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We are not just Pink or Blue
an article by Lukas Berredo

This year I had the chance to participate at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, the Gender Spectrum Conference and the Gender Odyssey Conference, hosted between June 13 and 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 12 and 15, 2013 in Berkeley, California, and August 1 and 4 in Seattle, Washington, respectively.

click on photo to enlarge

These annual conferences gathered hundreds of children, youth, adults and families as well as educators, health providers, and other community leaders, seeking to exchange experiences and propose solutions to deal with many issues surrounding gender and gender identity.

Gender identity is not often very well understood by the general public. According to the Yogyakarta Principles (see, “gender identity” refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.

At birth, our biological sex is determined by our chromosomes and the conditions that allowed our development in the womb. The appearance of our genitals is, until today, the determining factor in deciding the sex assigned to us at birth, and the options are limited to either boy or girl.

From that moment on, everything around us will impose, directly or indirectly, explicitly and through the silence, what is appropriate according to how we were assigned at birth: what colors we should like, what clothes we should wear, what toys we should prefer, what games should draw us, what kind of hairstyle is appropriate and what expression and gender roles, of course, are NOT, because they belong to the so-called "opposite sex".

But gender is social and cultural; therefore, the meanings that each society develops in basis of anatomical differences of sexes belong to the subjective and symbolic domain. Having people from so many places of the world participating at the conferences, it got clear that each society, each culture, presents variations in what it means to be a man or a woman. There’s a huge social violence over people who don't fit into gender norms, and it’s very important that we make it visible.

The binary structure keeps imposing people to define themselves between only two options: male and female. Everyone else is marginalized, excluded and oppressed. By reducing gender to women or men, we keep on reproducing the stereotypes and the discrimination.

After being part of these necessary and urgent initiatives, I believe that, as society, we must question the kind of education most of us had and take responsibility for the damage this binary conception of gender causes to our society. Human gender diversity is a spectrum of colors in which pink and blue, male and female, are both only extremes, options within which we can find a myriad of shades and beautiful colors.


Question(s) related to this article:

The struggle against homophobia, Is progress being made in your community?

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Latest reader comment:

It would seem from articles on CPNN that progress is being made in some communities.  In particular this is true in the United States according to the article by Danny B (See and in Bulgaria according to this article by Diana Tashkova.

This report was posted on August 11, 2013.