The utopian ideal of a world that is gender-inclusive is theoretical at best and currently does not exist. What does exist, however, is the reality around us where power structures and oppression dominate our lives. We are stuck in an unequal world where not everyone can be who they really are and who they want to be. There are two ideological standpoints for eliminating this — no gender distinctions or having numerous labels for diverse genders.
While both these positions aim to create a safe world for all genders, they do one thing differently. The former says that we are all the same and therefore do not need to categorize gender. While the latter says we are all different and therefore need several different categories. The current view is that gender is a spectrum, but this itself seems problematic to me. How many categories do we keep adding to define each person’s sexuality and romantic bent? Does there need to be a certain number of people identifying with a specific definition of sexuality to make it into the spectrum? And how many genders do we keep adding to exhaust each person’s experience of gender and sexuality?
On the other hand, what are we left with if we don’t have categories? The binary view of gender as a blue box or a pink box is ingrained in our society, history, and law. Without making gender visible, it would be impossible to fight these deeply entrenched institutions that insist on having a category of sex and gender defined for every member of its territory. Even if we do manage to fight the good fight of abolishing the idea of having gender entirely by making it arbitrary and taboo, there are still other issues at play. The major problem with not having a gender spectrum to fall back on is that sexual identity can often be messy and confusing. Without giving people options for their sexuality, we are limiting them to the already established hetero-norm. While we see gender as learned and performed, it is also deeply entrenched in our languages, commodities, and histories. In that sense, it is internalized to the point that without an alternative grammar of sexuality, it might be difficult for each individual to imagine a vocabulary of their own in order to define and own their gender and sexuality, distinct from the norm.
As we live, we become who we are and/or who we always were. People cannot be expected to know who they will be at birth. The same applies to gender, which is much more than just the biological grouping of males and females. Gender evolves in the context of the society that we are a part of, and without the community, we take away a queer person’s ability to accept their identity. The problem is the unequal system that we are all a part of. To change this system, we must identify ourselves as opposed to it. The LGBTQIA+ community does that while lobbying for change and making themselves heard and valid. The large number of people that identify with queerness gives the community a certain strength in numbers for advocacy, making it accessible to organize, protest, and rally for changes in law and institutions like religion, education and other cultural organizations with authority in the territory. This identity formation is a political mobilization and a face for rights and acceptance. This is done by identifying labels that allow you to present as a certain identity and by the relegation of privileges, which can only be fought for by making a gender beyond the binary visible. Without this, you have people living invisibly and with no way to organize.
The hope, however, is that we can get to a place where we can say no to discrimination and divisions. But there is first a need to abolish gender, and we must define it in all its multiplicity. Only then can we step back once people better understand their gender and sexuality without the binary, and eventually will not need these divisions and definitions anymore.