A NARROW AND DISTURBING DEFINITION OF “NORM”: HETEROSEXUAL, CISGENDER, M/F
November 17, 2020
There are many assumptions we make about people. May it be a stranger on the subway, our own child, or a friend, there is a representation of what is “normal” that we have been taught and that we use (willingly or not) to read the world around us.
The assumptions that we will talk about today are the ones regarding the terms defined last week.
What have we been taught to assume about gender, sexuality and sex?
When it comes to gender identity, the assumption is that everybody is cisgender. This means that whatever their assigned sex (meaning the sex the adults around them when they were born baby assigned to them), their gender identity is ““aligned”” with it.
For example if they were born with a vulva and assigned female sex, they are expected to identify as a woman and therefore be cisgender. This also means that they are expected to “perform” and present as a woman (whatever the stereotype for it is in their culture).
But this doesn’t describe everyone. For example, transgender people are all of those individuals who “transcend” their assigned sex. Meaning their gender identity either coincides with the so-called opposite sex, or neither.
The assumption made is here usually that everybody is heterosexual. It means that whatever the person’s gender, we have been taught that they must be attracted to the so-called opposite gender.
A woman is attracted to men and vice versa.
This is obviously and again, a huge assumption. They might be, for example (and this is only one of the MANY possibilities), homosexual, which means attracted to people their own gender.
SEX IDENTITY/ BIOLOGICAL SEX
Finally, we are taught that when a baby is born, there will be a vulva, with ovaries and XX chromosomes and typical hormones, OR a penis with testicles and XY chromosomes with typical hormones. Basically, that the baby will be male or female.
But the truth is that around 2% of the population is born intersex (about the same percentage of people that are born with red hair!). This means that they possess anatomy, physiology, and/or chromosomal variation differences from those typical of male and female. They may have mixed or ambiguous external genitalia, internal genitalia, and/or hormone production levels.
For example, they might be born with a vulva and XY chromosomes.
The representation of “normal” we have been used to is narrow, disturbing and dangerous. It forces all those that don’t “fit the standard” to come out, face bullying, feel like there’s something wrong with them. Let’s do our best to change this and make everybody feel welcome in this world.
Did you like this blog? Leave a comment to let me know what you think and what you’d like me to talk about in my next blogs!
Sexual attraction is not something that every human experiences, and people can have perfectly happy lives AND romantic relationships without it. Today I will be talking about what asexuality is, and all the mistakes I made when I found myself dating an asexual partner, in the hope you can avoid them.
Moral of the story, although my apparent adherence to heterosexuality has been providing me with extreme privilege my entire life (which I do not take for granted), it has also been damaging my relationship with my own sexual identity. I still feel guilty calling myself queer, as if that meant watering down the LGBTQIA community, or as if by doing so I was taking up someone else’s space, someone who is more worthy of the rainbow flag and that has struggled because of it.
Intersex the only letter within the LGBTQIA acronym that refers to someone’ssex identity (or biological sex, which means someone’s sex traits and reproductive anatomy), and not to someone’s gender identity (the gender we identify with), nor to their sexuality (who we are attracted to).