Gender is not a Spectrum by Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

aeon ht Bill Harris

It is a key tenet of the doctrine that the vast majority of people can be described as ‘cisgender’, which means that our innate gender identity matches the one we were assigned at birth. But as we have seen, if gender identity is a spectrum, then we are all non-binary, because none of us inhabits the points represented by the ends of that spectrum. Every single one of us will exist at some unique point along that spectrum, determined by the individual and idiosyncratic nature of our own particular identity, and our own subjective experience of gender. Given that, it’s not clear how anybody ever could be cisgender. None of us was assigned our correct gender identity at birth, for how could we possibly have been? At the moment of my birth, how could anyone have known that I would later go on to discover that my gender identity is ‘frostgender’, a gender which is apparently ‘very cold and snowy’?

Once we recognise that the number of gender identities is potentially infinite, we are forced to concede that nobody is deep down cisgender, because nobody is assigned the correct gender identity at birth. In fact, none of us was assigned a gender identity at birth at all. We were placed into one of two sex classes on the basis of our potential reproductive function, determined by our external genitals. We were then raised in accordance with the socially prescribed gender norms for people of that sex. We are all educated and inculcated into one of two roles, long before we are able to express our beliefs about our innate gender identity, or to determine for ourselves the precise point at which we fall on the gender continuum. So defining transgender people as those who at birth were not assigned the correct place on the gender spectrum has the implication that every single one of us is transgender; there are no cisgender people.

The logical conclusion of all this is: if gender is a spectrum, not a binary, then everyone is trans. Or alternatively, there are no trans people. Either way, this a profoundly unsatisfactory conclusion, and one that serves both to obscure the reality of female oppression, as well as to erase and invalidate the experiences of transsexual people.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
This entry was posted in Daily Links and Notes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s