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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong


Updated: Mar 10, 2023

The topic of gender has been coming up more often these days, especially negative attitudes around the trans community. There has been more anti-trans sentiment, including bills against trans folks' civil rights and the status of trans women as women.

Trans folks have existed alongside cisgender folks in history. The continued anti-trans sentiment contributes to the patriarchal agenda of erasing the existence of trans individuals. Visibility of trans individuals is a direct challenge to the patriarchal norm, i.e., keeping the patriarchy in power and gender binary, where white cisgender men rule society while suppressing women.

The gender binary, i.e., only male and female gender exists, was historically created to suppress women and to keep them as trophies at home without voices while white cis-men engaged in society. This can be seen through diet culture (where folks feel the need to diet in order conform to society's ideal body size), objectification of women (where the focus is women's body instead of what is on the inside, such as her thoughts/emotions), pay inequality, double standards around women in power (e.g., female leaders being seen as aggressive and men being seen as powerful), among many other parts of society. In reality, people don’t fit in boxes, i.e., the binary. The acceptance of the trans community is deadly to patriarchal agenda.

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity is an individual’s own sense of gender. Some examples of gender identity include female, male, non-binary, trans, two-spirited, and more. It is not biological like sex, which is assigned at birth. People often misunderstand gender identity just like how they misunderstand sexuality.

People do not choose their gender identity or sexual identity. They are born with a certain sexual identity and a certain gender identity. Gender fluidity exist like how sexual fluidity exist. Gender fluidity holds a different meaning depending on the person, e.g., a person can be a mix of both genders or feel more align with their feminine/masculine selves at different times. Gender identity is also different from gender expression. Gender expression is how you demonstrate or show your gender like how you act, behave, or dress. If there is any confusion, this infographic created by Trans Student Resource Center can be helpful:

Why is it Important?

How would you feel if you were constantly called the wrong name or gender? Imagine that…imagine someone talking about you as another gender and using the wrong pronoun. How do you feel? Most feel put-off and would correct the person mislabelling them.

Just because a person does not fit within the gender binary does not make them less of a person. When people disregard trans issues and do not think of them as human/civil rights issues, they dehumanize folks who do not fit within the patriarchal gender binary. All people are equal, important, and worthy of existence. Everyone should have equal rights.

Part of gender identity is using the proper pronouns for people. It is extremely important to ask and use the appropriate pronouns. People often complain about how it is such a hassle to use they/them pronouns or switching pronouns. Yes, it may be unfamiliar to use the proper pronouns initially, but not using the proper pronouns speaks volumes. In doing so, you are saying you do not care about them and disregard their identities. Change is uncomfortable…oftentimes, that’s how we know we are moving forward. Also, it is unhelpful to use people's pronouns just to be 'politically correct.' The intentions should be genuinely believing them to be the gender/pronouns they identify with.

If you are interested in learning more about gender, I highly recommend checking out Alok. Alok Vaid-Menon is a great non-binary author, speaker, and performance artist. They have done the research in deconstructing the gender binary in their book and other forms, including podcast. The following are some of their resources:

Are You Starting to Reflect on Your Own Gender Identity?

Please do your own research as the questions below are not comprehensive. Here are some starting points:

  • When you look in the mirror or at yourself, how do you feel about your current gender identity?

  • Do you feel like what you see is reflected in your gender identity?

  • Is there something you want to change in your gender identity and/or gender expression?

  • Do you feel what is inside matches or does not match what is on the outside?

In today’s society, there is still not much discussion around exploring one’s gender identity or gender expression. This may feel strange, and that’s okay. Everyone’s journey is personal, and no one's journey is the same. Take your time and be gentle with yourself in this process. Everybody, regardless of their gender/sexuality, has the right to exist and is worthy of love.

While we are not gender specialists, we can provide general support in your gender identity exploration journey. You can contact us through our site.

If you are wanting support for transitioning, such as medical transitions, we highly recommend going to a mental health provider specializing in gender. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is a great resource, including finding specialist providers: Gender Spectrum is a great gender sensitive resource for children/teens:


“Some gender non-conforming people are nonbinary, and some are men and women. It depends on each person’s experience. Two people can look similar and be completely different genders. Gender is not what people look like to other people; it is what we know ourselves to be. No one else should be able to tell you who you are; that’s for you to decide.

― Alok Vaid-Menon, Beyond the Gender Binary

“Imagine everyone you encounter all day long telling you that you are not real and that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Being constantly invalidated takes a toll: 40 percent of trans and gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide.”

― Alok Vaid-Menon, Beyond the Gender Binary

“We want a world where boys can feel, girls can lead, and the rest of us can not only exist but thrive. This is not about erasing men and women but rather acknowledging that man and woman are two of many—stars in a constellation that do not compete but amplify one another’s shine.”

― Alok Vaid-Menon, Beyond the Gender Binary

Stay tuned. The next topic is "Asexuality."

Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.

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