Why Gender Identity Matters

In sum, identities come, first, with labels and ideas why and to whom they should be applied. second, your identity shapes your thoughts about how you should behave; and, third, it affects the way other people treat you. Finally, all these dimensions of identity are contestable, always up for dispute: who’s in, what they’re like, how they should behave and be treated. – Kwame Anthony Appiah

Notice that “your identity shapes your thoughts about how you should behave.” Think of the times we are told, “Little girls don’t act that way.” Or “big boys don’t cry.”

Now ask the question nobody is supposed to ask, “Says who?” Who says boys can’t try and girls can’t play with trucks? Well, who decreed it?

The patriarchy sold it to society, and now it is a social construct. By patriarchy, I mean “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it” (OED).

Yes, patriarchy is a real thing. And yes, patriarchy is bad. “For centuries, writes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group.” Do I really have to tell you that this is wrong? That is why I am a feminist.

Identity also “affects the way other people treat you.” I was happy that 2021 saw Kamala Harris sworn in as the 49th vice president of the United States. It took so long because, until recently, women were not considered capable of leading. But the role of women is slowly changing.

But the LGBTQ+ people are still struggling to improve “the way other people treat” them. And of these people, the trans community is the least accepted.

This ongoing and unslowing epidemic of violence committed against transgender and gender non-conforming people continues to climb and claim the lives of too many each year in the United States and across the globe (GLAAD).

Published by

Jay N. Forrest

Zen Humanist Teacher.