With gender, the identity breakdown seems newer to many people — and in some ways tougher to unpack. There is one's anatomy but also other traits, from facial hair to chromosomes, that may not "match" those body parts. Then there is gender identity sense of self , gender socialization how people are expected to act and gender expression how a person dresses or styles their hair and so on.
As it becomes more common to be nonconforming — and as slang spreads at lightning speed online — the list of labels people use has grown. In one large-scale survey released in , respondents were asked to write in the term that best fits their gender, and researchers received more than unique responses.
Even for those tuned in to such things, keeping track of it all can be overwhelming. About eight years ago Nick Teich, a year-old transgender man, started the first summer camp in America for transgender youth. In recent years, he says, the organization has found more registrants checking the "other" box on their intake forms. People put 'demigirl,' 'genderless,' 'no gender,' 'all genders,' 'pangender,'" he says. I have to look this up.
While it's still up for debate how many of those labels belong in textbooks or on official surveys, experts agree they're important for people in the throes of self-discovery. Clements, a year-old living in Brooklyn, says, "I identify as a white, able-bodied, queer, nonbinary trans person," Clements says. For those who grew up alienated by the options, finding a label that feels right can be freeing. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where I want to be.
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I don't know what pronouns I want to use," says Tyler Ford, a year-old who grew up in Florida and has attracted a large social-media following. Ford, who goes by they and identifies as agender — meaning they feel they have no gender at all — was assigned female at birth, came out as a transgender man at age 20, tried hormones for a couple years and then stopped. People can't really pinpoint me anymore, and that is comforting to me," says Ford. I don't like having to identify with either binary gender. I like being beyond. While Ford's many supporters on social media idolize what they see as a person taking brave — and very public — steps toward self-determination, the trolls are never far behind.
Other critics don't bother with the Internet's cloak of anonymity. At a March hearing over a bathroom bill in Texas, which would require people to use bathrooms that match their birth certificates, one pastor called the notion that gender is determined by the brain "foolishness. Cyrus , who has famously referred to herself as gender fluid and pansexual, says she's accustomed to hearing such comments, but she rejects them.
It's just that now it's acceptable to discuss it. It's acceptable to come out now. The year-old says that going public about her feelings, and providing support to LGBTQ youth through her nonprofit Happy Hippie Foundation, is what she's most proud of in her career. Examples like Cyrus can help young people who feel they are constantly explaining themselves to doubters. Little, the high school student in Kentucky, has had plenty of practice arguing for the "existence" of their gender too, especially with older people.
Others who have identities they describe as fluid or changeable say the pushback even comes from some older gay and transgender people, who have long fought for equality with arguments that one's gender or sexual orientation does not change.
Those young people are at increased risk for violence and attempted suicide, especially when they lack family support. Still, the more people come out, the more others may ultimately be emboldened to think beyond whatever they may have been told about who they ought to be — and how they can express it.
Back in Park City , high school senior Mason is taking a break from signing up new allies to the Gay-Straight Alliance. She's in the middle of telling the story about when she came out to her mother as bisexual at 16, and how her mother's reaction was to ask if it wouldn't just be easier if she would choose one or the other. Suddenly, she's interrupted by another student and her mother. The pair stops at the table to ask for a copy of a sign Mason had laid out, designating the area as a "safe space" for people of all identities.
The mom has a friend who recently came out as transgender, she explains, and wants to show support. Mason hands her a sign politely, like she's heard that story a thousand times, and resumes telling her own. I have a great box that I have made for myself. However they self-identify, young people tend to be more accepting of whatever identities they encounter. Grace, 17, Park City, Utah. Grace, who identifies as bisexual, believes that one's gender or sexuality can change over a lifetime.
Kyle, 21, San Antonio. Growing up in a small, conservative Texas town, Kyle worried about coming out as gay, but he says that teenagers today are more empowered and more aware because of social media.
Sophie, 19, Orono, Maine. As her senior year of high school drew to a close, Sophie realized that though she loved her boyfriend, she was physically drawn to women too. Now a college freshman, she identifies as bisexual and wishes people were more open-minded about sexuality as well as gender: The Eternal Recurrence of the Same trans. David Farrell Krell. New York: Harper and Row, The Arcades Project.
Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Belknap-Harvard, See chapter D, "Boredom Eternal Return," pp. Archived from the original on November 16, Paris Nietzsche; Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Hegel, Nietzsche, and Philosophy: Thinking Freedom. The Gay Science and the Rosarium Philosophorum.
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Beyond 'He' or 'She': The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality
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