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 www.yogyakartaprinciples.org), “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
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 http://cpnn-world.org/cgi-bin/read/articlepage.cgi?ViewArticle=72) and in Bulgaria according to this article by Diana Tashkova.