Monday, November 4, 2013

Gender, Sexual Orientation and Socialization

We are learning about how we are influenced to act from a young age.  The influence from society is called socialization and in terms of gender, we are socialized to think very narrowly about what is acceptable: either heterosexual male who is tough or heterosexual female who is pretty and delicate.  But really these two boxes are very limiting and do not reflect the range of human diversity.  We had a panel that helped to show the range of sexual orientation and gender.  Although each student is unique and should be viewed as his/her own individual self, I think there are a few conclusions that we can draw.  One is that students have an awfully hard time accepting themselves because our culture socializes them to not accept who they are.   This is in the media, in their families, in schools.  This lack of acceptance puts students at risk for self harm and for bullying and abuse. If you are interested in resources or how you can help checkout and The rest of us can become more mindful of these students and their difficulties.  We can be strive to be understanding and accepting by being honest but not hurtful, and watching our language.  Furthermore, I think hearing their stories helps us to explore gender more thoroughly and that can help us to be more comfortable with our own gender - and even if you are heterosexual, hopefully you can feel less boxed in by the culture.

Here are some hopeful signs of change:

Germany recently passed a law allowing parents to choose gender undetermined for their children.

And from ABC news:
Already, Australia and Nepal allow adults to mark male, female or a "third gender" on their official documents. In June, a 52-year-old Australian, Norrie May-Welby, became the world's first recognized "genderless" person after winning a legal appeal to keep an "unspecified" gender status for life.
German passports will have a third designation other than M or F -- X, for intersex, according to the Interior Ministry.
Here is a website called Interface.
The Interface Project's mission is to gather and share personal stories of people living with an intersex condition or difference of sex development (DSD) to spread the message: No Body Is Shameful
And the American Sociological Association has recognized that gender is not a binary category has as well.  People who join or renew their membership in the ASA can select from the following categories:
Transgender – female
Transgender – male
Prefer not to answer

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