Bella Mezzacapo photojournalist
Our world is ever-changing, it is very evident. If you are failing to keep up with the times, that is totally on you, not on the rest of us. Repeatedly, people are being misgendered, mistreated, and downright disrespected. And for what? Because your closed mind cannot comprehend that gender and sexuality are fluid and on a spectrum?
‘What does that even mean? Aren’t there only two genders?’ If you are asking these questions, welcome to the year 2023, and please sit for not only a lesson in biology, but also understanding people and society. For starters, gender is “the male sex or the female sex, especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones, or one of a range of other identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.”
This definition, the only definition, does identify the fact that gender is fluid and that there are multiple gender identities on the spectrum. Fluid means “not settled, or stable; likely or able to change.” With that, the definition of spectrum is “used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points,” with male and female being the two extremes.
Not everything is black and white, there is a grey area, and it is time that we recognize that. Sure, we are in an exceedingly small corner of the world that may not be very ‘woke’ since we are in Southeast Kansas of all places. But, if someone asks something of you, that literally takes two seconds, why not do it?
Asking about and being asked to respect someone’s pronouns should be just as much widespread practice as asking someone their name. Just because someone is expressing what your ideal of one gender may be, does not mean that that is their gender identity as well.
You may be wondering, ‘What is gender expression and gender identity?’ Well, allow me to continue to educate you. Gender expression is “the way in which a person expresses a gender identity, typically through their appearance, dress, and behavior.” In contrast, gender identity is “the personal sense of one’s own gender.” That said, you will never know one’s identity unless you ask. You can assume all you want, but that is not polite, respectful, or even ideal. It takes a few seconds to ask, ‘what are your pronouns?’ In turn, it eliminates the risk of hurting someone’s feelings and making them feel lesser than.
Just because you may express your gender identity does not mean that you have the right to assume that of everyone else. And I am not claiming to know everything about this specific topic. But what I do know, is that I have always, and will continue to, respect others when they ask something of me. Plus, when someone continuously reiterates their pronouns because you choose to disrespect what they have asked of you, you are doing nothing but causing problems. There is even a feature in Canvas that allows us to publish our pronouns alongside our names. If you continue to see “they/them” next to someone’s name, where they are putting themselves on display so that you get it right, and you still get it wrong, you are the problem.