French at http://www.transpulseproject.ca .